Christian Objections to Same-Sex Relationships: An Academic Assessment

Theologians challenge homophobia & signal a time for change: The Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research’s new report: “Christian Objections to Same-Sex Relationships: An Academic Assessment”

“For decades the bible has been used to justify discrimination against same-sex relationships. This new study presents ground-breaking research showing that the biblical verses so long held to condemn those relationships do nothing of the sort. The report also deals with the classic condemnation of same-sex orientation as “unnatural” and highlights the scientific findings which now regard same-sex orientation as a natural variant of human sexuality. The Vatican as well as most other Christian Churches bear responsibility for continuing discrimination against people in same-sex relationships by asserting biblical grounds to justify their condemnation. Our report intends to help end this cruel and false teaching”

“The report itself is interdisciplinary with twenty academics contributing, including biblical scholars, theologians, ethicists, evolutionary biologists, and sociologists. The Academic Statement is a summary of the report’s findings and has been endorsed by a further 60+ academic scholars and translated into 10 languages, with more translations expected.”

Too often Vatican teaching on issues concerning LGBT+ Catholics is seen as permission to commit spiritual, psychological, physical, financial and relational attacks against LGBT+ people thus dividing communities and families. We have known for decades that the LGBT+ population have higher rates of homelessness and mental ill health than is the case for the rest of the population and that these rates are proportionally higher again for LGBT+ people of faith.  We also know that this mental ill health is not due to our orientation or identity but to the reactions we face if we attempt to live openly and authentically as the Gospel calls us to do.

Tellingly we have seen a huge outcry within the Church against the most recent statement from the Vatican which maintains a ban on the blessing of same sex relationships. That statement has its origins in teaching on LGBT+ issues which seems at odds with the Church (the people of God) in many countries who are:

  • recognising that their LGBT+ children, family members, friends and colleagues are living the reality of who God calls them to be
  • realising what LGBT+ Catholics have known for a long time, that the teaching of the church hierarchy falls desperately short of supporting LGBT+ Catholics to fulfil their place alongside their non-LGBT+ siblings as equal members of the Church
  • recognising that this teaching is experienced as cruel by LGBT+ Catholics and only results in harm to the wider Church community – often denying it the gifts that God offers through these siblings, as well as the gifts of those who leave the Church (both LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ Catholics) because of these teachings

Quest celebrates the support that LGBT+ Catholics have received in so many of these Church settings.  Whilst the lived experience and voice of LGBT+ people of faith have been largely ignored in the formation of Vatican teaching we see some Dioceses, parishes and communities forming a new and supportive narrative thus becoming more fully Church. The teaching of the church hierarchy should reflect this narrative. This experience coupled with the report’s findings and recommendations highlight both the cruelty and lack of rigour that has been shown by the Vatican in the formation and maintenance of teaching on issues concerning LGBT+ Catholics.

The research refutes commonly held interpretations of the ‘clobber texts’ used to justify the condemnation of same-sex relationships (Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, Romans 1:26-27) and finds no condemnation of ‘consensual and faithful same-sex relationships’ asserting that ‘homosexuality is a “natural variation with the range of human sexuality”’.

And so Quest endorses the report’s “call for an urgent change in teaching based on these definite findings which are intended to serve as the final nail in the coffin of biblical arguments justifying homophobia”. And in welcoming the report we join in the call for change, and ask our brothers within the hierarchy, those called to best serve us, to be courageous and to find their voices.

Gerard Swan
Chair to Quest

  1. To read the Wijngaards Institute’s Press Release on the Report and accompanying statement visit here.
  2. To read the Full Report visit here.
  3. To read or download the Academic statement visit here:

(Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND)

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