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Policies of 47 Christian faith
groups towards homosexuality

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Overview:

Most Christian denominations, sects, and new religious movement have stated policies towards gays and lesbians:

bulletWhether to allow known, sexually active homosexuals to:
bulletbecome and remain church members with full privileges.
bulletbe considered for ordination
bullethold other positions of power.
 
bulletWhether to allow known celibate homosexuals to:
bulletbecome and remain church members with full privileges.
bulletbe considered for ordination
bullethold other positions of power.
 
bullet Whether to provide a formal religious ceremony for committed gay and lesbian couples. These are variously called union, civil union, commitment, or -- in a growing number of states -- marriage ceremonies, depending upon the laws of the individual state.
 
bulletWhether to have an active study program to reduce homophobia within the denomination.

There is no consensus within Christianity about:

bulletThe nature of homosexuality,
 
bullet What Bible passages that discuss same-sex sexual behavior actually mean, or
 
bulletWhat policies to enforce about gay and lesbian members, candidates for ordination. commitment rituals or study programs.

The core reason for this lack of consensus is related to how an individual faith group defines truth. The main criteria are:

  1. What the six or so "clobber passages" about same-sex sexual behavior mean, according to historical interpretations.

  2. The policy that the faith group has taken towards homosexuality and homosexuals in the past.

  3. The individual members' personal experience.

  4. The findings of scientific research into homosexuality.

Conservative faith groups like the Roman Catholic Church, and Southern Baptist Convention tend to give criteria 1 & 2 much more weight than 3 & 4.

Religious liberals and progressive Christians tend to stress 3 & 4 in comparison to 1 & 2.

The response of Christian faith groups to homosexuality thus cover a wide range. An individual faith group's stance, can be predicted, based on upon their position in the liberal - fundamentalist continuum:

  • More liberal denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a civil rights matter; they generally believe it is fixed, unchosen, normal, natural, and morally neutral sexual orientation for a minority of adults.

  • More conservative denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a profound evil; they generally believe it is changeable, chosen, abnormal, unnatural and immoral behavior, regardless of the nature of the relationship.

Thus:

  • The more liberal denominations, like the United Church of Christ, have changing their positions on homosexuality, in recent years, to adopt a more inclusive stance.

  • Mainline denominations such as the Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians are actively debating the question. Denominational schisms may result., particularly in the case of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Episcopal Church. USA. Similar splits have occurred in the past over human slavery, whether women should be ordained, and certain theological debates.

  • More conservative denominations are taking no significant action to change their beliefs and policies at this time.

  • Fundamentalist denominations commit significant effort to prevent equal rights for homosexuals. For example, they:
    • Opposed hate-crime laws that protect persons of all sexual orientation,

    • Opposed laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation,

    • Opposed the elimination of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

    • Occasionally expel congregations from their denominations over "the issue." In the case of the Southern Baptist Convention three of their congregations were expelled. The latter had conducted a study of homosexuality, had concluded that the denomination's beliefs were invalid, and had welcomed gays and lesbians as members.

All movement appears to be towards greater inclusiveness towards homosexuality and homosexuals. This is reinforced by the more accepting stance of today's youth. We are unaware of any religious groups becoming less inclusive.

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Partial list of churches and their position on homosexuality:

As we uncover statements about homosexuality by various Christian denominations, we include them in a new essay and link it to the following list. Over time, we hope to add to this list so that it represents all of the large Christian denominations, and some smaller ones. We encourage our visitors to help us add to this list by supplying us with information from their own denominations.

We currently have essays available about homosexual policies and beliefs by the following denominations. :

bulletAlliance of Baptists
bulletAnglican Church of Canada
bulletAnglican Communion, worldwide
bulletAmerican Baptist Association
bulletAmerican Baptist Churches in the USA
bulletAssemblies of God
bulletChildren of God (COG)
bulletChristian Reformed Church in North America
bulletThe Church of Christ
bulletChristian Church (Disciples of Christ)
bulletChristian Science
bulletChurch of England
bulletThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
bulletChurch of Scotland 
bulletCommunity of Christ: (Formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS):
bulletCooperative Baptist Fellowship 
bulletCoptic Orthodox Church (centered in Egypt)
bulletDisciples of Christ (Christian Church)
bulletEpiscopal Church, USA
bulletEvangelical Christian Church (Christian Disciples)
bulletEvangelical Lutheran Church in America
bulletEvangelical Lutheran Church of Canada
bulletEvangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark
bulletThe Family
bulletJehovah's Witnesses and homosexuality; Witnesses and same-sex marriages
bulletLutheran Church of Australia
bulletMethodist Church in Britain
bulletMetropolitan Community Church
bulletMennonites
bulletPresbyterian Church (USA): (3.4 million membership; mainline denomination)
bullet Presbyterian Church in America (0.3 million membership; conservative denomination)
bulletPresbyterian Church in Canada
bulletThe Quakers
bulletReformed Church in America
bulletRoman Catholic Church
bulletReformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN)
bulletRussian Orthodox Church
bulletReorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS): See Community of Christ
bulletSeventh Day Adventists:
bullet
bulletPart 1: Background. Events from 1977 to 1999
bulletPart 2: Events year 2000 to now. SDA manual. Other gay-positive groups. Conclusions.
bulletSociety of Friends (Quakers)
bulletSouthern Baptist Convention
bulletBaptist State Convention of North Carolina
bulletAn exchange of viewpoints on a Southern Baptist web site
bulletUnification Church
bulletUnitarian Universalist Association *
bulletUnited Church of Christ
bulletUnited Church of Canada
bulletUnited Methodist Church
bulletUnited Pentecostal Church International
bulletUniting Church in Australia
bulletUnity Church
bulletThe Way, International
bulletWorld Council of Churches
bulletWorldwide Church of God

bulletOther Christian groups

* The Unitarian Universalist Association is not generally considered a Christian denomination. We have included it here because about 10% of its members consider themselves to be Christian.

Related essay on this web site:

bullet

Recommended books covering a broad range of Christian beliefs about the LGBT community

bullet
Homosexuality and religion: Policies of non-Christian religions

Site navigation:

Home page > Conflict > HomosexualityReligious groups > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > Menu > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > here

Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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