The issue of same-sex relationships is one of many controversial matters that arise in relation to Christianity. There might never be consensus on such matters, which often hinge on several verses in the Bible that seem fundamental to some but outdated to others.
In navigating the particularly bitter biblical debate that has been triggered by homosexuality, it would be instructive to look to the 22nd chapter of Matthew in which Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is, and simply responds: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law.”
In another well known biblical statement, Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. This instruction is especially worth remembering when, as with homophobia, the issue at which stones are flung is simply an interaction between two consenting adults based on a feature of their natures that is not chosen, changeable nor harmful to others – while our communities continue to be destructed by an abundance of other actions, such as gender violence, that are far more deserving of our attention yet pass by with frequent impunity.
So why have same-sex relationships in particular been singled out for abuse, violence and state-sanctioned hatred – all in the name of a God whose first and foremost law was Love? The Apostle Paul reiterates this in Galatians 5:14 – “for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
Homophobia turns this all-important law on its head. It mistakes intolerance for holiness, and throws hatred in the face of two people’s love – ignoring the Apostle John’s warning in 1 John 2:9 that “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it most plainly when he said:
- Quote from “Homophobia Equals Apartheid”, Afrol News, 7 July 2010