At this Easter time, a debate has broken out in the newspaper Dagen about homosexuality and Christian faith. "We believe that practicing homosexuality, based on what the Bible says is sin," writes 22 pastors in This Day (newspaper) on April 9. According to the pastors, it’s "essential to all that we express ourselves with utmost clarity in order that no unnecessary misunderstandings arise." The debate has also been given a footnote in SvD (12/4), and as a bishop in the Swedish church, I agree with the pastors on one point – It’s essential that no misunderstandings occur. But the Christian theology that I recognize in the Bible and in Jesus' words have a completely different view of love than the debate article expresses.
Love comes from God, who loves us with an unconditional love and genuinely wants our best. This applies to each of us. In God's vision of man revealed in Jesus' life and work, we live, each one in a close and loving relationships with God as well as with our fellow human beings, creation and ourselves. In the Bible we read of God's never-ending love for man. All love comes from God and is a gift of God. Jesus describes love as living in joy, freedom, authenticity and grace.
The Bible is a collection of testimonies about God, that constantly speaks to us about love if we are prepared to listen, but to understand the message of the Bible we must proceed from an overall view of the message of love. We cannot extract single scripture verses out of context. We cannot say that on page so-and-so it states this and that if it does not align with the overall vision which is a vision of love. Based on an ever deeper understanding of this vision Christian theology has evolved throughout history revising our images of what it means to be a Christian and human. Theology is not a dead discipline, God’s word is not dead, and the Holy Spirit gives throughout the history of mankind, the Church and society an ever deeper understanding of what it means to be human in harmony with creation and God.
Christian faith doesn’t oppose love. That would go against the very core of what we believe in. Instead it motivates us to think about including human love. God is not tied to our inherited social patterns.
In the pastors' article it appears that they want to give the impression that Christians think alike on issues of the gay position in creation and the church. That is the first error, and secondly an example of means used to argue inconspicuously and has deeply hurt minorities through the centuries.
Today we have fortunately come to a point when the church has woken up and recognized that trusting and loving relationships in an adult relationship is not any worse if the persons involved in the relationship are of the same sex. All that matters is love, and the Church ought to stand on love's side. Let there be no misunderstanding about that.
Bishop of the Diocese of Linköping, Church of Sweden
Translated: Sven Ljungholm