Earlier this evening, I got into a long discussion about faith and theology with a new friend (the new girlfriend of an old friend. Very cool person... and he's a very lucky guy).
One of the things we talked about was the nature of sin, and in particular the prohibition of homosexuality, fornication, promiscuity etc...
Then, I get back to my PC and scroll through facebook, and see that one of my conservative evangelical friends was denouncing the Pope (shocking news that), because he was "pro-gay".
Well... no... Not really...
The Pope said that you could be gay and still go to heaven. He also said that so long as one remained celibate, as straight priests are required to, that gays could be priests (this was reversing a declaration of the previous Pope)
This is not "pro-gay", it is entirely in accordance with the theology of the Catholic church; as well as that of the episcopal, anglican, lutheran, presbyterian, and methodist churches actually (though in practice, some lutheran, presbyterian, and methodist churches do it anyway).
Neither Catholic theology, nor doctrine, actually condemn homosexuality, or consider it an "abomination", or "anathema".
Not to say the church is saying "hey, gay is totally OK"...
The church considers promiscuity and fornication sins. All sex outside the confines of a solemnized marriage is considered fornication (though one may solemnize ones own marriage if no priest is available who will do so, and it is not otherwise forbidden. little known piece of doctrine). Since the church will only solemnize marriages between men and women, all homosexual sex acts are therefore considered fornication.
But let's face it... there's an awful lot of fornicating Christians out there... Like... most of them these days.
So... why exactly is the Pope's position good solid theology?
Because Jesus said so.
See... here's the thing...
Jesus never preached against homosexuality.
Jesus never said that being gay was to be condemned, or an abomination, or anathema.
The Levitican law does, and that's where most Christians who condemn homosexuality believe they derive their authority from.
Thing is... what Jesus actually DID say, is that the Levitican law has been fulfilled (meaning that it no longer applies).
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
This is generally understood to mean something like:
"By the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished"
This is the core of the passage in Jeremiah (an old testament prophet) which declares that God shall make a new covenant, which shall not be a covenant of the old laws, but will be a covenant of the enlightened conscience (God would put the knowledge of what was right and wrong in the minds of men):
"“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”"
The new covenant redeems man through Christ, NOT through adherence to the strict code of hundreds of judaic laws.
We are redeemed through Christ's sacrifice, to forge the new covenant, and the law of Christ.
This is the core of the concept of Christ the redeemer. If you believe in Christ the redeemer (which is a core element of Christianity itself... really, THE core element) then you MUST believe that the Levitican law no longer applies.
Funny thing though...
...Almost all evangelical churches, which are the majority of those that DO officially condemn homosexuality, and which cite the Levitican law as their authority to do so...
... accept that (in fact, it's the absolute core of their theology) in the new covenant of Christ, the Levitican law is superseded, by the new law of Christ...
...EXCEPT for the two passages about homosexuality.
Hundreds of laws, and none of them apply anymore, except for some reason, those two...
For example, they do not say that leviticus says we can't eat shellfish and therefore shellfish must be condemned; or that because Leviticus says you must not weave a fabric from two different types of threads, we must condemn the inventor of poly/cotton blends (though... really we should, just for taste... but that's another thing entirely).
I should note here, the only major Christian church in the United States that does not believe that the Levitican law was replaced by the law of christ, is the LDS church (among their many other disagreements with conventional Christian theology).
The Levitican law is the ONLY documented teaching of God that condemns homosexuality.
There are other passages which disparage homosexuality, and of course fornication (and all homosexual acts are fornication in the eyes of the church), and which preach against it... but none that actually say that God condemns it, or that it is an abomination.
There is NO documented teaching of Christ himself, which prohibits or condemns homosexuality (again, except that homosexual acts are considered fornication).
There are passages that warn against "unnatural acts" and "sexual perversion", but that isn't specifically, or necessarily, about homosexuality. Actually, most biblical scholars believe it refers to incest and bestiality.
Promiscuity, adultery, sexual hedonism (indulgence in sexual lust to the point of negating your morals and conscience), yes, all preached against... Though only adultery is actually banned outright (as it is one of the 10 big ones). The others are just things which coarsen a person, taking them further from grace (along with about a million other things). You shouldn't do them, they are sinful, but they are not condemnation worthy. At least not in isolation (as part of overall moral failure... sure).
... but Jesus never preached against homosexuality.
And if Jesus didn't either preach it himself, or state that it still applied from the old law (for example, he specifically stated that the ten commandments, and the golden rule still applied); then it is NOT part of Christs law.
In fact... if they were otherwise moral, Jesus seemed to be OK with gay guys (Matthew 8:5-13, and Luke 7:1-10).
You know what Jesus DID condemn? Hubris, pride, arrogance; particularly the hubris of any man who presumed to know Gods mind so much as to believe he should condemn his fellow man on Gods behalf.
A Christians spiritual duty to others is not to condemn them for their sins, but to love them as we love ourselves, and to witness to them.
PAUL actually did preach against homosexuality. Paul hated all "sexual unseemliness", "perversion" and "unnatural acts" in fact... Really, it seems he hated all sex but for procreation.
He also preached against associating with immoral people, and unrepentant sinners.
... And when Paul preached against it, he did it as advice for living a moral life, not as relating the word of God.
There is this unfortunate tendency some Christians have, to take the word of Paul, speaking of his own mind, as the word of God.
Paul didn't think much of women either. He's one of the main reasons for so much anti-female rhetoric in Christian writings. Again, the word of Paul, not the word of God.
So... is this Christ's church, or is it Pauls?
A pre-emptive bit for snarky atheists, antitheists etc...
"Actually, there is no documented evidence of Christ at all, never mind his teachings. Christ, if he existed wasn't the son of God, he was just a man. The Bible is nothing but propaganda and a mechanism for controlling the weak minded"...
... or somesuch silly crap...
Ok, fine, if you want to work the epistemology that way...
We are working within the framework of those who purport to believe that Christ is the son of God and savior of man, and that the new testament of the Bible presents a true record of Gods teachings through Christ.
It is by the writings in this book that SOME of those who profess Christianity claim their authority to condemn homosexuality. This assumed authority comes from the Levitican law of the old testament.
Within the framework of their own professed religion, and the teachings in this book, there is, in fact NO SUCH AUTHORITY.
In fact, their savior and teacher Christ, specifically preached that the Levitican laws were no longer valid. He also specifically preached against the condemnation of others, because it was prideful and arrogant, and against Gods teaching.
So... whether you believe in God, or Christ, or not; or that scripture is a valid source of the teaching of God or not; there is no scriptural authority for any Christian to condemn homosexuality as an abomination before God.