The Future of the Church

From the Ontario Centre for Religious Freedom

Many gays and lesbians remain partially or completely in the “closet”. They often find the Church as the last place that they would want to “come out”, because of the fear of rejection and homophobia. This is unfortunate, because the most effective way of changing a heterosexual’s beliefs about homosexuality is for them to meet a homosexual. This is a Catch 22 situation.

We predict that over the next few decades, most Christian denominations will gradually accept the following beliefs:

  • a continuum of sexual orientation exists, from heterosexual to bisexual to homosexual.
  • adult sexual orientation is unchangeable.
  • orientation is determined genetically in some people at the time of conception.
  • since sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, homosexual and bisexual feelings are not sinful.

Eventually, all churches are expected to follow the lead of the United Churches, Unitarian-Universalist Association, Neo-Pagan and some Native faiths. They will accept gays, lesbians and bisexuals as full members and as eligible for the clergy. The negative references to homosexual rape and temple homosexual prostitution in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) will eventually be accepted as having no bearing on committed homosexual relationships. St. Paul’s apparent condemnation of homosexuality in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) will become regarded as a “cultural accretion” similar to his requirement that women not speak in churches; both will be rejected as in conflict with the basic principles of Christianity.

As with many previous issues of social change, from the abolition of slavery to birth control to women’s rights, the liberal churches will lead; Fundamentalist churches will be the last to convert.

Consider the stance that the Southern Baptist Convention has taken over the past 150 years on racial matters:

  • it split from a larger Baptist body in 1845 over the issue of slavery.
  • after the civil war, the church promoted segregation of blacks and whites.
  • in 1995, the Convention issued a formal apology to blacks for the injustices supported by their church and for continuing racism within the denomination.

In another 35 years, they might well issue a formal apology to homosexuals.

Eventually, sexual orientation will become a non-issue in essentially all churches. Discrimination against minority sexual orientations will be perceived as institutional hatred, and totally incompatible with the Gospel message. Homosexuality and bisexuality will be recognized as a natural sexual orientation for a minority of people.

Unfortunately, this process will take many decades to complete. In the meantime, much suffering and many suicides will be experienced by the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, and gay-bashing will remain at a high level.