>				Is homosexuality a sin?
>by Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays
>Question 1 - In your opinion, does God regard homosexuality as a sin?
>Question 2 - In your opinion, do the Scriptures object to homosexuality?
>Rev Dr William R Stayton (Baptist -- minister, certified sexologist,
>associate professor of psychiatric and human behaviour, servant
>on faculty of LaSalle University's graduate department of
>religious studies, holder of master of divinity from Andover
>Newtown Theological School and a Th.D. in psychology from Boston
>   Q1:        Absolutely not!  There is nothing in the Bible or in
>        my own theology that would lead me to believe that
>        God regards homosexuality as sin.  God is interested
>        in our relationships with ourselves, others, the things
>        in our lives, and with God (MAT 23:36-40).  There is
>        nothing in the mind of God that could be against a
>        loving, sexual relationship, freely entered into,
>        without coercion, among sincere adults whether gay,
>        bisexual or straight.
>   Q2:        There is _nothing_ in the Bible regarding homosexual
>        orientation.  In fact, the Bible does not concern
>        itself with sexual orientation.  It does speak out
>        probably against gang rape, male prostitution for
>        religious purposes, and pederasty (sex between an
>        adult and youth).  I lead bible study programs on this
>        subject and am convinced that the Bible does not
>        address the issue of a person's sexual orientation.
>Bishop John S Spong (Episcopal -- bishop, most published
>member of the Episcopal house of bishops, author to 11 books and 50
>published articles, phi beta kappa graduate of UNC Chapel Hill,
>holds masters in divinity and an honorary doctorate in divinity
>from Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary, received honorary
>doctorate in divinity from St Paul's College):
>   Q1:        Some argue that since homosexual behaviour is "unnatural"
>        it is contrary to the order of creation.  Behind this
>        pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of
>        masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender
>        categories of patriarchal society.  There is nothing
>        unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the
>        same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a
>        fuller state of being.  Contemporary research is
>        uncovering new facts that are producing a rising
>        conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness,
>        sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural
>        and affirming form of human sexuality for some people.
>        Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in
>        the nature of a significant portion of people, and that
>        it is unchangeable.
>        Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our
>        understanding.  But the God of creation speaks and
>        declares, "I have looked out on _everything_ I have made
>        and `behold it (is) very good'." (GEN 1:31).  The word of
>        God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed,
>        and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued
>        by a prejudiced world.
>   Q2:        There are few biblical references to homosexuality.  The
>        first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted
>        to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality.  But the
>        real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men
>        to observe the laws of hospitality.  The intention was
>        to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female
>        role in the sex act.  The biblical narrative approves
>        Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual
>        demands of the mob.  How many would say, "_This_ is the
>        word of the Lord"?  When the Bible is quoted literally,
>        it might well be well for the one quoting to read the
>        text in its entirety.
>        Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual
>        behaviour, at least for males.  Yet, "abomination", the
>        word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the
>        same word used to describe a menstruating woman.
>        Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn
>        homosexuality (ROM 1:26-27 and 1 COR 6:9-11).  But
>        homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment
>        visited upon idolaters *by* God because of their
>        unfaithfulness.  Homosexuality was not the sin but the
>        punishment.
>        In 1 COR 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not
>        inherit the Kingdom of God.  That list included the
>        immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves,
>        the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers.  Sexual
>        perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible
>        that the juxtaposition of _malakos_, the soft, effeminate
>        word, with _arsenokoitus_, or male prostitute, was meant
>        to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual
>        liaison.
>        Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of
>        homosexual behaviour.  But was Paul's opinion about
>        homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack
>        of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by
>        prejudice born of ignorance?  An examination of some of
>        Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer
>        this question.  Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic
>        attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was
>        not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be
>        veiled?  In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been
>        challenged and transcended even by the church!  Is
>        Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than
>        some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned
>        ideas?
>        Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy,
>        Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of
>        male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing
>        examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of
>        unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter
>        respectively).
>        That is all that Scripture has to say about
>        homosexuality.  Even if one is a biblical literalist,
>        these references do not build an ironclad case for
>        condemnation.  If one is not a biblical literalist there
>        is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of
>        ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to
>        be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition
>        toward those of their own sex.
>Bishop R Stewart Wood Jr (Episcopal -- graduate of Dartmouth
>College, masters degree in counselling from Ball State
>University, masters and doctorate degrees in divinity from
>Virginia Theological Seminary):
>   Q1:        No.  Our sexual orientation is a given, something
>        we discover about ourselves -- some might say "a
>        gift from God".  How one relates to others --
>        caring or exploiting -- is the source of sin.
>   Q2:        I am aware of the concern for certain homosexual
>        acts and see no addressing [in the Scriptures] of the
>        condition or orientation.
>Rabbi Jeffrey Lazar (Reformed Judaism -- educator at Temple Sinai
>in Atlanta, holds bachelors degree from Syracuse University,
>bachelors and masters degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union
>College, member and trustee of the National Association of Temple
>   Q1:        First of all, I do not know what God thinks.  In my
>        opinion, homosexuality is not a sin, but an alternate
>        lifestyle.  In my opinion, homosexuality by itself is
>        not immoral.  When sex is used to corrupt, for
>        prurient and/or exploitative purposes or selfish
>        reasons or to hurt someone else, this is immoral.
>   Q2:        The Bible, in my opinion, is very clear in its
>        objection to homosexuality.
>Rabbi Janet R Marder (Reformed Judaism -- associate director for
>the Union of American Hebrew Congregations Pacific Southwest
>Council, graduate of University of California at Santa Cruz,
>co-chair of Nechama, an AIDS/HIV education program for the Jewish
>   Q1:        The God I worship endorses loving, committed, monogamous
>        relationships, regardless of the gender of those
>        involved.
>   Q2:        I believe that the Hebrew Bible strongly condemns
>        homosexuality.  While it is part of my tradition, I do
>        not regard all Biblical laws as binding on me.  The
>        Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human
>        ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an
>        overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the
>        people.  Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a
>        capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality
>        is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion
>        against God.  We have learned from modern science that
>        people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is
>        neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature
>        it is to be gay or lesbian.
>Rabbi Dr David Teutsch, PhD (Reconstructionist Judaism --
>executive vice president and director of contemporary
>civilisations at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, holds
>bachelors in general studies from Harvard University and masters
>degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College and PhD in
>social system science from the University of Pennsylvania):
>   Q1:        Homosexuality -- as is true of heterosexuality -- is
>        a naturally occuring sexual orientation that can be
>        expressed in more ethical and less ethical ways.  In
>        itself homosexual love making is not sinful.
>   Q2:        The Scriptural references to homosexuality make no
>        comment on lesbianism.  They object to male homosexuality
>        on three grounds: cultic prostitution, unnaturalness,
>        and "spilling seed" or Onanism.  Homosexuality has been
>        shown to be natural in animals and humans.  Gay men today
>        are not involved in cultic acts.  And the spilling of
>        seed through heterosexual, homosexual or masturbatory
>        acts is not an issue for me.  Thus I take this
>        prohibition no more seriously than many others, such as
>        that against lending money at interest, that do not
>        make sense in the first place.
>Rabbi Marc H Wilson (Independent Traditional Judaism -- holds
>bachelor degree in sociology from DePaul University and a
>bachelor degree in Hebrew Literature, holds a Hebrew Teacher and
>Principal licence from Hebrew Theological College, columnist in
>nine newspapers and via one wire service):
>   Q1:        No, not so long as the behavior is:
>                a) not obsessive (as would be true, likewise,
>                   of heterosexuality)
>                b) responsible and safe (ditto as above)
>                c) non-abusive (ditto as above)
>                d) the manifestation of a loving, respectful
>                   relationship (Jewish Bible, Old Testament)
>   Q2:        [It was sin] only insofar as that at _that [biblical] time_
>        homosexual behaviour was a manifestation of abusive sexual
>        practices associated with idolatry and fertility cultism,
>        and thus an "abomination" because of the association, not
>        because of the intrinsic "relationship".  Also, because it
>        was "unnatural", that is non-procreative, understandably in
>        the _tribal_ times when procreation was of highest priority.
>Bishop Stanley E Olson (Lutheran -- holds undergraduate degree
>from Wittenberg University, seminary trained at
>Luther-Northwestern Seminary, holds an honorary doctor of
>divinity from California Lutheran University):
>Q1/Q2:        Biblical scholars are busy restudying the few verses
>        which have often been regarded as anti-homosexual.  One
>        thing is clear, these few verses do not refer to
>        homosexuality as we understand and use that term today.
>        The Biblical texts do speak against sexual exploitation
>        and rape whether committed by persons with a heterosexual
>        or homosexual orientation.  The great message of
>        Scripture is of a God of unbounded love for the human
>        family.  If God has any preference at all, it is for "the
>        least", "the lost" and "the last".  God's amazing grace,
>        compassion and salvation is open to everyone.  Jesus is
>        very clear in placing his gospel beyond the limitations
>        of churches and denominations.  He says, "I have other
>        sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also.
>        So that there shall be one flock, one shepherd"
>        (JOHN 10:16).  Here is a partial list of verses that has
>        every right in being equally addressed to homosexual
>        or heterosexual Christians:  John 3:16, Galatians 3:27,
>        Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:21-24, Acts 10.
>Dr Carl O McGrath, PhD (Former Mormon -- was a member of church
>for 50 years, past Stake high councillor, resigned from church
>over church's position on homosexuality in 1989, holds a PhD from
>the University of Washington and currently serves there as a
>clinical assistant professor):
>   Q1:        My sexuality is a God-given state of being which includes
>        natural erotic attractions and desires.  In moving from
>        infancy to adulthood, part of my work is to allow myself
>        to experience my eroticism in ways that enable me to
>        discover who I actuall am, not who society says I should
>        be.  I believe that the Creator of our natural erotic
>        attractions, whether they are for opposite or same-sex
>        persons, views our eroticism as an intrinsic and
>        beautiful part of who God intended us to be.  God did
>        not intend that there would be one way of being sexual.
>        Even among heterosexual people, there is no one "right"
>        way to be sexual.  Our uniqueness comes from the
>        creativity of God at the most basic level.  I believe
>        God is please when we respond to our unique form of
>        sexuality in ways that are life-giving.  I believe that
>        it is life giving when sexual relationships reflect a
>        high degree of mutuality, love, and justice.
>   Q2:        The Scriptures of my relgious tradition include the
>        _Holy Bible_, _Book of Mormon_, _Doctrine and Covenants_,
>        and _Pearl of Great Price_.  There are five references in
>        the Bible that I grew up believing to be Scriptural proof
>        against homosexuality.  However, I now believe it would
>        be a mistake to rely upon these references in forming my
>        conclusions about homosexuality for the following reasons:
>                a) What I have learned from living my life is
>                   that those references in the Bible are not
>                   speaking to the truth I have experienced
>                   in relation to how God views homosexual love.
>                b) Although the General Authorities of my church
>                   have expressed strong negative opinions about
>                   homosexuality, none of our latter day Prophets
>                   have proclaimed revelation from God on this
>                   issue, including President Spencer W Kimball
>                   who has probably been the most oustpoken on
>                   this topic.
>                c) None of the words we attribute to Christ make
>                   any reference to homosexuality.
>                d) None of the latter-day Scriptures make any
>                   reference to homosexuality.
>Rev Dr George R Edwards, PhD (Presbyterian -- professor emeritus
>of new testament theology at Louisville Presbyterian Theological
>Seminary, holds masters in diviinty from LPTS and a PhD from Duke
>University, taught new testament theology studies at LPTS from
>1958-1985, member of Society of Biblical Literature):
>   Q1:        God does not regard homosexuality as a sin any more than
>        heterosexuality.  Sin is lack of respect for God; it is a
>        lack of love or respect for other persons.  Whether gay
>        or straight, therefore, one _may_ sin against God or
>        others.  But God forgives us when we sin and strengthens
>        us in resisting sin.  We are led by God's forgiving love
>        to become more respectful and loving toward God and
>        towards others, even those we don't _"like"_.
>   Q2:        The Scriptures are very important because they teach us
>        God's love for all, gay or straight.  But the Scriptures
>        are old, thousands of years old, written even before the
>        word "homosexual" existed.  Same sex acts involving the
>        genitals -- we call these "homogenital" -- seem in
>        Scripture to be thought of as a result of idol worship.
>        See, for example, Romans 1:18-27.  Nor do the Scriptures
>        seem to understand what we mean today by "sexual
>        orientation".  Sexual acts which are injurious,
>        disrespectful, or unloving toward the other person are
>        wrong.  So I believe that the Scriptures approve of
>        homosexuality and even homogenital acts that are kind,
>        generous, loving, and respectful of the other person,
>        just as in the case of heterosexuality or heterogenital
>        acts.
>Rev Harry L Holfelder (Presbyterian -- chair of AIDS Interfaith
>Network of Baltimore and is senior pastor of local church, is
>active with the Maryland Interfaith Legislative Committee):
>   Q1:        No, I do not think that God regards homosexuality as a
>        sin.  I believe that one's sexual preference is first
>        and foremost a matter of biology (creation) and only
>        secondarily a matter of choice (responsibility).  Since
>        I also believe that all God creates is good, I conclude
>        that human sexuality (not a matter of choice for anyone)
>        is good, whether that sexual expression be heterosexual
>        or homosexual.
>   Q2:        A careful and sensitive reading of the Scriptures does
>        not lead to the automatic conclusion that homosexuality
>        is a sin.  There are passages, especially in the
>        "holiness literature" that suggests this conclusion.
>        However, the overall message of Scripture in this matter
>        is fare more positive than negative.  Biblically, the
>        issue is the goodness of human sexuality and the use of
>        that gift in covenant relationships.  For me a more
>        important question is that of the relationship of God in
>        Christ to a human being.  In this relationship I see no
>        barriers, even sexual ones.
>Sister Mary Ann Ford (Roman Catholic -- member of Sisters,
>Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for 39 years, holds
>masters degree in mathematics and in pastoral ministry, has
>taught in mathematics and religious instruction in high schools
>and later colleges, chaplain of the Detroit chapter of Dignity
>for the past 15 years):
>   Q1:        Two truths are especially relevant in thinking this
>        through.  First we have a theological point.  God,
>        the one who has made all of creation, loves and
>        cherishes all creatures without exception.  Second,
>        modern psychology shows us that homosexual orientation
>        is set by age five or six.  Most psychologists agree
>        that that it is not a matter of choice, whether
>        orientation is inborn as some think or acquired very early
>        as other say.  How then could an all-loving God possibly
>        violate Divine nature and regard homosexuals as "sinners"?
>   Q2:        Contemporary Biblical scholars are indicating that the
>        idea of homosexual orientation was unknown to the writers
>        of the Sacred Scripture.  Certainly they had no knowledge
>        of the Kinsey research which established the existence of
>        a continuum along which all of us are somewhere between
>        the end points of totally heterosexual thorugh bisexuality
>        to exclusively homosexual.  Many of the oft-quoted
>        "condemnatory passages" may assume that heterosexuals
>        are acting out of their violation of their "nature".
>        There also is question as to whether words which appear
>        in our English texts refer in some cases in the original
>        languages not to homosexuals but male prostitutes which
>        were used in pagan worship.  Certainly, nowhere does the
>        Bible legislate on the matter of loving sexual activity
>        between consenting adults in committed relationships.
>Sister Jeannine Gramick, PhD (Roman Catholic -- member of School
>Sisters of Notre Dame since 1960, holds PhD in education from
>University of Pennsylvania, was assistant professor of
>mathematics and education at the College of Notre Dame Maryland,
>conducts theological, sociological and ministerial workshops
>nationwide on the dimensions of homosexuality):
>   Q1:        God has created people with romantic and physical
>        attractions to the same sex, as well as those with
>        attractions to the opposite sex.  Many, if not most,
>        people, we are now discovering, have both kinds of
>        attractions in varying degrees.  All of these feelings
>        are natural and are considered good and blessed by God.
>        These feelings and attractions are not sinful.
>        Most Catholic moral theologians now hold that homogenital
>        behaviour, as well as heterogenital behaviour, is good
>        and holy in God's sight when it is an expression of a
>        special and unique love which one person has for another.
>        Both homosexual and heterosexual genital expression can
>        be sinful if they are manipulative, dishonest, or
>        unloving actions.
>   Q2:        When read at face value, the Scriptures have nothing
>        positive to say about homogenital behaviour.  However,
>        most Christians do not interpret the Bible literally;
>        they try to understand the Scriptures in their historical
>        and cultural context and see what meaning the Scriptures
>        have for us today.
>        The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more
>        years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional
>        homosexuality.  The Scripture writers believed that all
>        people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed
>        homosexuality activity as unnatural.
>        Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of
>        women expressed in the scriptures was a product of
>        culture and the times in which the Bible was written;
>        it should not be followed today, now that we are
>        beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given
>        equality of men and women.
>        Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as
>        natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realise
>        that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were
>        conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form
>        of sexual expression which were held by people without
>        benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and
>        understanding.
>        It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth
>        century mentality and understanding about equality of
>        genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical
>        writers.  We must be able to distinguish the eternal
>        truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural
>        forms and attitudes expressed there.
>Rev C Robert Nugent (Roman Catholic -- co-editor of "The Vatican
>and Homosexuality", holds degrees from St Charles College, St
>Charles Theologate, a degree in library science from Villanova
>University and a Masters of Sacred Theology from Yale University
>Divinity School):
>   Q1:        I do not believe that God regards homosexuality as a
>        "sin" if homosexuality means the psychosexual identity
>        of lesbians or gay persons, which we know from
>        contemporary scientific studies is within the boundaries
>        of healthy, human psychological development, and which
>        seems to be as natural for some people as heterosexuality
>        is for others.  If homosexuality means the emotional,
>        intimate bonding in same-gender relationships of love and
>        friendship, I believe that since God is love, where there
>        is authentic love, God is present.
>        Where god is present, there can be no sin.  If
>        homosexuality means same-gender erotic, physical
>        expressions of union and pleasure, the possiblity of
>        personal sin exists in homosexuality -- as it does in
>        heterosexuality -- depending on the interplay of three
>        factors including the physical behaviour itself and its
>        meaning for the person, the personal motives and intents
>        of the person acting, and the individual and social
>        consequences or results of the behaviour.  For many
>        people, sexual behaviour which is exploitative, coercive,
>        manipulative, dishonest, selfish or destructive of human
>        personhood is sinful; for all people "sin" means freely
>        acting contrary to one's deeply held moral or ethical
>        convictions, whether these come from organised religion
>        or a personally developed value system.  In speaking of
>        the "sinfulness" of same-gender genital expressions, the
>        Roman Catholic Bishops of Washington say that "...no one
>        except Almighty God can make certain judgements about the
>        personal sinfulness of acts (_The Prejudice Against
>        Homosexuals and the Ministry of the Church_, Washington
>        State Catholic Conference, 1983).
>   Q2:        Catholicism uses four major sources for principles and
>        guidance in ethical questions like homosexuality: scripture,
>        tradition (theologians, church documents, official
>        teachings, etc), reason, and human experience.  All are
>        used in conjunction with one another.  Scripture is
>        fundamental and primary authoritative Catholic source --
>        but not the _only_ source.  Biblical witness is taken
>        seriously, but not literally.  An individual scriptural
>        text must be understood in the larger context of the
>        original language and culture, the various levels of
>        meanings, and the texts' applications to contemporary
>        realities in light of the role of the community's and
>        its official leadership role in providing authoritative
>        interpretations.  Both Jewish and Christian scriptures
>        do speak negatively of certain form of same-gender
>        (generally male) sexual _behaviour_ (not same-gender
>        _love_), especially when associated with idol worship,
>        lust, violence, degradation, prostitution, etc.  Whether
>        scriptures condemn all and every form of same-gender
>        sexual expression _in and of itself_ for all times,
>        places and individuals is the topic of serious
>        theological and Biblical discussion and debate.
>        Same-gender expressions of responsible, faithful love in
>        a convenanted relationship between two truly homosexually
>        oriented people not gifted with celibacy is not something
>        envisioned by scriptures.  Whether this form of
>        homosexuality violates biblical or anthropoligcal
>        principles of sexuality and personhood -- especially in
>        light of current scientific knowledge and human
>        experience about the homosexual orientation -- is a key
>        issue facing the churches and religious groups today.
>Rev Dr William F Schulz, DD (Unitarian Universalist -- president
>of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, a phi
>beta kappa graduate of Oberlin College, holds masters in
>philosophy from University of Chicago and doctorates in ministry
>and divinity from Meadville-Lombard Theological School,
>boardmember of numerous organisations including People For the
>American Way and Americans United for the Separation of Church
>and State, author of numerous books and articles, appears on
>national radio programs and in nationally-distributed newspapers,
>listed in Who's Who of America):
>   Q1:        I do not believe that God regards homosexuality as a sin.
>        In the first place, of course, I do not believe in an
>        anthropomorphic God who defines or delineates sinful
>        behaviour.  But even if I did, I cannot believe such a
>        God would reject any of His/Her children on the basis of
>        their affectional orientations.  If He/She did, such a
>        God would not be one to whom I would want to pay homage.
>   Q2:        While the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) certainly
>        condemns what it refers to as sodomy, it also condemns
>        a whole host of other practices (e.g., sleeping with a
>        menstruating woman) which have long been accepted as
>        reputable.  Most of the Old Testament is surely not an
>        appropriate resource from which to obtain guidance
>        regarding contemporary ethics!  Turning to the New
>        Testament, we discover that Jesus has nothing whatsoever
>        to say regarding homosexuality.  Inasmuch as he
>        frequently condemned others of whose behaviour he
>        disapproved (e.g., the money-changers in the temple),
>        it is significant that he makes no reference to
>        homosexuals or their practices.
>Dr Karen Lebacqz, PhD (United Church of Christ -- professor of
>Christian ethics at Pacific School of Religion, holds bachelor
>degree in Biblical history from Wellesley College and masters and
>PhD in religion and society from Harvard University, phi beta
>kappa member and past president of the Society of Christian
>   Q1:        What God *does* regard as sin is oppression, injustice,
>        persecution, disrespect for person.  This sin, then, is
>        homophobia, gay-bashing, discriminatory legislation
>        toward lesbians and gays, refusal to include
>        lesbian/gay/bisexual people into our churches and
>        communities.  To force *any* people, whether for reasons
>        of race, age, or sexual orientation, into a "ghetto" --
>        this is a sin.
>   Q2:        Yes and No.  Yes, in the same sense that the Scriptures
>        object to wearing clothes of different fabrics, eating
>        pork or other kinds of meat, and women speaking in
>        church.  That is to say, the Scriptures are a human
>        product which reflects the cultural limitations of their
>        time.  Thus, they speak negatively about a number of
>        practices that are routinely accepted today, including
>        certain sexual practices.  Some of these sexual practices
>        are engaged in by both heterosexually and homosexually
>        oriented people.
>        No, in the same sense that the Scriptures do not speak
>        clearly to the phenomenon that we today call
>        "homosexuality".  That is, Scripture speaks negatively
>        about certain _behaviours_, most notably temple
>        prostitution, not about basic _orientation_ or about
>        loving and committed gay/lesbian _relationships_.  (A
>        possible exception here is the praise of the
>        relationship between David and Jonathan.)
>Rev Dr James B Nelson, PhD (United Church of Christ -- professor
>of Christian ethics at the United Theological Seminary of the
>Twin Cities, holds bachelor degree from Macalester College and a
>bachelor and masters and PhD in divinity from Yale University,
>visiting scholar at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and
>visiting professor at numerous other institutions, consulting
>editor of "Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality", honorary doctor
>of Sacred Theology from Dickinson University and award-winning
>educator for the United Church of Christ):
>   Q1:        I am convinced that our sexuality and our sexual
>        orientations, whatever they may be, are a gift from
>        God.  Sexuals in does not reside in our orientations,
>        but rather in expressing our sexuality in ways that
>        harm, oppress, oruse others for our own selfish
>        gratification.  When we express ourselves sexually in
>        ways that are loving and just, faithful and responsible,
>        then I am convinced that God celebrates our sexuality,
>        whatever our orientation may be.
>   Q2:        The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality
>        as a psychosexual orientation.  Our understandings of
>        sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that
>        were not present in the minds of Scripture writers.  A
>        few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to
>        certain types of same-sex expressions or acts.  The
>        particular acts in question, however, are sexual sexual
>        expressions which are exploitive, oppressive,
>        commercialised, or offensive to ancient purity rituals.
>        There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex
>        relationships which are loving and mutually respecting.
>        Guidelines for these relationships should come from the
>        same general Scriptural norms that apply to hetersoexual
>        relationships.
>Rev Dr Professor John B Cobb Jr, PhD (United Methodist --
>recently retired from Ingraham Professor of Theology at the
>School of Theology at Claremont and an Avery Professor at
>Claremont Graduate School, holds masters and PhD from the
>University of Chicago Divinity school):
>   Q1:        Surely being attracted to persons of the same sex is not,
>        as such, a sin.  But of course how we act in our
>        attractions, towards whichever sex, is often sinful.  The
>        ideal is to be responsible and faithful rather than
>        self-indulgent.  Unfortunately, society does not
>        encourage responsible and faithful relations with persons
>        of the same sex.  That makes the situation of the
>        homosexual very difficult.
>   Q2:        Certainly some of the Biblical writers objected to
>        homosexual acts, but there is surprisingly little
>        attention to this topic.  The opposition of the church
>        comes from other sources much more than from scripture.
>        There are more scriptural reasons to oppose homophobia
>        than to oppose homosexuality.
>Bishop Melvin Wheatley Jr (United Methodist -- ordained elder of
>the United Methodist Church who retired in 1984 after 33 years as
>pastor and 12 years as bishop, honorary PFLAG director due to
>services to gay and lesbian people in the church):
>   Q1:        Of course not!  The preponderance of evidence now
>        available identifies homosexuality to be as natural a
>        sexual orientation for a significant percentage of
>        persons as heterosexuality is the natural sexual
>        orientation for the majority of persons.  Homosexuality
>        is an authentic condition of being with which some
>        persons are endowed (a gift from God, if you please), not
>        an optional sexual lifestyle which they have willfully,
>        whimsically or sinfully chosen.  Certainly one's
>        sexuality -- heterosexual or homosexual -- may be acted
>        out in behaviours that are sinful: brutal, exploitative,
>        selfish, superficial.  But just as surely, one's
>        homosexual orientation as well as another's heterosexual
>        orientation may be acted out in ways that are beautiful:
>        tender, considerate, mutual, responsible, loyal, profound.
>   Q2:        The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an
>        authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being.
>        The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality"
>        deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual
>        orientation.  Those acts are labelled as wrong out of the
>        context of the times in which the writers wrote and
>        perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine,
>        idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan.  The kind of
>        relationships between two consenting adults of the same
>        sex demonstrably abounding among us -- relationships
>        that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling
>        -- are not dealt with in the Scriptures.  Dealing with
>        those relational realities is one of the tasks we are
>        about in our time.