Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sexual Orientation Regulations

Yesterday's news reports showed demonstrations outside parliament by religious groups opposing the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, which would forbid discrimination by people offering goods and services on grounds of sexual orientation, just as discrimination on grounds of race, gender or disability is now forbidden.
Perhaps it isn't surprising that some church groups are objecting to this new legislation. Many Christians hold strong views that homosexuality is wrong because it is forbidden in the Bible, though the Bible also forbids many other things, such as lending money at interest, which we have conveniently forgotten about, and it upholds institutions like slavery, which we have long ago decided is wrong. The Bible is a document of its time, and we cannot read it intelligently and gain from it if we treat it as if it were a simple set of instructions which can be plucked out of their historical and cultural context.

The problem is that it is easy for people to assume from the news reports that those opposing this new Bill speak for all or even a majority of Christians. The real picture is far more mixed. Many Christians are themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, including many clergy who are giving faithful and valued service to the church. Many Christians who are not gay themselves wholeheartedly support gay couples who are trying to form good, loving relationships and would want to see these recognised and celebrated.

Everyone has their own views on these matters, and it is important that we hear all opinions, not just the voices of those who shout loudest.
The links below are to some of those other voices. You may also like to read a TUC document giving guidance on the Bill.

Ekklesia article on the Sexual Orientation Regulations
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement