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Homosexuals and The Attempt to Repeal Section 28

Author
Category Articles
Date February 1, 2000

The British law known as Section 28 prevents public money from being spent on the promotion of homosexuality in schools and elsewhere. It has curbed the excesses of many local authorities, but taxpayers’ money is also being funnelled into pro-gay schemes through Health Authorities, whose actions are not subject to Section 28. The government is seeking to repeal Section 28 as gay rights campaigners demand. Rather it must be strengthened by bringing Health Authorities within its ambit. The Christian Institute has been a leading campaigner speaking for evangelical churches. They have produced a fine booklet entitled “Bankrolling Gay Proselytism” which can be obtained from their headquarters at 26 Jesmond Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PQ

PROFESSING CHURCHES SUPPORTING HOMOSEXUALS

How different a message comes from a thousand religious scholars and clergy in the USA. They call for full acceptance of homosexuals in churches. Liberal Protestants dominated the signatory list.

Chris Herlinger of Ecumenical News International, in New York wrote the following report:-

A thousand liberal religious scholars and clergy in the United States have endorsed a statement affirming sexuality as God’s gift and calling for the full participation of women and gays and lesbians in the life of religious institutions.

“We feel there is a need to develop a clear and articulate basis for the living out of sexuality as a life-affirming gift,” John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ (UCC), told Ecumenical News International (ENI).The declaration, known as the “Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing,” was publicly released January 18. The text of the declaration and a list of supporters were published this week as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Conservative critics of the document accused the signatories of trying to overthrow Bible-based morality.

Liberal Protestants dominate the list of signatories, though a smaller group of Roman Catholics and Jews also endorsed the resolution. John A. Buehrens, head of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, endorsed the declaration, along with 14 bishops from various denominations, 15 seminary presidents and academic deans, and theologians from more than 32 US seminaries.

Originally 850 people signed the resolution, but since its release to the public, a further 150 have added their support.

Among prominent clergy endorsing the document were Edmond Browning, retired presiding bishop of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, and Paul Sherry, former president of the United Church of Christ, who has been honoured for his work in ministry to gays and lesbians.

The document’s signatories declared they were speaking out “against the pain, brokenness, oppression, and loss of meaning that many experience about their sexuality.”

“Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts,” the document said. “All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure.

“Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, colour, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

The document goes on to support, among other things, the “full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions,” and calls for religious leaders to participate “in movements to end sexual and social injustice.”

The resolution’s supporters said the document was significant because for the first time a group of US religious leaders had collectively called for a re-examination of sexual ethics and sexual morality. It was also, they said, the first time that so many religious leaders had, as a group, signed a formal declaration countering traditional theological positions on sexual issues.

Immediate reaction to the resolution including criticism by several well-known religious conservatives focused on the resolution’s call for the blessing of same-sex unions, one of the most contentious issues facing a number of Protestant denominations here.

But Thomas, of the UCC, told ENI that the document’s lasting significance stemmed from its overall emphasis on a new sexual ethic linking spirituality and sexuality.

“This is a starting point for a much wider discussion,” Thomas said, adding that liberal religious leaders “have not, in an effective and positive way, presented our view on human sexuality. Often we’ve been silenced in moral debates. We want to make the public aware that there is another perspective.”

Larry Greenfield, the president of the Midwest chapter of the American Theological Society, told ENI that the appearance, in the past 30 to 40 years, of women’s and gay rights movements had fundamentally changed American society. Church teachings had begun to reflect those changes, he said. “Of course that is going to cause some stir.”

What was needed now, he told ENI, was a broader examination of how religious institutions viewed sexuality and how, ultimately, they would recognize and foster the talents of women and sexual minorities. “How many lives, for example, have we wasted in not recognizing the talents of women in ministry?”

But R. Albert Mohler Jr, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist news agency: “The arrogance of this ‘Declaration’ is breathtaking.

“These self-appointed moral revolutionaries will reject the clear teachings of Scripture in order to justify sexual perversions and destructive behaviours,” Mohler said. “In utter arrogance they claim a ‘religious’ mandate for their declaration. In a cloak of distortions they seek to overthrow biblical morality and put a humanistic ethic of sexual liberation in its place.”

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a sexual education organization, sponsored the drafting of the statement.

Copyright 2000 Ecumenical News International. Used with permission.

WHAT MAY CHRISTIANS DO?

The pastor of the Cambridge Presbyterian Church, Ian Hamilton, addresses the issue in his current church newsletter:-

During the next few weeks, Parliament will be debating the Government’s proposal to abolish “Clause 28.” This Clause forbids the teaching of homosexual relationships in schools as a legitimate alternative to heterosexual marriage. The Government tells us that Clause 28 is discriminatory, offensive to homosexuals, and an instrument for encouraging “homophobia”. It even seems likely that the Government will “whip” its M.P.s and insist they “toe the line”. Once more we are confronted with the possibility of legislation that legitimizes sin, that calls “good evil, and evil good”. What are Christians to do?

First and foremost, we must pray. Do we not believe in a God who hears and answers prayer? Yes, as a nation we are manifestly under his judgements; but we can pray that “in wrath he will remember mercy!” The opposition we face is organized, vocal and ruthless: but “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (read Psalm 2). He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Whatever else we do, let us pray. As John Bunyan reminds us, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”

Secondly, we must humble ourselves before God. The examples of Nehemiah and Daniel are models for us to emulate. When Nehemiah grieved over the tragedy of Israel, he was not “holier than thou”: He prayed, “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly towards you.” In the same vein Daniel prayed, “0 Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you … All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.” It is very easy to point the finger at the wickedness of homosexuality, and become arrogantly censorious. How conscious are we of our own sin? How humbled are we by the coldness, lovelessness, compromise, prayerlessness, self-righteousness, discord, factions and the like, that scar the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ? The present state of our nation and God’s judgements upon it should deeply humble us.

Thirdly, we should stand up, speak out, and support as best we can, those in authority who are willing to oppose the abolition of Clause 28. The homosexual lobby is very small, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it is well organized, powerful and ruthless. It takes courage to stand up for what is right and honouring to God, knowing that you will be pilloried, abused and hated for doing so. Mr Brian Soutar, the owner of Stagecoach gave £500,000 to School Boards in Scotland to help them resist the abolition of Clause 28. Immediately, the National Union of Students called for a boycott of his businesses. It has often been said that “All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to remain silent.” This is an issue on which Christians cannot, and must not, be silent. Baroness Young deserves our support, in prayer and in letter, for her willingness to oppose the proposed abolition in the House of Lords. We can write to our M.P.s, urging them to oppose this proposed legislation. Our children deserve our involvement. Our nation desperately needs our involvement. The honour of our God and the eternal wellbeing of men and women demand our involvement. May the Lord give us much grace, great boldness and deep humility as we “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

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