Christians and Gays Part Five Conclusion

This is a photo of Andrew Marin, a Christian, hugging a gay man in his underpants at a gay pride parade in 2010, as part of the I’m Sorry Campaign  where Christians held up sign at gay pride parades apologizing for the way the churches have treated homosexuals in the past.

Some Christians might be offended at the suggestion that we should apologize to sinful homosexuals. The fact, that they are sinners (like everyone else) is irrelevant if we need to apologize to them (Matthew 5:25). Christians have judged and condemned them and demanded that they repent often without dealing with the sin in their own lives. Many Christians expect gays to remain celibate  while looking down on single people in the church and treating them as second class Christians.

I have argued here that the underlying cause of homosexuality is idolatry, expecting to find wholeness through homosexuality rather than relationship with Jesus. However, many Christians are just as guilty and find their wholeness and value through their heterosexual marriages and also their careers, success and possessions. This is also idolatry.

I also wrote here that most homosexuals appear to have grown up in the church, yet we have turned on them for their sin while not dealing with our own. Most Christians would not condemn people for their non-homosexual sin the way they condemn homosexuals. I have argued here that their attitude is not so much based on the handful of passages in the Bible which deal with homosexuality. They are cultural and psychological in origin.

I wrote this series of posts hoping to encourage real tolerance on both sides, that is, tolerating those we think are wrong and not hating them and wanting to take their rights away. A few weeks ago the Bible Society in Australia had a similar idea. They released a video showing two members of the Liberal Party, Andrew Hastie, a Christian and opponent of gay marriage, and Tim Wilson, a gay supporter of gay marriage, having a polite civil discussion on gay marriage while drinking Coopers beer.

I would have thought this was true tolerance and diversity in action, showing that people can still be respectful and get along, even if they think the other person is wrong – the assumption that our liberal democracies are based upon.

Instead, this was too much for some supporters of gay marriage. Some hotels in Melbourne and Sydney said they were going to boycott Coopers. A few days later Coopers issued an apology (for being part of a video which supported tolerance, respect and free speech) and proclaimed their support for gay marriage.

When I think about all the misery and suffering, which alcohol has caused Australia, health problems, sexual assaults, domestic violence, addiction, car accidents and vandalism, I find it hard to take hotel owners seriously when they claim to have a social conscience.

While writing this post I learned about the case of Felix Ngole, an African Christian  student doing a Masters in Social Work at the University of Sheffield, who was expelled because he had posted comments opposing gay marriage on Facebook, which only his friends would have seen.

Twenty years ago politically correct postmodernism warned that belief in moral absolutes leads to intolerance because it leads to supressing other points of view. Critics would argue that just because one believes in moral absolutes, one does not necessarily oppress others. One can show true tolerance towards them.

Now, a new generation is more likely to do what postmodernism warned about and seeks to supress those they believe are wrong. they may be right – real homophobia and other forms of discrimination are dangerous and harmful. However, those, who carried out the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Salem witch trials, the Communist purges and the Inquisition, all believed they were right and they were protecting the community from dangerous and harmful people and ideas.

A previous generation boycotting businesses because they think their owners have harmful anti-social beliefs

I believe that in the future in the name of tolerance and diversity there will be greater restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This does not mean that Christians should keep fighting the culture wars. The persecution which some Christians have experienced over gay marriage is still minor compared to what many Christians in the Third World suffer. The early Christians had a different attitude to persecution. They went “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His shame” (Acts 5:41). This is a striking contrast to the “How dare they persecute us” attitude and victim mentality  which many Western Christians seem to have.

In the New Testament suffering and persecution were considered a good thing. It was a sign of God’s love for His people, an opportunity to depend on God more, to grow and become more Christ-like (Romans 5:1-6, 2 Corinthians 10:7-10, Hebrews 12:5-12, James 1:2-8). This is what is truly important, rather than having a comfortable and successful life or whether or not heterosexuals can keep their monopoly on marriage.

In the Roman Empire it was technically illegal to be a Christian. Christians were considered dangerous and socially irresponsible and disruptive because they would not sacrifice to the local pagan gods  and risked bringing the wrath of the gods down on the community. It is similar to the way today many consider Christians to be harmful to society because of their “intolerance”.

The early Christians did not respond with an ancient version of the culture wars.  They showed grace and forgiveness to the pagan society which despised and persecuted them, so much so that the pagans actually wanted to join this hated minority and eventually they won over the Empire.

I am not suggesting that this is easy. it is unnatural. Part of me still wants to fight the culture wars, but arguing with our political opponents is not going to advance the Kingdom of God. It is not easy to forgive and love our enemies and persecutors. We need to turn to Jesus for the grace and strength to do this, like we need to turn to Jesus  in our struggle with other sins, including sexual temptations. Jesus suffered and died for their sins just as much as he did for ours. He wants to see them saved too so we can all spend eternity together in Heaven. That must be our goal too, rather than putting all our energy into opposing gay marriage.

Christians and Gays Part Four Causes and Cures


Back in the 1990s there was talk that scientists had discovered a gay gene. I thought the problem was that if there was a gay gene, how is it passed on to the next generation? Also, what would happen if a homosexual was tested and found not the have the gay gene? Would the doctor have to explain  to him, “I’m sorry, but the tests have come back and you’re not really gay”?

The gay gene hypothesis has now been discredited, Nevertheless, supporters of homosexuality still tend to believe that gays are “born that way” while opponents believe homosexuality is a result of external influences. It is another version of the nature/nurture debate.

I do not believe there is a meta-explanation for homosexuality, that is, there is not one explanation for homosexuality. There is evidence for both sides.

Many Christians believe that homosexuality can be explained by a person’s childhood. Typical of this is What Some of You Were edited by Christopher Keane, (Matthias Media, Kingsford, 2001), which was Christian Book of the Year in 2002. This book contains the accounts of six homosexuals who attribute their homosexuality  to childhood abuse and/or emotionally distant fathers. Of course, if all that is needed to become gay is an emotionally distant father, three quarters of Australian men would be gay.

The editors may have not noticed, but five of six of the homosexuals had church backgrounds.

In  Us Versus US (Navpress, Colorado Springs, 2016) Andrew Marin published the results of a survey, which had been reviewed by Dr Michael Bailey and Dr Mark Yarhouse, which concluded that 86% of LGBT had been raised in “faith communities”, which in the US usually means Christian churches.

The survey also revealed that 80% of LGBT people still prayed regularly and 76% were still open to returning to the church.

The Christian and gay communities are apparently more closely connected than most people realise. The cover of Us Versus Us reads,

“For decades now, we have found ourselves caught up in a culture war: US VERSUS THEM. The good news: There is no them. Our culture war has been a civil war. US VERSUS US.”

According to a 2007-2008 Barna Group survey, 27% of homosexuals in the US say they are born-again Christians, 58% said they has made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important” and 60% said their faith is “very important” to them. We may doubt whether they really are born again and new creations in Christ (I wonder the same the same about many heterosexual Christians), but I find it surprising  how considering how badly the churches have treated gays that so many of them still choose to identify as Christians.

Because there are fewer Christians in Australia, I assume the percentage of gays with Christian upbringings would be lower, but two high profile examples are former Assembly of God minister Anthony Venn Brown and Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome who grew up in the Anglican Church on north west Tasmania.

If homosexuality can be explained by childhood upbringing and environmental factors, as some Christians maintain, is growing up in a church a factor in becoming gay?

Seriously, perhaps this explains the pain and anger which so many homosexuals have towards the churches. It is not just some marginalised people over there saying they are wrong. Why would they care? It is personal, more likely based on their own experience with being rejected and condemned.

Perhaps, the churches should think of gays as prodigal children, rather than the enemy.

Torn by Justin Lee, a celibate gay Christian, changed my thinking about the causes of homosexuality. He says he has a good relationship with his father, he was not abused, yet he still has homosexual feelings and he does not know where they came from (Justin Lee, Torn, Jericho Books, New York, 2012, p 21, 49, 74-77).

Justin writes how he described his childhood experience at an ex-gay conference which did not go down well, Afterwards, he was approached by a man who said he had a cold and distant father and an over-protective mother,  yet he turned out completely straight. He tried to be the best father he could to his son and he is now gay (Torn, p 72-77). Justin also points out that attributing the cause of homosexuality to bad parenting can result in parents feeling guilty when their children turn out to be gay. It supposedly must have been their fault (Torn, p 122).

Justin is celibate. He has never acted on his gay feelings. There is a comic scene where someone quotes Leviticus at him about not lying with a man and he says he hasn’t (Torn, p 122). He believes that the Bible allows for married homosexual relationships and he really is saving himself for marriage. I think his interpretation of what the Bible says about homosexuality is wrong, but I respect his commitment to celibacy and his obedience to what he believes is God’s will. He is an improvement on all the fornicating and pornography watching heterosexuals in the evangelical churches. Yet, many Christians would ignore all the sinning heterosexuals in the church and condemn Justin for sins he has never acted on.

Two other celibate Christians with homosexual feelings, who say they come from good families and were not abused, are Ed Shaw and Wesley  Hill.

These examples would suggest that some gays are “born that way”. On the other hand, according to a 2015 UK survey, 46% of people between 18-24 years described themselves as completely heterosexual, but 58% between 25-39 years and 78% between 40-59 years described themselves as completely heterosexual.  It looks like the younger you are, the less likely you are to be completely heterosexual. Unless they started putting something in the water back in the 1990s, the “born that way” argument looks flawed. There are clearly other social and cultural factors going on.

An article “Sexuality and Gender” in the Fall 2016 issue of The New Atlantis says, “There is considerable scientific evidence that sexual desires, attractions, behaviors, and even identities can, and sometimes do, change over time.” (Part One) and “Some of the most widely held views about sexual orientation, such as the “born that way” hypothesis, simply are not supported by science. The literature in this area does describe a small ensemble of biological differences between non-heterosexual and heterosexuals, but those biological differences are not sufficient to predict sexual orientation, the ultimate test of any scientific finding, The strongest statement that science offers to explain sexual orientation is that some biological factors appear, to an unknown extent, to predispose some individuals to a non-heterosexual orientation.” (Conclusion)

When the nature/nurture debate comes up, it is usually in the context of trying to explain the origin of someone’s character or behaviour, but we do not assume that if a person’s behaviour is a result of their nature and they were born that way, that it excuses their actions or they are not responsible for them.

Many Christians believe that we are all born that way, we are all born sinful, yet we are still responsible for our actions and will be judged for them, and it is still our responsibility to turn to God and repent and change.

Some Christians believe that homosexuality can be “cured”. There are ” ex-gay”  ministries, like Exodus International, which has had some high-profile failures, such as when two of their founders left their wives for each other. Their critics claim that gay conversion programs and cures do not work at all. However, according to a study of Exodus in Ex-Gays? by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, 15% claimed to have been “converted” and were now heterosexual and 23% were celibate (Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse, Ex-Gays?, IVP Academic, Illinois, 2007, p 369).

In other words, 85% were still gay, if not active.

This is probably not much different from the Christian “success rate” in general, about 85% of those, who express an interest in Christianity or put up their hands at a  service and get “saved”, later give up or “fall away”.

  • In Torn Justin Lee makes the interesting observation that gay conversion programs do not so much cure homosexuality, rather they actually treat sex addiction among homosexuals. They may become less promiscuous, but deep down, the same sex attraction is still there (Torn, p 91).

Justin also relates how a Christian friend gave him a copy of Playboy in a brown paper bag to cure him of his homosexuality (Torn, p 110). He meant well.

It may happen sometimes, but it is really not Biblical to expect homosexuals to be “cured” of homosexuality and never have any homosexual thoughts ever again, any more than heterosexual men should expect to be “cured” of heterosexual lust and never have any lustful thoughts ever again.

The New Testament says that when  we become Christians, we are given a new nature, but we still have our old nature. Paul tells us we need to put off our old sinful nature, put it to death, and put on our new nature in Christ (Romans 6:1-14, Ephesians 4:17-24, Colossians 3:1-17). Paul also admits that he still struggles with sin and does what the knows he should not do (Romans 7:15-25). The real Christian life is not one of never being tempted and sinning anymore, but one of struggling to resist to temptation through God’s grace and finding forgiveness when we fail.

Paul  also wrote about he had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), some unknown problem,

“Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

God did not take Paul’s problem away. Rather, it was an opportunity for Paul to turn to God and depend on His grace and power to cope with it. In the process Paul was drawn into a deeper relationship with God.

If God had taken Paul’s problem away, his life would have been easier, but he would have been worse off because he would have missed out on the deeper relationship with God which came form his suffering.

As Christians, our goal is Christlikeness, a deeper relationship with God, not to have comfortable, happy, successful and easy lives without suffering. These things are often enemies of Christlikeness, drawing our hearts away from God and making us less dependent on Him.

In his book The Plausibility Problem Ed Shaw argues that it is a mistake to equate godliness with heterosexuality. He writes that “some of the most godly people that I have ever known are those who have experiences same-sex attraction.” (Ed Shaw, The Plausibility Problem, IVP, Nottingham, 2015, p 98)

To be clear, he is not talking about practising homosexuals who say they are Christians. Rather, he means those with homosexual feelings, but who choose to obey God and be celibate, rather than act on them. To do this requires greater dependence on God, His grace, strength and forgiveness.  Ed says,

“Nothing has given me more childlike dependence on God than my same-sex attraction – and, after all, that’s what being a Christian is all about, according to Jesus (Mark 10:15). I so often don’t know how I’m going to stay sexually pure; I am so acutely aware of the weaknesses that could lead me into scandalous sin tomorrow, that I’m forced to depend on God in prayer. It’s my same-sex attraction that has again and again made me recognize the fiction that I can live an independent life without God’s help. Same-sex attraction and godliness do mix: in fact the spiritual chemical reaction they produce (if I can call it that) is very powerful indeed.” (The Plausibility Problem, p 101-102)

I was a single celibate heterosexual Christian for many years, so I think have some business advocating greater obedience and dependence on God through singleness and celibacy. However, it is hypocritical for married heterosexual Christians to expect gays to make a sacrifice in obedience to god which they are not prepared to make themselves, and expect them to remain celibate.

Both sides need to repent of the underlying problem of idolatry. In Romans 1 Paul writes how the human race worshipped the creation or created things instead of God who created them (Romans 1:25). Next, he is condemning homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27). It was only a few years ago that I understood the connection, how he got from one idea to the other.

In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace Philip Yancey writes about Mel White, a Christian ghost writer who has written for Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and others, and  his struggle with homosexuality,

“Despite these guilt feelings Mel finally concluded that his options narrowed down to two: insanity or wholeness, Attempts to repress homosexual desires and live either in heterosexual marriage or n gay celibacy, he believed to certain insanity. (At that time he was seeing a psychiatrist five days a week, and at a hundred dollars a session.) Wholeness, he decided, meant finding a gay partner and embracing his homosexual identity.” (Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Strand Publishing, Sydney, 2000, p 164)

In his autobiography A Life of Unlearning Anthony Venn-Brown, a gay former Assembly of God minister wrote about “my desperation to find someone to make me feel complete.” (Anthony Venn-Brown, A Life of Unlearning, New Holland, Sydney, 2004, p 270)

Both these Christians have apparently made the mistake of assuming wholeness was found in homosexuality, rather than his relationship with Jesus (Colossians 2:10). This is idolatry, trying to find in something created the sense of wholeness, meaning, value and purpose that we are supposed to find in God.

Of course, everybody is guilty of this, not just homosexuals. Our churches are full of idolatrous Christians who find their wholeness and value in their marriages, families, careers and possessions.

Rodney Croome said about his expectations from the church, “I was a serious young man looking to understand more about the faith of my ancestors, to be uplifted spiritually, and to find the solution to the conflict between who I was and who I was expected to be. I found none of these.”

Rodney Croome is not the first person to feel disappointed and frustrated with the church.

Since so many homosexuals grew up in the church, it would suggest the church is doing something wrong. Before church leaders condemn homosexuals, they should see much of the existence of homosexuality as a consequence of their own sin and failure to preach the whole good news and proclaim that Jesus fulfils our deepest emotional and spiritual needs and makes us whole, and any alternatives, which seek to do this, even heterosexuality and happy families, are idols. If they had, then those who grew up in the church experiencing homosexual temptations, would have been more likely to turn to Jesus for the strength to resist their temptations and to find their identity and wholeness. If they had, there probably would not be so practising homosexuals.

But that would mean confronting the rest of the church about their idols too.

To be concluded.

 

 

 

Christians and Gays Part Three Gay Marriage and Freedom of Religion

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I have little interest in the gay marriage or marriage equality debate. Gay couples can already register their relationships and enjoy all the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples. They just cannot call their relationship a marriage. Any gays who want to get married are presumably already living together and doing it. I assume they are not saving themselves for marriage. 10 years after gay marriage had been legalized in the Netherlands, only 10% of gays had got married (Bill Muehlenberg, Strained Relations, Freedom Publishing, Melbourne, 2011, p 99). Gays make up about 2% of the population, so in practical terms nothing much should change if gay marriage were legalized and around 0.2% of the population had a gay marriage. If the media did not go about it, we probably would not notice the difference.

Christians have much bigger problems of their own to deal with. According to some reports, the divorce rate among evangelical Christians in the United States is equal to or higher than the divorce rate of non-Christians when we would surely expect it to be significantly lower (Andrew Comiskey, Strength in Weakness, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, 2003, p 51).

So what do many evangelical leaders do about this moral crisis in the church? They are obsessed with stopping gay marriage. What do they think Jesus meant when he told his followers to take the plank out of their own eye before they take the speck of dust out of someone else’s (Matthew 7:1-5)? If Christians are really so concerned about preserving the institution of marriage, they should lead by example and work on preserving their own marriages.

Banning gay marriage will not prevent the break-up of heterosexual marriages. Unless your husband or wife is going to leave you and marry someone of the same gender, gay marriage is not a threat to your marriage. On the other hand, if that is the case, then banning gay marriage is not going to solve your problems.

It is a bit late for Christians to complain that gay marriage brings the institution of marriage into disrepute. Heterosexuals have already done that. In Australia the rot arguably began with the introduction of no-fault divorce in the 1970s, making a marriage contract the only contract one side can potentially break without any consequences, i.e. pretty meaningless.

According to a 1994 survey 83% of heterosexual couples were monogamous, while only 2% of gay couples were (Strained Relations, p 17). A 2013 study of gays in New York revealed that 58% of gay couples were monogamous. One of the contributors to What Some of You Were wrote,

“Just before I came out of homosexuality, a friend and I sat down one Saturday afternoon, and had a very sad but enlightening conversation. We came to the conclusion that we knew no-one who was in  a faithful relationship. The couples we knew had sex with others as well as their partners.” (Christopher Keene (editor), What Some of You Were, Matthias Media, Kingsford, 2001, p 24-25)

If gays do not like the idea of “forsaking all others”, why do they want to get married? I suspect some of it has to do with the status of saying you are married in  a society which looks down on single people. That is how some heterosexuals think. Also, if gay marriage were legalized, I suspect some gay couples would get married to make a political statement, rather than hoping to live together monogamously for the rest of their lives. Anyone, straight or gay, who gets married, should do so for the right reasons.

Fear of loneliness appears to be a more legitimate reason why some gays want to get married. They are not looking forward to be lonely old men. Heterosexual single people face the same problem. In earlier posts here and here I discussed how many churches do not treat single people very well. Being married with a family is held up as the ideal while single Christians are regarded as second class Christians with something wrong with them. I argued that this is idolatry because their worth and value is based on their marriages and families, not their relationship with and worship of Jesus. If Christians want gays to remain single and celibate, they need to work on their idolatry and stop rubbing their marriages and families in the faces of single people (straight or gay) in the church and treat them with greater respect and value and appreciate the sacrifice they are prepared to make in obedience to God.

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Opponents of gay marriage, such as David van Gend in Stealing from a Child, The Injustice of Marriage Equality, say they are concerned about the impact of gay marriage on the children in the marriages. Regardless of whether or not they are right, there are many more children in abusive and dysfunctional heterosexual marriages. If Christians are so moved about the well-being of children, they should be making more noise about the plight of those in heterosexual families and not single out gay parents.

In Australia some Christians want a referendum on gay marriage. This is strange since according to every opinion poll it is clear that the majority of Australians have no problem with gay marriage. We would lose.

I actually think the best thing that could happen for the church is for the government to just get it over with and pass a gay marriage bill. Christians need to wake up and realise we are no longer a Christian nation, if we ever really were one, and more and more of the population no longer share our values. Instead of using politics to turn back the clock, we should be thinking about how be witnesses and communicate the Gospel in a post-Christian society which is increasingly hostile to our values, that is, the sort of environment in which the early church began and thrived and in which many Christians in Third World countries live today.

If Christians want to see society transformed and return to Christian values, they need to be transformed themselves and first repent of the sin in their own lives (2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 5:13, 7:1-14).

A referendum on gay marriage would be a lose-lose situation  for the church. Even if we did “win” and the referendum were defeated, the debate would have been so nasty (there are bigots on both sides), that what is truly important, the Gospel that we can all find forgiveness in Jesus, would have been discredited.

The arguments against gay marriage are often not defences of traditional marriage. They are warnings about how legalizing gay marriage will be used to infringe on the human rights and freedoms of those who do not believe in it. There are concerns that if gay marriage were legalized, Christian ministers would be forced to marry gay couples.

However, the recently released report of the Senate Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill points out that under the proposed gay marriage legislation, ministers will  have the right to refuse to solemnise gay marriages if they conflict with their beliefs (p 10, 51, 57). Churches can already refuse to marry people. The Catholic Church does not usually marry divorcees. Some churches only marry their own members. No one has been complaining to the Anti-Discrimination Board.

Organizations, established for religious purposes, would also have the right to refuse to participate in gay marriages if they conflict with their beliefs (p 55-56). However, civil celebrants do not appear to have the same right to refuse to conduct gay marriages (p 58-63).

Christians in Christian organizations will have the right to refuse to participate in gay marriages, but it looks like Christians in non-Christian and secular organizations and businesses will not have the same right to refuse to participate in gay marriages if they conflict with their beliefs.

In the United States there have been several cases of bakeries, which have been operated by Christians, which have been sued by gays because they did not want to bake a wedding cake for their gay wedding (Ryan Anderson, Truth Overruled, Regnery, Washington DC, 2015, p 85-104). These do not appear to have cases where they refused to serve gays at all. They presumably would have no problem baking a birthday cake for a gay man. (How would they know?) They do not want to bake a wedding cake for them because that would appear to be condoning gay marriage.

In an article “Would you bake a cake for a gay wedding?” Karl Faase says,

“The problem in the current combative culture of the west is that the gay lobby has an agenda in approaching service providers. They are not seeking a service or product but rather they have the motivation of entrapment. Many in the gay lobby are trying to make “examples” of people who refuse them service due to what they believe are bigoted and intolerant worldviews.”

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Christians do not have a monopoly on bakeries. A gay couple could find plenty of bakeries who did not have a problem baking their wedding cake. This controversy begs the question, would you marry someone (straight or gay)  who goes out of their way to find someone who disagrees with them and seeks to entrap them and drag them before the courts?

In July 2016 SBS reported that Darrin Morgan of Human Rights Advocacy Australia had complained that some churches, which held their services on school grounds in NSW, had been preaching “homophobic” sermons, i.e., they think homosexuality is wrong. The offensive passages included, “God’s good sex within marriage is between one man and a woman.”

It looks like he did not attend these churches and heard these sermons. He went through their websites, looking for something to take out of context so he could get them into trouble.

In 2015 the Catholic Church in Australia  issued a pastoral letter “Don’t Mess with Marriage” to Catholic schools explaining their opposition to gay marriage. Some parents were offended at the idea that their children received Catholic teaching at the Catholic school they sent them to.

The booklet said about marriage, “their union made them whole” (p 7). This is a strange thing  for (supposedly) celibate priests to say. They are basically saying that single people, like themselves, are incomplete. As I have argued here and here, we do not to be married to be complete; we need Jesus (Colossians 2:10).

It also said, “The Catholic tradition teaches that every human being is a unique and irreplaceable person, created in the image of God and loved by Him. Because of this, every man, woman and child has great dignity and worth which can never be taken away, This includes those who experience same-sex attraction. They must be treated with respect, sensitivity and love.

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of unjust discrimination. We deplore injustices perpetuated on people because of religion, sex, race, age, etc.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls for understanding of those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies for whom this may well be a real trial. “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” ” (p 3)

In September 2015, Martine Delaney, a transgender woman, lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner demanding that the Catholic Church apologise for issuing the booklet. She later withdrew the complaint.

I would have thought the booklet sounded reasonable and tolerant. It argued that we should try to co-exist and show compassion to those we think are wrong, but this is too intolerant for some gay activists. To just believe someone is wrong is considered hateful, intolerant and homophobic. As mentioned earlier before, some people want a referendum on gay marriage, but how can there be a referendum when one side is not allowed to express its views?

More examples of gays using anti-discrimination legislation against Christians in the United States can be found here.

In theory, all these problems should be unnecessary. It should be possible for supporters and opponents of gay marriage to co-exist, stay out of each other’s way and just live and let live, rather than go out of their way to get other people into trouble.

I do not believe in gay marriage, but I am in the minority and my belief is not oppressing anybody. I am not stopping them from doing anything.

If you know one bakery would not want to bake you  a wedding cake, just avoid them and take your money to one who will.

If you don’t want your children to hear Catholic teaching about marriage, you probably should not send them to a Catholic school. It’s just a thought.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s when some Christians called for the censorship of books or films which they found offensive or blasphemous, the response was if you don’t like it, don’t read it or watch it. Now, calls for censorship seem to come more from the politically correct Left, rather than Christians, but the advice is the same.

If you do not want to hear a sermon supporting traditional marriage, don’t go to that church, and don’t go through their webpages to find something you don’t like.

We live in a multicultural, pluralist society. People believe different, irreconcilable things. They think other people are wrong. Deal with it.

This is pretty much what supporters of gay law reform in Tasmania said they wanted in the 1980s and 1990s. They said they were not hurting anybody else so what they did in private was nobody else’s business. There was talk about “Police looking in people’s bedroom windows”. They didn’t, but it was good rhetoric.

Since then, there has been a transformation in the gay rights movement, from being libertarian in philosophy into something more authoritarian. They do not want to co-exist and live and let live; they increasingly want to control what is said and silence dissent. This is what opponents of gay law reform warned would happen back in the 1990s when they talked about the “Gay Agenda”.

They may think they are doing the right thing and suppressing intolerance and homophobia, but not only are their definitions of intolerance and homophobia unrealistic,  a lot of bad things in history have been done by people who though they were doing the right thing. The Stolen Generation of  Aboriginal Children in Australia was carried out by people who really thought they were helping. Many totalitarian governments believed they had the truth on their side and they were doing the right thing and protecting society from evil influences when they suppressed human rights.  Taking away basic human rights of other people, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, is not likely to produce the greater good.

Some might suggest that this is “payback” for the way Christians treated homosexuals in the past. However, as I argued here in the 1980s the majority of those opposed to gay law reform in Tasmania were not Christians. Moreover, Christians did not use the law against homosexuals in the 1980s the way that homosexuals use it today against Christians. During the gay law reform debate Christians did not go around reporting homosexuals to the police. During the years of debate in Tasmania I only ever came across two people, neither attended a church, who actually wanted to see homosexuals charged and imprisoned. In 1994 Rodney Croome handed himself into the police with a statutory declaration describing his “illegal” activities, but he was not arrested. Homosexuals could not get arrested for homosexuality in Tasmania even when they tried.

In my previous post I quoted the Penguin Macquarie Dictionary saying that tolerance does not mean not believing other people are wrong. It means accepting and not using power to prohibit those you think are wrong. When you compare their actions, it looks like Christians in the 1980s were more tolerant towards homosexuals than homosexuals are towards Christians today.