The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) today expressed shock and sadness over the legalizing of homosexuality by the Delhi High Court in India on Thursday.
Calling it an “extraordinary verdict,” the evangelical body said it was “shocked and saddened by the judgment” that has struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that made homosexuality “illegal” since 1860.
”In a secular state a distinction is made between God's unchanging moral laws and man's legislated social laws - civil and criminal. Decriminalization of homosexuality in no way changes the moral order. It is common sense to recognize that homosexual practice is a violation of the natural order,” Rev. Dr Richard Howell, general secretary of EFI, said in a statement.
”While all sin is sin, all homosexual activity is essentially sinful, whether it is done by singles or by gays or lesbians involved in committed relationships,” he added.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a 1860s-era British Empire statute that forbids "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." Under the law, sex between homosexuals may be punishable up to 10 years of imprisonment.
The path-breaking ruling was made by a bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Murlidhar who consented that the 149-year-old law is “violative of fundamental rights and hence must not be punishable.”
Rev. Howell says it is not the High Court judgment what worries Indian religious communities, but more is the “potential Pandora's box it opens as has been the experience in the West.”
To substantiate his argument, he refers to the ‘compromised’ culture in West, where homosexuals face no discrimination "in housing and jobs". But he asks, what happens if a religious community, housing society or school wants to keep out homosexuals?
He also points to another acceptable ‘alternative lifestyle’ - same-sex unions and marriages. He warned it was against the tenets of Bible and “sanctity of the God-ordained initiation of marriage between one man and one woman.”
The evangelical leader exhorted the Church to “speak up and speak out the truth in love.” But he also instructs that it should condemn the sin and not the sinner. “Though we condemn the sin we are called to love the homosexual sinner as much as the heterosexual sinner, as the thief and murderer.”