The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT), the largest protestant church in the island nation, released its 5-yearlong report on the nature of homosexuality and its biblical implications, on Sept 3, 2004. The controversial report, dubbed, “Project to Research the Question of Homosexuality,” ultimately left most theological questions unanswered while calling for an “increase of pastoral resources for church ministers” working alongside and with homosexual individuals.
The PCT established a “Homosexuality Research Task Force” in late 1996, to study the “recognition, attitude and faith reflection” of PCT church members concerning homosexuality.
After two years, the Task Force was placed under the guidance of Dr. Chen Nan-Chiou, vice president of Yushan Theological College and Dr. Lin Hsin-Nan, a psychologist affiliated with the National Taiwan University Hospital.
According to Dr. Chen, the report on homosexuality relied on both theological and scientific ‘facts’ and historical observances in drawing its conclusions.
"The report draws on a cross section of scientific dialogue And other theory in recognition of recent natural and social science findings,” said Dr. Chen. “These give us reason for new theological reflection and development. In the specifically theological section we did not stint on review of biblical understandings. We cannot ignore what God has revealed through science, Reason and experience."
The controversial report ultimately concluded that homosexuality is “not a mental illness” and cannot be “treated or altered by medical means.” Thus, the report stated that the condition of homosexuality was influenced by both “later environmental influences” and “biological predispositions.”
“Current Western medical theory and practice speak of biological predispositions but do not overrule later environmental influences. No matter how we may view homosexuality, it is not a mental illness. Neither is it something to be treated and altered by medical means. Currently there is no evidence of "successful treatment" nor do we expect such,” said Dr. Lin.
Most conservative and traditional Christians disagree with the statement that homosexuality is a biological condition.
The controversy on homosexuality exploded in the PCT earlier this year when leading members of the PCT attended the ordination and installation ceremony for an openly gay pastor in the homosexual-friinedly Tongkwang Presbyterian Church. Following the installation ceremony, during which several leaders “even participated in the laying on of hands and ordination prayers,” conservative PCT members demanded a clear statement of position on the part of the PCT’s general assembly. PCT church law prohibits the ordination of and the participation in the ceremony of ordaining homosexual individuals.
The five yearlong report did not tackle the controversies full on, and did not yet come to a conclusive view on homosexuality. Instead, it called for the “establishment of a consultative committee on the issue of homosexuality and ongoing discussions with ecumenical bodies.”
“The question is one on which interchurch cooperation will be most welcomed. Publication of a handbook for church practice regarding homosexuality is also suggested,” the report stated.
The PCT is the Taiwanese counterpart of the Presbyterian Church USA, which is currently undergoing a "task-force" report and study on homosexuality.
For a copy of the report, available only in Chinese, contact the Research and Development Centre, Presbyterian Church In Taiwan 107 Taipei City, Roosevelt Road, Section 3, Lane 269 #3 7F