Am I the only one that doesn’t think this issue should be quite this complicated?Recent debates about whether to accept homosexuality in ministry positions in several denominations have not only generated a hot topic of discussion, but have also resulted in a surprisingly wide variety of responses from church leadership, something that, to me, doesn’t quite make sense.
According to the New International Version Bible, it clearly, in more than one place reads that homosexuality is a sin.
Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” The chapter also talks about not having sexual relations with your family, with animals, with your neighbor’s wife and so on. While I agree that some things in the Bible are open to interpretation, there are also passages that are fairly cut and dry. This section, which is backed up and justified in Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, is one of those sections. When it tells a man not to have sex with his family, any animals, or another man in the same way that he would with a woman — that is what it means.
Without getting into the issue of whether homosexuality is a choice or an inborn trait, let’s just clarify that this is a biblical standard, not one I am actively trying to impose across the world. However, because it’s a biblical standard, it does need to apply to Christian leaders.
Granted, everyone sins. But it’s also reasonable to expect that pastors and priests hold themselves to a higher standard, and, just like I don’t think someone can justify leading a church if they are having an on-going affair or organizing a local theft ring, I also don’t think they can justify leading a congregation while living a homosexual lifestyle.
I want to point out that we’re all on the same level here, and our lifestyles, whether it be in regards to sexual orientation or our major in college, should have no impact on the way we treat each other or interact on a daily basis. Everyone is obviously free to choose their own lifestyle, and it is in no way my place to judge — there’s probably stuff about me that you wouldn’t necessarily agree with, too.
But, if you’re going to put yourself in a Christian leadership position where you have to advise others on how to lead a more Christ-like life, you should be holding yourself to the same standard.
I’m not saying that homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed in the church. The church’s doors, no matter what denomination, should be open to anyone as a safe place to ask questions, seek counsel, or fellowship with others. That does not mean that ministry leadership positions should be open to everyone.
Many religious communities have simply avoided this issue out of fear that it will divide the congregation, said Nancy Ammerman, a professor of sociology of religion at the University of Boston, in a Boston Globe article. While congregants should always aim for a peaceful community, a church needs to stand for what it believes in, and a Christian church should be supporting the doctrines of the Bible. If it can’t fully support God’s word, then what can it fully support?
I, for one, don’t want to go to a church that flounders over what it believes. While God is so vast and unexplainable that we do have to question, discuss and continually change based on our growing understanding, that does not mean that basic doctrines, such as the Ten Commandments, Jesus’ death and resurrection, or the command not to “lie with another man” should be open for vast interpretation.
Just because social norms are changing, that does not mean the church can also. Christians need to be accepting and nonjudgemental, just as we would hope others would do for us. But there is a fine line between “loving God and loving others,” (Matthew 22:37-39) no matter what their lifestyles, and loving others while also participating in their lifestyles.
The social norms for sexual engagement have changed in all aspects of life, not just association. It’s now socially acceptable to have sex before marriage in our country. Does that mean the church needs to debate where the line on sexual abstinence is next? Any biblically based church will continue to teach that people should honor God, their bodies and their future spouses by saving sex for marriage. The decision on allowing homosexuality into church leadership should continue to follow biblical law as well.
Kathleen Thurber is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Colorado Springs, Colo.