After ten years, however, six spent running residential discipleship courses, followed by years of weekly group meetings, it was increasingly clear that however repentant people were, and however much dedication and effort they put into seeking change, none were really ‘successful’ in the long term in ‘dealing with the deeper issues’. This is not to say that people gained no benefit! Many matured greatly. A few married (though their same-sex attractions remain an ongoing issue for them). But the kind of change everyone really hoped for – to re-orientate and reach a point where their struggle with being gay was over – remained elusive. We never saw the fruit we longed for.
... the word celibacy is not to be found anywhere in the Bible. The idea of ‘renouncing marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven’ was introduced by Jesus (Matthew 19:12) and supported by Paul (1 Corinthians 7:7). But they are clear: singleness is a gift. In fact, insistence upon celibacy has no biblical support.
Nevertheless the Church still demands celibacy for all unmarried people. Under this pressure, I’ve seen many folk become seriously disillusioned over the years. Some became deeply depressed and hopeless, even suicidal; others embraced a more ‘liberal’ theology and sought gay relationships. Some just lost their faith altogether – a tragic conclusion that I found heart-breaking, as a pastor committed to helping people find their hope in Christ.
In contrast, I saw that those who began, on their own initiative, to embrace the possibility of a gay relationship, benefited greatly. Common to all was an underlying longing for companionship and intimacy – a heart-longing, not merely a craving to pursue gay sex! So I realised that to dismiss erotic intimacy between gay men merely as the pursuit of lust was to seriously misjudge the situation. Gay relationships, entered into sincerely, with mutual commitment, provide value and a sense of belonging. And when Christ has central place, people’s morale – above all their hope in God – recovers.
So folks: let's assume, given what James Alison has said in re the issue of lesbianism in Romans 1, that faithful one-to-one relationships of any healthy type are acceptable and pleasing in God's sight. That what the Holy One abhors is exploitation of others (which is evident throughout the Bible when it speaks of economics); degrading use and abuse of another for one's own sexual pleasure; the absence of love and care in relationships with others; and the exercise of pure power over other people. This includes, of course, gay relationships that meet this description.
In addition, God forgives those who repent of any such actions, gay or straight, and welcomes them as Prodigal sons and daughters, with tears of joy and a feast. Homoesxuality is not, and never has been, an "abomination." Exploitation is the abomination.