The following text is reproduced (with thanks) from the Quaker.org.uk site and is meant to give a short explanation of who and what we are. Much more information is available from the main site which you can visit by clicking the button at the bottom right-hand side of this page.
What are the Quaker views on abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, human rights, etc.? These are some of the questions that we are asked by people wanting to know more about us. When they hear some of the answers they may be quite puzzled. We cannot point to a creed to tell us what we must believe; we do not have a bishop, priest or minister who interprets the rules for us; we do not even treat the Bible as the ultimate source of authority in these matters.
Quakers have always believed that there is ‘that of God’ in every human being. When we turn inwards in worship, we can hear the ‘promptings of love and truth’ in our hearts. This is not just conscience. Quakers call it ‘the Light within’, or ‘the voice of God’, or ‘Christ within’. Yet at the same time we do act upon these promptings according to our consciences. But if everyone simply listened to the promptings of their own minds and interpreted them in their own their way, there might be total confusion.
So we as Quakers meet together in worship, and our search for truth is a process we engage in together. It is as though we were travelling towards truth, being open all the time to new ways of seeing, sharing our experiences, and learning from each other – a process of seeking, finding, and seeking again. We share the same principle: that of respect for the Light within each person. But how we live it out in everyday life depends on our listening to God and to each other.
Different Quakers may interpret the principle differently. Much depends on the circumstances and the people concerned. We admit we may get it wrong! The Quaker way is not easy. In the end, we have to accept that we are each responsible, for our own lives, to God.
Quakers and Homosexuality
Homosexuality is an area that has caused controversy among the general public. As early as 1963 Quakers published Towards a Quaker view of sex which posed many questions still being considered today. The book maintained that it was not the gender or sexual orientation of the people concerned in a relationship that mattered, but the depth of feeling they have for each other. This book asked: “Where there is a genuine tenderness, an openness to responsibility, and the seed of commitment, God is surely not shut out. Can we not say that God can enter any relationship in which there is a measure of selfless love?” This tolerant attitude probably reflects the view of most British Quakers. No discrimination is found among Quakers in terms of employment policies. However, there are some Quakers who are very unhappy about the subject of homosexuality.
One of the most open welcomes for homosexuals may be found in a statement produced by Quakers of Westminster Meeting: “We affirm the love of God for all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and our conviction that sexuality is an important part of human beings as created by God, so that to reject people on the grounds of their sexual behaviour is a denial of God’s creation.”
Quite a number of Quakers are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual. In some meetings in the United States, same-sex relationships are blessed by the meeting. In others, however, the subject is still not discussed or it is condemned. There have been a few blessings of same-sex relationships among British Quakers though our marriage regulations still assume that marriage is heterosexual.