Recently the topic of homosexuality and Christian politics was widely discussed in in the Netherlands. A local politician, Yvette Lont instigated the issue by arguing that homosexuals should not represent Christian political parties. In this debate many Christians felt they had to stand by the theological, Biblical, truth. The truth according to many is that God intended sexuality exclusively for marital relations between men and women. It is praiseworthy that many who have this opinion also recognize that it is important to distinguish the sin from the sinner, since everyone sinned and falls short of God's glory. At the same time, many Christians feel that they cannot approve of sin. These theological opinions translate into a range of political positions; Christians are against gay marriage; against the practice of homosexuality; and against homosexuals in office representing Christian parties.
However, the reasoning and the political conclusions are based on two assumptions that are quite difficult to demonstrate. The first assumption is that sin and sinner can easily be separated. The second assumption is that God completes the redemption of a Christian within a lifetime.
A popular opinion suggests that homosexuality is an inborn characteristic. In other words: homosexuality is not a loose attribute, rather, it is an inherent and unchangeable part of the personality of homosexuals. When Christians claim that homosexuals can be easily separated of their homosexuality, most of them will feel condemned because he/she feels incapable to change. Furthermore, when they hear these claims, they experience rejection by Christians. When the same Christians also speak of love, this obviously sounds hypocritical. So is this also the case with homosexual Christians?
Indisputably, a significant number of Christians suffer from homosexual feelings. They have learned that their feelings are sinful and are opposed to the truth. Most of them fail to immediately set aside their homosexual feelings, which seems to affirm the proposition that homosexual feelings are inborn. These Christians are caught between their feelings and a particular theological truth interpretation. They are alienated from their own feelings. Unsurprisingly, to many homosexual Christians a personal relation with Jesus feels utterly impersonal.
Some homosexual Christians come to a point where they set aside their homosexual feelings and maybe they even get married. However, even if this is the case, generally speaking, this setting aside is a long-term process. It is often difficult to underestimate this process, some will have to deal with past abuse, others might have to cope with a broken relationship with a parent. In the meantime the Christian struggling with homosexuality hears political conclusions that require perfect conduct in the case of homosexuality, and often only in the case of homosexuality. As a result, homosexuality becomes a central problem, or the central problem, a hard criterion for political representation. In the process, the homosexual man or woman is still further stigmatised and identified as a homosexual. This is ironic, because many orthodox Christians are committed to separate the sin from the sinner. Instead, they achieve to reinforce the stigma and the identification as a homosexual!
Possibly the worst policy a Christian party could adopt is to keep people from running for office merely because they are homosexual. The reasoning behind such a policy is: perhaps the homosexual person might commit homosexual sin. If this reasoning would by applied consistently, heterosexual candidates should also not run for office because they could commit adultery, or, divorce. Some commentators have argued that the theological debate about homosexuality should not occur through mass media. I agree with that. On the one hand Christian jargon is generally not understood by non-Christians. On the other hand, this debate needs a pastoral environment, where deeply engrained feelings are cautiously observed.
I would even argue that the theological truth debate about homosexuality should not be discussed internally in Christian political parties. Firstly, no unanimity will be reached. Secondly, mercy is perhaps more important than definite theological accuracy. Finally, the discussion in a hard political environment would only confirm homosexual Christians in their homosexual stigma, which they are trying so hard to set aside because they feel that they are more than their sexual orientation. Of course, it does not mean that a Christian party cannot select its candidates and representatives. On the contrary, it is a political party’s prime responsibility to assess its candidates and to review the performance of its representatives. But pre-selection on the basis of sexual orientation would come down to an unequal measurement, as if other criteria are not as important or even more important.
Rather than concentrating on homosexuality, a substantive political discussion should also address the positions of singles. This would mean a break with Christian-democratic traditions, since Christian political parties have traditionally focussed on families. Many homosexual Christians choose to remain single. Moreover, the average household in the Western world generally does not reflect a perfect family. More and more families are broken, single person households are no exception anymore. Singles frequently suffer from loneliness and uncertainty. By giving attention only to families, Christian political parties risk to confirm singles in their feelings that they deviate from the standard. Indeed, the standard of a married couple with children seems immeasurably high to most Christian homosexuals.
This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of a the ChristenUnie party or any other Christian political party.