A flip-flop by a British politician about his stance on the morality of gay sex has given rise to a leading international Catholic journal publishing an eminent defense of sacredness of lesbian and gay relationships.
Tim Farron, the former leader of the Liberal Democrat party in the United Kingdom, recently reversed his position from an acceptance of same-sex relationships to a condemnatory position. Farron, a devout Evangelical Christian, said he didn’t mean it when in April 2016 he said that gay sex was not a sin. In a new interview, he said was his true belief is that it is sinful.
The Tablet, a leading international Catholic publication out of London, Farron’s waffling was criticized by Clifford Longley, a British journalist who has been an adviser to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. Longley points out the damage that such waffling can do:
“. . . [H]e will have confirmed many people’s belief that Christians in general are homophobic bigots, even if they pretend they’re not. And that politicians will say anything to get elected.”
Longley further points out that not only was Farron’s waffling problematic, but so is his belief in the sinfulness of lesbian and gay sexual relationships:
“Tim – there is only one answer to the question ‘Is gay sex a sin?’ and it was given by Pope Francis. It is the five simple words: ‘Who am I to judge?’ “
The journalist points to the human goodness that such reflects:
“If one wished to elaborate, one could refer to a statement by Cardinal Basil Hume some 20 years ago, who declared: ‘Love is never wrong, including love between two people of the same sex.’
“It is a human instinct to want and need loving intimacy with another human being, and we literally die inside without it. It is a human instinct to want to express that intimacy physically, including sexually.”
He continued in a more theological vein, echoing many of the ideas that Sister Margaret Farley has elaborated on in her landmark theological work, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics:
“That does not make it [sexual activity] right on all occasions, regardless. There are plenty of occasions when sex is automatically wrong, and criminal as well as sinful. Incest, sex with children, sex without full consent, sex as manipulation or exploitation, sex you pay for… And it is never right to break one’s promises and commitments. But consensual sex between adults of the same gender is not on that list. God made gay people. And God made gay people gay. That is all we need to know.”
Longley concludes by noting the need for churches to take a new approach to lesbian and gay people, one that is basic to the gospel:
“Just as down the ages there has been a strand in Christianity that picked on the Jews, so there was a strand that picked on gay people. One could select quotes from the Bible to justify both forms of bigotry and persecution.
“But they are entirely contrary to the fundamental spirit of the Christian (and Jewish) principle of loving one’s neighbour as oneself, the second Great Commandment. ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged,’ said Jesus, as reported in Matthew chapter 7.”
Longley’s essay reminds us of how important it is for church leaders, and indeed all of us, to just get back to basics!
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, January 16, 2018