DR MOHMMAD MANZOOR ALAM takes issue with US Episcopal Church Bishop Katherme Jefferts Schori’s recent remark that

“homosexualism is no sin”.

I am amazed at Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of the US Episcopal’s Church’s remark that "homosexualism is no sin". A recent Reuters report from Washington said she had observed that "homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender".

Well, so far we had heard that the Christian belief was, "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" as the first conjugal pair. "Loving people of the same gender can be a value-neutral issue in psychology or physiology", but I can’t see religion can afford to be value-neutral. After all, most of our moral categories have come from religion, not science.

Bishop Schori’s remarks don’t seem to rhyme with our understanding of the Bible (the destruction of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah with a rain of fire, the Divine protection of Lot and the turning of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt). These people preferred to love persons of the same gender. God would not have destroyed them if He had created them "to love people of the same gender," as the bishop believes.

Christians believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of this sin only. Interestingly, the word sodomy comes from the root Sodom, one of the two towns destroyed according to Biblical accounts. The Bible (GENESIS 19) graphically describes the situation. One evening Prophet Lot met two angels at the gateway of Sodom, and asked them to come and spend the night at his home "and then go on your way early in the morning". First, they refused, but after a lot of pleading they came to his home.

Soon Lot’s home was surrounded by men "both young and old". The Bible narrates: "They called to Lot, where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them." Lot pleaded with the crowd, "No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them."

The fools did not know that the two men whom they were lusting after were angels of God sent specially to destroy them. When the crowd tried to catch the two men (the angels), they struck them with blindness. Once Lot was out of the city with his two daughters and wife "the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah". (Lot’s wife was turned into "a pillar of salt".) Prophet Abraham (PBUH) is described as having got up early next morning, and "looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah " and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnance."

I am not quoting from the Quran, because I don’t want to be seen as forcing Islam down people’s unwilling throats. I refer to the Genesis in the Bible (much of which is confirmed by the Quran) because this is what the bishop would understand better. Does God destroy something that He approves?

Earlier this year the great Sir Elton John "married" a younger man with a fanfare equal to the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer (and with much wider coverage than the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowls). The US Army has legitimised homosexualism. The most advanced countries of Europe have decriminalised it.

We would not take notice of any of the above. But when someone from the Abrahamic tradition, and that too a bishop, endorses homosexuality we can’t keep quiet. One reason is easy to understand: We too are in the Abrahamic tradition and can’t bear to see it sullied.

At this point we have only consolation. The Episcopal Church the bishop represents has a less than two percent following in the US: it is even smaller in size than the Islamic or Jewish faith in America. Also, within that Church Bishop Schori’s is a minority opinion. In short, her opinion is not influential. Thank God.g

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