One has to feel for the good old Church of England. If there’s not a public relations crisis, best to create one. Sex outside of marriage, gay or straight, ‘falls short of God’s purpose for human beings’, the Church declared. A few days later, after a colossally negative reaction inside and outside of the Church, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York felt obliged to offer an ersatz apology: ‘We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.’ And it’s not just the CofE that’s in such a mess over LGBTQ2 acceptance and equal marriage. The Roman Catholic and evangelical churches are even more conservative and less tolerant of dissent. But with great respect and in all seriousness — why?
The subject is hardly mentioned in the Bible, and when it is referred to, the context is complicated. The so-called ‘gotcha’ verses from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, are invariably quoted, but with very little understanding of what they mean. The Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a particular favourite, with Sodom being destroyed allegedly because of its insatiably homosexual population. Yet the story is not really about sodomy at all, and it can hardly stand as a sexual morality tale when Lot, one of its heroes, offers the mob his two virgin daughters in place of his male guest.
Scripture itself explains it all rather well. Ezekiel says: ‘This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.’ It was not until the 11th century that the Papacy insisted that same-sex naughtiness was the problem.