A support organisation for homosexual Christians who choose not to act on their sexual desires has been allowed to register as a charity.
The Charity Commission had previously turned down the application by Living Out to join the register last May. But now Living Out has been accepted after the commission carried out an internal review. This led to some of its charitable objectives being altered.
On its website, Living Out says: "We experience same-sex attraction and yet are committed to what the Bible clearly says, and what the church has always taught, about marriage and sex. We do not identify as gay Christians, preferring to use the term "same-sex attracted".
"With friends, we've set up this website to articulate a perspective that is not often heard – that of men and women who are honest and open about their same-sex attraction, but who have discovered that obedience to Jesus in this area of life is fulfilling, healthy and authentic.
"We want people who experience same-sex attraction, those who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual (LGBT) or who are just questioning; their family and friends; their churches and pastors; and those investigating Christianity, to find here a plausible way of living out what Christians have consistently believed about marriage and sex."
The Charity Commission said in a statement that it was was asked to review its decision not to enter Living Out onto the register of charities. "On the basis of further evidence, submissions, and revised objects adopted by Living Out, the commission was satisfied that the purpose of Living Out was for the public benefit. The commission concluded that Living Out is concerned with promoting the wider Christian principles of unconditional love, compassion, acceptance and understanding, and a welcoming place in the Christian Church for same-sex attracted individuals who wish to stay true to their Christian faith."
Living Out describes itself as "a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas that gay Christians can often face."
The group posts videos on subjects such as how a pastor can minister to a gay member "who continues to struggle with sexual sin".
On the Living Out website, Pastor Ed Shaw, associate pastor at Emmanuel Bristol, writes: "Permanent, faithful, stable relationships are beautiful. And essential to human flourishing... So what could possibly be wrong with a permanent, faithful, stable same-sex relationship? Indeed this sort of relationship is now recognised as a marriage by a number of states throughout the world."
He says he has been told that his opposition to homosexual practice will crumble when he meets the man of his dreams. "Well, the right man coming along will certainly challenge my behaviour, but he will have to change my mind on a couple of key truths."
The good in something doesn't make other aspects of it right in God's sight, he writes. "Similarly the many good things we might see or experience in a permanent, faithful, stable same-sex sexual relationship don't by themselves make the sexual aspect of the relationship legitimate."
He says sex and marriage between the different sexes is there to provide a picture of the permanent, faithful, stable relationship between God and his people. "Start redefining marriage and you are destroying the essential beauty of God's eternal picture of his love for his people."
What it all comes down to is a decision to trust in God and what he says in the Bible, he concludes.