Welcome to my letters page!
For previous visitors:
Click here to go the correspondence links
But for new visitors:
Please read this introduction first -
Part of our ministry was advocacy, which involved responding to individuals, much writing to newspapers and magazines, people and institutions; and preparing submissions to send to eg Bible Societies, Evangelical Alliance.
The table below sets out the principal correspondence, (there was much else), which forms this section of the website.
The main bodies of the submissions - to the United Bible Societies (UBS), International Bible Society (IBS), National Council of Churches of Christ USA (NCCC), Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (WBTS) and Tyndale House are similar, but the most comprehensive are the submissions re the Living Bible (Tyndale House) and to Watchtower Bible & Tract Socy re New World Translation. However each submission has its own recommendations, which you can read!
The replies from Watchtower, and the UBS Translation Co-ordinator will give you some idea of the poor 'quality' of the thinking of some such people. However, there are other replies that are more promising.
1.Christian Institute - 2 page letter from me - no more heard (NMH) 2.Evangelical Alliance - Submission - awaiting promised reply of Nov 2000 3.Nat'l Council of Churches of Christ, USA - Submission encouraged 4.International Bible Soc'y - Submission made - encouraging replies received 5.Watchtower B&T Soc'y Submission - Hostile reply - My reply- NMH 6.United Bible Societies - Letters - A strange reply - Submission - NMH 7.'Living Bible/New Living Trans'n' - Submission Aug 2001 - Await reply 8.Bishop W Oden; President, United Methodist Council of Bishops 9.Various letters eg to PM, Rev Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell etc.
YOU CAN COPY THE CORRESPONDENCE, BUT DO NOT PRINT IT DIRECT FROM THE WEBPAGE, AS IT WILL PRINT NARROW COLUMNS IN LARGE TEXT AND SO TAKE FAR MORE PAPER AND INK THAN NECESSARY. THE FOLLOWING SHOULD HELP:
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The 2 page letter to the Christian Institute of mid-February 2001 to which no reply was received!
The Christian Institute; Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PQ
Dear Mr Hart
I am asking you to reconsider the Institute's campaigns against homosexuals. I am very concerned at the distress caused to such people and their parents, and the spiritual danger in which you are placing yourselves in so doing. Let me explain who I am and why I ask.
My wife and I have children and grandchildren; none of us are gay, so I have no axe to grind. I am a Methodist preacher, a Christian with roots in the evangelical tradition, a retired scientist/engineer with a respect for facts, and objectivity. For most of my life I held the same views about homosexuals as you and those who support your work. My prejudice was based on ignorance and biblical literalism, but things were to change.
Following my involvement in the Methodist Human Sexuality debate, I was called by the Lord in 1992 to repent of my homophobia, and then soon after to a ministry which has developed into one of support, affirmation and Christian love for gay Christians. Since that time my wife and I have made many such Christian friends, some of whom we rank among the finest Christian people we know - people of faith, courage and integrity with the fruit of the Holy Spirit seen clearly in their lives. As Jesus said 'By their fruits you shall know them'. And as the voice said to Peter 'What God has cleansed call not unclean' (Acts 10).
Our ministry is Biblically-based for we love the scriptures. My study in the original languages shows that translations are unreliable; all but one of the texts/passages used to condemn homosexuals are invalid translations, (the other is misused). The reason is not hard to find - one Bible Society Director confessed in writing that "personal interpretation inevitably influences translation"! It is clear after assiduous study that there is no condemnation of loving, faithful, covenant same-sex relationships in the Bible. Many others have come to the same conclusion when coming to the scriptures prayerfully and with an informed, open mind.
Jesus called us to love - our gracious God, others as ourselves, even our enemies. He defied religious convention and orthodox theology, and welcomed those who were considered sinners and outcasts of his day. Yes, he told a woman taken in adultery to sin no more. But he did not say such to the 'fallen' woman who came with perfume to anoint him, but declared that her love was her forgiveness. The Centurion's servant, from various considerations, was very likely the Centurion's homosexual partner - healing was given, but no condemnation from Jesus here or anywhere else of homosexuals.
Condemnation from any source is cheap - it demands everything of those who are condemned and nothing of those who condemn - condemnation destroys people. Only love heals and reconciles. We seek to bring Christlike love to people hurt and damaged by others. Our affirmation in God's love of such who come to us brings healing change. People who have been suicidal, those who have cut themselves because of the self-hatred generated by the bigotry, prejudice and rejection experienced begin to love themselves as they see God in us loving them. And men and women who have feared to show love to another, find in the love of God the liberation to truly love. Relationships that are marked by love and faithfulness to one another and to God. Yet your literature speaks of such in a disparaging way.
You claim that such relationships undermine marriage - in fact the reverse is true. Many Christian men who are homosexual accept the Church's teaching that the only moral sexual relationship is heterosexual marriage, and marry. Other such men do not recognise that they are different in their feelings, thinking that all have such feelings and marry just as others do. Yet others who do recognise their homosexual feelings are advised to 'marry and get rid of those feelings'. The claim that heterosexual marriage is the only moral sexual relationship leads to massive problems for them, and marriage breakdown for most of those above, and distress especially where children are involved . It is remarkable to us that any survive - marriage is difficult enough at times without that complication.
Marriage, as understood today, is a modern evolved concept. Biblically, it began as polygamy and siring children by concubines and servants, as with the patriarchs. It became monogamous except that (until after Jesus' times) if a man died without a male heir his wife was 'given' to the dead man's brother to raise up an heir for the dead man ie 'Levirate marriage'. There was no formal ceremony in UK for most couples until after the 18th century. Marriage was to produce children; a woman often dismissed if she was not quickly pregnant. Today's focus is on the relationship, with the loving raising of children where they exist. Yet some insist that today's 'marriage' was ever thus! Loving, faithful covenanted same-sex relationships can and should exist and be recognised alongside marriage, allowing both relationships the dignified expression of love natural to each. This would solve many of the problems described above.
We recall one of your patrons facing an hermaphrodite denying that person's existence because 'the Bible says God created (only) men and women'. Such unreality makes God and the Bible look foolish. God not only creates men and women, but baby girls who become boys at puberty, hermaphrodites, homosexuals, bisexuals and people who cannot reconcile their mental and physical identities. Should we add to their 'difference' problems by rejecting them for something for which they are not responsible, OR should we do as commanded by Jesus, and love them - help them as we are able.
I know what I think Jesus wants of us. The Biblical phrase of John's 'Where love is, there is God' sums it up for us and many people. I ask you then, as a brother in Christ, to reconsider prayerfully and carefully - to mend fences that you have broken. Make the name of the 'Christian Institute' one that is hailed for its Christian love and good sense.
Yours in Christ
George S E Hopper C Eng (Ret'd)