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
Tuesday 21 March 1995
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.
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...
£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...
£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...