General News of Sunday, 3 February 2013

Source: GNA

Christian views on gay marriage

Following the national debate on homosexuality sparked during the vetting of Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana News Agency (GNA) delved into the position of Christians on the issue.

Nana Oye Lithur, a Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate has been in the spot light for supporting the rights of gays.

The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care.

Information obtained by the GNA from the Catholic News Service indicates that the Administrative Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a constitutional amendment to protect the unique social and legal status of marriage.

Catholics belief that, "marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love".

The Vatican has described legal recognition of same-sex unions as "gravely unjust."

In spite of its stands, the Catholic Church clearly teaches the dignity of homosexual persons and condemns "all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse" against them.

Pope Benedict who denounced homosexual behaviour, called for empathy and compassion from Catholics.

He condemned the violence of speech and action against homosexuals in "The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons."

Despite his call for compassion, he has not stepped down from his stance that homosexuality is a moral evil.

He observed that the inclination toward homosexuality is not necessarily a sin, it can be considered a "tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder”.

"A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally," because he feels that sex is only good if framed in the stance of being for procreation between a married man and woman.

Currently, the Roman Catholic Church has strict limitations on allowing homosexuals to become members of the clergy, and continue to fight against the legal recognition of homosexual couples.

Research by Dr Kelli Mahoney an experienced Christian Youth worker and publisher indicates that, the Presbyterian Church is sticking to the debate on homosexuality.

Currently the church takes the stance that homosexuality is a sin, but maintains a concern for homosexual believers.

The church does not sanction homosexual marriage in the church, and a Presbyterian Minister cannot perform a same sex union ceremony.

The Methodist Church denounces discrimination based on sexual orientation, and affirms homosexuals' participation in the ministry. However the Church prohibits the blessing of same sex marriages.

The United Methodist Church (UMC) supports the inclusion of homosexuals in the congregation, and homosexuals can take part in sacraments and programmes.

However, the Church does state that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," so the church does not allow homosexuals to become ordained ministers.

The UMC neither conducts homosexual marriages and nor allows them to be held in their churches.

The Baptist church's stance on homosexuality depends on the individual church's affiliation. For instance, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBS) adheres to the belief that the Bible denounces homosexuality, therefore it is sinful.

They believe that sexual preference is a choice, and that homosexual people can eventually overcome their homosexuality to become chaste.

SBC sees homosexuality as a sin, but do not classify it as an unforgivable sin.

In the Pentecostal Movement, they oppose same-sex marriages, and do not allow homosexual pastors to operate.

Some Pentecostal churches also deny membership to homosexuals and have the perspective that the homosexual can be delivered.

The Assemblies of God also adhere to the belief that homosexuality is a sin, and goes against scripture.

They belief that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church is in the process of developing a social statement directly related to homosexuality, yet they do call all Christians to respect all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

The church allows the ordination of homosexuals as ministers, but they are expected to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships.

Other Lutheran churches make a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual behaviour.

For instance, the Lutheran Church of Australia believes that sexual orientation is not controlled by the individual, but denies a genetic propensity.

The church does not condemn nor judge homosexuality and claims the Bible is silent on homosexual orientation. Homosexuals are welcomed into the congregation.

Meanwhile the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has adopted the belief that homosexuality is contrary to Bible teaching, and encourages members to minister to homosexuals.

It does not state that homosexuality is a conscious choice, but still contends that homosexual behaviour is sinful.