Courage UK (originally named Courage Trust[citation needed]), was founded in February 1988 by Jeremy Marks[1] as a Christian ministry to the gay and lesbian community. This was a pioneering ministry in the UK, where few in the Church had ever reached out to try and understand gay people. However, its premise was that homosexuality was problematic and the practice of it abhorrent. More unique was the fact that Jeremy Marks was himself gay and acknowledged that as a struggle.

Courage UK was aligned as a member organisation of Exodus International[2] - one of the leading organisations in the "ex-gay" movement. While Courage UK always offered pastoral care and support it also taught that with much effort, prayer, understanding and support a person could "come out" of homosexuality. This meant not only changing sexual practice but the potential to change sexual preference and go from gay to straight. This teaching was very popular amongst the mainstream evangelical church and remains the majority position today.

Shift in direction Edit

By 2000, Jeremy Marks and the leadership of Courage UK recognised a change was needed. The expectation of the ex gay teaching did not equal the results they saw. The teaching that gay people must get into a heterosexual relationship or remain celibate now seemed questionable to Marks. This was not only from an experiential viewpoint, but also from a theological change.[3]

At the heart of the new direction is a fundamental shift in the interpretation of the Bible's teaching on homosexuality - both orientation and practice. Courage has remained careful to balance its new position with the fundamental Christian doctrine of freedom of conscience. For those who feel the practice of homosexuality is forbidden there remains acceptance and support. While for those who feel that God would honour an intimate relationship they too find acceptance and support. At the heart of the change is the Creation Ordinance that man should not be alone, and the belief that a loving Creator God would not exclude His homosexual children of this companionship.

In 2001, Jeremy Marks wrote in the journal Lesbian and Gay Christians, "I have come to the conclusion that we have been quite wrong to dismiss all same sex love (other than platonic) as sinful."[4] At that time the group was holding weekly meetings in London for about 40-50 men and women.[citation needed]

Marks' comments on the Courage UK website[5] clarify the group's change of course:

A Change of Heart is the Priority
While recognising the social pressure to become 'normal' (i.e. heterosexual), fifteen years experience revealed that God's primary concern is not to change the sexual orientation of his gay and lesbian disciples, but to help them find wholeness in Christ - becoming secure, assured of his love and acceptance, set apart to follow Jesus faithfully and responsible in building relationships with one another.

As a direct result of the New Approach, Courage took a "sabbatical" from Exodus International.[6] Courage was also forced to resign from the Evangelical Alliance,[7] and lost support from most evangelicals. However, there does seem to be a growing number of people and organisations who share the new interpretation that the practice of homosexuality is not forbidden by Scripture. With the growing politicisation and fragmentation over the issue of homosexuality in the Church it is a growing ideological and theological fight with the New Perspective beginning to grow in strength and appeal. Courage aims to make an important contribution to that debate.

The membership of Courage UK in 2006 has been stated variously as over 300 people,[citation needed], or as about 150 men.[8]

Other organizations with similar namesEdit

Courage International is a Roman Catholic organization devoted to helping homosexually-oriented people, and anyone who experiences same-sex attraction, to live a chaste life according to Catholic moral teachings. Although Courage UK often uses the shorter name "Courage" within the United Kingdom, and Courage International often uses the shorter name "Courage" in the United States, the two organizations are not affiliated.

References Edit

  • [9] Courage UK's own website

Footnotes Edit

  1. News posting on the website of Evangelicals Concerned Western Region, July 26, 2004, at [1].
  2. News article in The Advocate, March 13, 2001, at [2].
  3. News article in UCNews, the newspaper of the United Church of Christ, July-August 2003, at [3].
  4. News article in WorldWide Religious News, April 6, 2001, at [4].
  5. [5]
  6. News article in The Advocate, March 13, 2001, at [6].
  7. News article in WorldWide Religious News, April 6, 2001, at [7].
  8. News article in WorldWide Religious News, April 6, 2001, at [8].

External linksEdit

Wikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Courage UK. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.. As with LGBT Info, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

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