Today is the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). Few could argue that there have not been great strides to achieve equality for homosexuals. Barack Obama has openly declared his support for equality in marriage, and here in South Africa we have a progressive Constitution that protects homosexuals from unfair discrimination. However, a large part of our population holds religious beliefs that necessarily condemn homosexuality and yet they simultaneously do not want to be seen as being homophobes.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying:
“I can’t for the life of me imagine that God will say, ‘I will punish you because you are black, you should have been white; I will punish you because you are a woman, you should have been a man; I will punish you because you are homosexual, you ought to have been heterosexual.’ I can’t for the life of me believe that is how God sees things.”
I would not dispute that this is a magnanimous thing for him to say. However, given his religious beliefs that are supposedly based on the Bible, I cannot for the life of me imagine how he can justify the statement that God “will [not] punish you because you are homosexual”. In fact, I cannot see how any Christian could justify that statement, without a selective reading of the Bible, and that is precisely my point in this article.
The Bible is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexuality is prohibited. There are many scriptures that speak to this fact, which are seemingly unambiguous and thus not really open to interpretation, but one example of each will suffice. Leviticus 20:13 describes a man sleeping with a man as an “abomination” to God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 states that “men who have sex with men” will “not inherit the kingdom of God”.
It is well-known that the Anglican Church has allowed homosexual priests to be ordained, without being able to deny that it is incompatible with scripture. There are many other churches that have also taken a “liberal” approach, but have apparently done so by drawing attention away from what the scriptures actually say.
So it seems plain to me that the only coherent way for Christians to be “gay-friendly” is for them to read the Bible selectively. That would be fine; however it would then pose some serious questions about how they can just ignore seemingly unambiguous portions of the Bible and still preach that it is the perfect word of God.
What then is left of their religion? Why should they be able to change the rules as they play the game? It seems quite convenient that it is only now, two thousand years into their innings and after a very recent movement to recognise gay rights, that Christians want to accept homosexuals.