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Gay Rights and the Church: An Introduction

Old Compton Street, LondonWhat follows is one reflection - The Demands of Love and the Intimacy of Justice -  and three essays - Diversity and Collusion, Violence and Christian Responsibility, and Peace and Unity – all dealing with the Church’s response to the demands of gay rights and justice. They all speak to the ongoing “de-liberation” on the place of gay people in my own church, the United Reformed Church in England, Scotland and Wales. However, I am confident that the issues I discuss are universally important throughout the international Church and others not in the United Reformed Church will find some value in what I have written.

 Most Churches around the world either directly or indirectly support a public policy of faith-based discrimination against gay men and lesbians. There are notable exceptions. The United Church of Christ in Canada, the Society of Friends in the United Kingdom and the United Church of Christ in the United States, for example. However, the overwhelming number of churches in the world still proclaim a faith-based bigotry towards gay people. Bigotry is never a neutral position. It always has consequences. It nurtures, if not encourages, discrimination and hatred against gays.

 Faith-based discrimination against gay people was never, is never and never will be about sex. It is about injustice and peoples’ lives. It is our responsibility to denounce the injustice and argue for justice. I realise this is a very complicated issue – cultural difference around the world, evangelical/fundamentalist and liberal/progressive interpretations and sensitivities to balance, the Church’s desire to maintain its so called “peace and unity” at all costs, etc. However, I gave up being impressed by the argument of “it’s complicated” a long time ago. Life is complicated. We are called and get paid to do complicated.

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