No Room at the Inn: The False Divide of Gay v Christian

The recent award of damages to a same-sex couple who were denied accommodation by Christian hoteliers, continues to draw extensive coverage and comment in the British press. On the one hand, it seems that the B&B/hotel hosts are now receiving extensive hate-mail and nuisance calls and other harassment, including numerous attempted bookings by other gay couples threatening to launch follow-up legal actions if their bookings are denied. (The place is currently closed for the off-season, so no bookings are being accepted for anyone. Mrs Bull has not indicated what she will do if these bookings continue in the summer). Such harassment is clearly despicable and uncalled-for.

On the other, this harassment has led to her being portrayed in some quarters as a Christian martyr, standing up for her religious convictions. This is patent nonsense. If her religious convictions lead her to disapprove of lesbian sex, she need not engage in it. Religious freedom does not extend to the freedom to impose her religious beliefs on her guests. Presumable she also disapproves of masturbation. Does she have signs in her rooms warning that jerking off in the bath is forbidden?

She claims that she is not discriminating against gays in particular, but only against unmarried couples. This too is hogwash. In British law, here guests are married –  except that the technical legal term for their union (unjustly) is “civil partnership”, not marriage.

But the most serious complaint against their action, for a couple claiming to be acting from Christian belief, is that is totally contrary to the Christian Gospels, and the practice of Jesus Christ himself.

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Penitential Walk, Repenting for Past Homophobia.

Slowly, the message is getting through. It is not homoeroticism that is sinful and contrary to the Gospels, but homophobia and prejudice. In some cases the movement is dramatic, manifested in dramatic decisions that impact on entire denominations – but sometimes, the movement is purely personal, directly affecting only one or two lives.

Symon Hill is one of those in the latter category, who once actively opposed LGBT inclusion in church. Over the years, he has modified his views, and is now appalled by his former actions. He is quite clear that it was the influence of misguided religious teaching that influenced his homophobia in the first place – he had no problem with homosexuality or bisexuality before he became a Christian, but thereafter modified his earlier open-mindedness to “fit in” more easily.

However, after grappling with the subject with prayer, and scripture study, he found what many others have done, who have approached the subject with an open mind, and sufficient effort in study – it is not homoeroticism that is sinful, but homophobia:

I had no problem with homosexuality or bisexuality before I became a Christian. But I chose to support a narrow homophobic position, partly out of a desire to fit in at the church I had joined. I stifled doubts about the flimsiness of the arguments used to back up hostility to same-sex relationships. Although that church played an important role in guiding me towards Christ, I am now convinced they were severely mistaken about sexuality.

I have struggled for years with issues of sexuality – through prayer, reflection, personal experience and of course through reading the Bible. And I have come to the conclusion that it is not homosexuality, but homophobia, that is sinful and contrary to the Gospel of Christ.

My homophobia caused direct harm to several people. My support for policies that excluded gay, lesbian and bisexual people from churches contributed to the harm caused to many others.

-from Ekklesia

 

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