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Sexuality and Christianity

Homosexuality refers to intimate relationships between two people of the same gender. Few issues cause as much division in today's church as the issue of homosexual relationships and this relates in part to the deeper issue of Biblical Authority. Some conservative Christians argue that the Bible states that God shows us that the only right place for a sexual relationship is in a marriage between a man and a woman. More liberal Christians deem that homosexual relationships are not wrong if they are between two loving partners. They argue that a trajectory is outlined in Scripture, revealing God's ever expanding love and encompassing of what was once forbidden. The liberal argument also often involves complex translation and linguistic discrepancies between editions of the bible, as well as a symbolic reading of the text, while the conservative argument relies on a strict reading of the passages.

In the developed world, particularly North-Western Europe and North America, many church denominations have embraced the liberal viewpoint, sometimes causing strife within congregations. One of the major developments in recent years has been in the Episcopal Church of the USA, in which an openly practicing homosexual man, Gene Robinson, was ordained as a bishop. This caused divide within the Anglican Communion, and in 2008, pressured by conservative congregation members, resulted in a conference being called to challenge the ruling; however, the church ruled in favor of Gene Robinson.

Homosexuality, in recent years, has become one of the most controversial issues in Christianity, if not the singularly most controversial, particularly due to western society's gradual acceptance of homosexuality, partly due to work in the fields of psychology, sociology, biology and philosophy that are often in opposition to the position of many conservative denominations, although conservative Christians typically hold the stance that secular findings are not apropos to His deigning of morality and are thus not applicable. Difficulties concerning homosexuality also arise due to conflicting translations and conflict between passages directly remarking on homosexuality and other, more broad passages, that propose complex, semantic questions.

Biblical passages

There are a number of Biblical passages that refer to homosexuality, either directly or tangentially.

1 Timothy briefly refers to homosexuality in the context of a list of things, which he deems as sin, that he has seen:

But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully, as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;
- 1 Timothy 1:8-10

In Leviticus, God speaks through Moses of the nature of homosexuality:

"'You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestable. "'You shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal, to lie down with it: it is a perversion. "'Don't defile yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations which I am casting out before you were defiled.
- Leviticus 18:22-24
"'If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
- Leviticus 20:13

1 Corinthians, like Paul's letter to Timothy, also notes homosexuality within a list of other sins:

Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9,10

In Romans, Paul again refers to homosexuality:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
- Romans 1:18-21 Romans 1:26-28

The writers of the New Testament also occasionally note homosexuality. In Jude and 2 Peter homosexuality is again mentioned:

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
- Jude 7
and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly;
- 2 Peter 2:6

Recent Views in the World and Christianity

While world views regarding homosexuality have and do vary drastically from one location to another, the opinion of homosexuality in Western culture has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, as work in the fields of psychoanalysis, psychology, philosophy, biology and sociology have begun to address it more. Until 1976, the DSM-4 noted homosexuality as a philia, a compulsion related only to sexual interaction, but studies by the likes of Kinsey and others pressured its overturning; a political movement for equal rights by gays was occurring simultaneously in many parts of America and Europe, and also issued some pressure for the definition of homosexuality to be changed, which it eventually was.

Since this time, a vast amount of research has been designated to the issue, the results of which, although occasionally marred by detractors, have typically been conclusive in their findings in support of the 1976 overturning, which has caused the world view of homosexuality to slowly evolve, particularly with the newer generations. As such, many liberal Christians accuse conservative denominations of being "behind the times", while conservative Christians refer to the above-mentioned passages in the bible as support for a moral high ground. Many countries are slowly overturning laws or adding provisions to their constitutions to allow gay marriage, as have many states in America, although bills that mandate the acceptance of same sex marriage are often overturned; it is an issue that the Federal Supreme Court has delayed ruling on numerous times. However, a large portion of religious Americans and Europeans still object to homosexuality or gay marriage, typically for moral reasons.


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