Church council's position on homosexuality 'has not changed'

The leaders of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) have reiterated to its members that it "does not condone homosexual practice and... considers the homosexual lifestyle as sinful and unacceptable".

The letter to its members, seen by The Straits Times, was issued on Friday in response to some members who asked if there was a change in NCCS' position on homosexuality.

This follows an article published in The Sunday Times on Dec 17, which reported that there is now a growing acceptance among Christians of the idea that homosexuality itself is not wrong, even though a majority of them continue to believe that homosexual acts are a sin.

More also feel lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Christians should not be discriminated against in church, and that the issue of homosexuality can and should be aired more openly in church.

NCCS, which represents more than 250 churches of diverse Christian traditions and denominations, said "it wishes to assure all members that its position on homosexuality has not changed".

"In holding firmly to the Bible as the authoritative standard for its faith and practice, NCCS exhorts Christians to care for all persons and for one another with the love of Christ our Lord," said the letter.

The council referred members to a statement made in July 2003, which said "the Church has historically and consistently held the view that the practice of homosexuality is clearly incompatible with the teachings of the Christian faith".

Still, while rejecting homosexual acts as sinful, NCCS said it is also empathetic that "homosexuals should be regarded and treated no less as persons of worth and dignity", and rejects homophobia and every kind of discrimination against them.

While NCCS' theological and moral position on homosexuality has not changed, the council's commitment "to care for same-sex attracted persons causes our member churches to keep seeking appropriate and compassionate ways to relate and reach out to them with the life-changing power of our faith, namely the gospel of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ", it added.

Moves that have been made by Christian institutions to build bridges with the LGBT community this year include the establishment of a pastoral ministry giving support to LGBT Catholics by the Catholic Church.

The Ethos Institute for Public Christianity - a Christian think-tank formed by NCCS, Trinity Theological College and the Bible Society of Singapore - also launched a study in April to understand how LGBT Christians feel about how their churches and the wider Singapore Church are engaging them, as well as on LGBT issues.

NCCS said that the extensive survey has been completed, and that the Ethos Institute will be organising a closed-door meeting next year to share its findings and examine their ramifications with member churches.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Church council's position on homosexuality 'has not changed''. Print Edition | Subscribe