In February this year, Members of Parliament voted on the Government's Bill to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. It is a subject that has brought out strong opinions on both sides of the debate in the public arena and even more so in some churches.
Marriage has, until now, been defined as a commitment between one man and one woman. I have spent some time with my Pastor, Charles Fleming and asked him his views to help me answer this question: As a Christian, should I support the traditional view of marriage or does God want same-sex couples to also have the opportunity to marry?
Q: 1 John 4:8 says "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." So, in light of this scripture, if two people love each other, no matter what sex they are, surely God must celebrate that?
A: No. It does matter. Love flows from God and He never designed love to be shown between two men or women having sexual intercourse.
Q: Does scripture mention homosexual relationships and what is your interpretation of it?
A: Yes, in a few places! 1 Corinthians 6:9 for instance says that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Q: Is there a difference between someone who is gay but chooses not to practice because they think it's wrong and someone who is openly gay practising homosexuality?
A: It does, to struggle with desire is not a sin. It's when it is put into action it becomes sin. To struggle with temptation is not a sin unless you give into it.
Q: Do you think it is fair that someone who is openly gay be excluded from being a member of a church congregation when others who struggle with other types of sin such as smoking or lying are allowed to join?
A: If someone is openly gay, as in practising, then yes, they should be excluded from membership unless they are willing to repent. However, they would still be encouraged to attend church to hear the word and seek counselling.
Q: In your opinion, are people born gay?
A: I believe attitudes and values are passed on. Children absorb these. Homosexuality is an acquired thing. People who are rejected go where they find acceptance.
Q: What consequences do you foresee if the UK changes it's definition of marriage to include same-sex couples?
A: The family unit will be challenged like never before. Confusion will set in about what a family should look like. Children need male and female influences as they are growing up. And more confusion will come in regarding children's identity if they do not have those properly in place.
Q: With your interpretation of scripture in mind, along with your own beliefs, what would you say to someone who is gay and wants to look into becoming a Christian and attend their local church?
A: They are very welcome and God loves them. But just as I would say to someone who is a compulsive liar or a thief, (who are also very welcome to come to their local church!) their behaviour has to change to line up with God's moral stance.
Q: If someone is in a civil partnership and then later becomes a Christian and decides for themselves that homosexuality is wrong, should they leave their partner?
A: Yes. Because the practice of homosexuality is wrong and as far as God's law is concerned, they are not married in the first place.