Manny Pacquiao says he loves and supports gays and lesbians, even though he does not approve of gay marriage.
The world champion boxer and Filipino congressman has been criticized ever since he was quoted in an interview on the examiner.com website saying he opposed President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage.
Pacquiao said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that he doesn’t support gay marriage because of his Roman Catholic beliefs. But he said he has gay friends and relatives, and supports their rights.
“I’m not against the gay people,” Pacquiao said. “I’m not condemning them. … I have a cousin (who is) gay. I have relatives (who are) gay. I have a lot of friends (who are) gay, so I’m not condemning gays. What I said is I’m not in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s the one thing I said to the guy.
“I told (the reporter) I’m against same-sex marriage,” Pacquiao added. “He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘It’s the law of God.’ That’s all I said.”
The examiner.com story contained a Bible passage from Leviticus calling for the death of “a man (who) lies with a man,” and Pacquiao said many readers erroneously believed he had quoted that verse.
He said he had not, and the writer later clarified in a follow-up post that he had included the verse himself.
“My favorite verse in the Bible is ‘Love one another,’ and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself,'” Pacquiao said. “It’s in the Bible: Do not judge. I’m not judging.”
Pacquiao was banned from a popular Hollywood shopping mall after the article was publicized Tuesday, and an online petition encouraging sponsor Nike Inc. to drop Pacquiao received 4,868 signatures before it was suspended Wednesday morning. The petition site, change.org, posted a note saying that the author of the original article had clarified that Pacquiao didn’t cite the Bible passage.
Pacquiao spoke to the AP next to his pool at his comfortable Los Angeles home, where thecongressman lives while training for fights at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. The champion had the day off from training, spending the morning in medical exams before a big lunch and some relaxation.
Although Pacquiao is experiencing a newfound passion for his religion and has socially conservative views in line with many Filipinos’ beliefs, he was eager to clear his name after a 24-hour avalanche of criticism over the belief that the eight-division world champion boxer had denounced gay rights and even supported the killing of gay people.
Although he opposes same-sex marriage, Pacquiao declined to weigh in on civil unions, the internationally popular alternative, saying he didn’t know enough about the concept to form an opinion.
“It’s hard to give a correct answer to what’s the right situation,” he said.
The expansive Los Angeles mall known as The Grove, where the syndicated entertainment-news show “Extra” films its episodes, wouldn’t allow Pacquiao to film a segment on its premises, worrying that an appearance by the boxer could be disruptive. Host Mario Lopez, an avid boxing fan, instead filmed an interview with Pacquiao at the fighter’s home.
Pacquiao chuckled at the knowledge that his words — even words he said he didn’t say — carry more weight than those of an average athlete because of his political aspirations.
“With great power comes great responsibility, so that’s my responsibility, to handle everything,” Pacquiao said. “This has happened before. You have to explain and understand. It’s a lot more fun to train (for a fight).”
Pacquiao is the Philippines’ most famous person and one of the world’s most popular athletes. The eight-division world champion is a movie star, singer, pitchman and congressman, representing the Sarangani province in the Philippines’ House of Representatives since May 2010.
He has won 16 consecutive fights since March 2005, beating Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito. He will defend his WBO welterweight title against Timothy Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao has embraced Catholicism in recent months after marital trouble with his wife, Jinkee. Although he has always attended Mass before his fights, the boxer has taken up frequent Bible study, and he traveled from the Philippines to the U.S. in the company of a spiritual adviser and pastor, Jeric Soriano, now a regular presence in Pacquiao’s life in Los Angeles and the Philippines.
“It’s difficult sometimes, but God gave me a talent,” Pacquiao said. “He gave me a wisdom and a knowledge.”
Although Pacquiao has some conservative social views, he also has ties to progressive American politicians, including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. The boxer campaigned for the Democratic majority leader during his tough re-election victory over Sharron Angle in 2010.
Pacquiao also visited Obama at the White House last year, discussing basketball and boxing. The fighter says he enjoyed meeting Obama, but didn’t share his views on same-sex marriage.
Pacquiao is the fourth of six children born into poverty in the Philippines, and he has four children of his own with his wife. He has spoken out against birth control during his political career, affirming his Roman Catholic faith.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao’s only rival for pound-for-pound supremacy in boxing, took to Twitter on Wednesday to tout his own beliefs.
“I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage,” Mayweather tweeted. “I’m an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want.”
But what does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Scripture teaches that sex outside of the marriage covenant is outside the plan of God. That includes sexual acts between members of the same sex, as well as sexual acts between members of different sexes. There are a number of biblical passages that explicitly forbid sex between members of the same sex. The first, in Leviticus chapter 20, could not be clearer:
“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)
At the time when this command was given by God, Levitical law was the law of the land. The people were living in an era where religion and the state were the same thing; religious laws were state laws and vice versa. When Jesus came He changed all of that. Jesus said (in relation to taxation), “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew22:21). What He did was to separate church and state.
Some people say, therefore, that Levitical law is completely irrelevant to the homosexual debate because it governed arcane ceremonies and legal issues that related to state law and not moral law. Such verses as Leviticus 20:13 are seen as irrelevant because they are to do with “religious” and not “moral” issues. Despite such views however, we notice that three verses earlier the law forbids adultery, which is clearly a moral issue. It says,
“The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
What this tells us is that both homosexual sin and heterosexual sin are sin in God’s eyes – there is no difference. The Bible condemns heterosexual sin and homosexual sin evenly and equally. God’s ideal for sexuality is the fulfilment of a husband/wife in marriage only. Anything outside of that is unacceptable.
Of course, these texts are not to be used as rods upon people’s backs to beat them down, and especially not for heterosexual “sinners” to condemn homosexual “sinners” with a self-righteous attitude. That is a hypocrisy in the church that I want to expose! I do so out of gentleness because I want to foster an attitude in which believers welcome everyone to come and find Christ, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
However, both these Leviticus verses do deal with moral issues. Some have tried to get around the issue by claiming that the homosexual practises condemned in Scripture relate to ancient pagan practises of idolatrous worship and ritualistic prostitution involving “religious” acts of immorality such as fertility rites and so on. Indeed there was a pagan religion that existed throughout the Bible, which was opposed by the prophets, in which people engaged in sexual acts as a form of ritual worship in honour of pagan gods – and homosexuality was part of that, I agree. But we have to examine the whole of Scripture to see its teaching in balance, and Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter 1 clearly shows that such deviations from God’s standards and “unnatural” and sinful. Paul doesn’t just condemn homosexual and lesbian acts out of hand though, he goes further by talking about the downward spiral that the people who commit such acts will suffer, unless they experience God’s mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. This applies to all sin of course and not just homosexual sin. The list of sins Paul is speaking about in Romans 1 shows that homosexual sin is not set apart as some particularly gross sin in God’s sight. God hates all sin.
Later in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul writes,
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Here he is speaking about some general descriptions of the works of the flesh and he includes amongst them both the active and passive actions of male homosexuality. The Greek word for homosexual in this passage is malkos which is translated as “soft to the touch” – metaphorically speaking “effeminate” – and refers to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship or “catomite”. A catomite is the opposite of a sodomite, in other words the one who receives the penis in his anus. Later in the same verse Paul highlights the “active” party in a homosexual relationship, the sodomite (Greek: arsenokoites). Some may be shocked by the degree of explicit detail found in this verse. But God is explicit concerning the things He will not tolerate.
So, although we may find it shocking, God is not shocked by what people do. God can accurately and lovingly describe the wrong way and the right way to use our bodies. The good news is that through Christ we can be transformed and set free. As Paul points out,
“Such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6-11).
Let no one tell you otherwise! God has the power to wash, cleanse and remove every contamination from this sin and every other sin, because the blood of Jesus Christ is all powerful. That’s good news for all of us, because we all need to be washed in the blood of Jesus and have our sins removed.