Christianity needs to reassess how it interprets the 'word of God' when it comes to topics like homosexuality

Cyril Ip

It is difficult to reconcile Christianity and homosexuality despite some believers’ misguided efforts

Cyril Ip |

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Historically, the Catholic Church has never accepted homosexuality. It is less of a human attitude, more of an unambiguous interpretation of the Bible.

The Bible – inherently the “word of God” – states explicitly: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

“Abomination”, in the biblical sense, is a forbidden act, a violation of the law; in a broader sense, it implies disgrace, obscenity, and evil.

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From the Christian perspective, the sinful nature of homosexuality was explained and interpreted by influential theologian, St Thomas Aquinas.

Nine centuries ago, Aquinas curated a moral theory called the “Natural Law”, which many Catholic thinkers still follow. The theory states that the universe works in accordance with a natural order which leads to an ultimate “end” or “purpose”. The morality or nature of our actions is determined by whether it achieves its purpose.

Aquinas argues that sex was a God-given gift for humans to procreate. Hence, all sexual acts that do not lead to childbearing are sinful, which include homosexuality, use of contraception and birth control, and abortion.

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Aquinas’ theory formed the European and Western attitude towards homosexuality – it’s unnatural, obscene and immoral. Associating sexuality (a basic human trait) and sexual preference to morality was the root of homophobia.

However, people have adopted a more “compassionate” and liberal understanding of homosexuality.

People evolved from seeing it as a sinful act, to seeing it as a mental illness. Ill-health, unlike deliberate sinning, is not a human, moral responsibility. They think this is equivalent to sympathetically reaching out to homosexuals, and lovingly offering help.

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In recent years, as liberalism and secularism challenged the authority of religion, Christians have suggested numerous ways to reconcile the difference between the Church’s condemnation of homosexuality and the application of “agape” (the Christian value of selfless love). For example, some Christians urge homosexuals to not define themselves by their sexuality, but rather appreciate “same-sex attraction” as merely a frivolous and insignificant trait. Alternatively, some go as far as arguing the Bible only promotes love and “doesn’t say anything about being gay”.

Christianity and homosexuality are facing irreconcilable conflict, regardless of time. Christians who believe that homosexuality can be defended and tolerated by the concept of an “all-loving God” are, on one hand, picking and choosing only the scriptures they like to emphasise, and on the other, being highly self-contradictory, as evident in the Catholic Church’s documented punishments against homosexuals.

Christians should have a comprehensive, rational appreciation of the Bible and its teachings – most of which are inherently misogynistic and immoral when applied to today’s society – before erroneously reinterpreting them to suit a progressive agenda.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne