In their own words
Two local ministers on why they believe as they do
Father Peter Hansen, of St. Augustine Anglican Church, and Pastor Jim Peck, of the Congregational Church of Chico, disagree about whether homosexual acts are sinful. We asked each of them to describe, in his own words, why he believes as he does.
Father Peter Hansen
Several passages of scriptures inform us that homosexual activities, not orientations, are sins, according to God. Many other passages teach of countless other examples of human iniquity, which God also abhors, because they threaten our love relationship with Him, the Source of our being.
None of us should be easy of conscience, self-righteous, satisfied with self esteem: the lesson of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Our answer—for every one of us—is the Savior, Jesus, who being both God and man, bridged the gap between us and heaven, through sacrifice and life-changing faith.
Two ways a church can send a false signal to homosexuals are to tell them nothing is wrong and that their lifestyles are sinless before God, or to tell them they are the sinners and we are justified and holy in our own lives. Neither message is true.
We need to speak truth to one another in love, and this, I hope, will drive out fear and loathing, bringing more people closer to the One who has the answers we can never otherwise find.
Pastor Jim Peck
Since the early 1970s, the United Church of Christ has taken stands favoring full civil rights for gay and lesbian persons. Qualified men and women who are gay or lesbian can be ordained to the ministry. Local congregations can elect gay and lesbian persons to positions of leadership. The UCC in 2005 voted to support marriage equality for same-gender couples, a decision not binding on congregations and clergy.
In 2008, my congregation supported me in presiding at three such marriage ceremonies. While not every congregation in the United Church of Christ is open and affirming to gay and lesbian persons, the one in Chico is, since 1995.
Over the next 20 years, I expect the United Church of Christ will continue its solid commitment to including gay and lesbian persons in the full life of our church. We will still believe God’s grace made known in Jesus Christ is offered to all persons without preconditions. We will still believe gay and lesbian persons can follow Jesus faithfully without denying their sexual orientation. We will still provide a community of faith where they can follow Jesus without fear of being singled out for condemnation.
We have reached this conclusion through studying, not just reading, the Bible. Gay and lesbian Christians, in telling us about their lives and their relationship with God, have helped us as well.
Although I am hopeful some of the acrimony will diminish in 20 years, I expect there will still be differences between liberal and progressive Christian churches and conservative and fundamentalist churches on this matter.