Norwich Pride march divides church opinions

NorwichPride420The staging of the Norwich Pride on July 27 has divided opinion in the Norwich Christian community. While many churches are not comfortable with the event, a handful are more supportive. Keith Morris reports.

 
The Quakers and some Anglican clergy will be joining the march, while other churches, as last year, will be watching and offering words of reconciliation. At the same time others are more strongly opposed as the controversy over the redefinition of marriage is in the headlines.
 
Norwich Pride is run by the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) community and includes a march on Saturday July 27.
 
Jo Smith, a Quaker who represents faith groups at Norwich Pride, said: “Quakers along with members of other faith and spiritual groups will be attending the parade and invite everyone to join us.  We invite those from Churches or religious organisations which recognise and support their gay members to bring a banner with the name of their church on it. We will meet in Chapelfield Gardens before the parade, by the gate nearest the theatre.”  
 
Rev Mark Taylor, from Carleton Rode Baptist Church, one of a number of church leaders who are not supportive of the march, said:  “The March is controversial and divisive within the Christian Church, and at a time when the Christian Church is wrestling over the major issue of the redefinition of marriage, it is not helpful to stir strong feelings when we are seeking to discern how we will respond to redefinition and remain true and faithful to the clear teachings of scripture.
 
“It is very tragic when the secular society pressurise the Church into agreeing to the lowering of the moral and spiritually righteous bar, in order that society can indulge without feeling guilty. Promotion of this controversial march will do nothing but highlight the weakness of the Church to take the spiritual and moral lead.”
 
On the other side of the debate, Norwich Anglican priest and Quaker, Rev Philip Young, said: “As a Christian I enjoy celebrating the colourful diversity of human beings and Pride is such a wonderfully colourful event. I think we should celebrate love wherever we see it and love crosses all boundaries and has the ability to bring us all together in joyful celebration,
 
“I think it is always a good thing to challenge our fixed and rigid ideas about other people and we should enjoy the diversity and approach all people with love and acceptance in our hearts, looking beyond appearances to the beauty of each human being,” said Philip.
 
Duane Elkins, leader of New Hope Christian Centre, said: “Last year I headed a group of five evangelists who went to the Pride celebrations to offer hope. The Scripture on our badge was: "Christ Jesus came to save sinners - I am the biggest one!" 1 Timothy 1:15
 
“It caught a number of celebrants off guard, but initiated conversations which ended with us offering prayer.  No one took our offer of prayer, but we believe the message we were trying to communicate was - although we don't condone the practice, we still care for the individual.”

A similar group may attend the march this year but no decision has yet been taken.


 
 

Feedback:
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Timothy Reeves 05/08/2013 23:43
Well Tommy, if you are not Bro [Name Withheld] then perhaps it may be worth looking at your material after all. If so then this means that you really do support Todd Bentley. Why be coy about it?

You ask this question: "Why is it so hard to have genuine Christian fellowship on a “Christian website?" Acts 9:20 might throw some light on that question. Having a signed in account proves little. Somebody around here has got an account and keeps deleting my posts. Sorry if it’s not you, but on the lawless internet I operate a guilty until proved innocent policy.

Feeling more assured about you I’ll have a closer look at your cut and paste and links.

But in the meantime I have this question. Your cut and paste stated: *Quote* It follows that homosexuality (i.e. homosexual orientation) is caused by personal choices *Unquote*. But would it make much difference to you even if this is untrue? If you believe the Bible is telling you that homosexual practice is wrong then what difference does it make if homosexual orientation is or isn’t congenital? After all, we are all aware of our own temptation toward egocentrism from the youngest of ages; protecting the ego is likely to be congenital and not caused by personal choices although the decision to act on our drives is: Thus, acting on egocentric motivation with no concern for fellow humans is sin (= the word with the “I” in the middle) regardless of the fact that the drive is congenital. So why is the congenital question re homosexuality so vital here?

Tommy W 06/08/2013 07:56
Timothy, because of the fall in general we are all inclined towards sin and the desires of the flesh, but God created us with a free will and the choices we make are down to our own volition. As far as I’m aware the congenital question hasn’t been proven regarding homosexuality and it’s just another scientific theory, however If you have any new solid scientific evidence regarding a “gay gene” please provide it.
Timothy Reeves 06/08/2013 15:03
Hi Tommy. I think we are now over our firestorm of deletions – frankly I’m not quite sure what that was all about; perhaps me simply making the change “Brother [Name Withheld]” did the trick – I don’t know!

I’ve had a good look at your cut paste etc, but you haven’t answered my question. Perhaps I’m not making myself clear, so I’ll try again.

Quoting from your last post:

*Quote* As far as I’m aware the congenital question hasn’t been proven regarding homosexuality *Unquote*

That is, it hasn’t been “proved” either way!

So back to the question. If one believes that the Bible condemns homosexual practice can you tell me why whether or not homosexual orientation is congenital matters so much? Another illustration: Heterosexual orientation is likely to be congenital (after all some are born “Eunuchs” to use a Biblical term – Mat 19:12). Heterosexual orientation isn’t wrong in and of itself but the abuse of heterosexuality is. We are born with suites of emotions, impulses, motivations etc and not all these items are perverse in and of selves; the perversity is in how we manage them in a social environment where we have to make allowance for others. The general lesson here is this: Congenitality isn’t the core issue, especially in the light of our scientific ignorance – the issue is how we handle homosexual orientation. In fact even you have said above *Quote* sexual orientation and dormant homosexual tendencies is not a sin *Unquote*.

So why is whether or not homosexuality congenital or not so crucial? Perhaps I can answer the question myself: Reading your cut and paste it seems that the view expressed by the writer here is that much sympathy toward homosexuality stems from the concept of a “gay gene”; hence the desire of the writer to undermine this idea. Is this your view? (I’ll comment on the article later).

Timothy Reeves 06/08/2013 15:31
Hello Tommy:....let me try a one liner: If the scientific picture re the congenitality of homosexual orientation is not yet unequivocal why is it important to you that this debate swings one way and not the other?
Tommy W 07/08/2013 13:57
Hi Timothy, perhaps our views don’t differ that much, we both agree that sexual orientation and dormant homosexual tendencies is not a sin, do we agree to pursue and act upon that same sex attraction is a sin, as yet you seem to have side stepped that question? My cut and paste job was thrown out there for fellowship, and I’m not saying I believe everything written in the articles, but I do believe the bible clearly condemns homosexual practices, as scriptures that declare this is overwhelming. My burden is to help those caught in the trap of homosexuality who desperately want to get free. I would ask, as Christians how we can help them if we condone such behaviour?

You ask “So why is whether or not homosexuality congenital or not so crucial?

If an unbeliever were to walk in your fellowship and give their heart to the Lord, but confess they’re homosexual and ask you to help them, what would you do? Tell them not to worry, its genetic you were born that way? How can this help them pursue righteousness, holiness and sanctification?

With reference to your one liner, it’s not important to me that this debate swings one way and not the other, but it is important to me to help my brothers and sisters who are struggling with certain issues, that they may mature, become full grown and lead a Godly life in Christ, that’s why I encourage those who would seek deliverance to check out the links I previously provided


Timothy Reeves 10/08/2013 16:45
Thanks for the reply Tommy. I'll get back to you.
Jo Smith 11/08/2013 22:38
Hey Guys,

Spent a lovely week with some really decent Christian types who were all entirely accepting of mine and my girlfriend's relationship. And nobody had kittens about it. Instead everyone thought a lot about making the world a better place. Interesting that you spend a lot of time discussing why gay people are gay without asking the gay people! It's not an illness you know.
Timothy Reeves 12/08/2013 17:38
Hi Jo, glad to hear you had a good week

Good idea Jo; I’m all for listening to the testimony of gay Christians, but there is one thing that could mean your testimony cuts little ice – in a word “gnosis”; that is, claims by some Christians to have a superior spiritual insight bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Holders of gnosis will claim to know something about your private experience that you don’t! This claim to privileged “Holy Spirit” knowledge is the ultimate (and irrefutable) fall back argument of just about every sectarian and elite Christian between here and Salt Lake city.

Timothy Reeves 12/08/2013 17:43
Hi Tommy,

Unfortunately I can’t answer your question directly. Viz:

*Quote* Can a person profess to be a born again Christian, to live and abide in Christ and be “actively” gay? *Unquote*

But I certainly would NOT wish to answer “No” to that question as I don’t have inside knowledge of another Christian’s conscience before God. All I can say is that if practicing gay Christians have clear consciences about their life style I must respect their views. Anyway, below are some further points that might help support my position:

ONE: The Bible is not epistemically foundational; in order to convey meaning it depends on an open ended hinterland of given interpretative resources: Viz The language instinct, history, patterns of thought, culture etc. A friend mine puts is succinctly thus “Meaning = Text + Context”. The Bible text doesn’t so much contain information than catalyze the production of information from a context - under God’s sovereignty of course (See here: http://www.norwichcentralbaptistchurch.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/coolest-equation-ever-picture-on-left.html )

TWO: Why is the foregoing important? It’s important because it explains why the meaning of the so-called homosexual “clobber” texts isn’t unequivocal; people tap into different sets of interpretative resources and come to different conclusions. See here for example: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hombiblnt.htm – notice the appeal there to the open ended resources of history and literary analysis. Arguablility rather than incontrovertibility is the status quo.

THREE: Yes, the cut and paste you offered has big problems: The so called “gay gene” may be a complete red herring: Consider, for example, that we may not have genes for “walking” but rather genes for growing legs which then promote, but don’t guarantee, the learning of “locomotion behaviors” – in this case walking. But change the context and the behavior changes e,g. if we were born in outer space we may never learn to walk. The lesson? Some genes entail behavioral propensities, but not certainties. These propensities have to be matched to an environment to have a probability of kicking in. What I’m trying to say is this: A “gay gene” is not the only scenario one can think of where homosexual orientation isn’t a product of the choices one makes. My own guess is that in actual fact homosexual orientation is a product of different combinations of causes. (which is probably also true of heterosexuality).

FOUR: There may be no “gay gene” but that doesn’t prevent the human population as a whole retaining a probability of returning a percentage with homosexual orientation just as it returns and supports a certain percentage (according to the Bible) of “eunuchs” and a certain level of infertility. The crucial concept is NOT individual fertility but the fertility of the population as a whole which if it is high enough is able to maintain homosexual and eunuch propensities. So the arguments used by your cut and paste about fertility don’t work.

FIVE: I suspect the web site you quote from is attempting to set up a case for apportioning culpability re gay orientation by claiming that even orientation is a choice. It can then start dishing out condemnation, blame and even charges of heresy and blasphemy; such charges come all too easily to human lips.

SIX: Trying to “fix” eunuchs (or homosexuals) by attempting to spiritually badger them into a heterosexual life style without full regard to the many agents of causation may be psychologically damaging. I recommend that the testimony of a broad range of gay Christians be given cognizance and not just one or two who claim to have been “freed” from the orientation.

SEVEN: Whatever views one takes on whether or not homosexual practice is wrong, one thing is clear: Gay people have been abused and persecuted for hundreds of years. I wonder how many tragic lives and suicides this is responsible for? “More sinned against than sinning” is the phrase that comes to my mind. In particular as I have a background in computing and also had a mother who worked at Bletchley Park the sad case of Alan Turing feels close to home.

Jo Smith 18/08/2013 10:34
Thanks Tim, good to know there are some sensible Christians out there!

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