List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality


List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality

This is a list of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality. The issue of homosexuality and Christianity is a subject of on-going theological debate within and between Christian denominations and this list seeks to summarise the various official positions. It should be noted that within these denominations many members may hold somewhat differing views on and even differing definitions of homosexuality. The list is in alphabetical order and includes denominations self-identified as Christian, which may not be so recognized by the other denominations.

Overview

The following table illustrates how each denomination deals with members who are currently in a homosexual relationship. See also: Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches.

Adventism

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that "sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman." It believes the Bible consistently affirms the pattern of heteromonogamy, and all sexual relations outside the scope of spousal intimacy are contrary to God's original plan. [ [http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main_stat46.html Adventists] ]

Anglicanism

The Anglican Communion has been divided over the issue of homosexuality. The Church of England, the mother church of the Communion, currently maintains (according to the statement "Issues in Human Sexuality") that same-sex partnerships are acceptable for laypersons but gay clergy are expected to be abstinent. The Lambeth Conference of 1998 called homosexuality "incompatible with Scripture" but this remains a purely advisory guideline as there are no communion-wide legislative bodies in the Anglican Church. On the other hand, the Episcopal Church, which is the American body (providence) of the Anglican Communion, approved (2003) Gene Robinson to be the bishop of the dioceses of New Hampshire. Bishop Gene Robinson is the first gay (non-celibate) clergy to be openly ordain into the office of episcopate (http://www.nhepiscopal.org/BishopSearch/index.htm, http://www.nhepiscopal.org/bishop/bishop.html).

Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest of the Baptist denominations and the largest Protestant group in the U.S., considers same-gender sexual behavior to be sinful, stating clearly "We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ." [ [http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/pssexuality.asp Position of SBC on sexuality in general] ] Their behavior toward gays and lesbians is one of "love the sinner, hate the sin" (i.e., they should not show hatred toward the person, but should condemn his/her behavior).

Other conservative Baptist denominations and Independent Baptist churches are also generally opposed to homosexuality, along the same lines as the SBC. They, too, generally adopt the "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach.

Churches such as the Westboro Baptist Church, known for their open hatred toward both the homosexual person and the behavior, as well as their view that homosexuality constitutes the "unpardonable sin," are rare in Baptist circles, and are in fact often condemned by other Baptists who would otherwise agree that homosexuality is a sin. This also includes Hephzibah Baptist Church, led by Rev. William Sanderson.

However, there are a number of Baptist churches, particularly in the American Baptist Churches in the USA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, that have more inclusive views. The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, a group of some 50 churches and organizations, is committed to the "full inclusion" of gay and lesbian persons in their churches. This "full inclusion" may or may not include approbation of same-sex sexual conduct.

Canadian and American Reformed Churches

The Canadian and American Reformed Churches cite Biblical sources from Leviticus 20:13, which reads: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable." NIV

A homosexual member of one of these churches will be placed under censure or excommunicated and can only be received again into the communion of saints and be admitted to the Lord's Supper in these Reformed traditions after he/she has declared repentance from his/her homosexuality, which the churches teach is a sin. After repentance, the person is declared forgiven by the church.Fact|date=March 2007

Christian Reformed Church in North America

The Christian Reformed Church has maintained the stance since the 1970s that homosexuality is the direct result of a sinful world much like any other sin. Homosexuality should be discouraged and the Church should show compassion for homosexuals like they would for any other sinner. Further, the Church should do everything in its power to help homosexuals see "the error of their ways" and to help repair the brokenness of sin.

However, gays and lesbians should not be denied any right granted to heterosexuals. They have the right to maintain office and be an active member in a as their gifts can still be used to glorify God. The view is generally derived from the compassion Jesus showed for the sinners of his day (prostitutes and other notable sinners). As such, any homosexual who repents the sin of homosexuality is entirely forgiven even if they continue to struggle with temptation. [ [http://www.crcna.org/whoweare/beliefs/position_homosexuality.asp?WhoWeAreMenu Reference CRNA] ]

Although the First Christian Reformed Church of Toronto (also the first CRC congregation to call a woman minister) voted to allow gays and lesbians in committed partnerships as elders and deacons, this decision was later rescinded in the face of pressure from the Toronto classis [http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/013/11.19.html Reformed Church] . [ [http://www.thebanner.org/magazine/article.cfm?article_id=304 Reformed Church] ] [ [http://www.thebanner.org/magazine/article.cfm?article_id=402 Reformed Church] ]

Churches of Christ

The Churches of Christ believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, and being actively gay is considered a serious sin. Many believe this is a struggle just as lust, lying, etc are temptations but are only sinful if the person gives into that temptation. They allow LGBT members, so long as they remain celibate.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes clear that same-gender attraction is not sinful and no one should blamed for it, but that a few people have been able to overcome it. [http://lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b7723f4adab435807398f2f6e44916a0/?vgnextoid=7b2a5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=bb05c8322e1b3110VgnVCM100000176f620a____ God Loveth His Children] 2007] However, it considers homoerotic thoughts, feelings and behaviors to be a problem that everyone can and should overcome. [LDS Church (1992) [http://www.qrd.org/qrd/religion/judeochristian/protestantism/mormon/mormon-homosexuality Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems: Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders] Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church] Homosexual activity is considered a serious sin on par or greater than other sexual activity outside of a legal, heterosexual marriage. They have encouraged their members to reach out to homosexuals with love and understanding, which has sparked criticism and protests from more conservative churches. [cite news
url=http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695248839,00.html
title=Church group plans protest at Pres. Hinckley's funeral
first=Jared
last=Page
date=January 31 2008
publisher=Deseret Morning News
] [cite news
url=http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8210106
title=Kirby: My surprise at finding that I belong to a gay church
first=Robert
last=Kirby
publisher=Salt Lake Tribune
date=February 2, 2008
] In 2007, they produced God Loveth His Children, a pamphlet whose stated purpose is to help LGB members.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds the opinion that sexuality, as we understand it, is part of the fallen world only. In Orthodox Theology both monasticism and marriage are paths to Salvation ("sotiria" in Greek, literally meaning "becoming whole"). Celibacy is the ideal path for monasticism while marriage is blessed under the context of true love ("Man must love his wife as Jesus loved his Church": this phrase is part of the Orthodox Marriage Ritual). This context can be interpreted by the non-Orthodox as not being exclusive of homosexuality, whereas it is seen as exclusive of homosexuality by the vast majority of the Orthodox. Traditionally the church has adopted a non-legalistic view of sin (see above), in which homosexuality is a sin. Some members of the church have assumed an active role in encouraging negative social stereotypes against gay individuals who do not repent and several prominent members of the clergy have made statements condemning homosexuality. The leader of the Church of Greece, archbishop Christodoulos of Athens has described being gay as a "handicap." Fact|date=February 2007

All jurisdictions, such as the Orthodox Church in America, have taken the approach of welcoming people with "homosexual feelings and emotions," while encouraging them to work towards "overcoming its harmful effects in their lives," while not allowing the sacraments to people who seek to justify homosexuality. [ [http://www.oca.org/DOCmarriage.asp?SID=12&ID=26 Orthodox Church in America] ]

LGBT activism within Orthodox churches has been much less widespread than in Catholicism and many Protestant denominations. In 1980 the group Axios was founded in Los Angeles to advocate for sexual minorities in the Orthodox church, and has since started several other chapters in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses consider same-sex sexual activity to be sinful, but recognize that some people may be prone to homosexuality, including members of their congregation. Members are required to abstain from any homosexual behaviour, which is listed as a serious sin. While distancing themselves from homosexual activity, they are taught not to hate homosexuals. Their literature has stated that christians shall not make homosexuals the target of ill will, ridicule, or harassment, and that all fellow humans should be treated in a respectful and dignified manner. [Awake! 1997, 8. December.]

Lutheranism

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, has a current policy which states that persons who are gay or lesbian in their self-understanding are allowed to be ordained, but must maintain a lifestyle of celibacy. However, it is currently evaluating this policy, with the next debate scheduled for 2009. During the national meeting in 2005, [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5206767,00.html 2005 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] ] delegates voted against a measure that would have allowed non-celibate gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions by 503 against to 490 in favor.

Outside of ordination, policy states that LGBT individuals are welcome and encouraged to become members and participate in the life of the congregation. The ELCA does not have a policy against same-sex unions, nor does it have a rite for blessing those unions, but leaves the question up to pastoral care. ELCA congregations that specifically embrace GLBT persons are called Reconciling in Christ congregations. The group Lutherans Concerned supports the inclusion of LGBT members in Lutheran churches in the ELCA and ELCIC. All other Lutheran churches in the United States oppose ordination and marriage of homosexuals.

In 2006, Lionel Ketola became the first person in a same-sex marriage to be appointed vicar (intern) of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada congregation. This occurred at [ [http://www.holycrosslutheran.ca Holy Cross Lutheran Church] ] in Newmarket, Ontario. Later that year, the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC voted to allow a "local option" for blessing same-sex unions. The national church, which had previously rejected such a proposal, proceeded to assert that it alone had the authority to make such a decision. The National Church Council agreed in a September ruling, but promised to bring forward another motion authorising the local option for approval at the 2007 National Convention.

Most Lutheran state churches in Germany, Lutheranism's country of origin, are also liberal, viewing homosexuality as moral and allow gay and lesbian clergy. But the Lutheran churches in Germany are also divided on the issue of blessing same-sex unions. In general, very few churches in the more rural parishes (Baden, Saxonia, Hesse-Waldeck) are in favor of blessing same-sex unions while the urban churches do allow them (Hanover, Rhineland, Westfalia, Brunswick, Oldenburg, Berlin-Brandenburg, Bremen, Northelbia...). Nevertheless, all the state churches agree that gay and lesbian individuals are welcome as members, and that any kind of persecution is unacceptable.

The Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia, also members of the Lutheran World Federation, are also liberal in their position on homosexuality and view homosexuality as moral. In Sweden (Church of Sweden) the Lutheran church allowed 2006 blessings of same-sex unions and permit gay clergy. A notable bishop is the KG Hammar, former Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden, has been very vocal in supporting gay and lesbian Lutherans. The Church of Norway is divided, with 6 of 11 bishops accepting homosexual practice as moral, even though the church officially rejects it.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is divided on issue, but many of its most well known bishops have expressed their acceptance for homosexuality. Also some theologians related to church have supported gay-marriages.

The smaller and more conservative denominations of the International Lutheran Council and Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference do not sanction same-sex partnerships among the clergy or laity.

Mennonite Churches

Mennonite churches vary in terms of acceptance of homosexuals. While some are very progressive, others, most notably the Old Order Amish, consider homosexuality very sinful.

Methodism

Methodist Church of Great Britain

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has not taken a definitive stance on homosexuality, although affirms the traditional belief that individuals should remain chaste outside marriage.cite web|url=http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=1547|title=Human Sexuality|publisher=The United Methodist Church|accessdate=2007-09-08] In 2006, the Church also prohibited the blessing of same sex unions on or off church property.cite web|url=http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=1547|title=British Methodists reject blessing of same-sex relationships|publisher=The United Methodist Church|accessdate=2007-09-08]

The United Methodist Church

One source of considerable controversy within the United Methodist Church is its official positions on homosexuality. Since 1972, the "Book of Discipline" has declared "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Christian teaching." Following the 1972 incompatibility clause other restrictions have been added at subsequent General Conferences. Currently the "Book of Discipline" prohibits the ordination of "practicing, self-avowed homosexuals," forbids clergy from blessing or presiding over same-sex unions, forbids the use of UMC facilities for same-sex union ceremonies and prohibits the use of Church funds for "gay caucuses" or other groups that "promote the acceptance of homosexuality." An additional prohibition toward the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons will be debated at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth. Following the 2005 decision of the Judicial Council to uphold a pastor's right to deny membership to a man solely based on his sexual orientation (despite the silence of the "Book of Discipline" on the matter) the denomination expects a host of petitions surrounding the eligibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons for membership.

Despite this language, not all members of the Church are of one mind on this issue. Preceding the incompatibility clause the "Book of Discipline" clearly states that "homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth." Some believe that this "sacred worth" clause stands in contradiction to the following statement regarding the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching. The "Book of Discipline" affirms that all persons, both heterosexual and homosexual, are included in the ministry of the church and can receive the gift of God's grace. While the "Book of Discipline" supports the civil rights of homosexual persons and rejects the abuse of homosexuals by families and churches, it also calls for laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Failed efforts have been made to pass resolutions to "fully include gay. lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the life of the Church" [http://www.mfsaweb.org/generalconference/GC2004Translation.html] at General Conferences since the introduction of the incompatibility clause in 1972; delegates from annual conferences in the Northeast and on the West Coast typically vote to do so, but are outnumbered by those from Southeast.

Some of these issues have come before the Judicial Council. On October 31, 2005, the Council undertook two controversial measures on this topic. First, the Council upheld the revocation of Irene Elizabeth Stroud's clergy status for disclosing she is openly lesbian. The council also rendered a decision allowing a Virginia pastor to deny church membership to a gay man. The latter [http://archives.umc.org/interior_judicial.asp?mid=263&JDID=1098&JDMOD=VWD&SN=1001&EN=1032 decision] was especially controversial, since it appeared to UMC LGBT proponents to contradict both the Constitution and membership policies of the United Methodist Church which stipulate that membership shall be open to all persons "without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition." The Judicial Council had previously found that the word "status" applies to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons (See Decision 1020). Decision 1032 created vigorous debate on the level of autonomy individual pastors and congregations have in interpreting and applying Church doctrine.

Metropolitan Community Church

The Metropolitan Community Church is an international fellowship of Christian . It is considered by many to be a full mainline denomination or communion. There are currently 300 congregations in 22 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Acceptance of homosexuality is an important part of its theology.

The Metropolitan Community Church was instrumental in the first legal challenges to the heterosexual legal definition of marriage in Ontario (see Same-sex marriage in Ontario). Two couples used an old legal procedure called reading the banns to marry without a licence. When same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario, their marriages were recognized.Fact|date=March 2007

Moravian Church

The Moravian Church declared in 1974 that gays and lesbians were full members of the Christian community. In 2002, the Northern Provincial Synod placed a moratorium for the time being on further decisions about homosexuality. Currently, the questions of marriage and ordination are unresolved.Fact|date=March 2007

New Apostolic Church

From the statement: "Position of the New Apostolic Church on certain issues of sexual conduct." Section 4.4:

"On the grounds of Biblical tenets and Christian tradition, the New Apostolic Church deems practised homosexuality to be unacceptable."

"Brothers and sisters who are practising homosexuals, or living in a homosexual partnership, are barred from discharging ministerial and teaching duties in our Church."

Old Catholic Church

The Old Catholic Churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands view homosexuality as moral, permit gay and lesbian priests, and bless gay couples.Fact|date=March 2007 These should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Church, or the Old Roman Catholic Church, which holds the identical position those in communion with the Holy See [Constitution of the Old Roman Catholic Diocese of New Jersey] (see below).

Pentecostalism

Most churches that are within the Pentecostal Movement view homosexual behavior as a sin. The second largest Pentecostal Church in the USA, the Assemblies of God, makes its view clear on homosexuality in a position paper stating "It should be noted at the outset that there is absolutely no affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture. Rather, the consistent sexual ideal is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage. There is also abundant evidence that homosexual behavior, along with illicit heterosexual behavior, is immoral and comes under the judgement of God" [ [http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/PP_4181_homosexuality.cfm Assemblies of God Position Paper on Homosexuality] ]

These churches therefore oppose same-sex unions, gay pastors, and would tend to forbid congregants who persist in homosexual practices. Politically, there are likely to support politicians with the same viewpoints. Most Pentecostal churches insist that those who engage in homosexual activity should cease such behavior, as with any sin.Fact|date=March 2007

Presbyterianism

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, is sharply divided over the issue of homosexuality. Although gay and lesbian persons are welcome to become members of the church, denominational policy prohibits non-celibate same-sex relations (as well as non-celibate heterosexual relations outside of marriage) for those serving as ministers or as elders on key church boards. After rancorous debate, that policy was upheld in a vote of presbyteries in 2002. The denomination's constitution defines marriage as "a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship" (W-4.9 [ [http://index.pcusa.org/NXT/gateway.dll/order/level000000/level100186.htm/level200210/level300219.htm Presbyterian Church USA] ] ). The denomination is currently awaiting the release of a study on the "peace, unity, and purity" of the church before taking up the issue again. The Church does bless same-sex unions, but does not permit same-sex marriages, and does not explicitly support the consummation of these unions.

Other much smaller American Presbyterian bodies, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, [ [http://www.pcanet.org/history/pca/2-398.html Presbyterian Church in America] ] the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, [ [http://www.arpsynod.org/position.html Position Statements ] ] and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church [ [http://opc.org/GA/homosexuality.html Humble Petition to President Clinton ] ] condemn same-sex sexual behavior as incompatible with Biblical morality, but believe gays and lesbians can repent and abandon the "lifestyle."

In New Zealand the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has debated homosexuality for many years. In 1985 its General Assembly declared "Homosexual acts are sinful." The most recent decision of the Assembly in 2004 declared "this church may not accept... anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman," but added the lemma, "In relation to homosexuality... this ruling shall not prejudice anyone, who as at the date of this meeting, has been accepted for training, licensed ordained of inducted."

Many Presbyterians in New Zealand are active in the Association for Reconciling Christians and Congregations, [ [http://www.arcc.org.nz/ Association for Reconciling Christians and Congregations] ] an ecumenical group that supports the full inclusion and participation of all people in the Church, including gay and lesbian persons.

In America, More Light Presbyterians, a coalition of gay-inclusive congregations, was founded in 1980. Today the organization has 113 member churches, while many more informally endorse its mission to more fully welcome people of all sexualities into the life of the church.

Quakerism

In the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, Friends are largely accepting of homosexuality.

In America, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is deeply divided on the issue. The more conservative Friends United Meeting and Friends Evangelical Church considers homosexuality sinful; but other Friends, such as those in the Friends General Conference, strongly support equal rights for gay and lesbian persons.Fact|date=March 2007 It is dependent on the Friend that you ask. (It should be noted that those who call themselves "Conservative Friends" do not necessarily conform to the Friends United Meeting, the Friends Evangelical Church or the Friends General Conference, and so have mixed theological feelings to homosexuality)

Reformed Catholic Church

In the Reformed Catholic Church, homosexuality is simply not an issue. The church accepts, ordains and sacramentally marries people who are homosexual. It is an open, inclusive, worldwide church with a mandate for those who are poor, those who are rejected by other churches and who are hurting. No account is taken of gender, sexual orientation, marital status or other conditions of life that many other churches use to reject or control it's adherents.

Roman Catholic Church

General

The Roman Catholic Church considers human sexual behavior that it sees as properly expressed to be sacred, almost sacramental in nature. Sexual acts other than "unprotected" vaginal intercourse within a heterosexual marriage are considered sinful because in the Church's understanding, sexual acts, by their nature, are meant to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life). The Church also understands the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan. Same-gender sexual acts are incompatible with this framework:

" [H] omosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2357 Catholic Church] ]
These teachings are, of course, not limited to the issue of homosexuality, but is also the general background for the Catholic prohibitions against, for example, fornication, contraception, pornography, consummated anal sex, consummated oral sex, masturbation, and all other forms of non-coital sex.

ocial justice

To be sure, the Church has clearly stated that homosexual "desires" or "attractions" themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that "is" sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose same-gender sexual acts, it also officially urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions and isn't opposed to the homosexual orientation, thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against the LGBT community:

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 ibid., para. 2358] ]
For those who do experience gay sexual attractions, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel:
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 ibid., para. 2359] ]
It should be noted that the Church considers the call to chastity to be universal to all persons according to their state in life. However, only heterosexual Catholics have the option of expressing their chastity through married love.

In 1997, the USCCB came out with a tract called "always our children" which some might find helpful. It articulates the most recent stance on homosexuality, especially as it relates to parents of homosexual children.

Homosexuality and priesthood

The Roman Catholic Church forbids the ordination of men who have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," as it is expressed in a 2005 document, called "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders". Men with "transitory" same-sex feelings could be eligible for ordination after three years of having moved on from this stage of their life. Comments from various bishops suggest that interpretations of the subject of this ban vary from diocese to diocese, and some bishops still quietly ordain homosexuals as priests.

wedenborgianism

The largest Swedenborgian denomination in North America, the General Church of the New Jerusalem does not ordain gay and lesbian ministers, but the oldest denomination, the Swedenborgian Church of North America, does. Ministers in Swedenborgian Church of North America may determine individually whether or not they will marry same-sex couples. Ministers of the General Church of the New Jerusalem are not permitted to marry or bless any same-sex couples.Fact|date=March 2007 The Lord's New Church Which Is Hierosolyma has no official doctrine on the debate of homosexuality. Personal opinions vary, but respecting others and not condemning anyone is an impornant facet of the Lord's New Church: "Human freedom is necessary if men are to be led in freedom according to reason by the Lord into the life in the Lord which is freedom itself." So the Church values the "expression of the thoughts and feelings of all in the Church provided they are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church" [ [http://www.thelordsnewchurch.com/freedom_in_the_church.html Freedom in the Church - The Lord's New Church Which is Nova Hierosolyma ] ]

United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, affirms that gay and lesbian persons are welcome in the church and the ministry. The resolution "A) That all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become full member of the Church. B) All members of the Church are eligible to be considered for the Ordered Ministry." was passed in 1988. This was not done, however, without intense debate over what was termed "the issue"; some congregations chose to leave the church rather than support the resolution.

The church campaigned starting in 1977 to have the federal government add sexual orientation to federal non-discrimination laws, which was accomplished in 1996. [ [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_ucc.htm United Church of Canada] ] The church has also engaged in activism in favour of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada.

United Church of Christ

The polity of the United Church of Christ (UCC) (considered to be in the tradition of Congregationalists) is such that the views of one setting of the church cannot be unwillingly 'forced' on the Local Church, whether between congregations or between the upper levels of the church and individual congregations. Thus, views on many controversial matters can and do vary among congregations. David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research who has studied the United Church of Christ, said surveys show the national church's pronouncements are often more liberal than the views in the pews but that its governing structure is set up to allow such disagreements. [ [http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061105/NEWS01/611050403/1008/NEWS01 United Church of Christ] ]

The United Church of Christ General Synod in 1985 passed a resolution entitled "Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming" [ [http://www.ucccoalition.org/programs/ONA/1985.html United Church of Christ] ] saying that "the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith". General Synod XIV in 2003 officially added transgender persons to this declaration of full inclusion in the life and leadership of the Church.

In July 2005, the 25th General Synod [ [http://www.ucc.org/synod/resolutions/gsrev25-7.pdf United Church of Christ] ] encouraged congregations to affirm "equal marriage rights for all", and to consider "wedding policies that do not discriminate based on the gender of the couple." The resolution also encouraged congregations to support legislation permitting civil same-sex marriage rights. By the nature of United Church of Christ polity, General Synod resolutions officially speak "to, but not for" the other settings of the denomination (local congregations, associations, conferences, and the national offices). This Synod also expressed respect for those bodies within the church that disagree and called for all members "to engage in serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender."

Some associations permit ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and some clergy and congregations are willing to perform or allow same-sex marriages or union services. Approximately 10% of UCC congregations have adopted an "official" "open and affirming" statement welcoming gay and lesbian persons in all aspects of church life. A few congregations explicitly oppose the General Synod Equal Marriage Rights resolution - an independent movement called "Faithful and Welcoming Churches(FWC)" that partly defines faithful as "Faithful... to the preservation of the family, and to the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God's gift for marriage between a man and a woman." [ [http://faithfulandwelcoming.org/faw/content/show.asp?mne=principles United Church of Christ] ] Many congregations have no "official" stance; these congregations' "de facto" stances vary widely in their degree of toward gay and lesbian persons.

The [http://www.ucccoalition.org/ United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns] is one of the officially recognized "Historically Underrepresented Groups" in the United Church of Christ, and as such has a dedicated seat on the United Church of Christ Executive Council and a number of other boards. The Biblical Witness Fellowship, a notable conservative renewal organization within the UCC, formed in the 1970s in response to general synods opinions on the sexuality issue and has argued that there "has been a deliberate and forceful attempt within the mainline church to overthrow Biblical revelation [about] ... what it means to be human particularly in the Biblical revelation of a humanity reflective of God and sexually created for [heterosexual] marriage and family." [http://www.biblicalwitness.org/BWFBibleSay.htm]

Uniting Church in Australia

The Uniting Church in Australia allows for the membership and ordination of gay and lesbian people. On July 17 2003 it clarified its 1982 position when the national Assembly meeting stated that people had interpreted the scriptures with integrity in coming to the view that a partnered gay or lesbian person in a committed same sex relationship could be ordained as a minister. It also stated that people who had come to the opposite view had also interpreted the scriptures with integrity. When Presbyteries (regional councils) select candidates for ministry they may use either of these positions, however they cannot formally adopt either position as policy, but must take each person on a case by case basis. By explicitly stating the two positions, this decision fleshes out a 1982 Assembly Standing Committee decision which did not ban people with a homosexual orientation from membership. After emotional debate, the 1997 Assembly did not reach a decision, and the 2000 Assembly decided not to discuss homosexuality.Fact|date=March 2007

United Reformed Church

The United Reformed Church of Great Britain has committed itself to continue to explore differences of view among its members, in the light of the Church’s understanding of scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A detailed report was submitted to the 2007 General Assemblycite web|url=http://www.urc.org.uk/assembly/assembly2007/Moratorium.pdf|title=Moratorium on Policy Decisions on Homosexuality, Document 2|publisher=The United Reformed Church|accessdate=2007-11-21|format=PDF]

Unity School of Christianity

Unity believes that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, Unity recognizes the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. Unity strives for its ministries, publications, and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. Unity’s ministries and outreaches strive to be free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Unity’s sincere desire is to ensure that all Unity organizations are nondiscriminatory and support diversity.

ee also

* Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches
* Homosexuality and Christianity
* Homosexuality and religion
* Status of same-sex marriage

References

External links

* [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#II "Catechism of the Catholic Church": The Vocation to Chastity] "
* [http://www.huk.org/e/index.htm Ecumenical Group "Homosexuals and Church"] (German group)
* [http://www.gaychurch.org Gaychurch.org] Global directory of affirming Christian churches.
* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom6beli1.htm 6 Views] ReligiousTolerance.org's list of the 6 major Christian views on homosexuality
* [http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/ethics/hopko_homosexual_christian.htm "The Homosexual Christian,"] by Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Orthodox Research Institute
* [http://gcmwatch.wordpress.com "Gay Christian Movement Watch"] Popular Christian blog which monitors and reports on the activities and theological positions of same gender affirming religion in America.


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