The Church, homosexuality and civil union laws

The Church, homosexuality and civil union laws


Friday, October 23, 2020

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The debate has, once again, resurfaced concerning the matter of the Church and homosexuality, as Pope Francis has come out in support of civil union laws for people of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. In a documentary, the Pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has made the declaration that, “Homosexuals have a right to be part of the family. They're children of God and have a right to a family.” He believes that, “Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it.” Consequently, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

This very bold announcement from the Pope, which has received both support and criticism from people across the world, including senior clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church, really ought not to come as a surprise. We live in a progressive world, where people evolve and ideas emerge perpetually, and there is a heavy emphasis on inclusion and human rights. In fact, just last month our sister island Barbados, in face of growing criticism for her poor human rights record, disclosed that not only will she seek to remove The Queen as the head of State, but she is “…prepared to recognise a form of civil unions for couples of the same gender so as to ensure that no human being in Barbados will be discriminated against, in exercise of civil rights that ought to be theirs” – Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.

Understandably, the matter of legalising homosexuality in certain jurisdictions, especially in several Asian, African, and Caribbean countries, has been dodged by successive governments, primarily due its sensitivity and the close relationship between the State and the Church or other religious or philosophical references.

Jamaica, as we all know, has the most churches per square mile, and several of our fundamental principles are anchored in the teachings of the Holy Christian Bible. How soon, then, will we be able to even entertain the thought of giving such leverage to same-sex civil unions? That clearly is “fire and brimstone”. According to the Levitical law, “If a man has sexual relations with a man, as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads (Leviticus 20:13 New International Version).”

In more liberal societies, such as the Republic of France, where the Church and State are separated, and which has an international recognition for its stance on freedom of expression and secularism, the general attitude is “do as you like/please” when it comes on to people's intimate decisions. Is it, then, that people's sexual choices should not concern others?

The Pope certainly has a lot of influence across the world, and his pronouncements will, indubitably, have an impact on governments, LGBT groups, and even churches all over. Several denominations are currently either tightening or loosening their doctrines.

Notwithstanding, there are several questions upon which people need to contemplate:

* How would you feel if one of your fundamental rights were being infringed upon?

* How would you feel if you were being discriminated against because of your gender, social status, skin colour, etc?

* How would you feel if you were denied access to a job or an educational institution, despite having the requisite qualifications and experience?

Maybe we should try to see things through the lens of others to understand their reasoning.

The Church often finds itself in a compromising and hypocritical position. It has long been viewed that homosexuality is the greatest sin a man or woman could commit. A lot of Christians pick and choose what they believe is good for them personally. It is like using the moral laws (The Ten Commandments) as the foundation but argue that the fourth one — observance of the seventh-day Sabbath – was nailed to the cross. Or they preach “love your neighbour as thyself”, but they are some of the most devious and envious people in the world. Who to tell that several of these church leaders aren't themselves engaged in fornication, adultery, and even homosexuality? After all, Romans 3:23, King James Version (KJV) ,tells us that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

At the same time, however, the Church, being the moral authority above other institutions, cannot allow for its standards and the word of God to be denigrated. Agreeably, society is not what it used to be. Morals have changed; people's thoughts and beliefs have changed; basic common structures within our cultures have changed. Jesus teaches that: “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 KJV). We also see in Psalm 138:2 KJV that Jesus “has magnified thy word above all thy name” because “the grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8 KJV).

In the end, it does not matter how much we try to avoid the conversation and the extent to which we condemn the parties involved, at some point we will have to face the reality of where the world is going. We will have no choice but to get on board with the shift in times, similarly to how we have to keep up-to-date with technological evolutions and online classes.


Oneil Madden is a PhD candidate in didactics and linguistics at the Université Clermont Auvergne, France. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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