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Latter Day Saint
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Main article: Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes clear that same-gender attraction is not sinful and no one should be blamed for it, but claims that a few people have been able to change their sexual orientation. However, it considers homoerotic thoughts, feelings and behaviors to be a problem that everyone can and should overcome. Homosexual activity is considered a serious sin on par or greater than other sexual activity outside of a legal, heterosexual marriage. They have encouraged their members to reach out to homosexuals with love and understanding, which has sparked criticism and protests from more conservative churches. In 2007, they produced God Loveth His Children, a pamphlet whose stated purpose is to help LGB members.
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ officially seeks to end all discrimination including discrimination against members of the LGBT community
Main article: Homosexuality and Lutheranism
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran church body in the United States, as of 21 August 2009, voted 559 to 451 in favor of allowing non-celibate gays to become ordained ministers. During the national meeting in 2005, delegates voted against a measure that would have allowed non-celibate gay ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions by 503 against to 490 in favor. ELCA Lutheran policy states that LGBT individuals are welcome and encouraged to become members and participate in the life of the congregation. The ELCA does not yet have a rite for blessing same-sex unions, but another motion passed at the 2009 Assembly directed its leaders to develop one. ELCA congregations that specifically embrace LGBT persons are called Reconciling in Christ congregations. The group Lutherans Concerned supports the inclusion of LGBT members in Lutheran churches in the ELCA and ELCIC. All other Lutheran churches in the United States oppose ordination and marriage of homosexuals. Church bodies such as the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church have experienced growth as a result of congregations who disagree with the ELCA's position on homosexuality.
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, the second largest Lutheran church in the United States at 2.4 million members, does not ordain homosexuals. The LCMS Synodical President Gerald Kieschnick was present to register the objections of the LC-MS to the ordination of homosexuals at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, despite refusing to participate in Lutheran ecumenical associations.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the third largest Lutheran church in the United States at 395,947 members, does not ordain homosexuals.
In 2006, Lionel Ketola became the first person in a same-sex marriage to be appointed vicar (intern) of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada congregation. This occurred at in Newmarket, Ontario. Later that year, the Eastern Synod of the ELCIC voted to allow a "local option" for blessing same-sex unions. The national church, which had previously rejected such a proposal, proceeded to assert that it alone had the authority to make such a decision. The National Church Council agreed in a September ruling, but promised to bring forward another motion authorizing the local option for approval at the 2007 National Convention.
Most Lutheran state churches in Germany, Lutheranism's country of origin, are also liberal, viewing homosexuality as moral and allow gay and lesbian clergy. But the Lutheran churches in Germany are also divided on the issue of blessing same-sex unions. In general, very few churches in the more rural parishes (Baden, Saxonia, Hesse-Waldeck) are in favor of blessing same-sex unions while the urban churches do allow them (Hanover, Rhineland, Westfalia, Brunswick, Oldenburg, Berlin-Brandenburg, Bremen, Northelbia...). Nevertheless, all the state churches agree that gay and lesbian individuals are welcome as members, and that any kind of persecution is unacceptable.
The Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia, also members of the Lutheran World Federation, are also liberal in their position on homosexuality and view homosexuality as moral. In Sweden (Church of Sweden) the Lutheran church allowed 2006 blessings of same-sex unions and in 2009 same-sex marriage and permit gay clergy. A notable bishop is the KG Hammar, former Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden, has been very vocal in supporting gay and lesbian Lutherans. In 2009 Eva Brunne, an open lesbian women, was elect as bishop in Stockholm, Church of Sweden. The Church of Norway is divided, with 6 of 11 bishops accepting homosexual practice as moral, even though the church officially rejects it.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is divided on issue, but many of its most well known bishops have expressed their acceptance for homosexuality. Also some theologians related to church have supported gay-marriages. As of October 2010, the Church of Finland allows, but does not oblige its priests to pray for same-sex couples.
The Mennonite Church is split into various denominations. The largest Mennonite denomination in North America is the Mennonite Church USA. The Mennonite Church USA has many "Welcoming Congregations" which are churches who are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ people in all levels of church life. The name "Welcoming Congregation" is a designation of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBTQ interests an organization started jointly between the Brethren and Mennonite churches in the early 1970s. The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community. One campaign specifically relating to the Mennonite Church USA is the PinkMenno campaign. The PinkMenno Campaign supports the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals in marriage, in ordination, and in the loving community of Christian fellowship within the Mennonite Church. Pink Menno envisions the day when it becomes irrelevant because the church is fully living out Christ’s radical love toward all people, especially toward those in the margins. Pink Menno has actively been encouraging open dialog and conversation at the Mennonite Church USA conventions for a number of years. Neither the BMC or PinkMenno as organizations are recognized by the Mennonite Church USA.
The Brethren Mennonite Council on LGBT interests is an organizations that works among all Mennonite and Brethren denominations although other Mennonite denominations have not shown interest in having dialog on this issue.
Main article: Homosexuality and Methodism
Methodist Church of Great Britain
The Methodist Church of Great Britain has not taken a definitive stance on homosexuality, although affirms the traditional belief that individuals should remain chaste outside marriage. In 2006, the Church also prohibited the blessing of same sex unions on or off church property.
The United Methodist Church
One source of considerable controversy within the United Methodist Church is its official positions on homosexuality. Since 1972, the Book of Discipline has declared "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Christian teaching." Following the 1972 incompatibility clause other restrictions have been added at subsequent General Conferences. Currently the Book of Discipline prohibits the ordination of "practicing, self-avowed homosexuals," forbids clergy from blessing or presiding over same-sex unions, forbids the use of UMC facilities for same-sex union ceremonies and prohibits the use of Church funds for "gay caucuses" or other groups that "promote the acceptance of homosexuality." An additional prohibition toward the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons will be debated at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth. Following the 2005 decision of the Judicial Council to uphold a pastor's right to deny membership to a man solely based on his sexual orientation (despite the silence of the Book of Discipline on the matter) the denomination expects a host of petitions surrounding the eligibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons for membership.
Despite this language, members of the Church are not of one mind on this issue. Preceding the incompatibility clause the Book of Discipline clearly states that "homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth." Some believe that this "sacred worth" clause stands in contradiction to the following statement regarding the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching. The Book of Discipline affirms that all persons, both heterosexual and homosexual, are included in the ministry of the church and can receive the gift of God's grace. While the Book of Discipline supports the civil rights of homosexual persons and rejects the abuse of homosexuals by families and churches, it also calls for laws defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Failed efforts have been made to pass resolutions to "fully include gay. lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the life of the Church" at General Conferences since the introduction of the incompatibility clause in 1972; delegates from annual conferences in the Northeast and on the West Coast typically vote to do so, but are outnumbered by those from Southeast.
Some of these issues have come before the Judicial Council. On 31 October 2005, the Council undertook two controversial measures on this topic. First, the Council upheld the revocation of Irene Elizabeth Stroud's clergy status for disclosing she is openly lesbian. The council also rendered a decision allowing a Virginia pastor to deny church membership to a gay man. The latter decision was especially controversial, since it appeared to UMC LGBT proponents to contradict both the Constitution and membership policies of the United Methodist Church which stipulate that membership shall be open to all persons "without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic condition." The Judicial Council had previously found that the word "status" applies to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. Decision 1032 created vigorous debate on the level of autonomy individual pastors and congregations have in interpreting and applying Church doctrine.
Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church is an international fellowship of Christian congregations. It is considered by many to be a full mainline denomination or communion. There are currently 300 congregations in 22 countries, and the Fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Acceptance of homosexuality is an important part of its theology.
The Moravian Church declared in 1974 that gays and lesbians were full members of the Christian community. In 2002, the Northern Provincial Synod placed a moratorium for the time being on further decisions about homosexuality. Currently, the questions of marriage and ordination are unresolved.
New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church maintains that it is solely for God to determine whether, and to what extent, a person acquires guilt before God through the practice of his or her homosexuality. In this regard, the Church expressly states that sexual orientation has no relevance in pastoral care.
Old Catholic Church
The Old Catholic Churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands view homosexuality as moral, permit gay and lesbian priests, and bless gay couples. These should not be confused with the Roman Catholic Church, nor should one confuse the positions of the Old Roman Catholics (traditional Old Catholics) with those of traditionalist Roman Catholic groups who hold the identical position of the Roman Catholic Church.
Most churches that are within the Pentecostal Movement view homosexual behavior as a sin. The second largest Pentecostal Church in the USA, the Assemblies of God, makes its view clear on homosexuality in a position paper stating: "It should be noted at the outset that there is absolutely no affirmation of homosexual behavior found anywhere in Scripture. Rather, the consistent sexual ideal is chastity for those outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage and fidelity for those inside such a marriage. There is also abundant evidence that homosexual behavior, along with illicit heterosexual behavior, is immoral and comes under the judgment of God"
Whereas the inerrant, inspired Word of God emphatically declares, in Romans chapter I, homosexuality to be vile, unclean, unnatural, unseemly, and an abomination in the sight of God, and Whereas the United Pentecostal Church International is a fundamental Bible-believing organism entrusted with a divine destiny to provide spiritual direction to a wayward world, Let us therefore resolve that the United Pentecostal Church International go on public record as absolutely opposed to homosexuality and condemn it as a moral decadence and sin.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, has approved the ordination of non-celibate gays. On July 8, 2010, by a vote of 373 to 323, the General Assembly voted to propose to the presbyteries a constitutional amendment to remove the restriction against the ordination of partnered homosexuals. This action required ratification by a majority of the 173 presbyteries within 12 months for the proposed amendment to take effect. On May 10, 2011, a majority of the presbyteries voted to approve the constitutional change. It took effect on July 10, 2011.
Nevertheless, the Church remains divided over the issue of homosexuality. Although gay and lesbian persons are welcome to become members of the church, denominational policy prohibited non-celibate same-sex relations (as well as non-celibate heterosexual relations outside of marriage) for those serving as ministers or as elders on key church boards until 2010. After rancorous debate, that policy was upheld in a vote of presbyteries in 2002, but overruled in 2010. The denomination's constitution defines marriage as "a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship". The denomination commissioned a study on the "peace, unity, and purity" of the church which found that homosexuality was not, in and of itself, a stumbling block to ordination. The report also suggested that Presbyteries and local governing bodies be the place where case-by-case decisions be made on the "readiness" of homosexual candidates for ministry. In 2008 the General Assembly sent to the presbyteries a vote to remove the wording from the constitution of the denomination that is seen as barring homosexuals from ordination (G-6.106b). The 2008 General Assembly also removed all precedent-setting cases and "authoritative interpretations" concerning homosexuality since 1978 which were seen by full-inclusion advocates as being stumbling blocks to ordination of homosexual individuals. The Church does bless same-sex unions, but does not officially permit same-sex marriages, and does not explicitly support the consummation of these unions.
Other, smaller American Presbyterian bodies, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church condemn same-sex sexual behavior as incompatible with Biblical morality, but believe gays and lesbians can repent and abandon the "lifestyle."
In New Zealand the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has debated homosexuality for many years. In 1985 its General Assembly declared "Homosexual acts are sinful." The most recent decision of the Assembly in 2004 declared "this church may not accept... anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman," but added the lemma, "In relation to homosexuality... this ruling shall not prejudice anyone, who as at the date of this meeting, has been accepted for training, licensed, ordained, or inducted."
Many Presbyterians in New Zealand are active in the Association for Reconciling Christians and Congregations, an ecumenical group that supports the full inclusion and participation of all people in the Church, including gay and lesbian persons.
In America, More Light Presbyterians, a coalition of gay-inclusive congregations, was founded in 1980. Today the organization has 113 member churches, while many more informally endorse its mission to more fully welcome people of all sexualities into the life of the church.
Quakers in many countries, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, are supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, seeing this as necessary aspect of the Equality Testimony and part of historical Quaker activism against injustice and oppression. Quakers in these countries have become active in the fight for equality of marriage for same-sex couples, and perform same-sex commitment or marriage ceremonies are part of Quaker business.
In the United States of America, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is deeply divided on the issue. The more conservative Friends United Meeting and Friends Evangelical Church considers homosexuality sinful; but other Friends, such as those in the Friends General Conference, strongly support equal ecclesiastical rights for gay and lesbian persons. Hartford, Connecticut Quakers as far back as 1986 issued a statement recognizing both same-sex and heterosexual celebrations of marriage, and in 1988 the Beacon Hill Quaker Meeting in Massachusetts also issued a statement in support of recognizing same-sex marriage ceremonies. In 2009, several Quaker meetings including the Twin Cities Friends Meeting announced they would stop signing certificates for opposite-sex marriages until same-sex marriages were fully legalised. Those who call themselves "Conservative Friends" do not necessarily conform to the Friends United Meeting, the Friends Evangelical Church or the Friends General Conference, and so have mixed theological stances on homosexuality.
Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church considers human sexual behavior that it sees as properly expressed to be sacred, almost sacramental in nature. Sexual acts other than "unprotected" vaginal intercourse within a heterosexual marriage are considered sinful because in the Church's understanding, sexual acts, by their nature, are meant to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life). The Church also understands the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan. Same-gender sexual acts are incompatible with this framework:
"[H]omosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
These teachings are, of course, not limited to the issue of homosexuality, but is also the general background for the Catholic prohibitions against, for example, fornication, contraception, pornography, consummated anal sex, consummated oral sex, masturbation, and all other forms of non-coital sex. However, according to its own understanding the Church comprises all those who are baptised, and traditionally it has been common to speak of the magesterium of the theologians and the sensus fidelium (the deep intuitive sense of the faithful as to what constitutes authentic catholic teaching and practice) alongside the magesterium of the episcopate.
To be sure, the Church has clearly stated that homosexual desires or attractions themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that is sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose same-gender sexual acts, it also officially urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions and isn't opposed to the homosexual orientation, thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against the LGBT community:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
The Church considers the call to chastity universal to all persons according to their state in life. For those who do experience gay sexual attractions, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel:
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."
Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood
The Roman Catholic Church forbids the ordination of men who have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," as it is expressed in a 2005 document, called Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders. Men with transitory same-sex tendencies could be eligible for ordination after three years of having moved on from this stage of their life. The use of the term 'homosexual tendencies' is unique to this document and has given rise to debate as to what was intended, with most Bishops and Religious Orders understanding the document in a Thomistic framework in which tendency implies the desire and intent to bring an act to completion . Accordingly the dominant position take in response to this document is to interpret it as referring to gay men who cannot or do not intend to remain celibate, and the vast majority of dioceses and orders continue to accept gay candidates who are willing to embrace the discipline of celibacy and show the requisite psychosexual maturity (this is, of course, required of heterosexual candidates also). Furthermore, the fact that the document is a letter from a dicastery places it at a lesser level of teaching authority and accordingly it should not be understood as representing a definitive and fully binding expression of the Church's mind on this issue.
The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, affirms that gay and lesbian persons are welcome in the church and the ministry. The resolution "A) That all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, who profess Jesus Christ and obedience to Him, are welcome to be or become full member of the Church. B) All members of the Church are eligible to be considered for the Ordered Ministry." was passed in 1988. This was not done, however, without intense debate over what was termed "the issue"; some congregations chose to leave the church rather than support the resolution.
The church campaigned starting in 1977 to have the federal government add sexual orientation to federal non-discrimination laws, which was accomplished in 1996. The church has also engaged in activism in favour of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada, and on July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas and the first country outside Europe to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.
United Church of Christ
The polity of the United Church of Christ is such that the views of one setting of the church cannot be unwillingly 'forced' on the Local Church, whether between congregations or between the upper levels of the church and individual congregations. Thus, views on many controversial matters can and do vary among congregations. David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research who has studied the United Church of Christ, said surveys show the national church's pronouncements are often more liberal than the views in the pews but that its governing structure is set up to allow such disagreements.
The United Church of Christ General Synod in 1985 passed a resolution entitled "Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming" saying that "the Fifteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages a policy of non-discrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages associations, Conferences and all related organizations to adopt a similar policy; and encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a non-discrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith". General Synod XIV in 2003 officially added transgender persons to this declaration of full inclusion in the life and leadership of the Church.
In July 2005, the 25th General Synod encouraged congregations to affirm "equal marriage rights for all", and to consider "wedding policies that do not discriminate based on the gender of the couple." The resolution also encouraged congregations to support legislation permitting civil same-sex marriage rights. By the nature of United Church of Christ polity, General Synod resolutions officially speak "to, but not for" the other settings of the denomination (local congregations, associations, conferences, and the national offices). This Synod also expressed respect for those bodies within the church that disagree and called for all members "to engage in serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender."
Some associations permit ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and some clergy and congregations are willing to perform or allow same-sex marriages or union services. Approximately 10% of UCC congregations have adopted an official "open and affirming" statement welcoming gay and lesbian persons in all aspects of church life. A few congregations explicitly oppose the General Synod Equal Marriage Rights resolution – an independent movement called "Faithful and Welcoming Churches" that partly defines faithful as "Faithful... to the preservation of the family, and to the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God's gift for marriage between a man and a woman." Many congregations have no official stance; these congregations' de facto stances vary widely in their degree of welcome toward gay and lesbian persons.
The United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns is one of the officially recognized "Historically Underrepresented Groups" in the United Church of Christ, and as such has a dedicated seat on the United Church of Christ Executive Council and a number of other boards. The Biblical Witness Fellowship, a notable conservative renewal organization within the UCC, formed in the 1970s in response to general synods opinions on the sexuality issue and has argued that there "has been a deliberate and forceful attempt within the mainline church to overthrow Biblical revelation ... what it means to be human particularly in the Biblical revelation of a humanity reflective of God and sexually created for [heterosexual] marriage and family."
Uniting Church in Australia
The Uniting Church in Australia allows for the membership and ordination of gay and lesbian people. On 17 July 2003 it clarified its 1982 position when the national Assembly meeting stated that people had interpreted the scriptures with integrity in coming to the view that a partnered gay or lesbian person in a committed same sex relationship could be ordained as a minister. It also stated that people who had come to the opposite view had also interpreted the scriptures with integrity. When Presbyteries (regional councils) select candidates for ministry they may use either of these positions, however they cannot formally adopt either position as policy, but must take each person on a case by case basis. By explicitly stating the two positions, this decision fleshes out a 1982 Assembly Standing Committee decision which did not ban people with a homosexual orientation from membership. After emotional debate, the 1997 Assembly did not reach a decision, and the 2000 Assembly decided not to discuss homosexuality.
United Reformed Church
The United Reformed Church of Great Britain has committed itself to continue to explore differences of view among its members, in the light of the Church’s understanding of scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A detailed report was submitted to the 2007 General Assembly
Unity School of Christianity
Unity believes that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, Unity recognizes the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. Unity strives for its ministries, publications, and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. Unity’s ministries and outreaches strive to be free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Unity’s sincere desire is to ensure that all Unity organizations are nondiscriminatory and support diversity.
If you couldn't stand to read all that, here's a quick reference chart for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ica_and_Europe