Written September 2013
Christians should be ‘repentant’ about the Church’s past treatment of gay and lesbian people according to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He told a group of traditional evangelical Christians that the Church’s historic support of homophobia was ‘utterly and totally wrong’. He also acknowledged that many young people considered the Church’s views on same-sex marriage as ‘wicked’ and ‘plain wrong’. The Archbishop insisted he did not regret voting against gay marriage legislation, but acknowledged that such views were seen by many as akin ‘to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice’.
He said ‘there is a revolution in the area of sexuality’ and the Church must respond to changing cultural attitudes. ‘We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality and sexual behaviour. We have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 not only think that what we’re saying is incomprehensible but also think that we’re plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice. We have to be real about that.’
He said the Government’s Bill in favour of gay marriage was ‘clearly, quite rightly, trying to deal with issues of homophobia in our society …The opposition to the Bill – which included me and many other bishops – was utterly overwhelmed. There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches”. He added: ‘The Church has not been good at dealing with homophobia. It has at times, as God’s people, either implicitly or explicitly supported it and we have to be really, really repentant about that because it is utterly and totally wrong.’
So should Christians repent of homophobia? If by this we mean hatred and persecuting homosexuals, yes, we should repent. If we mean that Christians saying that homosexual acts are sinful in the eyes of God (as is heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage), no, we should not repent. The ones who should repent are the clergymen who are compromising biblical teaching on sexual relationships.
We should also be aware of what campaigners for gay rights understand by the term ‘homophobia.’ Gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, reminded the Archbishop in an open letter that he wrote to him in March about what he understood by homophobia: “Homophobia has come to mean more than an irrational fear of gay people. It includes support for anti-gay discrimination and the denial of equal rights to people who are [homosexual] …a person who opposes legal equality for [homosexual] people is homophobic.“ In other words any Christian who opposes homosexual marriage or teaching schoolchildren that homosexuality is good, is guilty of being ‘homophobic.’
Within the Church of England there is now a great deal of openness towards homosexuality. The Archbishop himself told the Church Times: “It’s perfectly clear . . . that you find relationships within the [homosexual] communities that are deeply loving, profoundly committed, and stable.”
On 10 April, a report by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission – chaired by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth – urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples, and to be “flexible” so that they could enjoy “a closer approximation to marriage”.
This open-minded process then adds up to this: the church is happy to condone and facilitate, and not to challenge, the sin of homosexuality, which, according to the Bible, prevents a person from entering the kingdom of God: ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Such biblical passages as these are deemed ‘homophobic’ and preachers are now being condemned and even criminalized for quoting them. On 1st July Evangelist Tony Miano was arrested in Wimbledon for preaching the Gospel after he quoted 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-12 calling on people to ‘abstain from sexual immorality’. He described homosexuality and fornication as a sin, enforcing well known Bible teaching on sexually immoral conduct. A passer-by reported a ‘homophobic’ offence to the police and he was arrested.
The Christian Legal Centre wrote to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner on his behalf: ‘We remain deeply concerned with the partial application of the law by the Police; and the unlawful use of their powers of arrest and intimidation to silence the Christian message on sin in relation to homosexuality. As an organisation, we receive enquiries from members of the public who are fearful of arrest simply for publically opposing the homosexual agenda or same sex marriage. There is a real ‘chilling effect’ on free speech.’
As ‘politically correct’ views on homosexuality take hold across the western world, we are finding more and more examples of how it is those who hold to biblical views on marriage and sexual morality who face relentless hostility and discrimination. This comes from the political and intellectual establishment who promote the ‘equality agenda.’ According to this agenda you are not allowed to say that marriage can only be valid if it is a relationship between a man and a woman and that homosexual practice is morally wrong.
Archbishop Welby says a revolution has taken place in the area of sexual morality, which is true. That revolution has seen the rejection of God, the Bible and salvation through Jesus Christ taking place across the western world. As with most revolutions it has not brought freedom but bondage to a harmful life style. Increasingly it is also bringing submission to a new ruling class who set the rules as to what you can and cannot say in public. This liberal humanist elite now runs almost all the main areas of our society – the government, the education system, the media (especially the BBC), the legal and social services. It espouses a politically correct ideology supplants traditional morality and the concepts of right and wrong, truth and lies by a creed which says in effect, ‘Whatever is right for you is right.’
It requires us to accept that homosexuality is normal and acceptable and is a condition a person is born into. Therefore to say there is something wrong with this is equal to saying there is something wrong with a person because of their race. The biblical Christian must go against this because the Bible shows that there are boundaries which God has set in human behaviour. Homosexual practice is a lifestyle choice which means crossing one of those boundaries and going into sin. Anyone can be delivered from this sin (and from heterosexual sinful activity). God offers us forgiveness and eternal salvation if we repent and believe the Gospel.
What God does not offer us is the sanctification of practices He calls sinful. The passage from 1 Corinthians 6 quoted above says that the unrighteous (including fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals and sodomites) will not inherit the kingdom of God. It goes on to say in verse 11, ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.’ The people Paul was writing to may have been fornicators or homosexuals in the past, but they are not now. They have been washed from their sins and sanctified through the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘God … commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’ Acts 13.30-31.