TCU Daily Skiff Friday, April 23, 2004
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Christianity feels rift over homosexuality
Homosexuality has stirred debate in many denominations.
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By Elizabeth Bassett

The controversy surrounding gays and lesbians and their role in Christianity was highlighted this spring at TCU.

Brite Divinity School was the center of focus when an openly gay administrator, who is also a Christian Church minister, said a church official discriminated against him because of his sexuality.

TCU is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and even though this denomination has a reputation of being nontraditional and accepting, this spring has proved that even a progressive religion has to grapple with new trends.

A rift in the Christian Church was exposed: Many in the church support gays in all their roles, including serving as ministers, but on the other hand, only one of about 30 Christian Church regions will ordain a gay ordination candidate.

The Christian Church is not the only denomination struggling to define the roles of homosexuals.

The Episcopalian Church is also caught in a controversy. Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church in fall 2003, and ever since, the Anglican church has been passionately debating whether this is in line with church policy.

The Roman Catholic Church holds that although being homosexual is not a sin, gay sex is. The Catechism, or official doctrine of the church, says that homosexual acts are against natural law and cannot be approved under any circumstances.

But the church adds that homosexuals should be accepted with respect and compassion because their sexuality is not chosen and is often a trial. Gays should lead a life of chastity just as other unmarried people should, the Catechism concludes.

The United Methodist Church also affirms the rights and liberties of homosexuals. A practicing, self-avowed homosexual cannot be ordained, though. The General Conference of the United Methodist Church sets forth these standards in the Book of Discipline.

“There’s some ambiguity on how things are interpreted, of course,” said the Rev. Brian Young at the Wesley Foundation at TCU. “It’s not an easy issue. Even things that seem very clear may not be clear in other people’s eyes. The church is struggling, as everyone is, but there’s open discussion and dialogue about it.”

The church and the people within the church are not of a single mind.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest of the Baptist bodies in the United States, holds that marriage was created by God for one man and one woman for life, said Emily Quesenberry with the TCU Baptist Student Ministries.

“Hopefully, every church would be friendly and welcoming and loving,” Quesenberry said.

But homosexuality is outside of the realm of God’s plan, she said. A homosexual act is a sin just like premarital sex, she said.

Scott Ward, a second-year graduate student of music performance, said, “For every single denomination, there’s that many different views on sexuality. I actually admire churches that can make a decision as a denomination. I think denominations are afraid to make a decision because they don’t want to alienate someone.

“It’s all a matter of interpretation.”

Freshman music education major Tricia Tedford agreed.

“Every church is different and every person has a different interpretation of the Bible and what’s in it,” she said.

The problem in almost any religion is that people want to rely on Scripture, said Daryl Schmidt, chairman of the TCU religion department.

“It’s not adequate to hide behind Scripture,” he said.

The Bible and early Christians were against war and capitalism, he said, and yet these are accepted in our world today.

“There’s no such thing as a consistent literalist,” Schmidt said.

Culture changes, and the understanding of things also changes, including the understanding of what is set forward in religious doctrines, he said.

Julius Tsai, a TCU religion professor with a specialty in Eastern religions, called the struggle over homosexuality a “grapple with the rhetoric of purity.” Christians are not the only ones dealing with such hard questions, he said.
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