A Pastoral Statement

The issue of homosexuality is more than just a hot topic among journalists and television reporters. It is of grave concern for the church. The Right Reverend Bennett J. Sims, Bishop of Atlanta of the Episcopal Church, has written a pastoral statement on the subject. Although intended for use in that denomination (and thus includes references to the episcopal form of church government), we have seldom read anything on this painful subject that so clearly and lovingly applies biblical principles in dealing with homosexuals in the church and society. We commend it to our readers. For those who might want additional copies, write: Communications Department, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, 2744 Peachtree Road, N. W., Atlanta, Georgia 30305.

Homosexuality has overtaken all other problems in the church as the most potentially troublesome and least settled issue. There are significant reasons for this.

First, sexuality touches every human being with special intensity and mystery. Personal neutrality about sex is impossible. Sex is an inner engine of clamoring power by design of Another. Therefore it is difficult to be carefully rational in dealing with sexual issues. It seems inevitable that in seeking to state a position on homosexuality any person, clergy or lay, will argue from deeply conditioned assumptions that carry strong feelings with them. Although I aim in this pastoral statement to be reasonable, faithful, and just, I acknowledge at the outset the conditioning of traditional teaching and a heterosexual personal identity.

A second reason for the explosiveness of the homosexual issue is that a prevailing moral consensus to which generations have been accustomed is now under attack. A moral offensive has ...

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