Christian group rebukes former minister, Labour MP who claims Jesus never addressed sexual sins
A U.K. Christian group has strongly condemned Member of Parliament Chris Bryant, a former Church of England minister and homosexual, for his statement in the House of Commons that there is no Biblical teaching against same-sex relationships or marriage.
Bryant, who is “married” to his partner, made the statement during a House of Commons discussion about the Church of England’s recent decision to offer prayers of blessing for same-sex relationships.
“Is there any biblical teaching that says this is wrong? Any? Really? Did Jesus say a single word about same-sex relationships or marriage? I don’t think he did. He said a great deal about love. The God of Love and St. Paul said in Christ there was neither male or female, nor Jew or Greek, and I think he probably would have also said neither gay or straight,” Bryant, a member of the Labour Party, said.
Ben John, who is affiliated with Wilberforce Academy, a one-week Christian program for young professionals run by Christian Concern, wrote an opinion piece disagreeing with Bryant’s statement in Parliament.
John asserted in his op-ed piece that both Jesus and Paul addressed homosexuality as a sin that requires repentance and the offer of grace.
When Jesus was asked a question about divorce, as mentioned in Matthew 19:4-6, He referred to Genesis saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, as they become one flesh.
Jesus also affirmed the complementarity of the male and female gender in marriage and that it was rooted in creation, the author wrote.
While speaking to Peter, Jesus said, as per Matthew 15:18-19, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
In this passage, the author explained, “sexual immorality” is translated from the Greek word porneia, which is also referenced by Jesus in Matthew 5:32, 19:9 and Mark 7:21. The term is the origin of the word “pornography,” he wrote, adding that while it might seem unclear to modern listeners, those who heard Jesus speak would have understood the reference to Leviticus 18, which lists various sinful sexual acts, including incest, adultery, bestiality and homosexual acts.
Even liberal scholars who disagree with their message acknowledge that the Bible does condemn homosexuality, John said in the article, quoiting Diarmaid MacCulloch: “Despite much well-intentioned theological fancy footwork to the contrary, it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity.”
John also quoted Revelation 2:20-23: “I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality… Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.”
Therefore, those who continue in unrepentant sexual immorality do not truly love Jesus, the author wrote, adding that Bryant should be encouraged to repent and receive God's love and grace through forgiveness.
Referring to Paul saying in the Bible that in Christ there is neither male or female, nor Jew or Greek, the author noted that Paul emphasized the unity and oneness in Christ, as shown in Galatians 3:27-29 where he says those baptized into Christ are one, regardless of their background.
In contrast, the author added, Paul views homosexual relations as dishonorable, unnatural and shameful, as stated in Romans 1:26-27.
“Therefore we can say categorically: Jesus and Paul spoke about homosexuality. Homosexual practice is a sin that should be met with the call to repentance and the offer of grace,” John wrote in the op-ed. “Perhaps it is because the Church of England has been ordaining people like Bryant, who appear to know nothing of the teaching of Jesus, that we are in the state that we are in.”
For his part, Bryant defended his comments and responded to those who oppose his views on Jesus, the Bible and homosexuality in a Twitter thread on Thursday, writing:
Starting with the obvious, the Bible was not written in English and theologians have haggled over what books shd be included for centuries. Each book was written in a specific time and cultural context. To fully grasp its meaning you have to read each book against its context. This includes the injunctions and prohibitions in the Torah such as in Exodus and Leviticus. Many things are considered ‘abominations’ including breaking the Sabbath, eating pork or touching the skin of a dead pig.
Some practices are not condemned but sanctioned, including selling your daughter into slavery and stoning. Even the most ardent born again fundamentalist would agree that we need to read these in the light of the teaching of Jesus and modern understandings of justice and science.
Earlier this month, CofE bishops apologized to the LGBT community for their “rejection and exclusion” within the denomination, saying they were now “welcome and valued” within the church.
The CofE also announced its support for a proposal allowing same-sex couples to receive “God’s blessings” and full inclusion in the denomination. However, it would not be officiating same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“We want to apologize for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people — both those who worship in our churches and those who do not,” the bishops said in a statement. "For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry. The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful, and for this we repent."
"As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQI+ people," the statement continues. "We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong. We affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQI+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God."
Andrea Williams, Christian Concern's chief executive who was also a member of the general synod for 10 years, said in a statement the apology could prove to be a "turning point" and signal the decline of the denomination.
"Christianity teaches that sexual expression is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. Any other form of sexual relationships are sexually immoral," Williams said.