A few months ago, in the heat of the tragic teen suicides that came about from intolerance of homosexuality, I saw a man on television who was apologizing for wishing death on gays from his facebook page. This member of an Arkansas school board was contrite for the violence in his words, but maintained that his values pertaining to homosexuality would remain, as he felt homosexuality was condemned in the bible. This concept, while foreign to me, is interesting, as it used to justify so much judgement and separation in our society. When my daughter came home from school one day saying that a classmate had two mommies, my response was, “Two mommies? How lucky is she?!” What does it actually say in the bible that will cause some people to be upset by my line of thinking?
Father Vincent C. Schwahn on Homosexuality in the Bible
Is homosexuality wrong? This, of course, is an issue that has been disputed for centuries, and perhaps, only some one hundred and fifty years ago the question would have been, “Is slavery wrong?.” Both of these issues have been disputed for hundreds of years, and yet, it has only been around 150 years that the issue of slavery has been resolved by most Christians. And even so, it has not been resolved by all. What has happened? What has happened, is that what has been very traditional thinking about the issue of Human Sexuality and the Bible has changed, due to what we now know, and didn’t know about human beings. For example, that Human Beings are creatures of God, and made in God’s image, and that Human Slavery is an abuse to the fact that God is in each and every one of us. How strange that it took so long to figure that one out.
As to Homosexuality, there is also a shift in thinking amongst many Christians in the world, based not so much on what the Bible teaches, for remember that the Bible condones, and does not condemn, human slavery. It also says that women are to be seen and not heard in Church … and we know that that no longer holds true, even less in the Anglican Communion where we have women Bishops, and in the United States even a Woman Archbishop! So what has changed? What has changed is our understanding of the Human Person, as with the case of slavery. Most “modern thinkers,” even if they are Christian, believe that homosexuality is not a choice, but a condition, some say environmentally given, and others that it is genetically inherited. Whatever the case, being a homosexual is not about choice, but about accepting a part of who you are, who God has created, and made in the same image as God. This is the basic change in thought. If men and women are homosexual by nature and everything that God makes is good, including sexual expression as God has created it, then of course we are able to share our sexuality out of love and responsibility.
When we come to this conclusion, just as more and more people around the globe are coming to this conclusion because they have met and known homosexual men and women who are healthy, open about their lives and their relationships, and even an example for others, I would like to include again two Bishops in the Anglican Communion, Mary Glasspool, Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles and Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. I mention them because it is not easy to become Bishop in the Episcopal/Anglican Polity, yet these loving and honest people are leaders of their churches and examples of Holy Living. I know both of them personally. Included are many ministers, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders in the world who are homosexuals. The Presbyterian Church and the Lutheran Church in the United States affirms that homosexuality is no longer an impediment for ordination. Remember that at one time, these same churches would not ordain people because they were “black” or “Asian” at one part of their own history.
In conclusion, more and more religious leaders are accepting the fact that homosexuality is not a sin, nor is it wrong, but that homosexual people, like heterosexual people, are given the opportunity to live their sexuality in wholeness, in integrity, and in a transparent and open manner, and part of the wonderful diversity of humanity that exists—men, women, people of many different races, ages, and walks of life.
I am proud to say that I belong to a Church that is fully accepting of Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, and Bisexual persons because we believe that God loves all people, no matter what their walk of life is. Of course, there are those who condemn homosexuals and say that they are immoral. There also still exists racism, bigotry, class-ism and hate of those different from themselves. Does this make them right? Only you can be the judge of that … or is it God who must be the judge of that … what did Jesus say?”
Father Vincent C. Schwahn is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church since 1991 and is Canonically Resident in the Diocese of Los Angeles. After working as a priest in the Anglican Church of Mexico for some 15 years, he is now interim Rector at St. Clements by the Sea in southern California. He is openly gay and is an activist for Human Rights and Sexual Rights.