Pope Francis is probably not really amused, after a proposal for wider acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church failed to secure the synodical majority vote of two-thirds, on Saturday, October 18 2014. The issue of gays has stolen the spotlight at Vatican since Pope Francis took over from Benedict XV who officially resigned on February 28, 2013. For instance, inJuly 2013 Pope Francis made headlines across the globe while on his way back from Brazil on his first foreign trip when he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” The Pope was responding to a question on gay priests. Surprisingly, these liberal and ‘tolerant’ views towards same sex practices are becoming popular even among members of the clergy of various Christian denominations and congregations across Africa.
After Nigeria passed the Anti gay marriage bill in January 2014, the renowned Nigerian Prophet TB Joshua, responded to the issue of gays by citing from the Gospel according to Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, so that you will not be judged.”- The same words the Pope uttered. And while responding to President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of a bill in February 2014, which when passed would further criminalize homosexuality with a life sentence in Uganda, the fiercely vocal gay rights campaigner, South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, argued that “there is no scientific basis or genetic rationale for love. There is only the grace of God. There is no scientific justification for prejudice and discrimination, ever.” Tutu also claimed that he would not worship a God who is homophobic, and that he would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven, and prefer to go to the opposite-hell. Tutu is also quoted to have claimed that, it is God who compels him to fight for gay rights.
But what concerns me the most, is that, are these highly trusted men of God, leading us into the right direction, with regards to the authority of the Bible on homosexuality? Does each one of us need to personally consult the scripture on same sex, or simply take the counsels of the men of God; and refrain from ‘judging?’- And when the Bible says do not judge, does it mean we must not call sin by its right name?
While addressing the Church at Corinth, the great city of commerce and debauchery, in the mid-first century, in 1Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV) Apostle Paul confronts the Corinthians with a rhetorical question; “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?” And then he admonishes, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul warns believers that no one must deceive them; homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul puts homosexuality among sins like theft, drunkenness, and adultery. Now, if we tell an adulterer that he or she is an adulterer, then are we judging them? If we tell them, that they are sinners, then are we judging them? or we are simply telling them what they really are according to Biblical definition of their behaviour?
I know there are pro-gay rights Bible scholars, exegetes and commentators, even among members of the clergy and Christian theologians across the world, that claim that none of the Bible texts that Christians use against homosexuality addresses consensual same sex practices, which is the contemporary homosexuality debate. Peter J.Gomes a homosexual Baptist Pastor claims that, “the use of the Bible to condemn homosexuality is the end result of simplistic interpretative methods that reflect a failure to comprehend the context in which the Scriptures were written.” These exegetes, attempt to look into the historical contexts and cultural setup of the texts that condemn homosexuality, and deny that those texts do not condemn consensual homosexuality, and neither do they address the question of sexuality and gender as contemporary homosexuality does.
For instance, they allege that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis Chapter 19 is not about homosexuality, but about “inhospitality and rape,” And that male homosexuality was a tradition whereby the aristocratic men of Sodom and Gomorrah expressed dominance on other men and strangers. But Jude, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, endorses on Jude 1:7 (KJV) that, “ Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” This means that the story of is about homosexuality, as much as it is about clear inhospitality and attempted gang rape which are central to the story too.
The pro-gay Bible scholars also claim that the other homosexual texts refer to sexual immorality or cultic male prostitution as in the cases of same sex practices at Corinth, and even gayism and lesbians in Rome.-by the way, it is only in the book of Romans, where the Bible clearly exposes and denounces same sex relations between women, or lesbianism alongside male homosexuality. On Romans Chapter 1: 26-27(NIV) Paul says, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
These pro gay rights Bible scholars and exegetes are very correct that the Bible does not address same sex practices in with regards to consensual sex between adults that are believed to be in love, or same sex practices between people that are believed to be naturally disposed to sexual feelings towards people of the same sex. Unfortunately, Leviticus 18:22 (KJV) says that “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.” Here the Bible imposes a general ban on same sex between males. There is no suggestion whatsoever in this verse, that there are permissible situations where same sex might be exempted. Therefore, consensual or non-consensual, love or presumptuous natural disposition, are not an excuse for the practice or acceptance of same sex. .
It is also important to understand that while the political world is dragging the church into its unscriptural ideologies of human rights, tolerance, and non discrimination, the world has no evidence whatsoever, that homosexuals are born that way. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, until recently in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the list of mental disorders, and two years later, in 1975 the American Psychological Association did the same. Unfortunately, the reason homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders was not because of any discovery of truth or some scientific breakthrough on the real cause or nature. It was as a result of political pressure and expedience.
But the Bible tells us what causes homosexuality. The Bible is clear, and tells us that homosexuality, just like theft, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, is caused by “ sinful desires of the heart,” according to Romans 1:24(NIV). That is why, Paul welcome homosexuals into the Church at Corinth as any sinner but warned them never to practice homosexuality again because, they were now “washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God”- Romans 6:11(NIV). Therefore, it is not a bother when homosexuals indulge in same sex practices outside the church, (they can even have their rights there) the Bible does not allow them to continue, when they become members of the Christian faith.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Maravi Post editorial policy.