'Compassion without compromise'
Church leaders urge tolerance for gays, but say they won’t accept lifestyleFriday, May 18, 2012
BY NADINE WILSON Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
CHURCH leaders have reaffirmed their stance that while they encourage the society to be compassionate towards members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, they would not compromise their faith by accepting the lifestyle.
At a press conference hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday, a number of influential Christian leaders expressed concern for what they believed were "emerging societal issues, which posed a risk to the social fabric of our country".
One of the major issues discussed was homosexuality and the endorsement of same-sex marriages. The group said that while the church is not perfect and has not spoken clearly on the issue of human sexuality, they would never endorse the LGBT lifestyle.
"We affirm God's love and concern for all humanity, including homosexual people, prostitutes, and those living in non-faithful, non-monogamous, non-marital sexual relationships, but believe homoerotic sexual practice, prostitution and sex outside of marriage to be incompatible with the will of God," said Reverend Peter Garth, vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals.
The group also rejected the term homophobic, which they said have often been levelled against those in opposition to the gay lifestyle.
"We repudiate homophobia in so far as it denotes an irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals. We do not accept, however, that to reject homoerotic sexual practice on biblical, medical or moral grounds is in itself homophobic," he argued.
Yesterday was recognised around the world as International Day Against Homophobia. It was a day for organisations to recognise the removal of homosexuality from the World Health Organisations' list of mental illnesses.
But Rev Garth maintained that gay unions were a serious threat to the family, and called for treatment, counselling and recovery for those who practice this lifestyle.
"It is my firm conviction that homosexuality is wrong, according to the Bible, and my conscience is bound by the Bible. There are some things in life that are wrong and there are some things that are right and we must use the Bible to determine along with conscience, medical, psychological, moral, and social findings to determine what is right," he said.
He said sexual orientation was not "a basic human right", and called on the society to "exercise compassion without compromise", towards homosexuals.
The JCHS, which comprises heads of umbrella groups, church leaders, civic and business leaders, said they will continue to assess issues that affect the society.
"We currently struggle with serious moral decline, not the least of which are the predatory sexual oppression of youth, abuse of children, pornography, dysfunctional family life, murder, violence just to name a few," said Dr Kay Bailey, a member of the group.
"We are also concerned about the recent increasing efforts from international and local groups supported by foreign governments to irrevocably alter the norms, which are respected by Jamaicans albeit without perfect conformity," she said.