Mention the subject of homosexuality in the company of most Christians, and there is a collective sigh of boredom and an immediate atmosphere of irritation and discomfort. Yet let something happen in the wider world, such as the affair in 1999 with Pat Robertson and the Bank of Scotland, and there is a general wringing of hands and muttering of despair. We really can be the most inconsistent of people!
It is a solemn fact, about which we should be very concerned, that the power and influence of the homosexual lobby within our nation is incredibly strong. Indeed, although it is a subject that most of us would wish to avoid, we can anticipate that power being demonstrated over the next few months and years, as issues regarding ‘gay’ people occupy the forefront of the news, just as they have done for much of the last decade.
The debate on the Age of Consent will reappear very soon. The acceptance of homosexual men within the Armed Forces shows how the decisions of European Courts will increasingly affect our nation’s perspective. Similarly the campaign for property and partnership rights for long-standing homosexual couples will strengthen, as they press for equality with heterosexual couples. They will probably obtain what they want.
The Government is determined to honour its pre-election commitment to abolish Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988), and Conservative amendments will be brushed aside. Other similar issues will continue to come up.
Silencing the Bible
Of course, the present government, more than any previous one, has a number of high-profile homosexual members in positions of considerable influence, who will lend their support to these various campaigns. In the same way the media, in all its facets, is almost entirely supportive and sympathetic to the cause of ‘equality’ and ‘gay rights’ (these latter terms are defined generally in pro-gay terms).
The fact that faces us, then, is that the concept of ‘toleration’ now excludes the discussion of this theme in biblical terms. The scriptural perspective is not merely dismissed but is considered quite unacceptable.
Prominent ‘gay-rights’ propagandists, including some self-styled ‘gay Christians’, refer to the Bible as a piece of homophobic literature. The term ‘homophobia’ has been developed over the last twenty-five years, and is now applied as a pejorative description of almost anyone who takes a stand against homosexuality as a normal and acceptable lifestyle.
The reasoning is, apparently, that opposition to homosexuality is based on fear rather than rational argument. It may well be that the real fear is in the minds of the ‘gay’ propagandists, who find the arguments of Scripture, and the health and social-welfare objections, difficult to cope with. That is why informed argument (as pursued by Baroness Young, for instance) should be so vital as far as Christians are concerned.
How has this situation come about, when the general public regularly indicates high levels of unease and discomfort on this subject? Sadly, we have to recognise that the reason has much to do with the underlying ignorance, poor presentation and lack of understanding of this subject by Christian people.
Thus in many workplaces (and I have witnessed this on numerous occasions), when this topic has been raised by someone in conversation, a Christian has floundered when seeking to present even the most basic biblical case.
It has been obvious that the Christian in question has made no realistic attempt to read up on the subject or to marshal the facts. When a reasoned biblical argument is presented, backed up with medical and sociological evidence, you often find a ready acceptance and agreement amongst ordinary non-Christian people. Indeed they are delighted to find that their underlying unease about much of what is happening in our society is supported by such strong arguments.
How, then, can we as Christians equip ourselves to argue for truth and righteousness, and to make a compassionate and Christ-like appeal to those caught up in the web of this destructive lifestyle? The rest of this article will recommend four resources and point up a few dangers to be avoided.
There are numerous booklets and leaflets available, ranging from the excellent to the ill-informed and violently aggressive. Our aim in being informed and equipped is not just to be able to win arguments or make ‘gay’ people look small. Such an approach is far from a Christlike perspective.
Yes, we do want to expose sin as sin and set up warnings to people about a lifestyle that is contrary to righteousness (just as lying, greed and materialism, pride and superiority, and a host of other behaviour-patterns are).
But we earnestly want to show love, understanding and mercy to those whom Satan has entrapped by the popularising of this lifestyle. So we must have material that will give us a broad and accurate perspective, and because it is biblical, will help us to win and help those who are currently in bondage.
The Christian Institute
This first recommendation I want to make is the range of leaflets produced by the Christian Institute (26 Jesmond Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PQ). Two booklets in particular are very helpful. The first, entitled Age of Consent, deals with the issues around the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 1999, and provides a range of very useful information and statistics about a ‘gay’ lifestyle.
The second, Gay Pressures on the Young, deals specifically with the question of whether sexual orientation is fixed by the age of sixteen and on the health implications of lowering the age of consent.
Both these booklets are factual presentations of issues that need to be aired in the debates that are currently going on. Whilst neither of them give any scriptural foundation, they show the wisdom of the Scriptures’ position.
The Christian Institute is an organisation dedicated to influencing public policy from a biblical standpoint. They provided vital support to Baroness Young, and because of this they have been vilified and attacked by the ‘gay’ lobby, and especially ‘Stonewall’. Christian people should be doing all they can to support the Christian Institute.
Faith, Hope and Homosexuality is a caring and useful booklet produced by the Evangelical Alliance. The approach is biblical and there is a useful summary of the Bible’s teaching in the booklet, as well as a brief statement of the medical and sociological arguments. It is very readable and easy for any believer to use.
There is unfortunately one weakness. In an attempt to show a right attitude of compassion and understanding to homosexual people, the authors make the following statement in their final affirmations and recommendations: ‘We deeply regret the hurt caused to lesbians and gay men by the Church’s past and present hatred and rejection of them’.
Now while this is only part of a well-reasoned set of arguments, it introduces assumptions that are difficult to sustain and draws conclusions that will provide succour to the homosexual lobby. The issue needs a much more thorough analysis than the booklet gives it.
It is undoubtedly true that, historically, some Christians have shown unacceptable attitudes to homosexual people, but it is very difficult to apply today’s values to yesterday’s practice. To make such comprehensive apologies without a thorough analysis (and thus a whole range of qualifications) is a dangerous procedure.
Certainly one of the major planks of the pro-‘gay’ argument is that they are an oppressed minority who need redress for past wrongs. Whilst there is a degree of truth in this, there is also a massive misrepresentation of the Christian perspective by propagandists as they present their position.
To open the door on that complex debate is, at its most basic, a poor strategy. Indeed it is an issue that we should handle with great care, not because we are embarrassed in any way but because we recognise the devious approach of those who seek to twist every argument.
The straight agenda
The final two recommendations are books which deal in more detail with various aspects of the issues involved. Straight and Narrow?, by Thomas E. Schmidt, is published by IVP. This book is particularly valuable because of its treatment of the Bible. The author takes a clear stand for the primacy and finality of the Bible’s authority.
There is a carefully reasoned and thorough examination of what the Bible actually says on this subject. The detail of the discussion might deter a few, but it is well worth working through. Medical and sociological issues are also helpfully presented.
Finally, Homosexuality, The Straight Agenda, is a symposium edited by Brian Edwards and published by Day One Publications. It is one of the ‘Facing the Issue’ series produced by FIEC. If I had to choose just one publication, this would be my choice. The book provides a reasonably comprehensive look at all the issues and, while thorough in its approach, it is by and large very readable.
Every church should have a copy of this book, and Christians wishing to understand the issues and the scriptural position should make sure they study it carefully.