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Showing love to gays

Christianity without homophobia
  • Congregants worship at Metropolitan Community Church of New York.

  • Pope Francis answers reporters questions during a news conference aboard the papal flight on the journey back from Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2013. Pope Francis reached out to gays, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked. Photos: AP

TANEKA THOMPSON
Guardian Senior Reporter
taneka@nasguard.com

Published: Aug 15, 2013

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A recent declaration from Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, about not judging gays has been welcomed by local religious leader Bishop Simeon Hall, who yesterday stressed that homosexuals are humans who should be judged first on their humanity, not sexuality.

Hall is the latest local clergyman to weigh in on the pope’s controversial statements, which have gotten mixed reviews.

On July 29, the pope spoke to reporters on board a flight headed to Rome and was asked about a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican. The pope’s response suggested that a distinction should be made between a gay lobby – which he said he opposes – and individuals who are homosexual.

“If a person is gay, seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pope said. “We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.”

The response has been welcomed as a breath of fresh air by some observers and condemned by others who see the statement as blanket acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

Hall, who has publicly condemned homophobia from clergymen, said he was not surprised by the pope’s remarks.

“Generally Roman Catholics have had a rather liberal approach to moral theology,” he said.

“I have said that the modern theologian, the modern pastor, cannot be homophobic so that any mention of homosexuality sends them into hysteria.

“If I understand the pope’s position, he was saying that we should reserve our position on condemning homosexuals before we affirm that they are human beings. I’m not disturbed by what the pope said.

“We should reference the word of God and go beyond the condemnation of homosexual practice. How do we show love to those who differ from us? We must learn to affirm one another, even when we are different.”

Hall said he thinks the reaction that many people in the religious community have to homosexuals is “hysterical” and rooted in fear rather than love. He said this reaction could be a sign of a deeper, unexplored issue.

“Psychologists tell us we are afraid of some things because we know that latent within each of us is a little bit of the thing we are afraid of,” Hall reasoned.

“So you have to watch what you are afraid of. The fellow who gets his sword and goes out fighting this and then when you check his closet, some of that is in his closet. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone who takes a position.”


Debate on the issue

The issues of sexuality and homosexuality will continue to be polarizing in the religious community, Hall thinks. However, he said he hopes the country will one day be able to have an “intelligent” conversation on the matter and other national issues without resorting to petty arguments and name-calling.

Hall stressed that while he believes that people should not be judged for being gay, he does not promote homosexuality.

“In my 30 years as pastor, those who I knew, or was suspicious of their homosexuality, I love them,” he said.

“I tried to pastor to them but I tried not to promote it. But at the same time they are human beings and I am afraid that some of the statements that have been made look at the person’s sexuality rather than looking at his humanity.”

Earlier this month Bahamas Faith Ministries (BFM) President Dr. Myles Munroe said Pope Francis failed to perform in his duty as head of the Catholic Church when he made his comments on sexual orientation and homosexuality.

Munroe said he was “very disappointed” in the remarks, which contradicted the position of former Pope Benedict and the church.

“The pope is supposed to represent [that] as a lifestyle that is not acceptable in the context of Christianity,” he said. “I think what disturbed me the most [in] the pope’s statement was that he cannot pass judgment on individuals who are in this lifestyle.”

Pastor Cedric Moss, senior pastor of Kingdom Life Church, spoke with Guardian Religion yesterday and said the uproar over the pope’s comments came because observers are reacting to statements which were taken out of context.

“What people caught was the end of his statement,” Moss said.

“What they didn’t catch is he said when you meet a homosexual, you want to consider is this person lobbying for homosexuality or is this person struggling with homosexuality and really just seeking direction, seeking God in the midst of that. I think we will all agree that there is a huge difference.”



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Last Updated on Thursday, 15 August 2013 16:59
 

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