Recently, the Undergraduate Council passed a resolution to urge the administrative board of Memorial Church to "sanction administering same-sex blessing ceremonies at Memorial Church by clergy willing to perform such ceremonies." The resolution passed easily, 34 for and only six against. One might be tempted to believe that such strong support suggests that the resolution was on the right track. However, given the fact that Memorial Church is meant to be a Christian church in conjunction with the Bible's teachings on homosexual acts, one quickly sees that such "blessing ceremonies" have no place whatsoever in a Christian church.
At this point, it seems appropriate to address one issue specifically mentioned in the council's resolution, namely that not performing such blessing ceremonies violates Harvard's nondiscrimination policies concerning sexual orientation. Of course, this is absolute nonsense. If Memorial Church is to be a Christian church at all, it must be willing to accept that tenets of Christianity contrary to the policies of Harvard University will be practiced and taught there. If this is unacceptable, then the church should not only allow same-sex blessing ceremonies but also stop discriminating against non-Christian religions and Jewish and Muslim services as well. In passing this resolution, it is doubtful that the council meant so much to urge enforcement of Harvard's nondiscrimination policy. It meant to urge acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle within Christendom.
It is not far into the Old Testament that we are told that marriage is to be between men and women. Genesis 2:23-24 reads, "Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man leaves his father and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh." There is no mention made of a man leaving his parents to be with another man. Indeed, the Old Testament penalty for homosexual sex is very harsh. Leviticus 20:13 declares, "If a man lies with a male as with a woman both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." However, the teachings of Christ in the New Testament tell Christians to deal with the sins of others with forgiveness. Therefore someone who claims that Christians should execute homosexuals--as the Book of Leviticus recommends--would be wrong. That homosexuals are to be treated with kindness, however, does not mean that homosexual acts are in any way condoned by the New Testament. The apostle Paul testifies to one example of this "love the sinner, hate the sin" concept can be seen in I Timothy 1:8-11, 15-16. It reads, "Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted" (italics added). That is the law.
The next passage refers to the Gospel. "The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I [Paul] am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." Though one's sins can be washed away with belief in Christ, we are not given license to sin by this fact.
It is in this regard that the split of feeling on the subject of homosexuality is sharpest among Christians. It has become fashionable among liberal Protestants to believe one of two things. The first is that because sins can be forgiven, it is OK to sin--that because Jesus loves all of us, He also loves all of our sins, or at least is unconcerned about them. Such a belief is obviously self-contradictory because words, thoughts, and deeds only become sins if the Lord disapproves of them.
The second belief is much more common. It is that homosexual acts are not sins; that those parts of the Bible may simply be overlooked. Adherents to this belief write for themselves a new Bible more "appropriate and acommodating" to the modern lives they are leading or they believe people should be allowed to lead. They feel that if science is eventually able to prove that homosexuality is a genetic condition, then homosexuals are made that way by the Lord and He must condone homosexual acts.
The truth, of course, is that all of us are born sinners, all of us are morally deprived when we stand next to the perfection of Christ. And yet all of us are called to His perfection. We all have obstacles in our lives to overcome, obstacles that cause us to sin. Those with homosexual desires face a very powerful obstacle indeed, but no less than any other sinners, they are called to overcome it. This camp of thought says that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by the Lord in Genesis 19 is caused by the towns' inhabitants being inhospitable rather than the men of Sodom asking to have sex with angels who appeared as men. This is an utterly baseless claim.
This camp also says that the ancient Israelites' codes for sexual conduct should not govern our conduct in modern America; many throw out the Old Testament entirely and claim that only the New Testament is relevant to the Christian, ignoring the teaching of Christ that His Father is indeed the God referred to in the Old Testament. Infrequently are the teachings of the New Testament on homosexual acts even mentioned on either side of the issue. Hopefully, those reading this will realize that such teaching exists. Other than the passages from I Timothy above, the New Testament also calls homosexual activity sinful in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Wipe the dust off your Bibles and look those passages up.
In passing the resolution to encourage Memorial Church to allow same-sex blessing ceremonies, the Undergraduate Council implicitly made the statement that homosexual relationships could be consistent with the teachings of Christianity. I ask those reading this today: Who should decide whether or not that is true? Should it be student representatives? Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes? Should it even be the administrative board of Memorial Church whose job it is to decide in this case? Or should it be the word of the Lord God Almighty given to the authors of Christianity's canon, the Bible, through inspiration by the Holy Spirit? I would hope that even those on the council would be willing to admit they have yet to reach divinity.
Randy A. Karger, a junior living in Winthrop House, is a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.