Dear Peter Tatchell

Outing bishops must keep you busy - but please take a moment to hear the views of an `orthodox' Christian, a member of the evangelical Free Methodist Church suggests

You certainly seem to be having a busy year. Scarcely a week goes by without some new media hype about gay bishops with or without leathers, word-juggling cardinals, or dark hints at huge numbers of clerical closet- dwellers frightened to emerge. But may anyone be permitted to put in a plea for the "orthodox" Christians so often portrayed as either bigots or hypocrites?

The understanding of bishops such as Michael Baughen, and denominations like my own Free Methodist Church, is that the teaching of Jesus (itself referring back to Genesis) indicates clearly that heterosexual marriage is the only right place for sexual acts. This is not the result of "homophobia", nor is it based on any spurious assumptions about homosexuals being promiscuous or paedophiliac. It is based on careful study of Christ's teaching in a biblical context.

We believe, then, that homosexual sex acts, fornication, idolatry and atheism are all "wrong". But a belief that such things are wrong does not imply a view that they should be illegal. The function of law in a free multicultural society is to stop people infringing the rights of others - not to enforce orthodoxy or morality.

But your quarrel with us concerns church rites, not civil rights. We, like most churches, hold meetings open to anyone. We believe, though, that it would be inconsistent for, say, a Hindu, an atheist, a fornicator or practising homosexual - however sincere or uplifted by experience - to hold church membership or office without radical change. We are not here speaking of inclinations or temptations but of belief and lifestyle. Many leaders in our churches may well be "naturally inclined" or tempted towards fornication, adultery or homosexual sex. But temptation is not sin, for Jesus himself was tempted. What temptations a leader or church member suffers may be "private", for him or her alone to work out with God. Sexual lifestyle is not - and St Paul makes it very clear that certain standards are required.

I would support you and other gay rights activists in encouraging Christians to think about the law in a multicultural society. I would support any who encourage Christians to recognise that homosexual acts are not placed by the New Testament in some "special category" of wrong act, worse than, for example, greed, jealousy or fornication. But I do believe that you and your friends confuse some of the basic issues - especially by exploiting the confusions in the English language for propaganda purposes.

Take the word "homosexual". As any dictionary testifies, the word means men or women who are sexually attracted to their own sex. But a temptation towards an extramarital sex act - whether homosexual or heterosexual - is not in itself sin and is no bar to membership or ministry in the church. Thus "homosexuals" can rightly become ministers or bishops, and it is hard to see what useful purpose is served in "outing" them. It is simply a trick of language to suggest that there is any hypocrisy in fully accepting homosexuals (in this sense), but censuring extramarital sex acts whether homo- or heterosexual in nature.

You may, of course, disagree with us. But what we do object to is being labelled "homophobic" or "hypocritical", or being made out to be inconsistent by propaganda that exploits the ambiguities of the English language.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

    £25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

    £25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas