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[By Rev. Lalrosiem Songate, Special arrangement with: ecnews]

Leaders of Indian Protestant Christians met on July 28, 2009 at Chennai to discuss and debate over the recent Delhi High Court’s ruling of decriminalizing Homosexuals and Lesbians.

The program was organised by the NCCI Commission on Justice Peace and Creation and was participated by the Church of South India, Marthoma, Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Churches, Arcot Lutheran Church, Methodist Churches in India, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, Salvation Army, Orthodox Church and Evangelical Churches in India, Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Gurukul, Madras Theological College, World Vision and others. Besides, fifty members from LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community were also present to study and debate on 'Indian Church and Repealing of the Section 377 of IPC'.

The gathering of these leaders unanimously conclude that the most important issue for the Church is to embrace and heal people of the LGBT community.

While we all have no objection to the decriminalization of homosexuals in the sense of punishing them as criminals, there will be certainly different views when it comes to embracing and healing them. And this is exactly the point where this gathering is a disappointment for many evangelical and conservative Christians.

Bishop DK Sahu, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), in his opening address, encouraged Church and Civil Society to address the issue from a Christian perspective keeping with its tenets of "love, just and inclusiveness". He further states that homosexuals should not be branded as criminals, but they should be "nurtured and helped out” by churches.

The discussion however takes a sharp curve when Rev. Dr. V. Devasahayam, the Chairman of the Tamilnadu Christian Council and the CSI Bishop in Chennai gave a more favorable impression on the decision that permitted homosexual sex between consenting adults.

According to him, the Delhi High Court’s decision has helped the Church to understand the issue of human sexuality, therefore, the Church should reread the Scriptures, particularly the areas where homosexuals and unnatural sex are mentioned, from our present context and accompany people of different sexual orientation for holistic living and execute the mission of God towards just and inclusive society."

The word “LOVE” is a very interesting word and a most misunderstood and misapplied word. This English word “Love” is very inclusive and can refers to all kinds of love. But it must be understood that when it comes to Christian love, it is acutely different and the word must go together with the character of God for God in his essential being is love.

God loves everyone including sinners, but his way of relating to a repentant sinner and a willful sinner are different. The message of Christ to a sinful world is “Repent!” and this message still stands and is equally applicable to people with a sinful same-sex inclinations. The fact that we are given a chance to repent is because of His love.

As Christians we are to love everyone including homosexuals. But loving homosexuals does not necessarily mean accepting their sinful acts and orientations but rather helping them to see the sinfulness of such inclinations and also helping them to develop normal sexual inclination of the opposite sex which will again be exercised within the bond of marriage.

Marriage is instituted by God and sex is a gift of God and must be used within marriage for the purpose of procreation and mutual expression of love and intimacy between husband and wife. Consenting or not consenting any form of sexual act outside of marriage is sin and must be avoided by Christians.

Rereading the Scriptures in today’s context is important as we need to understand its teachings for our time. This is what Contextual Theology is all about. Contextualizing is necessary because the world keeps changing while the Bible is not. But it is dangerous to change the Bible in our process of contextualization and it appears to me that this is what Rev. Dr. V. Devasahayam is trying to say. God is unchanging and his word will never change. For us rereading the Scriptures means to make the teaching of the Bible understandable to our postmodern world and not twisting its teachings to suit our changing sinful inclinations.

Whatever is being said and done, it appears now that legalization of same-sex marriage is here to stay and that with the support and endorsement of Indian Protestant Churches.

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