Someone recently asked me a great question:
Though I understand the concept of accepting everyone into the church without “condemnation”, this is how the church should operate, do you actually teach that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle in accordance with what the bible teaches? Would it also be acceptable for an adulterer to continue in his/her sin as well and for that to be called an acceptable practice in the eyes of God according to the scripture?
I wrote the following response to them, and I believe the issues that are raised here are worth discussing. This is a question I’ve been asked on a number of occasions, so I know it’s not unusual.
Out of love and respect for the individual, I have edited the response to not reveal their name or situation. But their concern is genuine. So, without further ado, let me share my answer to this and other similar questions:
As someone who’s both gay and Christian, I’m intimately aware of the conflict that men like Pastor Ted Haggard (to use a very recent example) deal with in their personal lives. So let me be clear: Adultery in any form is sin. Haggard violated his wedding vows, and his deception brought down 22 years of a ministry that he started. Yet, I believe we as Christians should be compassionate with grace in our dealings with Haggard and others who are in that situation.
No, that is NOT compatible with the Christian walk. Haggard’s example is one of three different common methods people use to deal with how they relate being gay and being Christian.
Most people believe there are three choices:
- Deny their sexuality. This is the most common path that gay Christians attempt. They’ll often try everything from simple resistance, going through ex-gay ministries, or asking to have the “spirit of homosexuality” cast out of them. These attempts almost always lead to frustration.
- Deny their faith. Countless gay or lesbian people have come to terms with their sexual orientation only to deny the faith of their youth. Some zealous Christians will even suggest that they “were never saved to begin with.” This is a tragic dismissal, and just isn’t based in reality. But in the end, most people who have walked from their faith know that there’s a very deep and real void in their lives.
- Live a double life. This is the most destructive of the three. They’ll hide in internet chat rooms and roadside encounters in their search for ways to get their sexual needs met. All of this goes on while they live normal “Christian” lives, and in doing so, they’re deceiving everyone around them. The tragedy of this is that it opens unwitting spouses to a plethora of health issues, including possible HIV exposure.
To answer your question, I don’t think that any of these are viable options for gay Christians. Denial only leads to frustration, apostasy leads to desolation, and deception is just downright deadly. There has to be another option.
That fourth option is reconciliation. “Homosexuality” is simply a person’s sexual orientation. My teaching is that a person should always live with integrity, and with responsibility. If being responsible means being gay, then they should be gay. It doesn’t mean they should be promiscuous, or go to the clubs or bars to look for hookups… they should be who they are.
For the gay Christian, the option of serving God and loving their same-sex partner is very much a reality.
Sometimes, the person doesn’t come to terms with their sexual orientation until they’ve been married for years. This is an incredibly complex and tragic situation that requires love and patience from both spouses. In those situations, it’s practically mandatory for the husband and wife to enter marriage counseling so they can work through this very difficult issue. I do not believe that a gay person should just abandon their marriage to pursue being gay. They made a commitment before God and man, and that needs to be addressed before anything.
There are times that the spouse will agree that the marriage should end. Sometimes the gay person will stay in the marriage and commit to fidelity… but either way, they walk in truth, and thus walk in grace. The kind of counseling that is needed in this situation is best handled by qualified family counselors who understand the complexity of this kind of situation. Any ‘counselor’ who just tries to find out where the ‘root’ was to ‘fix’ the person’s sexual orientation is just going to do more damage.
I stand with the APA, AMA, and more than a dozen other major medical and professional organizations that homosexuality is neither a disorder to be treated nor a disease to be cured. It’s simply a reality in a person’s life.
My personal website at www.davidwshelton.com/lookingglass has a few resources you can read through that will help you to understand a little more about this very serious issue.
I’ve written extensively on this topic on this and in my new book, The Rainbow Kingdom: Christianity & the Homosexual Reconciled. My blog has a condensed study that explores the Scriptures that are often used to condemn gay and lesbian people. Just look for the Christianity & Homosexuality study on the right side of this screen.
I know this is a hard sell. But my message goes far beyond simple acceptance and embracing… the call of Christ to reach all people where they are is without limitation. There are too many people who are broken and crushed by their own self-hatred for our ministry to ignore.
I hope this helps you to understand my position, and the position of our church. Jesus is first in our lives, and He’s lord of our whole lives.
And that’s where peace reigns.