I've noticed that it's hard to find New Church perspectives on homosexuality online so I've decided to provide links to the best articles on the topic that I'm aware of.
To be clear, I'm not interested in starting a debate on this topic. There are other venues for that. I want to provide resources to people who are looking for perspectives on homosexuality from people who believe, to differing degrees, in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Different New Church organizations have different positions on homosexuality. The positions of 3 of the organizations are briefly described in a "List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality"
The majority of the articles here are by members of the General Church of the New Jerusalem
. There are also a few articles by members of the Swedenborgian Church of North America
. You can find a statement of the position of the General Conference of the New Church
in the June 2009 issue of New Church Lifeline
. I found the PDF hard to read because it's formatted for printing so I copied the relevant portions into this extract
I don't have any articles by members of the Lord's New Church which is Nova Hierosalyma
, the Church of Truth
, the New Church of Southern Africa
, or the New Church in Australia
. Please let me know if you find any information about these other organizations' positions.
"What do the Writings say about Homosexuality?" (PDF) by Rev. Jeremy Simons
Do the Writings talk about homosexuality? Simons, a pastor in the General Church, addresses this question, discusses the various passages that seem to be talking about it, and compares the phrases that Swedenborg seems to use for homosexuality with phrases used by his contemporaries.
"What the Word Says Directly on Homosexuality" by Rev. Grant Odhner
Odhner, a pastor in the General Church, has collected these notes on homosexuality. They include an overview of how the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Writings treat of homosexuality directly and they also include some thoughts about causes of homosexual feelings and behavior, differing degrees of the seriousness of homosexuality, and some principles from the Writings about how to deal with homosexuals.
"Notes on Homosexuality" by Rev. Mark Pendleton
In these 18 pages of notes, Pendleton, a General Church pastor, includes passages on love, marriage, adultery, and judging others. He also includes portions of Rev. Jeremy Simons' research and references to a study by Rev. Willard Heinrichs.
"The Worst Adultery" (PDF) by Rev. John Odhner
(New Church Life
In the explanation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19
) the phrase "worst form of adultery" is used (Arcana Coelestia 2220
). Odhner, a pastor in the General Church, addresses the question of whether homosexuality is the worst form of adultery, in the light of other teachings about adultery.
"A Theology of Sexuality" by Rev. Alain Nicolier - Part 1 and Part 2
(New Church Life
2008: 318-328, 356-364.)
Nicolier, a pastor in the General Church, discusses theories, "myths," and negative influences (particularly from parents) that may cause people to identify themselves as homosexual.
"More on Understanding Homosexuality" by Rev. Grant Odhner
(New Church Canadian
This is a letter that Odhner wrote in response to an article by Rev. Glenn Alden, "Understanding Homosexuals," in the February 1992 issue of New Church Canadian
. He discusses the theological origins of homosexuality, compares homosexuality with polygamy and concubinage, and ends by discussing human responsibility and repentance. He writes, "in summary, I think we need to see homosexuality as an evil, as something people are ultimately responsible for, as something that can change through sensitive education and repentance."
"Risking on the Side of Compassion" by Rev. James Lawrence
In this article, Lawrence, a pastor in the Swedenborgian Church, explains why he decided to bless homosexual unions.
"What is True Conjugial Union?" by Duane V. Beougher
In this response to Lawrence's article, Beougher, a member of the Swedenborgian Church, argues that the Writings are clear that homosexual relations cannot constitute a true conjugial union and that the term marriage should only be applied where that possibility exists.
"Letter to the Editor" by Dr. Reuben P. Bell
In this letter to the editor in response to Lawrence's article, Bell, a former pastor of the Swedenborgian Church and then the General Church, explains why he sees Lawrence's position to be a profane, dangerous, and harmful abuse of the truth.
"Further Thoughts in Response to Gay Marriage Commentary" by Rev. James Lawrence
Here Lawrence responds to people's reactions to his article by saying that he does not look to the Writings as the ultimate determinant for his theological position on the nature of homosexuality but instead seeks "a new theological framework" and that he believes that "gay love... is profaned or made sacred by the integrity of the individuals involved."
"Homosexuality" by Rev. Coleman Glenn
In this blog post, Glenn, a recently ordained pastor in the General Church, explains how it’s possible for someone to think that homosexuality is a disorder and still approach homosexuals with love, and why he thinks of homosexuality in the same way that he think of brother-sister incest. I recommend reading the comments that follow the post.
"Homosexuality" by Brian Smith (The blog that this was originally posted on, Create Cognitive Dissonance, is no longer active so this link takes you to a snapshot of this blog post on the Internet Archive.)
In this blog post, Smith, a theological school student in the General Church, explains why he believes that a person can oppose the practice of homosexuality from love, why he thinks the practice of homosexuality is harmful, and why he seeks to help people who have that struggle see that there is a path out. There is a lot of discussion in the comments that follow the post, mostly between members of the General Church and people who grew up in the General Church but no longer associate themselves with it.
Discussion on BeliefNet
This is a long discussion on BeliefNet of homosexuality from the perspective of Swedenborg's theological works. I read and skimmed the first fifth of the entries. I would guess that the contributors include members of the Swedenborgian Church and General Church and people not affiliated with any organization.
(This discussion no longer exists on the internet and I couldn't find old archives of it. Let me know if you do find it.)
I know that there are other articles and posts that have been written on this topic. (For example, a number of articles come up if you search for homosexuality in New Church Life
.) If you find an article or post that you think should be included here, leave a comment with a link and a short description of the content of the piece.
Since I first posted this on June 4th 2009 I have received a number of additional articles. I have added a link to an article expressing the position of the General Conference of the New Church, a study and an article by Rev. Grant Odhner, and some notes by Rev. Mark Pendleton.
I have also changed the link for the discussion on BeliefNet. Rev. Jeremy Simons pointed out that only half of the discussion was available at the old link. He recommends the end of the full discussion.
I'm adding some new resources that I've received more recently. I'm putting them at the end of the post here to make it easier to find them.
"Responding to Homosexuality" (audio sermon) by Rev. Derrick Lumsden
Here's the blurb that Lumsden wrote about this sermon he preached in 2013: "One of the hot topics in our culture today are issues around homosexuality. There are issues of prejudice, justice, sexual morality, spirituality, compassion, desire, and Biblical interpretation all rolled up in this issue. In this sermon we talk about how we as the New Church can respond to homosexuality."
"Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity" by Rev. Lee Woofenden
This is one of two posts that Woofenden wrote about homosexuality in 2015. He says that this first one is "aimed at a general Christian audience. It goes into detail on the Biblical basis of the homosexuality debate."
"What does Emanuel Swedenborg Say about Homosexuality?" by Rev. Lee Woofenden
Woofenden says that this post "takes up many of the issues about Swedenborg and homosexuality that are discussed in articles [on this page]."
"Four Myths: How well do we understand the impact of same-sex marriage?" (PDF) by Rev. Jeremy Simons
This paper was written by Simons for the 2017 General Church Council of the Clergy meetings. The four myths that Simons critiques are (1) "Homosexuality springs from the fact that some people experience same-sex attraction, this being the opposite of heterosexual attraction." (2) "Homosexuality is genetically determined." (3) "Homosexuality is an orientation that is common to a relatively fixed proportion of the population, so it is not contagious and therefore does not threaten heterosexual relationships." (4) "A homosexual lifestyle can be stable, happy and fulfilling."
Here is an incomplete list of more articles that have been written or I have become aware of since the last time I updated this post. Please let me know if there are more that you think should be added. I have also tried to fix all the links that have broken over the years in the post above.
A response to the United States Supreme Court decision on the 26th of June 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
Barber is a teacher of religion at the Academy of the New Church high schools with Master's degrees in theology and Human Sexuality and he was asked to lead a professional development training seminar for the other faculty at the schools about what the teachings of the New Church say about sex, gender, and sexuality. This article is reworking of the presentation that he gave.
As Buss puts it, the purpose of this article is "...to lay before the Church some of the relevant teachings and perspectives that bear on the goal of 'standing for marriage in today’s world'" and in doing that "...to invite reasoning from the Word on states of life that are around us, and on a debate that is causing polarization within the Church."