The Bible’s Viewpoint
Homosexuality—What Is the Clergy’s Obligation?
HOMOSEXUALS who sincerely want to serve God find themselves in a quandary. As one said: “If you are committed to the church and just happen to discover you are also gay, what real choices do you have?”
To learn what is required to be pleasing to God, many homosexuals have logically turned to their clergymen. Are these “men of the cloth” giving the right direction? What is their obligation to the homosexual community? What is their basic duty to all people?
Priests Are Obligated to Uphold God’s Standards
The Bible puts it simply when it says of ancient priests that they were “appointed in behalf of men over the things pertaining to God.” (Hebrews 5:1) When Abraham of old served his family in this way, he helped them to “keep Jehovah’s way.”—Genesis 18:19.
Likewise, the priesthood in ancient Israel played a critical role in upholding God’s standards. The priests were duty bound to help the nation “continue as the people of Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 23:16) Today, just as then, God’s representatives are obliged to help their flock to ‘continue as God’s people’ and to ‘keep God’s way.’
To do this, they must teach the flock God’s Word. (Malachi 2:7) Have the clergy proved to be ‘messengers of God,’ helping people to ‘keep God’s way’? Generally not. And this is especially evident with the issue of homosexuality.
Faulty Messengers, Dangerous Guidance
To be frank, the Bible condemns homosexuality. No amount of verbal hocus-pocus can make scriptures like Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26, 27 disappear. (See box.) But siding with current trends against the Bible, a Jesuit priest said of homosexual relationships: “They are the only possible solution for a lot of people to lead a happy and meaningful life.” Following the same line of thinking, one Episcopal bishop called homosexuality “something over which [homosexuals] have no control.” But the Bible says of some former homosexuals in the first century: “That is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Some excuse their contradicting of Bible standards on the basis of love. One priest said: “Love, especially love of the outsider and the outcast, is the essential test of our spiritual life.” He then concluded, “Homosexuality would never have been an issue for Christ. The issue for him would have been: Do these people live out their lives, whatever they are, in a truly loving way?”
But the Bible does not confuse love with sentimentality. Godly love is balanced by justice and includes a hatred for badness. The Bible forcefully admonishes, “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” (Psalm 97:10) True love also includes discipline, for “whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.” (Hebrews 12:6) Therefore, ministers are obligated “both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9) And remember this: When the ancient priest would faithfully discharge his duties, “many were those whom he turned back from error.”—Malachi 2:5, 6.
Undermining Bible Standards
But in general, today’s clergy are like permissive parents: afraid to spank their children because ‘that would not be loving.’ For decades the clergy have thus undermined Bible standards. The result? “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) For example, even though the official stand of the Catholic Church is against homosexual relations, one poll showed that 55 percent of all U.S. Catholics believed that someone who engages in homosexual relations can still be a good Catholic.
Something similar happened to the ancient Israelites when the priests did not uphold God’s standards. He said of them: “They have become far off from me . . . And they have not said, ‘Where is Jehovah?’” And why? Because “the priests themselves did not say, ‘Where is Jehovah?’ And the very ones handling the law did not know me.” (Jeremiah 2:5-8) The prophet Zephaniah said: “The unrighteous one was knowing no shame” because the “priests themselves profaned what was holy; they did violence to the law.”—Zephaniah 3:1-5.
Homosexuals who want to serve God must do so on his terms—terms that are clearly set out in the Bible. Today, just as in the first century, there are homosexuals who have been helped to ‘deaden their body members as respects fornication, uncleanness, and sexual appetite.’ (Colossians 3:5) Granted, this has not been easy for some, but they have learned to deaden their immoral desires just as many heterosexuals have had to deaden their wrong desires for the opposite sex. Both groups have also been helped by regularly associating with the true Christian congregation, which can support them in their goal to ‘repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with righteousness and godly devotion.’—Titus 2:12.
Clergymen who dilute Bible standards and condone sin are doing homosexuals no favors. They may ‘tickle ears,’ but they are not living up to their obligation to “preach the word.” This is their duty to homosexuals—and to all people.—2 Timothy 4:1-5.
[Box on page 13]
“You must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing.”—Leviticus 18:22
“That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.”—Romans 1:26, 27