Sexuality and Christianity

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Sexuality and Christianity
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SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS
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Few issues cause as much division in today's church as issues related to sex outside of marriage and homosexual relationships. Though nothing appears to be as divisive, gender issues are actually just a litmus test of the deeper issue: Biblical Authority. Conservative Christians argue that the Bible clearly states that God shows us that the only right place for a sexual relationship is in a marriage between a man and a woman, and that outside of this, it is a sin against God. Some liberal Christians deem that sex outside a marriage, including 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. In the developed world, especially North-Western Europe and North America, some church denominations have embraced the liberal viewpoint often causing large splits in 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 has caused enormous divide within the Anglican Communion and resulted in 2008 in a conference (GAFCON) being called to rival the once in a decade Lambeth Conference. This may be leading to a schism.

Biblical passages

There are a number of Biblical passage that teach against the practice of homsexulity.

1 Timothy lumps homosexuality in with a whole list of other sins including sexual immorality, lies and slave-trading.

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 of the unnatural nature of homosexuality in graphic terms:

"'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

And in Romans, Paul talks about homosexuality as going against the grain of nature.

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 1:26-28

Other New Testament writers also speak about the wrong of homosexuality. In Jude and 2 Peter homosexuality is again condemned.

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

Views Throughout History

Various civilizations have embraced homosexuality and pederasty through recorded history. Such times are always after or during a society's height, and during its downfall. No civilization ever embraced homosexuality during its ascendancy. So universal is this pattern, that toleration of homosexuality can be viewed as a measure of health in a society.

Recent Views in the World and Christianity

As in Rome and Greek, Western Civilization has been lenient or condemning of "other" sexual orientation when it has been affluent or struggling accordingly. In the 1920's, when the economy was in a "bubble" of prosperity, homosexuality was all but openly tolerated. However, when the U.S. stock market crashed in 1929, and the decadence gave way to Depression, the World and the Church returned to their previous mores. In wasn't until 1976, in a dramatic and unexpected turn, that the American Psychological Association reversed its previous determination that homosexuality was an aberration to calling it permissible.

Since then, Western European culture has been in a whole sale melee to rewrite its definitions of love and marriage. At present, only Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, South Africa, Canada and Norway allow legal same-sex marriages, but it is a hot-button issue all around the globe. Many U.S. States' Supreme Courts have over-written legal precedences and permitted same-sex marriages to occur. Those who oppose it and call it "sin" are accused of hate-speech, and face growing marginalization. The future of this issue is unclear.

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