Approved, April 2005.
EEA Public Policy Authorisation Team
How Christians respond to homosexuality within the Church is one question. But our calling is to a wider responsibility within society as well: and “gay rights” are on the political agenda in many European countries and at EU level. The EEA believes we need to reflect on how we should respond politically. Our political arguments will not be exactly the same as those used within the Christian community because the law applies to all people, Christian or not.
When Christians enter the political debate on gay rights, they are inevitably accused of intolerance and bigotry, however gracious the words and tone of their message have been. This may be unfair but it is the reality with which we must live. We must respond with more grace while remaining salty. If we need to ask forgiveness for giving the impression of hating homosexuals, we should do so.
The EEA response to political issues related to homosexuality
Human Rights law protects freedom of thought, conscience & religion (ECHR Article 9) and of opinion & expression (ECHR Article 10). This means that we have the right to believe and express our views on sexual ethics. It is an issue of conscience.
We also have the right to attempt to influence public policy on gay rights. Some will accuse us of seeking to impose our morality. We must stay calm and demonstrate that we are not trying to impose but are simply adding our views to the market place of ideas, praying that people will understand their value and accept them. If the democratic process rejects our arguments, Scripture requires us to obey the law but we will pray and work for a reversal. God is sovereign and He can do as He wishes. Our duty is to persevere in communicating wisely and graciously in ways that will persuade. By listening to our opponents and seeking to understand them, we may find that our message is received more effectively.
We know that God’s laws are for everyone’s well being (Deuteronomy 5 v29, 10 v13 etc). Society does not understand this. We suggest that, when engaging in political campaigning on sexual ethics, we should demonstrate the positive benefits of heterosexual life long marriage in contrast to the physical and emotional harm that can be caused by homosexual relationships.
Which particular gay rights should the EEA resist politically? Are some rights more serious than others? While there might be different opinions among Christians, the EEA’s position is the following:
EEA policy on political issues related to homosexuality
The compassion of Christ lies at the heart of the Gospel. Therefore, the EEA is broadly supportive of pension, tax and next of kin rights for long-term homosexual partners, as long as such a privilege is not limited to this form of partnership or discriminates against others.
The EEA strongly recommends a high age of consent. Homosexual acts can often be harmful to health. The EEA strongly recommends a high age of consent in order to protect young people who are still discovering their sexual identity.
The EEA strongly resists the notion of homosexual marriage. If civil partnership between same sex couples was clearly seen as sociologically and ontologically different to marriage, the EEA would not object. However, it is doubtful that this difference would be clear to all. The EEA is concerned that civil partnership for same sex couples would be seen as homosexual marriage. (edited)
The EEA believes that no religious community must ever be forced into being involved in and recognising homosexual marriage. That would be a clear breach of the human rights of both the corporate bodies, e.g. the Churches, and the people of faith conviction within those bodies. People of all faiths, as well as people of no faith, have the right to reflect their beliefs within their faith communities, even when those faith communities sometimes serve civic functions e.g. performing marriages.
The EEA strongly resists the right for practising gay couples to adopt children. Children need male and female role models as parents. Many clearly do not have this benefit but this is still the ideal and should be the aim of good family public policy.
The EEA believes that, while it is important to respond to the gay rights agenda, it is just as important to work hard on other socio-political issues, thus demonstrating God’s concern for all of life.
The EEA’s socio-political team would be delighted to receive resources on these sensitive issues that EEA members have produced which might be of interest to other members. The EEA also values its members’ comments.
Positional Papers of some national Evangelical Alliances
These papers do not necessarily represent the views of the European Evangelical Alliance.
Spain. A brief position paper is available from the Spanish Evangelical Alliance about the issues of homosexual marriage and adoption rights for homosexual couples. www.protestantedigital.com
United Kingdom. The UK Evangelical Alliance’s booklet “Faith, Hope & Homosexuality” includes a review of what Scripture says on homosexuality and also includes recommendations for Churches as they decide on how to respond to people with a homosexual orientation. The text can be found on WEA’s website. www.worldevangelicals.org
Ireland. The Evangelical Alliance Ireland made a submission to a Parliament Committee studying the definition of the family. The text, which includes discussion on defining the family, protecting those in non-conventional families, same-sex marriage and rights of parents, can be found in EAI’s website. www.evangelical.ie
Switzerland. The Swiss Evangelical Alliance has written resources for their members as Switzerland prepares to have a referendum on the legalisation of homosexual civil partnerships. These papers are in the process of being translated into English. www.each.ch
Click here to view the "Faith, Hope & Homosexuality" booklet.