BISHOP OSEI-BONSU SPEAKS
In a publication on Ghanaweb that cites an interview that I granted to Starr 103.5 FM on 28 September 2015, I am supposed to have said that “homosexuals will go to hell”.
I will be most grateful if the radio station can play the interview and get my exact words. I never used those words.In the interview I only cited passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality. I did not add that homosexuals will go to hell. It is only God who judges human beings and itis only he who can determine who is going to hell. My position on homosexuality is the same as that of the Catholic Church which I give below:“The Position of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality”
What is Homosexuality?
Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction as persons of the same sex. A distinction is madein contemporary science and ethical literature between homosexual tendencies of an occasional or temporary nature, which might exist in an otherwise heterosexual person, and the deeply ingrained and substantially irreversible orientation of a homosexual person.The Catholic Church and Homosexuality
Homosexual behavior has consistently been declared immoral by the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of certain passages in the Bible and a moral tradition supported by natural law reasoning. The most recent Church teaching affirms that homosexual behaviour is always objectively disordered, and as a result never morally acceptable. Since the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is based in part on the Bible, we should start by looking at the biblical evidence.The Bible and Homosexuality
What is the position of the Bible on homosexuality? In the Old Testament, it was seen as a perversion and a pagan abomination. In Lev. 18:22 we read, “You shall not lie with amale as with a woman; it is an abomination”. Similarly, in Lev. 20:13 we read, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; theyshall be put to death, their blood is upon them”. Another passage dealing with homosexuality is Gen 19:1-28. The men in the sinful city of Sodom are depicted as threatening homosexual rape on the two (male) visitors given hospitality by Lot.The Gospels report no teaching whatever of Jesus on the subject of homosexuality. When sending his disciples to preach the kingdom, he does refer to Sodom, but his focus is on Sodom’s failure of hospitality.Most of the references to homosexuality in the New Testament occur in the letters of Paul. In Rom 1:24-27 Paul argues that pagans, even without the biblical revelation, ought to have honoured the true God but they turned instead to idolatry. As a consequence of this primary disorder, God gave them over to sexual disorder as well, both women and men exchanging natural relations forunnatural ones. He says, “For this reason God gave them upto dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26-27). This passage (Rom 1:26) is the only biblical text that addresses the particular issue of homosexual behaviour between consenting females. Rom. 1:27 is the clearest statement in the New Testament regarding the issue of homosexual behaviour between consenting adult males. Some interpreters suggest that Paul has in mind here sexual relations between men and boys (pederasty); however, Paul’s indictment seems to include all kinds of homosexual practice, female as well as male, and was not directed against one kind of homosexualpractice in distinction from another.Paul also includes in a list of vices to be avoided two activities which have been taken to refer to homosexual acts. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10 Paul speaks of homosexuality. These two verses may be discussed together. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10 Paul says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts nor thieves, nor the greedy,nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God”. In 1 Tim. 1:10 Paul speaks of “immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine”. The terms “sexual perverts” and “sodomites” in the two passages translate the same Greek word (arsenokoi) and denote homosexuality.However, it needs to be added that Paul does not single out same-sex intercourse as specially perverted or monstrous. He lists it alongside theft, drunkenness and perjury, as well as adultery and murder. It is nevertheless a safe conclusion that, whatever might be said about individual orientations or dispositions, Paul could only have regarded all homosexual erotic and genital behaviour as contrary to the Creator’s plan for human life, to be abandoned on conversion (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11).These passages in Scripture condemning homosexual acts found support in natural law reasoning. Since sexual activity was seen to be ordered to procreation and the continuance of the human race, any form of sexual activity other than heterosexual intercourse was judged to be against nature and a clear violation of right reason. Thisteaching constituted the unchallenged tradition of the Church until modern times.The Church’s Teaching on HomosexualityThe Catholic Church has addressed the issue of homosexuality in a number of documents including the following: On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (October 1, 1986, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith); Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2357; Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Persona Humana (December 29, 1975, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith); Non-Discrimination Against Homosexual Persons (May 30, 1992, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith); Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (December 8, 1995, Pontifical Council for the Family); 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 (November 4, 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education).The Church’s teaching on homosexuality can be summarizedas follows:(1) The practice of homosexuality goes against the teachingof the Bible. From the Church’s point of view, the basis for understanding the entire discussion of homosexuality is thetheology of creation as found in Genesis. God creates mankind, male and female, in his own image and likeness. The male and female sexes complement each other, and men and women are called to reflect the inner unity of theCreator. They do this in a striking way in their cooperation with him in the transmission of life by a mutual giving of the self to the other. To choose someone of the same sex forone’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of God’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life, and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. For this reason, the Church sees the practice of homosexuality as something condemned by the Scriptures and cites in its documents the biblical passages mentioned above that condemn homosexuality.(2) The Church makes a distinction between “the homosexual condition or tendency” and “individual homosexual actions”. For the Church, the latter is “intrinsically disordered” and is “in no case to be approved of”. In other words, while the Church does not condemn people for being homosexuals or for having “the homosexualcondition or tendency”, it condemns the homosexual acts that homosexuals perform.(3) Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.(4) The Church rejects the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore they should not be blamed for their homosexual acts.(5) As far as candidates for the priesthood are concerned,the Church is emphatic that those who practise homosexuality or exhibit deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture” should not be allowed to become priests. This teaching is contained in a document issued on 4 November 2005 by the Congregation for Catholic Education entitled 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. The document limits itself to the specific question of whether the Catholic Church can “admit to the seminary and to holy orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies”. It reiterates the distinction made above between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. It says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law”. It says further that deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also “objectively disordered”. It adds that while profoundly respecting homosexuals, the Church “cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’”. It adds, “Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and
women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies”.(6) Even though the Church strongly condemns homosexual acts (whether performed by lay people or by the clergy), it insists that the rights of homosexuals as persons should be respected. Homosexuals are also human beings, created in the image of God, just like heterosexuals, and they should enjoy the fundamental human rights that all people enjoy.What are these human rights? By human rights we mean the universal, inviolable and inalienable rights that are dueto the human person as a rational being possessing a free will. As Jacques Maritain, the French political philosopher, has put it, “the human person has rights by the very fact that he is a person”. Again, says Maritain, “some things aredue to man by the very fact that he is man”. Human rights protect, or are intended to protect, the dignity of the human person against State and Society. Specific human rights include the right to life, personal liberty and due process of law; to freedom of thought, expression, religion, organization, and movement; to freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, language, and sex; to basic education; to employment; and to property.In the light of the foregoing, it is not right to subject homosexuals to beating or other forms of harassment simply because they are homosexuals. Neither should they be the object of violent malice in speech or in action. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected inword, in action and in law. Homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.However, according to the Church’s understanding of human rights, the rights of homosexuals as persons do not include the right of a man to marry a man or of a woman to marry a woman. For the Church, this is morally wrong and goes against God’s purpose for marriage.