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Nazariy Zatorskyi
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Father Nazariy Zatorskyi

What About LGBTQ+ in the Bible?

Thank you for your question. Although it’s rather anachronistic, many of our contemporaries don’t ponder this. The fact is, in biblical times, there was no such concept as sexual orientation. So asking what the Bible says about this is like asking what the Bible says about solar eclipses. Of course, both phenomena existed at the time and were known to biblical authors, but their causes and essence remained unclear and were interpreted according to the notions of the time.

For instance, the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:23-27 asserts that same-sex attraction is a consequence of paganism. This attempt to explain the origin of this phenomenon is rather like the statements of some modern Muslim imams that homosexuality is a phenomenon inherent only to infidels, as it’s a direct result of pork consumption. In both cases, the question arises: where then does same-sex attraction come from in representatives of these religions: Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?

Clearly, such statements by the Apostle Paul are a result of the then-current understanding of human nature and the world in general. But no modern believer takes seriously, for example, the Bible’s teaching about the structure of heaven as a firmament on which the attached luminaries – sun, moon, and stars – travel. Yet equally outdated statements regarding the LGBTQ+ phenomenon are eagerly repeated.

What About the Sodom Saga, Then?

It has nothing to do with homosexuality at all — it’s, on the one hand, a story about Abraham fulfilling the sacred law of hospitality in the Middle East, and on the other — an illustration of a gross violation of this law by the inhabitants of Sodom, who tried to rape strangers — God’s messengers. After all, homosexual rape in no way illustrates the essence of homosexual relationships, just as heterosexual rape (also described in the Bible many times) does not illustrate the essence of heterosexual relationships.

So It’s Not All Cut and Dried About Gays, Lesbians, and Transgender Folks Being Sinners?

In its time, the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly distinguished between persons and actions. Since the causes of this phenomenon are not fully understood and the persons themselves are not to blame for having such inclinations, the Church cannot condemn and does not condemn them for what they did not choose themselves, that is, for their orientation as such. Instead, they are advised to refrain from sexual acts, as actions are the result of free choice and a person can be held responsible for them.

What Does the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Say About LGBTQ+?

The UGCC Catechism equally condemns any manifestations of sexuality outside of marriage: “sexual life outside the sacrament of Marriage, marital infidelity, destruction of marital fertility through abortions and contraceptives, polygamy and polyandry, homosexual acts, autoeroticism (i.e., masturbation) are a degradation of human dignity and a grave sin” (“Christ — Our Pascha”, § 863). The problem is that the two sides are placed in unequal conditions: while heterosexuals have the opportunity to discover and experience their sexuality in marriage, there is no such possibility for homosexuals, they are simply offered to give up sex altogether. Which again puts us before a whole series of questions that have no answer.

So What Would You Advise People Who Identify as Gay, Transgender, and So On, but Believe in God and Follow the Commandments?

I would advise them to continue believing in God, following the commandments, and so on. God rejects no one — we are all His children and He loves us all. And those nonsenses propagated by some Protestant groups, writing them as slogans on placards (“God hates fags!”) — this is simply heresy, which Orthodox and Catholics sometimes thoughtlessly adopt on the wave of homophobic hysteria. God hates no one. If God hated someone, that being would simply cease to exist at that moment. God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved – this is what Jesus taught, died for, and rose for. If someone calls themselves a Christian, they should try to love, not hate. For hatred is the tares that the devil sows. And the problem with it is the same as with tares — until it sprouts, it looks very similar to wheat stalks from the outside. Similarly, hatred presents itself as piety. But their fruits are different: edible in wheat and poisonous in tares, salvific in love and deadly in hatred.

Have You Encountered LGBTQ+ Faithful in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church During Your Practice?

Of course, I have. After all, the presence of LGBTQ+ orientation does not depend on the Church to which a person belongs. Because when a child is baptized, no one knows what orientation is embedded in them.

How to Communicate About LGBTQ+ Community with Religious People? How to Avoid Arguments and Choose Arguments in the Context of Religion?

I believe that we should communicate with both believers and non-believers on any topic in the same way: with love and respect. After all, this is what Christ taught us: to love our neighbor, regardless of whether the neighbor shares our views on whatever it may be or not. And to select appropriate arguments, you need to know the material in question. That is, first of all, read the Holy Scripture, which believers use to justify their homophobia, often not knowing exactly the text or context of the Bible. Although even the presence of a reasoned position and a benevolent manner of presentation do not guarantee an adequate reaction. Unfortunately, in Ukraine, the culture of discussion is generally very low.

Do They Treat the LGBTQ+ Community Differently in Switzerland?

Of course, and not only in Switzerland, but in many democratic countries, both society and Christians of different denominations treat LGBTQ+ representatives without prejudice or hostility. I’m not talking now about special Catholic or interfaith groups that purposefully support LGBTQ+, I’m talking generally about Christians in democratic countries. For example, in Switzerland, where the majority of the population is Christian (there are approximately equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics here), same-sex partnerships were introduced after a nationwide referendum (58% voted “for”). The same applies to such a Catholic country as Ireland, where also in a nationwide referendum, 62% of voters voted for the introduction of not just partnerships, but same-sex marriages. Similarly, in a referendum in Christian Australia (in which 79.5% of voters participated), the majority (61.6%) voted for the legalization of same-sex marriages. And it’s not just that people in countries with democratic traditions are more ready to accept people who are different from them. In many Western countries, Christians, despite the notions common in Ukraine (not least thanks to Russian propaganda), are very intensely interested in the Bible, so their position on this issue is often a result of knowing and seriously perceiving the Holy Scripture, not ignoring it or being ignorant.

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