THE CHALLENGE OF THE HOMOSEXUAL CHRISTIANS
manifest to all Churches and to all people
Comunidade Cristã Gay de
We expect this
manifest to be passed on; you may sign under,
showing that you or your organization agree, as long as you keep the name
Cristã Gay de S.Paulo
We also appreciate that it be TRANSLATED in other languages, but we expect translators to be in contact with us (CLICK HERE) before any publicizing. THANK YOU!
Note to the 2nd edition on the internet (June 2008):
As (amog other factors) most of its leaders moved to others cities, is no longer in existence the group that called itself the S.Paulo Gay Christian Community and developed this document with several months work in 1998.
However, as the document's main editor, I'll be glad to keep it public through the site AmorYgual, which I also helped to found in that same year 1998, in the sphere of the Tropis movement (see www.tropis.org).
There are today several other LGBT christian groups in S.Paulo and in other Brazilian cities, with their different theology and worship styles. I am not myself linked to any og them today, but my main work - which is to develop and to spread the Radical Pluralism or Philosophy of Togetherness ideas (see www.tropis.org and/or www.pluralf.blogspot.com) - is still a way of fighting for such groups' space, as well as for all persons' right to be who they really are to the sole and only limit which is not interfering with any other person's same right.
In this moment, traditional religious groups press the Brazilian Senate in the direction of rejecting the Complementary Law Project PLC 122/2006, the biggest legal effort which has ever been done in this country for the protection of everyone's right to be as she/he actually is. We hope this manifest may help many people to understand that their religious conscience should lead them to supporting PLC 122, rather than fighting it!
Ralf Rickli, Brazilian educator and writer
PS: Some statistical estimates mentioned in the Manifest may be in slight discordance with some present-date estimates, but this makes no actual difference for its reasonings.
It is known that in all times and places there have been men and women who feel attracted in terms of love and/or sex to people of the same sex as their own – people that, among other words, may be called "homosexual".
It is not at all a minority of little significance: in this moment there are probably over 400 million homosexual men and women in the world. Even if we use the most conservative estimates, they would not be less than 200 million.
Present in the world for nearly two thousand years, Christian Churches have as a rule regarded homosexuality as a sin, and most recently as a disease and still a sin – facing it with any of the three following attitudes:
Without considering now some scholars’ suggestion that the Church may have supported homosexual unions at some moment of the Middle Ages, it is only in the last decades that two new positions arise among the Christians:
However, these two latter attitudes have been being ignored, if not attacked, by the other Churches, and are not even mentioned in books on the History of Christianity yet – as if it were a negligible question, not one that has to do with hundreds of million people.
That is to say: the three former positions, which leave only a choice between intolerance and hypocrisy, are still the dominant ones in the world Christianity.
Today, however, in the eve of the year 2000 of the so-called Christian Era, the sciences – both biological and human as anthropology and psychology, and even the exact ones as statistics – are offering an understanding of homosexuality which obliges us to question the ethical and religious validity of those positions.
As it will be seen from the exposed bellow, this discussion concerns not only the homosexual people, but all Christians indeed, questioning all that which Christianity will be and will mean in the next century and millennium.
This is therefore a message to all Churches, all Christians, as well as all Human Beings of whatever religion or belief.
Since the 1970’s the most important medical and psychological institutions, both national and international, have excluded homosexuality from their lists of diseases and maladjustment, after realising that there were no defensible reasons to have it in such lists. (World Health Organisation, ICD-9 revision in 1985, ICD-10 in 1995. American Psychiatric Association in 1973, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association and American Academy of Paediatrics in countless statements, etc).
As a definition, a disease, illness, malady, maladjustment etc., is a cause of pain, suffering, or disables a person to perform necessary or desired functions. However, no serious, unbiased analysis can ever demonstrate that the practice of homosexuality, in itself, causes any of the mentioned problems:
Therefore, homosexuality is no more understood as a disease, but rather as a normal variation within humanity – comparable, for instance, to left-handedness or even to a less common eye colour, as the green one.
It is of fundamental importance to understand that it is an extremely frequent variation – more frequent than left-handedness, what means that the world homosexual population is huge.
Studies in depth have found a wide range of sexual variations, so it is very difficult to come to a statistical evaluation of the variations. Even so, there is an index that seems to express fairly well what fraction of any a relatively large population may be estimated to be homosexual, in spite of all cultural and racial differences: 7% of the total population, with 10% among men and 4% among women.
Taking this index we understand that there are over 10 million homosexuals in Brazil, over 17 million in the United States, over 24 million who have Spanish as their language – and about 400 million homosexual women and men all around the world.
Even if we took the most conservative indexes found, the numbers would be above one half the ones stated above, representing anyway an amazing multitude – a fact that may not be simply ignored by religion.
From the sciences’ witness, it is also essential to understand that a consensus has emerged – not an arbitrary one but rather painstakingly and often reluctantly attained – that as a rule homosexuality is not an option for a person, but rather a condition that is intrinsic to him/her – not less than the skin colour or, again, left-handedness.
Therefore, homosexuality cannot be compared to anything like prostitution – which, not dismissing all social and biographical injunctions, is a condition a person can enter, stay in it or get out of it without loss of his/her most intimate personal identity. On the other hand, the orientation of loving and sexual desire is a part of the most intimate personal identity – according both to psychology and to the most honest testimonies by homosexuals themselves.
Persons who are really homosexual feel they could never stop being it without doing severe harm to their own selves; they feel that they would stop being themselves if they stopped being homosexual; they would be suppressing the existence of an actual person to his/her most intimate root – that is to say: they would be committing a "psychological suicide".
That is what the ‘cure’ or ‘regeneration’ religious movements invite people to.
There are testimonies by people who felt ‘healed’ or ‘set free’ from homosexuality by such religious movements. Besides the fact their number has hardly any statistical significance as compared to the treated population, case studies would reveal that they are mostly structurally heterosexual persons who, due to sexual abuse or other circumstances, had come to a life of homosexual practices without feeling really identified with it. It is therefore understandable that such people give a positive account of their treatments, since meeting oneself is always positive.
We may also find cases of bisexual people – a variation which enables that desire be more or less indifferently directed to either sex –, so that in their ‘cure’ such persons have only chosen to cultivate one of the two faces that were already present in their personalities.
People who are really homosexual cannot be changed. They can suffocate or cancel their desires, not actually change them. There are today exexgay groups where people give witness of the happiness they experience since the moment they stopped fighting themselves, and of how bitter can be the life of those who are still fighting themselves in ‘cure’ movements. – It must be pointed out that on December 12, 1998, the board of the American Psychiatric Association has unanimously approved an official statement condemning attempts to ‘heal’ homosexuality as dangerous to psychological health, while restating that homosexuality in itself represents no danger.
Not only as a disease do churches reject homosexuality, however. Actually, they would not do it in the same way as they do not dare, nowadays, to reject a person suffering of epilepsy or cancer.
They reject homosexuality because they are convinced that it is a sin (what brings them to the paradoxical position of considering that a disease, a person is victim of, is at the same time a sin, the same person is guilty of!).
The basis to consider homosexuality a sin lies on six passages of the Bible, three in the Old Testament, three in the New, even if not all of them can be surely related to homosexuality. Lately several authors have been making an effort to clarify the meaning of these prohibitions within their own historical and cultural context, showing that they may be relativized in the same way as countless other biblical prohibitions are.
On what basis can any church authority, or any Christian, state that the biblical prescriptions may be relativized which speak against the divorce, against women’s haircut and men’s beard cut, against the consumption of certain animals’ meat, against working on the rest day or against charging interests on lent money, not to speak of the ‘thou shall not kill’ commandment – and the prescriptions against homosexuality may not? The Bible itself condemns the use of ‘two measures and two weights’.
A weighted reading of the Bible, that is to say, a reading that takes in account the number and the stress of the mentions to the different errors or sins, would make us see that the prescriptions against homosexuality are nearly nothing when compared to the ones against working on the rest day. However, what modern Christian is ready to give up all shopping on Sundays (or Saturdays, according to the rest day preferred), or is ready to boycott the establishments that do not respect the rest day? What Christian is ready to give up receiving interests, since the Bible states that even the father of a son who accepts receiving interests shall die because of that? (Ezekiel 18:10-13).
Therefore: nobody must feel constrained to follow a part of the Bible by determination of any persons who do not follow any other parts. Either we recognise that all of us (including the homosexuals) may be Christian in spite of this or that unaccordance to the Bible, or we recognise that none of us is ever a Christian.
Anything that goes beyond that is injustice and falsehood.
Some Pentecostal churches go beyond that and ‘explain’ homosexuality as a possession or oppression by demons – that is to say: malign spiritual beings that ‘invade’ a person and therefore can be expelled, leaving that person in a supposed ‘natural heterosexual condition’.
However, the overwhelming majority of personal testimonies deny this idea: in other cases where one might speak of such possessions, the oppressed person can actually realise a will strange to his/her own being acting in his/her inner life – an evil that is felt to be different than the person’s self or essence.
On the other hand, a person who is really homosexual often feels that his/her love and desire for other person of the same sex comes from his/her being’s deepest and innermost, the same point where the feelings of the highest, noblest and most sublime come from – precisely the point where the person most experiences the joy of being him or herself and the delight to be free.
The attempt to expel the focus of the homosexual feeling is experienced as an attack to the person’s very self – while the moment the person accepts this focus as good and acceptable to God’s eyes is experienced as an actual liberation and intense spiritual joy.
In the whole world more and more testimonies arise of people who sought God year after year with sincere efforts to transform their homosexual condition, until they experienced, beyond any doubt, the living Word of the Lord telling them in their most intimate: "I made you this way because I want you this way. Trying to change yourself is a blasphemy against the perfection of my work, and a rebellion against my will. I made you this way because I want you this way."
Before these facts, what shall the attitude of Christian churches be?
The S. Paulo Gay Christian Community (Comunidade Cristã Gay de São Paulo) congregates persons who have often experienced being excluded and despised because of their homosexual nature, but are absolutely convinced that God, through Jesus Christ, does not exclude them nor despises them while homosexuals.
These persons feel that God wants to proclaim His-Her Love through them, calling them to create, departing from the very depth of exclusion, a space that does not exclude anyone.
And call out all Churches to do the same, from this moment on.
We are sure we can affirm that:
This manifest, therefore, does not merely speak for the interest of a minority, but rather brings forth a question not lesser than Luther’s famous theses for the whole of Christianity:
Past errors may be ascribed to ignorance, and faced in a perspective of forgiveness; but now humanity has received awareness and understanding of these facts, so any discrimination has ceased to be excusable at any pretext.
Churches that refuse to fully accept homosexuals will be showing to be unworthy of Jesus Christ’s Love and Name, and should have recognised no more authority to speak in His Name.
The true Love of God demands from us, human beings, to give up the power to exclude, which is to arrogate the right to judge in His-Her place concerning salvation, and sets this question forth as a dividing line in the History of Christianity at the dawn of its third millennium. They that have ears to hear, let them hear.
Brazil, January 1999
This manifest has been
published in the web by courtesy of Grupo Amor
whose main page is in http://amorygual.tropis.org