Can You Be Christian and an LGBT Rights Advocate?

Can you be a Christian and support LGBT-rights at the same time?

American Atheists’ Dave Muscato says no:

People who claim to be Bible-believing Christians and also claim to support marriage equality are hypocrites. Fortunately, the realization of this — and the inability to reconcile their belief that marriage equality is moral with what Christianity teaches about the morality of gay relationships — has led many to abandon Christianity. I hope it leads more to do the same.

Is it possible to be a Christian and support the right for gay Christians to engage in sexual relations if they so desire?

Not if a person identifies as a Bible-believing Christian.

Being a Bible-believing Christian (or Jew or Muslim or other group that follows the Old Testament) requires a lot of rationalization. Some of the most creative people I know are Christians. They have to be, because the Bible prohibits all sorts of things Christians will defend as moral.

Humanist Dean Roth believes the two are compatible and takes aim at one of American Atheists’ tweets that reads “If you’re a Christian and an LGBTQ supporter, you’re doing one of them wrong”:

I hope that is not their intention, but I’m a firm believer that perception overwhelms intention. As a queer Humanist and former evangelical Christian, I felt more isolated and discarded by American Atheists’s statement than I’ve ever been by any Christians. For American Atheists to condemn my Christian family and friends as not only bad Christians but also bad allies — simply for the purpose of suggesting that atheists are the only true supporters of LGBTQ people — reads as both bad PR and a callous attempt at appropriation. Atheists are not, and never have been, alone at the forefront of the LGBTQ rights movement — and it’s inaccurate, hurtful, and unfair to insinuate that they ought to be.

It’s probably not surprising to readers that I take Dave’s side on this. It’s not that Christians can’t be LGBT-rights supporters — I know plenty who are — but it requires completely rationalizing away or ignoring parts of the Bible that explicitly condemn homosexuality.

What Dave doesn’t allow for is the idea that there are many different flavors of Christianity and not all of them require a literal interpretation of the Bible. I’m not saying it’s perfectly rational, but it’s possible to believe Jesus came back from the dead, Creationism is foolish, and that gay people deserve equal rights.

Ken Ham may never become a gay rights advocate. We won’t see evangelicals admit to their bigotry anytime soon. But plenty of progressive Christians not only support gay rights, they’re as upset and angry with conservative Christians as the rest of us.

There may be a separate conversation to be had about how “truly” Christian the progressives are, but when it comes to issues like this one, my primary concern is that they’re on the side of social justice. If they say they support same-sex marriage (to begin with), great. Let’s work together on those issues. The theological debates can come later.

***Update***: I didn’t mean to ignore or dismiss the very real existence of gay and lesbian Christians, so my apologies. We’ve had a number of posts here about LGBT groups at Christian colleges — clearly, the members and allies of those groups see no conflict between their sexual orientation and faith.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.


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