Exploring religious views on gay issues

The largest religious groups on campus all agree that marriage should only be between a man and a woman and that homosexual behavior is sinful.

Ossama Elshamy, president of the Muslim Student Association, said, “As a religion, Islam is very against sodomy, homosexuality and all things related to it.”

According to Islam, relationships between men and women should only exist in marriage, even to the extent that having boyfriends or girlfriends is discouraged, he said.

Marriage builds society because men and women both have components that when put together makes a family, he said.

Elshamy said he wasn’t aware of any official position in Islam on whether people are born gay.

Islam and homosexuality aren’t compatible because of the emphasis on marriage.

“The prophet Mohammed taught that marriage is half your religion,” he said.

Terry Baker, a family sociologist and instructor at the Institute of Religion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he isn’t aware if the church has an official position toward the legality of gay marriage, but said the church opposes it on spiritual grounds.

Baker said his personal beliefs are that some common sense legal rights need to be given to homosexual couples in the areas of property rights and hospital visitation, but he opposes gay marriage.

Using Europe as an example, Baker said that homosexual relationships are more tolerated and as a result marriage means nothing there now.

Supporters of gay marriage say it won’t damage the institution but it already has in Europe, he said.

“You don’t need to ask what will happen, just look at what has happened,” he said.

Baker said he is supportive of “reparative therapy”-attempts to stop or reverse same-sex attraction-offered by the church. Although heavily criticized, he said it has worked for hundreds of people.

If that doesn’t work for people, he would advise them to remain chaste, which is the same counsel given to every member of the church.

“The church doesn’t discriminate between heterosexuals and homosexuals,” he said.

Regarding whether or not people are born gay, Baker said he could answer no better than Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the LDS Church.

“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God.

“They may have certain inclinations, which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the church.

“If they violate the law of chastity and moral standards of the church, then they are subject to the discipline of the church, just as others are,” Hinckley said.

Tom Klag, lay campus minister for the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center, said the church takes an official stance in saying that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

He said the church acknowledges that being homosexual may be part of the human condition, but that homosexual behavior is not OK at all.

As far as the legality of gay marriage, he said he believes in a separation of church and state, but if it was sanctioned legally the church would not recognize gay marriages.

In counseling gay people, he said that what is suggested must be determined on an individual basis because everyone is so different.

Brian Orme, director of The Cleft, an evangelical Christian ministry on campus says he believes it’s possible to be born homosexual.

“Everyone is born into sin, so technically anyone can be born into any kind of sin,” he said.

The difference is in lifestyle and behavior, in which homosexuality is definitely a sin.

“But my view and hope is that their behavior would change,” he said.

Even if someone’s lifestyle is considered sinful, Orme said he believes it’s important to love and befriend everyone.

“Jesus embraced people and made them belong before wanting to change them,” he said.

Orme said he isn’t sure evangelical Christianity is doing a very good job embracing people, but believes the potential for helping people change is there.

“When people enter into a relationship with Christ, he makes them into a new creation and they have a rebirth,” he said.

When counseling people, he said the most important thing to do is embrace them through love and suggest behaviors that are spiritually healthy. He said he doesn’t believe in shoving views down peoples’ throats and said it’s important to love people, even if they choose not to change.

Orme said he can’t see anything wrong with civil unions but fears gay marriage would open the door to all forms of alternative marriage, including polygamy and incest.

“Civil unions could be a positive thing and give them what they’re wanting,” he said.

Due to the observance of Passover or Tuesday, no Jewish students or ministry leaders were available for comment before deadline.

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