This page is divided into two parts:
1. Discussions on religion and homosexuality
2. Latest news articles regarding religion and GLBTI issues
Why have we created this page on sexuality and religion?
For many people coming to terms with their sexuality and being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or queer or same sex attracted two of the key issues that arise are:
1) acceptance by family and friends,
2) acceptance by their faith or the religious belief system that has been and still is an important part of their life.
Many, but not all religions, reject homosexuality or same sex attracted people or put restrictions on them such as being allowed to be same sex attracted but not allowed to be sexually active with a member of the same sex. We hope to provide a variety of information on this page that may help you reconcile your religious beliefs and your sexuality. Remember, sexuality is not just about sex, it is about being both physically and EMOTIONALLY attracted to another person. Religions that see being gay or lesbian as simply about having what they would call 'un-natural' sex fail to see our sexualtiy as being far more then just the physical act of sex. They fail to see we are also emotionally and some would say spiritually attracted to members of the same sex.
What is our position on religion?
We do not support any particular religious faith or belief system. We do respect religions that show respect to all people including same sex attracted people. We cannot and do not respect any religion that rejects same sex attracted people on the basis of our sexuality or spread hatred and rejection based upon a persons sexuality.
We hope this page may help you in your journey - if you come across some information that you think may help others about being gay and also having a commitment to their faith please send us an e-mail to: email@example.com
"Ex-Gay" Ministries and "Reparative Therapy"
Ex-gay ministries use out-of-date and scientifically disproved medical theories to justify trying to "cure" gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) peoples' natural sexual orientation or gender identity.
Originally, these ministries were a small group of religious people who were virtually unknown. However, because of high-profile ad campaigns and conferences sponsored by the religious right these ministries have become a political tool in the ongoing fight to deny GLBT civil rights.
Ex-gay ministries believe three main things:
- They are called to love GLBT people who are "struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity"
- Homosexual orientation and transgender identity are chosen or are the result of bad childhood experiences
- They cannot condone this "sinful" behavior and are therefore called on to change the sexual orientation of GLBT people.
PFLAG's Position On "Reparative Therapy"
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) opposes and deplores efforts by professional and religious groups that propose to change or repair anyone's sexual orientation. We believe such attempts originate from cultural bias based on myth, misperception and misunderstanding. We encourage all professional, educational and religious organizations to work towards changing cultural biases rather than embarking on futile and damaging efforts to change sexual orientation.
Facts Regarding "Reparative Therapy"
The record shows that "reparative therapy" has no support from the major medical and mental health professional organizations.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the term "homosexuality" from the list of mental and emotional disorders. Sexual orientation is not a disorder; therefore, it does not need to be cured.
In 1990, the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence shows that reparative therapy does not work and that it can do more harm than good.
In 1998, the American Psychiatric Association stated it was opposed to reparative therapy, stating "psychiatric literature strongly demonstrates that treatment attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective. However, the potential risks are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive [suicidal] behavior..."
The American Medical Association, states in its policy number H-160.991, that it "opposes, the use of 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation".
In 2001, The U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior asserted that homosexuality is not "a reversible lifestyle choice".
Richard Cohen, one of the main reparative therapists, is permanently excluded from the American Counseling Association (ACA).
"Reparative therapy" is unethical. It does not work and it is dangerous and destructive. The damage that can be done by this practice is real. It can destroy someone's self esteem and faith and may lead to self-destructive and suicidal behavior.
Resources on Reparative Therapy and the Ex-Gay Movement:
Professional Organization Statements on Reparative Therapy
Homosexuality is generally defined as sexual interest in and attraction to members of one's own sex. In different eras, cultures, and religions, homosexual behaviour has been variously approved, tolerated, punished, or banned.
Homosexuality was not uncommon in ancient cultures, though the forms and views of homosexual behavior vary significantly. In most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, both the subject and the behaviour are considered taboo, with some slight exception made in urban areas. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were generally accepting of homosexual behavior within certain contexts. Hinduism and Buddhism tend to view homosexuality primarily from the standpoint of its karmic effects, with varying conclusions.
Jewish, Christian, Sikh and Muslim cultures have generally perceived homosexual behaviour as sinful. Many Jewish and Christian leaders, however, have gone to great lengths to make clear that it is the homosexual acts and not the homosexual individuals or their "orientation" that is condemned. Some liberal strands of both mainstream Protestant Christianity and Reform Judaism advocate, on theological as well as social grounds, the full acceptance of homosexuals and their relationships.
Homosexuality and the Religions
Why The Pope Hates Gays
Religion and Homosexuality
Does God condemn gays? Is homosexuality a sin? Or is being gay truly "insidious" in the eyes of God, as the late Pope John Paul II described in his book "Memory and Identity"?
Homosexuality Is a Sin!
The late John Paul II and therefore the Vatican's stance on gays is clear: homosexuality is a sin and gay marriage "attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man." In the late Pope's philosophical work on the nature of good and evil, "Memory and Identity," gay marriages are considered an integral part of "a new ideology of evil" plaguing our world today.
After all, the Bible itself sites passages condemning homosexual activity:
"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman: it is an abomination" (Lev 18:22).
"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall be put to death: their blood is upon them" (Lev 20:13).
"God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom 1:26-27).
"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers - none of these will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10).
The condemnation of the law applies for those "who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers" ( 1 Tim 1:9-10).
God Loves Gays Too!
Many religious supporters disagree that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, including those that fought for the inauguration of the Episcopal Church's first Openly Gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson, a decision that divided the church but promoted a more progressive religious community.
Some religious scholars believe that the intent of references to homosexuality in the Bible may not relate to same-sex relations at all. Walter Wink, Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary describes in his presentation on Homosexuality and the Bible:
"Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homosexuality are, in fact, irrelevant. One is the attempted gang rape in Sodom (Gen. 19:1-29), since that was a case of ostensibly heterosexual males intent on humiliating strangers by treating them "like women," thus demasculinizing them. (This is also the case in a similar account in Judges 19-21.) Their brutal behavior has nothing to do with the problem of whether genuine love expressed between consenting adults of the same sex is legitimate or not. Likewise Deut. 23:17-18 must be pruned from the list, since it most likely refers to a heterosexual prostitute involved in Canaanite fertility rites that have infiltrated Jewish worship; the King James Version inaccurately labeled him a 'sodomite.'"
In the end only the Lord can tell us which side the scale should tip. Until then the controversy over gays and religion will continue. Share you opinion here!
Homosexuality And Religion
What the Bible really says about homosexuality.
We often hear from churches that homosexuality is a sin, but what is the biblical basis for this and how relevant is it to Christians living in 21st Century Australia?
The passages in the Bible that relate to homosexuality can be separated into those of the Old Testament and the New. The main texts cited as condemning homosexuality in the Old Testament are found in the books of Leviticus and Genesis.
Leviticus is a list of the laws and prohibitions held by the ancient Hebrews at a time when they still performed animal sacrifices to the God of Israel at the great temple of Jerusalem.
Most of its commandments are no longer followed by Jews, let alone by Christians, and many of the practices it condones are now held to be deeply immoral or nonsensical by both religions.
Leviticus 18:22 says, "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."
It also says that it is an abomination to eat shellfish, shrimp and a range of other animals considered to be "unclean" in ancient times.
Leviticus 20:13 says, "If a man lies with another man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."
The book of Leviticus also says that people who have sex outside of marriage, who speak ill of their parents, who curse or blaspheme, who work on the Sabbath, and who get tattoos or trim their hair or beards in certain ways should also be put to death.
Leviticus allows polygamy and the owning of slaves - even selling your own children into slavery.
If the commandments against homosexuality still hold true, why don't all these others hold true also?
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis has been one of the hardest stories for Jews and Christians to interpret throughout history and it was not until hundreds of years after the story was written that it was finally decided on as a condemnation of homosexuality.
In this story God decides to destroy the two non-Jewish cities because "their sins are very grave" but sends angels to see if there are any decent men in the city first.
The angels come to the city where they meet Lot who warns them to keep off the street because of the wicked people in the city and they go to his house.
The people of Sodom find out about the strangers and come to Lot's house where they demand "to know" the strangers.
Lot defends the angels and offers his two virgin daughters to the mob for them to
"do as they please" if they will leave the angels alone, but they reject the offer and break down the door at which point the angels strike them blind.
Lot is then told to flee the city with his family and Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.
There are a few problems with arguing that this story condemns homosexuality. Firstly, the phrase "to know" in the original Hebrew is sometimes used in the original texts to mean "have sex with" - but most of the time it is not.
Even if it is translated as "have sex with" the crowd intended to rape the angels, so the story can be more easily be interpreted as a condemnation of sexual violence rather than homosexuality.
Thirdly, in Genesis, after Lot's family have escaped Sodom, his daughters get Lot drunk and have sex with him with the intention of getting pregnant so that they can preserve their family line.
After destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their immorality, God does nothing to punish Lot's daughters for committing incest and their behaviour goes without comment in the Bible. So can Christians really argue that this story has any relevance today?
The term sodomy, derived from this story, was originally used to describe any kind of sex, heterosexual or homosexual, not intended to produce offspring, right up to the start of the 20th Century. It's only because society has moved on when it comes to issues such as masturbation or oral sex that the term is now used to describe homosexual acts only.
In the New Testament the passages condemning homosexuality are more obscure.
Jesus Christ himself not once refers to homosexuality as a sin, and went out of his way to associate with people considered untouchable at the time - the crippled, prostitutes and tax collectors.
It is only after the living Christ has departed that his followers speak against homosexuality. Almost all these anti-gay statement were made by just one figure - Paul, who never knew Christ as a living man and who's only experience with Christ was a vision on the road to Damascus.
Importantly, Paul spent most of his life in dispute with the other fathers of the early church, including those who had known the living Christ.
Many Biblical experts also dispute the authenticity of some of the letters attributed to Paul as they only appear hundreds of years after his death and are written in a different style to those thought to be genuine.
In I Corinthians 6:9 Paul writes, "Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."
In Romans 1:26-27 Paul writes, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."
Similar statements referring to homosexual behaviour are also made in the books of Timothy and Jude. Importantly, these New Testament references do not refer to homosexual acts as being worse than other forms of sinful behaviour.
But why was the Jewish society that Christianity sprang from so opposed to homosexual behaviour? The fact is that most of the world at that time, particularly those civilisations that neighboured Israel and dominated it, actually allowed and incorporated forms of homosexual behaviour into their cultures, particularly the Greek and Roman cultures
in the Near East at the time of Christ and in the period preceding it.
At the time of Christ there simply was no concept of a person being gay or straight, only homosexual and heterosexual behaviour.
In this sense it is incorrect to say that the Bible condemns homosexuals as its writers had no sense of such people existing - especially not the kinds we see in committed, loving relationships today.
Many cultures at this time expected young men to sleep with other young men before they were old enough to get married. In some cultures sex, including same sex behaviour, was part of religious ceremonies. It was also common for men to visit prostitutes, both male and female, in these societies.
Judaism, as the first major ancient religion to have a big problem with sex (both gay and straight), found these customs abhorrent, and this attitude has been passed down to its successors - Christianity and Islam.
It was these attitudes that allowed the people of Israel and the early Christians to differentiate themselves from the dominating cultures they lived amongst. So it's no surprise that Paul and others would write about these issues as the people they were trying to convert were members of these more relaxed cultures.
So, what does this all mean for us today?
What it shows is that there are many things that are acceptable in the Bible that Christians find unacceptable today: slavery, capital punishment for trivial offenses, and the second class status of women. Why then can't some change their attitude to gay men and lesbians?
Maybe these people need to ask themselves, Am I following my religious obligations, or am I simply hiding behind religion to express their own fears and prejudices?
Some groups for gay Christians are-
http://www.freedom2b.org/ (for Pentecostals and Evangelicals)
http://www.mccsydney.org/ (the Metropolitan Community Church)
http://www.gaycatholic.com.au/ (Gay Catholics)
The Salvation Army is an Evangelical Christian sect founded in the nineteenth century, which has recently become an arm of right-wing conservatism. During the late 1990s, the sect campaigned in favor of sodomy laws and against glbtq rights.
You may also be interested in the website associated with the work of Anthony Venn-Brown, author of 'A Life of Unlearning - A Journey to Find the Truth' Freedom 2 B[e] which states its mission as:
Historically Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have maintained the outdated belief that homosexuality is a sin, a choice or the result of a dysfunctional upbringing. This belief has caused untold torment and trauma for many trying to resolve their issues of faith and sexuality.
Whether you have left the church or are still there, Freedom 2 B[e] is a non judgemental, safe place to assist people on their journey to reconciliation .... you can visit their site here
First Gay Anglican Bishop to Retire, Citing Strain of “Controversy”
November 11, 2010
Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, has announced his retirement after seven years leading his New Hampshire diocese due to the strain of the controversy that has consumed the Anglican Communion following his election.The U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson in 2003 over the objections of traditional members of the Anglican Communion, who said that consecrating an active homosexual man as bishop was a clear repudiation of the Scriptural foundations of the church and Christianity. Ever since then, the Anglican Communion has struggled to overcome an open rift that has certain factions poised to leave the Communion or even seek reunification with the Catholic Church, which has guaranteed the Anglican identity a perpetual place within its fold .... read more
Abusive emails sent to lesbian pastor fighting for same-sex marriages
4 November, 2010
A lesbian church minister in England fighting to overturn the ban on same-sex marriages today revealed that she had been sent abusive messages since launching the campaign .... read more
Megachurch leader comes out
2nd November, 2010
A 52-year-old Christian church Bishop has suddenly come out as gay, saying he and his wife kept his secret for 21 years. The recent spate of gay teen suicides prompted Georgia church leader Jim Swilley to out himself. "I thought I needed to say something," the father of four explains, adding that he can't bear to think about what those teenagers and their parents were going through. Reaction from his congregation has been encouraging so far, but some Christian bloggers have condemned him .... read more
HIV: Not a punishment, not justice, just a disease
2 November, 2010
Sometimes bishops say the stupidest things. Of course so do journalists and presidents and moms and teachers and everyone else, but jeez. What on earth possessed the primate of Belgium, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Bruges, to suggest once again, 30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, that this disease is somehow nature's retribution against sinners? .... read more
Pastor Claims Jesus Was HIV-Positive in Sermon
2 November, 2010
A South African pastor is taking a novel approach to reducing the stigma around HIV/AIDS, The Advocate reports .... read more
Christian, happy and gay. Yes, it's possible!
31 October 2010
For years, Benjamin Gresham battled to reconcile his sexuality with his Christian faith. But eventually, with help and support, he was able to find inner peace. Inside one 22 year old man's moving journey to acceptance .... read more
Ten dumps TV Bible-basher
5th October, 2010
A controversial televangelist is now off-air in Australia's capital cities after he made one anti-gay comment too many. Pentecostal powerhouse Kenneth Copeland has been a regular God-bothering feature of Network Ten's overnight infomercial line-up for several years - but the network says it has had to pull the plug on his show Believer's Voice of Victory after a viewer complained about the host's homophobia .... read more