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Monday, 1 May 2017

So - IS homosexual sexual activity a "sin"?

I do try to produce my own posts for this blog, and have, only occasionally, reposted material from someone else. However, in a departure from that, I am posting a second offering from David Robertson, minister of St.Peter's Free Church of Scotland, Dundee, as he writes much more eloquently than I. I have left the links that he provides as live links so that those who wish to follow up any of the points made may do so.

The post is, again, longer than those that I normally publish, but is well worth reading to the very end.

It's the burning question of the British General Election.   Our society is obsessed with sex, and especially homosexuality. Or at least that our journalists give that appearance. They seem to think that it is their responsibility and duty to ask any politician who is a Christian what they think of gay sex. Of course they don't ask Sadiq Khan, or any Muslim politician – but that’s another story!
This weekend they have been particularly busy. After the Tim Farron debacle, we have seen the resignation of the Conservative MP Andrew Turner, and Theresa May being asked by Andrew Marr "is gay sex sin?"
Liberal Democrats annual conference 2015
Tim Farron 
Andrew Turner, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, expressed the view in a question-and-answer session in a local school that he thought homosexuality was wrong downloadand dangerous for society. The Guardian  were quick to pounce.  This of course is to commit the unpardonable sin, the blasphemy against the Holy State. Our media are absolutely certain that to say gay sex is a sin, is itself the unforgiveable sin. Labour’s election chair immediately pontificated - “There is no place for bigotry and hatred like this in modern society and no one holding these views is fit for public office.”    Mr Turner has resigned. The thought police have done their job.
Amidst the general outcry and faux pas outrage as the shibboleth question of our culture is used to discriminate against anyone who dares to think differently, there have been occasional glimpses of sanity and light. Nick Cohen’s fascinating article in the Guardian on Tim Farron for example.  Defend Tim Farron, a True Liberal even if it makes us Quesy Amongst many other good points he pointed out the stunning hypocrisy of our politicians:
Jeremy Corbyn worked for Iranian state television and spoke at Khomeinist ralliesin London. Everywhere he went, he looked a willing collaborator with a regime that flogs and executes gay men, treats women as second-class citizens and imprisons trade unionists.
If Corbyn was questioned on this, which he never is, he might say he does not approve of every aspect of Shia theocracy. But he worked for it, and was paid by it, and never found the courage to speak out on Iranian television for the victims of its oppression. A liberal society that condemns one politician who bothers God, but gives a free pass to another who works for a queer-bashing, queer-killing regime is so lost that it may never find its way home again.

Teresa Maydownload-1 was very clear on the Andrew Marr show. Is gay sex a sin? No.   She couldn’t answer why people use foodbanks but on that one issue she knew the answer. Pinknews, the Guardian and the Twitterati were waiting to pounce if she had got it wrong.
The "is gay sex a sin?" question is the shibboleth question of our culture. It is the equivalent to the “have you stopped beating your wife – yes or no?" question. You say yes and you admit to having previously beaten your wife. You say no and you admit to currently beating your wife.
How would I answer this question?   Let’s imagine…..
Journalist:   Is Gay sex a sin?
  • What a fascinating question! In one sense I'm glad you asked it – because it appears as though you accept the whole idea of sin. Of course I'm not very sure what you mean by the question. Are you asking is gay sex harmful? Well you can go and do your own research and you will find that there are a considerable number of STDs and other harmful side-effects of gay sex. After all that's why we just had the Scottish government say they are going to fund the prep drug in order for it to prevent gay men who have multiple partners and engage in unsafe sexual health practices contracting HIV. But I suspect that's not what you're talking about.
I suspect that you are asking is gay sex wrong or immoral? And again that is a very interesting question. Because it presupposes that there is right and wrong. Before I answer that question I would need to ask you if you thought there was any sexual practice that was wrong?
Journalist: I'm the one asking the questions. Why can't you just give a straight yes or no answer?
  • And because I'm the one actually answering, I'd like to know what you are actually asking!   I suspect you're not really asking a question at all – you're just making an accusation, looking for a cheap headline, trying to stir up some kind of fuss. But given that you're an intelligent man do you think it possible that we could have an intelligent discussion? So could you answer my question? Then I promise you I'll answer yours.
Journalist: Obviously there are some sexual practices that are harmful and abusive and therefore wrong.
  • Thank you. Again that is very interesting. How do you know? Who determines what is harmful and abusive? Is being married to 3 women right or wrong? Should you ask Boris Johnson or Nick Clegg if adultery or having multiple partners is right or wrong? What does that have to do with their politics? Why should sex with a 17 year old be right but sex with a 15 year old be wrong? Is bestiality wrong? Incest? Or sex in the middle of the street? Who determines what is right and wrong?
Journalist: Society and the law.
  • But who are society? And who makes the law? By definition it would appear that the rich, the elite and the powerful are those who make the law. What if society decides one day that homosexuality is wrong, would that make it wrong? What if society decides that the Jews need to be removed? Or the Chinese enslaved? Or babies in the womb killed? Who determines what is right and wrong?
Journalist: Now we are getting way off the subject! What is your answer?
  • Actually no. Now we are getting to the very heart of the subject and so I will give you my answer.
I am a Christian. I am an IKEA Christian. What I mean is this. I'm not a very practical person and so when I go to IKEA and buy a chair, I come home and I'm the type of person who counts all the screws, reads all the instructions and follows them to a T. In other words I obey the maker's instructions. To me that's the same with life. My basic position on homosexuality is this:
  • Homophobia in any form is wrong for any Christian. Why should we be afraid of a sexuality - or indeed of any person or group of people? As a Christian I fear only God. I regard all human beings as made in the image of God and all are to be treated with love and respect whatever their ‘sexuality’. I know that there are many people who struggle with issues of identity and sexuality and I don’t think the solutions are as simple as people often make out. But to discriminate, bully or abuse anyone because of perceived sexuality is wrong.

  • God made us as sexual beings and gave us the gift of sex to be used within the context of marriage, and only within the context of marriage. Marriage of course being between a man and a woman. This was done for mutual benefit, the procreation and upbringing of children, and the good of society. Any sex, of whatever type, out with the sacred bond of marriage is wrong. You use the word ‘sin’. Sin is that which goes against what God desires. It is not living up to his standards, or deliberately going against them. In a confused and broken world we are all sinners, whatever our sexuality. That's why we need the Christian gospel, but is also why we should not throw away the laws of God, including the laws on marriage, which are given for human flourishing and benefit.

  • You may disagree with this. But you need to remember that this is the foundation upon which our Judaeo-Christian Western civilisation has been built. Please don't call me a bigot, or imply that I am somehow backward because I don't accept your ill thought out and ultimately harmful view of human sexuality.

  • Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you have a fully thought out, through and worked out philosophy of human sexuality and what it means to be a human being? Maybe you have examples of societies where the Christian view has been rejected and those societies have flourished? Or maybe what you are proposing is some kind of liberal fantasy that is never actually been worked out in reality?
Journalist:   But what about Teresa May? She is a vicar’s daughter and a Christian. Are you saying she is wrong?
  • She is completely wrong. And it’s not just me who says that. The orthodox Christian view is the view of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, Islam and most Protestant churches, including at least officially the Anglican church (although I grant you that in the latter case that doesn't mean all that much!). I'm not in a position to comment on Theresa May's Christianity. For all I know it could be the cultural type, or the therapeutic deistic type, she may even be a confused believer.   I cannot judge her, but I can judge her comments.
Let me explain it this way. In the early years of the Christian church there arose a severe persecution by the Roman Empire against the Christians. Why? The Romans were usually pretty tolerant about different religions, so why pick on the Christians? It is because Christianity challenged the sexual, societal and political views on which the Roman Empire was built. Christians didn't kill their own unwanted children, they didn't sleep with whoever they wanted, they didn't engage in temple prostitution or other forms of sexual immorality. And when they were asked to bow the knee not only to Jesus, but also to Caesar, they refused. And so they were slaughtered. They could so easily have said we will bow to Caesar in public, but in our own hearts and in our own gatherings we bow only to Jesus. But they refused to do that.   Today modern Western society is regressing, not progressing, to a Greco/Roman/Pagan view of the world. Sadly there are many ‘Christians’ who are just going along with the flow, and many who either don’t see it or have just given in to the bullying and pressures that come from that. But not all of us have bowed the knee to Baal.
Journalist: But what harm does it do? Why not just live and let live?
  • Again what a fascinating question. Because that is precisely what you are not allowing us to do. If a Christian does not accept your view of human sex and sexuality you mock, intimidate and bully in order to exclude. You won’t let us have our views (the views on which this society was built) and be involved in public and civic life. Remember the quote above ““There is no place for bigotry and hatred like this in modern society and no one holding these views is fit for public office.”  You call us bigoted and hateful because we uphold the teachings of Jesus Christ!

  • To be honest it's not so much that we are concerned about ourselves – we won't obey you, whatever you say! In a world of illiberal conformism, we are the real radicals! We are concerned about the victims of a sexual philosophy (and I’m not talking here particularly about homosexuality which is only a minor part of this) that causes so much harm.   Do you know what the biggest problem in our society is? It's not whether people think gay sex is or is not a sin. It's the destruction of the family. The state will never replace the family as the basic building block of society. But the shallow, selfish and superficial view of sex as a recreational pastime to be indulged in by whoever, with whomever and wherever you want, has created chaos - especially amongst the poor. That's why we have so much homelessness, broken families, STDs, and even in the 21st-century the return of slavery in Britain - the vast majority of which is sex slavery. When I look at the sex obsessed, disease ridden, pornography swamped, perverted, cheap and abusive society we have become, where prostitution is now termed ‘sex work’, I don’t see a great deal of positive fruit from this new sexual philosophy – do you?
Can you see why I'm upset? I find your line of questioning and the general mockery and smug superiority of our cultural elites really depressing. You don't debate. You don't discuss. You assume, and in your blindness you cannot see the harm you are doing to all of us, especially the weak and vulnerable. Your middle class bourgeois morality inherited from Bertrand Russell, the Bloomsbury group and the so called sixties sexual revolution, may be fine for the wealthy, but for the poor and our society as a whole it has been a disaster.
I guess you have to answer to your bosses (I’ve had many journalists who have said that they can see my point and even basically agree with it, but they would not dare write anything outwith the party line – as you say ‘it would be more than your job is worth’! So much for critical thinking and freedom of the press!). But one day you will have to answer to a greater than your editor, or even than your peers and family.   One day we will all stand before God and he will ask us what we have done with all the tremendous gifts he has given us - life, beauty, music, art, sex, food, science etc.   And, because we suppress the truth by our own wickedness and think we can make it on our own; we will have to admit – we’ve screwed it up. We’ve screwed up our lifes, we’ve screwed up God’s planet and we have created a hell on earth.   Unless of course there is another way – which there is….and that is the way of Christ.
So sorry for the length of this answer – but yes given all that is said above – gay sex, like heterosexual sex outwith marriage, is sin – but its just one of many many sins we all commit. Anything outwith the revealed will of our gracious and loving God is sin.  To ignore this is like buying a petrol car and deciding that you can’t see any harm in filling it with diesel.   I know there are a lot more questions that arise out of this but that will have to wait for another day.   Thanks for listening to me….lets see how you turn that into a 100-word soundbite!
Footnote:   Of course the above conversation would never happen – because our media generally operates in a circular vacuum with little thought given to the deeper issues of life. Some day, somewhere, someone is going to make a stand and challenge the current zeitgeist…meanwhile we just pray and watch Romans 1 being acted out in our midst.

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