The debate on homosexuality in the church usually generates far more heat than light. Both sides listening to the other's point of view without any intention of changing their own. At one time it seemed to be a debate between those who based their viewpoint on the Bible as God's Word, and those who did not place such a high authority on Scripture.
However there are Christians who claim that the Bible does not condemn homosexual sexual acts in certain situations, that is, as part of a committed loving relationship. The most common arguments put forward being that the references to homosexual activity in Scripture refer to homosexual prostitution (part of heathen temple worship), heterosexuals indulging in homosexual experimentation, or promiscuous sexual activity.
"Natural and Unnatural"
There seems to be a major area of misunderstanding about the "Fall" or the original act of disobedience to God by man. No aspect of humanity is unaffected by the Fall, including sexuality (e.g. Gen.2:15 - before the Fall; Gen.3:7 - after the Fall). Therefore, no-one has a truly "perfect" or "normal" sexuality, as far as God is concerned.
God created within mankind various needs which have become affected by the Fall and therefore "disordered" or "unnatural" to God, but "natural" to us. hence there is often a conflict between what we desire and what God desires (see Romans 7:18-20). It is very easy to believe that, because a homosexual act seems natural and loving to my human nature and does not seem to harm anyone, it is in obedience to God's will. Scripture shows us that we should not necessarily make this assumption. It is easy, in many areas of our lives, including the sexual, to adjust or construct a theology to suit our human or natural desires and needs (the Flesh). We can, therefore, easily want to interpret Scripture to suit our own desires and often thus compromise God's moral values.
Arguments to support a theology that allows homosexual sexual activity can seem very plausible, especially when the opposing arguments are put forward by people who lack real understanding and show fear and prejudice.
The Bible and Sexuality
It is said that the Bible writers assumed their readers were heterosexual and knew nothing of homosexual love. There is no evidence foe this. One the contrary, people were not identified by their sexuality in biblical times as they are today. The words "homosexual" and "heterosexual" have only been used comparatively recently. People were sometimes identified by their sexual activity (e.g. fornicators, adulterers, etc.) but not known by a particular sexual orientation. It may have been believed that homo- or heterosexual was a possibility for nearly everyone, rather than those with a particular sexual orientation. "Male with male" sexual love relationships were well known in Roman times. It has been said that two out of three of the Roman emperors had a male sexual lover.
The two Greek words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 describe two people in a homosexual act. Paul goes on to say that this behaviour had ceased "and that is what some of you were" (1 Cor.6:11). In Matthew 19:10-11 Jesus says that we either have sex within heterosexual marriage or remain celibate.
Why is Homosexual Sex Condemned?
Genesis 1 and 2 hold the key to this question. Scripture talks about a "one flesh" male and female union, or "re-union" as mankind in the image, "male and female", of God. The sexual act was intended as a celebration of this union and the male and female bodies were obviously designed for it. Any sex outside this "one flesh" union is therefore condemned by God because it profanes His original gift or ordinance. Homosexual sex and behaviour such as adultery, fornication, bestiality and incest can never be "one flesh" in the right sense and are therefore condemned.
Needs Met in Christ
God has created various needs within mankind, including the need to love and be loved. Although we often seek to meet our human needs in ways that are not honouring to God. He has provided for these needs. Experiencing the love of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can meet these needs. This is within the context of the body of Christ and deep and meaningful Christian relationships.
Cost of Discipleship and Love
Loving someone always involves a cost to our own self will and desires in many ways. Following Jesus Christ and loving Him also costs a lot and must have top priority in our lives. "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires" (Gal.5:24, GNB).
We are called to walk a "narrow road" but we often make it more difficult by not being open enough to the many ways in which God wants us to experience love and fulfilment in Christ. Gay Christians claim that a traditional Christian viewpoint is denying them the right to love. Certainly the attitude of many people in the church that they have experienced would seem to justify their accusation. Scripture, however, says some wonderful things about love without associating it in any way with sexual relationships.
"Let Him who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone"
Many people are horrified by much of what the "gay Christians" claim that God has taught them. But we should look to our own lives and lifestyles and examine them for any trace of compromising God's will. There are probably areas that we may not even be aware of in which we have compromised and adapted a theology to suit our own circumstances and desires. There have certainly been times in my own life when I have wished I could accept the "gay theology" in terms of a loving homosexual relationship but I know in the light of God's Truth that it simply cannot be justified. I also know that God is able to change lives and lifestyles. Many people have experienced a change in their sexual orientation. The statements so often heard - "I was born gay and I will always be gay" - are simply not necessarily true. (Martin).
"We are Always Subjective..."
When Christians talk about homosexuality, I feel like groaning under the weight of trite explanations, false analogies and arguments from silence. Being homosexual is variously compared with physical disability, being left-handed or being greedy. When the Bible is mentioned we also seem to have to look into slavery, men with long hair and having sex during a woman's period!
Discussions are too often limited to thinking about people being either homosexual or heterosexual. We happily ignore research which shows that most of us are not 100% one way or the other but, at least, have the capacity to develop in either direction. In most cases we are talking about exercising our preferences.
The theological stand from "evangelical gay Christians", who support homosexual relationships, is actually asking for an enormous alteration to Christian teaching. Appeals about "love" can lull us into thinking it is only a development of Christian teaching rather than a new departure. Traditionally, genital expression has been limited to male/female marriage. Now we are asked to endorse any physical expression as long as there is a "loving commitment with intention of permanence". We need to study what the Scriptures can teach us about sexuality and love. I do not find the Bible taking love as the basis of, or justification for, sexual expression.
I would like to raise other points but time does not permit. We need to hear more from people in this debate who believe that gay sex is wrong. Like everyone else, I can only speak from my own experience. I was in a loving relationship with another man with the intention of permanence. That 'union' lasted nearly three years until I became convinced in my heart and mind that my theology of sexuality was worked out in order to fit my lifestyle, not the other way round. We are always subjective and that is why we need God to speak and apprehend us through Bible teaching.
After the relationship I lived for four years as a celibate Christian. Celibacy is given to all men and women for at least part of their life. This does not have to mean years of frustration. My friendship and my work provided me with much fulfilment and non-genital expression of my sexuality. These are just as important now that I am married.
Marriage has not been due to social pressures in the church. Neither do I claim to have an "ex-gay testimony". I am still of a basically homosexual orientation but I have found a woman whom I love and care for. We seem ideally suited to each other for marriage and, with prayer, we planned our wedding. As I get used to heterosexual sex I feel more "at home" than I did at first. Getting married is not a cure but what you do affects what you are. I am developing my sexual relationship with my wife and whether sexual temptation comes from other men, other women or some other source is irrelevant to me . I believe that normative sexuality is, in fact, heterosexual monogamy . Any other temptation to practice is part of our sexual deviancy to be resisted. Every person should deny expression to some of their innate sexual motivations and learn to be single or to be faithful in marriage. Such self-denial is a part of the Christian faith, it is positive and is part of the path to personal fulfilment of life in God. (Mark).
 At this man's point of sexual development this is undoubtedly true. It would be a mistake, however, to permanently assume this attitude, for it is God's wish that everyone be restored into His perfect image (heterosexual deviants included). [NCCG editor]
 This is the standard position of orthodox Bible-believing Christianity and for most people is certainly correct. It is not, however, a complete picture of biblical marriage which also allows for polygamy for those mature enough for it and specially called by God. Certainly this kind of marriage would be out of the question for anyone still with homosexual tendencies. [NCCG editor]
It should be said that many people marry in the belief that it will mean the end of their sexual problems (particularly homosexual). This is not necessarily the case and can have disastrous consequences for all involved. It is vital that people should know each other very well and have developed a deep Christian relationship before preparation for marriage is contemplated. There should also be some awareness of sexual interest in the prospective marriage partners. It is possible that heterosexual behaviour in marriage can also highlight any homosexual feelings present in people as erotic sexuality is experienced. Same sex or homosexual emotional needs are often not met in marriage and problems can result. Many people from a homosexual background have excellent marriages, other experience some unforeseen difficulties.
"I Felt God was Asking Too Much..."
At a time of desperate loneliness and isolation because of my homosexual orientation, on the encouragement of a homosexual friend, I began to receive literature from and attend meetings of the Gay Christian Movement. I am a woman who believes in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.
After several months of involvement at a fairly minor level with GCM, I became convinced that the standpoint of the movement was wrong. I could not ignore the Biblical statements referring to homosexuality, and the interpretations that GCM had produced seemed to be attempts to wriggle out of what God was saying. I couldn't find anything in Scripture that said that true fulfilment came through satisfying desires we felt, rather than through obeying God.
Making my position clear, I left and severed my association with GCM and, I might add, the close, although not sexual, relationship with the friend who had encouraged me to join. I then went through a very difficult time when I felt God was asking too much. I have never felt inclined towards the idea of celibacy, and it was harrowing really to face up to this in my Christian life. It was at this time that I would have appreciated a loving Christian fellowship to support me, but I had only shared my problem a few close friends, so I suppose I still felt rather alone.
One day, however, I sat down with my Bible and suddenly came across a passage in 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul refers to a whole group of the "wicked" who will not inherit the Kingdom of God - including homosexuals - and at the end he says, "and this is what some of you were".
I know the interpretation of this is often taken to mean those who practice homosexuality, but for me, at that time, it was a promise from God that he can change us from what we were. I don't consider that to be hiding from the reality of the homosexual condition, but to be reaching our to the greater reality of the God of the impossible.
It was about this time that I contact True Freedom Trust - and a little after that I started going to a group meeting in London. As a group we have started from the standpoint that God is right, and while being loving to one another in problems, we have found that God gives us a reason to see a positive side to things. We are really discovering the promise of Jesus that "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".
Over the past few years, personally, I have been astounded at what God has been doing in my life. Things have not been easy - at times I have been very depressed and lonely. The promise God has given me seemed very vague.
However, I am aware that God has been changing my attitudes. I saw how He had been working through the relationships I have with other people. I began to see that my attitude towards other men was very warped. Perhaps through childhood experience, I saw men as completely dominating women, if allowed to, but God gave me male friends who were not like that and really began to heal me emotionally at a deeper level than that of attraction to my own sex.
I cannot say that I never entertain homosexual feelings, that would be untrue - but I do know that my whole life is more balanced in the way I relate to both sexes and I want to rejoice in the deep Christian love I have found with both men and women. I do believe that God is leading me to a position where I can accept whatever he has planned for me, whether that should include celibacy or marriage. (Anne)
"Only Once has Love Really Touched Me..."
As a Christian with homosexual desires within my life, of late I have found it difficult in my ministry to relate to others in the church where I work as a full-time evangelist.
I have found as I have shared with others my own feelings and frustrations there has been no, or little, response. Somewhat like the time when you reach out to greet someone with a handshake, only to find the person does not want to shake your outstretched hand, leaving you at the least embarrassed, or deeply hurt.
Some time ago, as I first came to work in the parish, I was moved deeply to share with the curate and vicar my own homosexual feelings and background. The "extended hand" was not received. Comments of "Thanks for sharing" and "Very brave of you" were the only comeback I heard. This has created a barrier between myself and their love, causing me to be lonely and isolated. This has happened with other members of the fellowship - just no response - which hurts. I find myself frequently tempted to find love of a different sort, readily available to homosexuals-
By faith I believe and know God loves me, yet in my experience from my brothers and sisters only once has love really touched me.
One evening as I shared my feelings and frustrations with a young couple in the fellowship, they reached out and put their arms lovingly around me and said, "We love you, just as Christ does and always will." They went even further and shared with me some deem emotional need they had. What joy! Jesus felt real and big and close.
God calls us to love and if we love God and obey His Commandments we will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3).
For me, one commandment or part of the law I must keep is this in Leviticus 18:22 - "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is an abomination".
For me, my love for God and my brother will not allow me to break this law, even though part of me wants to at times. (R.M.).