5 Ways Christians Can Be Better Friends to LGBTQ Persons

lgbtq friends The following post is written by my friend Preston Sprinkle. He comes at this conversation, as someone with a fairly traditional theological perspective and yet full of love and openness. At our church, Pangea, we actually have folks on both sides of the theological spectrum—all who choose to break bread with each other. Voices like Preston’s would fit quite well in our context. His recent written work addressing a Christian approach to LGBTQ persons is full of empathy and wisdom.

His book (listed below) is one of the few that I recommend for people wanting to learn from a more “traditionalist” viewpoint [for a progressive perspective, read Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, and James Brownson]. This guest post demonstrates why I respect Preston so much. He challenges Christians (especially traditionalists) see LGBTQ persons as people to be loved.

Preston is the author of two recent books on homosexuality: People to be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not just an Issue and Living in a Gray World: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Homosexuality (both published by Zondervan). Preston blogs at Theology in the Raw and teaches at Eternity Bible College in Boise, Idaho.

———————–

By Preston Sprinkle

I’ve talked to a lot of LGBTQ people over the years. And while their stories are beautifully unique, almost all of them have one thing in common—A terrible experience with Christians. And here’s the thing: their terrible experience usually had little to do with the church’s theological position, but with the dehumanizing posture we’ve had toward LGBTQ people. My friend Kenny is a gay Christian, who recently led a college campus Bible study for LGBTQ people. Besides being LGBTQ, all of the members had three things in common. They were hungry to know about Jesus, they all thought about or attempted suicide, and they were scared to go to a Christian church.

Scared. Terrified.

They weren’t turned off by a compassionate presentation of a traditional Christian sexual ethic. They were literally scared to cross the threshold of a church for fear that they would be mocked, scorned, dehumanized, and shown the door. And most of them had personal evidence for their fear.

I have another friend named Caleb who was raised by a Lesbian mother and a gay father, who divorced when Caleb was two years old. Caleb grew up marching in pride parades with his mother. In his first parade, he recalls the joy that permeated the crowed as they cheered he and his mother on. But at the end of the parade, a small batch of angry people were yelling and spraying them with urine-filled water guns.

“Why are they doing this, mom? Why do they hate us?” Caleb asked his mother.

She replied: “Oh, those are Christians. And Christians hate gay people. This is just what they do.”

Caleb responded: “Ugh, I never want to be a Christian.”

You may have never spayed urine on participants of a pride parade, and maybe you haven’t shunned or dehumanized a gay person in church. But reality is: this is your narrative. If you’re a Christian, you’re part of the story of how Christians have treated sexual others. When LGBTQ people think of Christians, images such as these often come up. We need to reverse this image; crush this reputation. Here are five things Christians can do to display a better posture and extend the love of Christ to the LGBTQ community.

#1 Listen

Shut up. Stop preaching. Stop correcting. Don’t give your “stance” on the issue. Just listen. To listen is to love, and you can’t love unless you listen. And Christians are often not very good listeners. We’re too busy preaching and correcting and judging. So take some time and get to know a person who is LGBTQ. Buy them lunch. Get to know them. Listen to their story. And don’t cap off your encounter with an exposition of Romans 1. End by saying, “I’m a Christian and I just want you to know that I’m so thankful that you exist. And I’m sorry for any harm you’ve experienced by other Christians.” Christians who love, listen. And by doing so, they love.

#2 Learn

Many Christians are ignorant about the complexities of the LGBTQ discussions. We’re like a single drum in a one-man marching band. “Homosexuality is a sin. Period.” But is it? What do you mean by “homosexuality?” Even if you believe that same-sex sexual behavior is against the will of God, this doesn’t mean that homosexuality is sin. After all, a person could be totally gay and yet living a life of celibacy because they hold to a traditional Christian ethic. Yet they would be included under the broad concept of “homosexuality.” Are they in sin? I’d say they are the epitome of faithfulness. We need to learn more about the complexities of homosexuality and gender issues so that we can understand people better. To understand is to love; you can’t love without first understanding.

#3 Stand

Christians often talk about taking a stand on homosexuality. This usually means you stand against same-sex behavior. But being a faithful Christian also means standing up for those who are threatened and shunned by the religious elite. Jesus stood up for a women caught in adultery, dinned in the home of a tax-collector, and welcomed the lepers, the disabled, and the poor. Jesus stood for those who were shunned and dehumanized by the religious elite. Christians—all Christians—should stand against the bigotry and bullying that still faces the LGBTQ community. Even if you think gay sex is sinful, if you’re a Christian, you still believe that LGBTQ people are prized and valued in the eyes of God. And we should be the first ones to stand up for any person who is not being treated with love.

#4 Relate

Christians need to tear down the thick walls of “us/them” rhetoric. We still talk about LGBTQ people as if “they” are some sub-species of the human race that live somewhere over there. Sometimes the pronouns “us/them” are unavoidable. The English language demands it. I’ve used these pronouns several times in this blog! But we should nevertheless see LGBTQ not as them but as us and go out of our way to identify and empathize with “them”—I mean, “us.” They are we: beloved and beautiful people valued and prized by our Creator. We need to change our posture. We need to talk about homosexuality as not some issue to be debated, but as a people to be loved—loved with the good news about a Savior who became marginalized to identify with those shunned by the religious elite. What if the woman caught in adultery (John 8) was a gay man caught in the act? Would we absorb the stones from the religious elite as Jesus did? They are we.

#5 Love

Christian love is strange. It’s different. It’s upsetting and troubling and dangerous. Christian agape love is committed to people regardless of whether that person lives up to your religious standard. It values people as people, and it cherishes them as beautiful image bearers of God. Love is sacrifice. It lays down its life for neighbor and enemy, sinner and saint, religious and atheist, gay and straight. A love that’s selective is not Christian love. The cross of Christ critiques the traditional posture of the traditionally minded evangelical church. We can love the LGBTQ community in ways that reflect the counter-(religious)-cultural love of Christ, who poured His life into those who were shunned by the religious leaders.

——————————-

THIS WEEK ON THE SERMON PODCAST: “We,” a series about the core values of Pangea | Communities in Seattle, Wa. On Sunday we looked at our core value: Inclusive – We choose to invite everyone to the party. We talked in depth about exclusion and what it looks like for us to love our LGBTQ friends in our church: iTunesFeed.

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  • http://latitudinarismus.blogspot.com/ Timothy McPherson

    This is one of the very few thoughtful and considerate posts by a conservative Christian on confronting people who are in the LGBT community. Thank you!

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      Couldn’t agree more, Timothy.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        I respectfully, assertively disagree.

        Traditionalist belief about gay people is, in and of itself, harmful. It’s what David Gushee has rightly described as the teaching of contempt for gay people.

        Preston’s thoughts are ok as far as they go, and they sound charitable and compassionate; yet at the end of the day, his theology is coercive. Acceptance of gay people is conditioned on refraining from romantic intimacy (as he told me in another forum, he believes gay couples should be excommunicated which is consistent with the maltreatment of gay people engendered by the teaching of contempt).

        Preston’s perspective doesn’t mitigate the harm inherent in the theology. “Be nicer to the gays” doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t reflect the unconditional love of Christ.

        There are at least two ways traditionalists can hold their beliefs in a less harmful way.

        1) The legitimization view: recognizing that faithful Christians have come to differing beliefs about the sanctity of gay relationships and withholding judgement of those who hold a differing understanding.

        2) The accommodation view: recognizing that all people are dealing with post-fall sexuality and, even if not God’s ideal, covenantal partnership may be the most moral life available to some people who are gay.

        Without finding a way to non-conditional acceptance, gay kids will still experience religion induced distress (often acute enough to cause suicide ideation), families will still be torn apart, and communities will still fall out of communion.

        • tc

          David,
          We have debated the coercion topic prior, so I won’t revisit. I don’t understand your last point (two ways for less harmful). Specifically, I am confused by your point 1 (legitimization view). I would say that is close to Kurt and Preston’s view, yet in your lead up you say it isn’t. This view would be in line with Ken Wilson’s third way. Yet, again, like Kurt’s denomination, it still means the denomination doesn’t support ordination or officiating weddings. It still doesn’t meet your past stated expectation for a church, nor address people like Hillary in the comment thread above. How would the legitimization view work and be less offensive? I really only see the option that would satisfy you or someone like Hillary is an affirming stance and one that accepts ordination and officiating. Am I wrong?

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi tc –

            The legitimization view has also been called the disputable matters approach or the so-called third way (which I have publicly endorsed: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2014/10/to-gay-affirming-christians-who-dismiss-the-third-way/ )

            This is the approach that Kurt articulates in his sermon (within his denominational constraints which are…regrettable and where Kurt Willems and Ken Wilson differ in their pastoral practice). Preston rejects this approach outright (as presented in two blog posts); he does not recognize the legitimacy of any theology that affirms the sanctity of gay relationships. He insists that faithful Christians must view gay relationships as immoral, inferior, and intolerable within the body of Christ.

            I was not always affirming. I understand the perspectives of non-affirming Christians. I am not ok with faith communities (and the families within them) who present the gay kid in the front pew with a terrible ultimatum – remain celibate or suffer the rejection of the most important people in your life.

            That’s a lot of words to say that I believe obligatory celibacy is emotionally and spiritually abusive (and much different than celibacy freely chosen – sexuality given as a gift to God). The two perspectives I articulated enable traditionalists to continue on their journey while mitigating the damage of their demonstrably harmful theology.

          • Vince

            The New Testament condemns homosexuality.
            That’s that. People who don’t try to live by the Bible are some other religion.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            What do you say to people who “try to live by the bible” but don’t see covenantal same-sex relationships proscribed by scripture?

          • Ficino

            Negative. This point has been gone over for decades now. The construct to which you can legitimately apply the label “homosexuality” is unknown to biblical writers. There isn’t even mention of lesbians at all in the OT.

          • Olivia

            Nope, we’ve been interpreting it the same way for 2000 years – a handful of homosexual “scholars” (who clearly are biased) suddenly claimed they understand the “real” meaning of Paul’s words.

            Nope. Fail. You can’t claim that all the Christians who lived before 1970 were all wrong about sexual ethics.

            You can’t be gay and Christian. Not gonna happen, ever.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            You’ve clearly not read any affirming theology (primarily written by straight, often conservative theologians). Start with Lewis Smeedes and include Johnson and Brownson. If you want an ethical/pastoral perspective, read Wilson and Gushee.

          • Ficino

            As many people on here have pointed out, some Christian denominations are already affirming same-sex unions. Ford1968 gives some good authors to start reading.

            As to the modern category, “homosexual” or “gay,” it does not map over the older categories. “Affirming” approaches to Paul’s vocabulary do not reinterpret it as much as they attempt to do two things: 1) clarify just what Paul is condemning; 2) do the hermeneutical job of discerning how to apply his words to our situation 2000 years later.

            Probably some denominations will stick with views like yours, Straight Shooter, for many years. Others are moving to more charitable ones. It’s sad that you seem to make condemnations of gays and lesbians a litmus test for being a Christian. It is not clear why your opinions about how to apply scripture are normative for everyone.

            Do you WANT gays’ and lesbians’ relationships to be condemned? It sounds as though you desire to maintain that condemnation, though your view of the texts is not the only one to receive rigorous defense.

          • tc

            Why did you respectfully disagree with Kurt then? My point is and you confirmed that what Kurt described is your case 1.

            I think the difference in whether stance 1 would still be considered harmful or in your words, coercive. If you follow the comment thread between Hillary and Kurt, you see an example where even your case 1 is not workable. Would you worship in a congregation where the Pastor won’t marry same sex couples? That is your case 1.

            I have found in reading, for example some of the progressive blogs here, that not all affirming Christians believe your case 1, either (e.g., John Shore). I think Kurt’s post in the past is still an excellent question, “would you break bread with someone who disagrees with your interpretation on a theological matter?” This is not a new question. The topic may be new, but this question has perplexed Christians through history. That is why there have been so many schisms throughout Church history.

            Cheers!!

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi tc.

            Kurt was affirming Preston’s “thoughtful and considerate” post. I disagreed with that characterization.

            I can’t speak for Hillary, only myself. Please engage her directly if you want her perspectives. She rocks.

            John is a personal friend. He and I disagree here; yet he was very happy to give me a platform on his UC blog.

            Zooming out from the discussion about the sanctity of gay covenantal relationships, I would challenge you: what does Christian unity mean? It seems to me that you and I would answer that question differently, and that difference is creating some degree of “speaking past one another”.

            My best to you as always,
            David.

          • tc

            Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t take Kurt’s comments in that light mainly because of the body of work from his past writings here.

            To briefly answer your question to me, I would say yes that we view unity differently. I would define it as a body of believers that is diverse in background, experiences, and even theological positions and yet singularly unified on Christ as Lord and Savior. The unity is through Christ and not adherence to one set of dogma. So, as long as you affirm Christ is Lord, I would break bread with you. However, I do believe we as a people tend to not seek diversity in opinion and instead congregate with like. This is why we have issues with diversity in the Church. As far as a functioning organization, also, churches need to set certain boundaries. It is up to us as members to decide whether we can abide within those boundaries. Where I probably most differ with you is what should occur when one is pushed up against a boundary. I believe you would say the boundary should be moved. I would say if you can’t abide within said boundary, then it is up to you to find a new fellowship that has a different boundary where you could abide. The boundaries exist for a reason. We may not always agree and if enough also disagree, then maybe the boundary should change. This however can’t be coerced to use a word you like to use. I feel that was what happened in the PCUSA. The new boundary was coerced and not naturally occurring. I believe long term there may be redefinition of some long term interpretations, but it needs to be led by the Spirit and not of man’s coercion.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Awesome stuff…tons of common ground. What I say is that Christian unity is being able to discuss our differences openly and honestly as we journey towards shalom together. Of course there are limits to the religion…at some point our different understandings represent a different religions. For me, that limit is the historic creeds.

            Perhaps your experience is different than mine. In my experience, faith communities are communal not individualistic. It’s not a simple exercise to leave the community over disagreement. Such departure has ramifications for one’s family and one’s community. This is, in my view, right and good. God’s will is best discerned in community. The status quo is not sacred; elevating tradition to rigid doctrine denies the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

            This is, I believe, what has happened in the PC(USA). We have discerned God’s will in our cultural context. That is a lot different than capitulating to culture as you imply. That is, perhaps, the biggest difference in our perspectives. Where you see faithlessness, I see faithfulness and vice versa. I’m not sure how we go forward with that, but I’m willing to live in that tension as I believe we’re commanded to do.

            All my best
            David.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            And let me add this. I am a member of the PC(USA) from before we ordained or married people who are gay. So…yes, I would (and have) worshipped in a congregation that wouldn’t marry gay people. My marriage was conducted by a minister who was willing to face denominational sanctions – not my pastor.

            It’s worth noting that the PC(USA) has taken the same disputable matters approach that Kurt advocates. While the denomination unconditionally accepts congregations who affirm the full humanity of gay people, we also unconditionally accept non-affirming congregations. E.G. Robert Gagnon is an elder in the PC(USA) Church.

    • Donnie

      At the end of the day you are still saying. You can come to our party. Believe what you want. We will NOT marry you nor are you EVER allowed to lead us in the ordained sense because of something you cannot change. I know Kurt doesn’t say it like that in his sermon but bottomline, this is essentially the same position that the conservative churches are saying, but its trying really hard not to say what its saying. Know what I’m saying ?

  • Donnie

    I’m interested to hear more about what your church unity looks like with such a wide range of views expressed and welcome in your church. Is your church actually inclusive in reality or just in thoughts? Meaning can someone hold different views but just not act on them i.e. is a same sex couple “invited to the party” and can take the eucharist without any barriers or burdens? Because if not than inclusive is a nice idea but can be a little misleading if you ask me. Are you still a BIC church. The Brethren in Christ denomination have made some pretty strong statements on homosexuality saying the christian perspective is “at odds with homosexuality.” How do you remain true to what your denomination states is there position but actually affirm LBGTQ people in a way that truly brings them to the party and not just in some squishy way. I am not gay but if I came to your inclusive church and you said I was invited just not all of me, I’d say you are bunk. It seems like inclusive loses its power or you are not really being truthful to your denominational identity. As our Lord might put it “You cannot serve two masters, for you will either rob the one word of its power and insult people in the process or you won’t be entirely truthful to your denomination.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      I’d say listen to our last sermon…

      Peace.

      KURT WILLEMS
      http://kurtwillems.com
      http://facebook.com/kurtwillems
      http://twitter.com/kurtwillems

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Can you provide a link?

        • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

          It is at the bottom of the article.

          • Donnie

            Brother. I’ve gotta say I’m still confused after listening to your sermon. Though I thought it was a great sermon I’m still confused. I can tell you are trying REALLY hard to speak the “progressive ” language of the folks you are trying to reach, a little too hard in my opinion but I don’t fit neatly in the progressive category so yeah.

            You seem to really like to talk about the “Great Tradition”. I’m no historian but in the great tradition has never treated this issues on the level of vegetarianism like you put it on.

            I’m not gonna lie towards the end you seemed to be saying “well because of our denomination we fall in the traditionalist camp but please please we are not traditionalist please oh please we are progressive just believe it” Not too mention I think you misunderstand that a position paper is intended to say what a denomination believes and what churches in a denomination can believe. Its not like you can take that position paper and say its equal with what our context is saying. I don’t think it works that way.

            I am not being adversarial here but I’m trying to be honest. Is my buddy who is a soldier in the army (and loves it) just as welcome to the table and to the party? Jesus sure welcomed him. You wouldn’t say he is in sin would you? Because that certainly seems not inclusive. It just seems like you are playing with words to make everyone happy to get people to come to what you are doing.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Bro. Sorry. You are not in my context. I sense as though you may have an axe to grind, even if respectfully. I had progressive LGBTQ folks in tears of joy that Sunday (and I shed tears as well). Don’t rob that or throw assumptions on us. This was discerned in community, including LGBTQ folks and other progressives. I gave voice to what we already have tested in community. It works for us. It works for LGBTQ persons. We are following polity in our context while allowing everyone to be active participants. I give holy communion to ANYONE who comes forward. Trust me, I know that this sermon will not make everyone happy. But, it is true of our context, ministry, and participants. Nothing but affirmation on Sunday from both traditional folks and progressive folks. LGBTQ folks who choose to be part of our community know that they won’t likely have an LGBTQ person as one of their pastors and that if they choose to get married, I won’t be officiating. Those limits are admittedly limits. But they are not deal breakers. Unity is the best path forward for us. Push back with theoreticals all you want to, but come to Seattle, get involved, and see how the Holy Spirit is at work in actual practice. The ambiguity is worth it.

          • Hilary

            Maybe not a deal breaker to you, or to the people who choose to go to your ,church but it would be a dealbreaker to me.

            Question: would you go to a church that demanded you never have a spouse? That the price of admition is to smile at people every say who would never celebrate you goining with a beloved to live your life with?

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Hilary… No one has said that they never can have a spouse. That is EXACTLY my point. Progressive LGBTQ folks in our church are *planning* on having a spouse–and yet we see this as a matter of “opinion” and it doesn’t restrict their involvement. They are part of our community. We do not demand that they never have a spouse. If that is their theology, that is fine. We have both opinions represented in our core group. We have a married LGBTQ couple in our church. I’ll never ask them to divorce. We just do not *officiate* ceremonies. To be clear, we do not “demand you never have a spouse.” We leave that up to each person and trust that God can guide them. We don’t pre-determine outcomes.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Also, Hilary: I hope you are commenting after listening to the sermon that is referenced. This conversation is not part of the article that was posted.

          • Sothlice

            Perhaps I am from the same camp as Hilary here, again. I think we have agreed before on issues, never knowing that the other was gay (but I could be making this up with a bad memory!).

            But, yes, I would never attend a church that would do for heterosexual couples what it wouldn’t do for LGBTQ ones. I mean, do you feel comfortable with those churches’ decisions to not officiate interracial marriages, but who would still allow an interracial couple to service? I don’t. Why? Because I don’t think this is a matter of “opinion”. This is a matter of human dignity here. This is saying that there is a normal marriage that we perform for same-race (or in our case straight) people and if you need some weird other marriage, we’ll just look the other way after you have it done. This doesn’t create a neutral space for affirming and non-affirming people alike… There really is no neutral space to exist. In order for LGBTQ people to be accepted fully, we/they must receive the same treatment as everyone else. No matter how many people may be happy to have less than full equality/inclusion, which is something Hillary and I don’t seem to desire, we can’t kid ourselves into believing that this is fair/equal. It really doesn’t matter how much more this is asking from bigots; there isn’t a midpoint for equality. What you’re arguing here, Kurt, sounds a lot like the verdict of Plessy v. Ferguson. You’re doing that whole “separate but equal” charade-thing here, and as a nation we should already have learned how that doesn’t work.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            That’s fine. Listen to the sermon if you like. There’s is nothing ‘separate’ about LGBTQ folks in our church. Ask them if you ever get the chance. Commonly said: “I’ve never felt so loved and accepted by a church in my life…”

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            There’s nothing separate except if they’re called to the pastorate or if they want a church marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and endorse your approach; but it’s ingenuine to pretend that there’s not injustice in your situation.

          • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

            Fair enough. But, if they have such a call, they would have to go to another church either way… we have no openings. And we’ve had one wedding, and that was before we launched as a church. They are rare and on a case-by-case basis.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            I wish you many ordinations and many marriage covenant blessings in the future!

          • Sothlice

            They are indeed separate if you won’t offer them the same services that you offer heterosexual couples; that is irrefutable.

          • chaosetal

            Things are progressing at an astounding rate. Twenty years ago this was “not to be discussed”. Ten years ago, it is under discussion. Five years ago, there is “civil union” or “domestic partnership”. Three years ago, Washington State affirmed Marriage Equality by popular vote.

            The very day it became legal, my church married two lesbian couples in my Church, in our Sanctuary, in front of my Congregation.

            Not one ruling will force a church to marry those against the churches mandates, but the conversation continues.

            There are quite a few churches that would gleefully see you married off. My churches’ “little old ladies” are not wondering if, but when, since I’ve be dating the same man for almost two years. My former Pastor would have had us in marriage counseling in a new York minute

          • chaosetal

            Being a Gay man. The “little old ladies” of my church is wondering, not if, but WHEN I am going to be married. Especially since I have a significant other for two years.

          • chaosetal

            Hillary, there are many churches. Mostly in the past five years not only welcome, but celebrate your relationship. My church, The Bridge, when marriage equality, was the law of the state, by popular vote, was the first to marry two lesbian couples by my Pastor, in my Church, in front of my Congregation.
            The list is growing. The Episcopal Church has been even more liberal than mine. They recognize LGBTQ ministers, as well as allowing Marriage Equality.

            I don’t know how you connect with the Universe, but I hope that you have a way to do so. I wish joy on you and yours’ path.

          • Hilary

            Thank you. I am aware that there is a wide range of opinions on this subject and that many churches actually do welcome and bless same sex couples.

  • Donnie

    My hat is truly off to you for trying to navigate these waters. I just want more clarification on what kind of party everyone is invited to. The parties Jesus throws are with real wine that is sweet to some and bitter to others.. Not watered down grape juice that everyone is ok with, ya know?

    For anyone who is interested this is a link to The Brethren in Christ website and their denominational position paper on homosexuality. Hope this stirs conversation. Thanks for keeping the communication open. http://www.bic-church.org/about/issues/english/homosexuality.pdf

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      Again. We discuss this openly in our sermon.

      • Donnie

        lol Got it. Def listening to the sermon :-)

  • Ellen Polzien

    It’s sad to note that your headline implies there is no overlap between Christianity and the LGBTQ community.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      I completely agree. I was trying for like 20 minutes to word this headline, and this is the best I could come up with. However, in the opening explanation about this post it is clear that such is the case. LGBTQ Christians exist: several are my friends.

      • Sothlice

        Please also examine that you have done this in your article as well, brother. I feel that it would have been of much help for you to begin your argument to inform us that specifically heterosexual Christians would be your audience, and then your you to ask them at some point to acknowledge that they indeed have LGBTQ brethren.

        • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

          This is a guest article. But, he says clearly in the first paragraph: “My friend Kenny is a gay Christian”

          • Sothlice

            My sincere apologies. I just learned from reading the other comments now. Still, I feel that that the quote you offer is undermined by everything beyond it.

  • Hilary

    Too little, too late. I honestly don’t care how nice you are to me if you think my marriage to my wife is reason enough to condem me. I don’t care how “loving” quote you think you are if you continue to demonize, denigrate and deny my ability to form a lifelong sexual relationship with the woman I love.

    I know Christians talk about telling the truth in love. Honestly, if you think the truth is some biblical quote declaring homosexuality as sinful, I don’t want your love.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      I am sorry for how the church has treated you.

  • Stephen

    Took the time to listen to your toast at your party (podcast)…great job. Very insightful and moving…and I do understand the restrictions of church hierarchy. Yet, you have it right…opening the door, inviting all to the table…is the same as Christ’s meaning of it, opening your heart to all, seeing them as God’s creation, without judgment and initiating a personal path for them to grow, letting his spirit guide and build them. The biggest change for any person is love…showing them the meaning of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, so they may bear the same. So, think of this…your party was great…but when all walls have been taken down…just think…a bigger space, everyone sharing, no one turned away…that is the table we should all set. Call me when that party happens…would love to share in it….sharing in the communion, community which is for everybody…no limits. BYOB??? Ha! Thanks.

  • Hilary

    Thinking about this a little more slowly and less off the cuff, listening is a good idea. And beleiving us when we say that no, we cannot change into hetero’s at the snap of a finger or after ten years of praying for it. Please do not listen respectfully during lunch, nod appreciatively, apologize for some nasty things Christians have done, and then finish it off with a bible quote from Romans or Corinthians. If being a lesbian in a romantic relationship is enough to keep me out of the Kingdom of Heaven, that’s fine with me. I don’t want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven if being with the woman I love is enough to get me disqualifed, or if my gay brothers are shut out at the gates for having sex out of mutal desire and love.

    Yuo say to stand up for mistreatment of GLBTQ people? How about some specific examples? When you hear someone say that SSM marriage is no different than adultery, can you speak up and point out the difference between betraying vows made to a husband or wife, and two men or two woman having a faithful relationship for 10, 15, 20, years? Because when I hear that comparision, all I hear is that the person making it can’t tell the difference between betrayal and fidelity because of the ratio of genitals involved.

    I guess I want to ask all the well meaning straight people reading this, what would you do if the only way you would be welcome into your church is to know that your marriage would never be blesssed or welcomed. I’ve read people say that they can love the person but not affirm the homosexuality; could you, well meaning straight Christian, maintain a relationship with someone who “loved” you but refused to validate your marriage, or even your most basic desire to have a spouse?

    Would you be willing to pay the price of admission that you would require of a gay or lesbian person, and apply the same words to your sexuality (this is the limit, you are welcome to the table but I won’t bless your marriage) that you apply to theirs?

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      I hope you are sorting out the differences in conversation between this blog post (which is a guest post) and my sermon podcast, which is part of the other conversation we’ve had. Just making sure you aren’t blending the two as though they coherently represent me. I am the author, only of the sermon… this post is by Preston Sprinkle. :-)

      • Hilary

        Ok I think I was getting things mixed up.

    • chaosetal

      Things are progressing at an astounding rate. Twenty years ago this was “not to be discussed”. Ten years ago, it is under discussion. Five years ago, there is “civil union” or “domestic partnership”. Three years ago, Washington State affirmed Marriage Equality by popular vote.

      The very day it became legal, my church married two lesbian couples in my Church, in our Sanctuary, in front of my Congregation.

      Not one ruling will force a church to marry those against the churches mandates, but the conversation continues.

      There are quite a few churches that would gleefully see you married off. My churches’ “little old ladies” are not wondering if, but when, since I’ve be dating the same man for almost two years. My former Pastor would have had us in marriage counseling in a new York minute

      • Hilary

        You might want to check what you replied to me below because I think there are some editing problems. But thank you for letting me know that about your church.

      • Hilary

        FYI I flagged your comment not for content but because there was something seriously wonky with the way it posted.

      • Hilary

        And mazel tov on having a good boyfriend for two years!

  • AS

    “End by saying, ‘I’m a Christian and I just want you to know that I’m so
    thankful that you exist. And I’m sorry for any harm you’ve experienced
    by other Christians.'”

    Gag! How about ending with, “That was fun. See you soon, friend.”? You know, like normal people, who aren’t out to exploit a person who’s gay, or disabled, or a different ethnicity, just to make themselves feel something, better, enlightened, brave, salvific. Why is it so especially hard for Christians to behave decently?

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      And how about instead of apologizing for harm, actually stop harming….

      • AS

        Exactly. But I’m bitter, so I’m probably not going to be productive here.

        • Olivia

          Bitterness is what people hold on to because they have no positive emotions in their lives. Reading the posts by gays and lesbians who troll religion blogs, it’s obvious they really enjoy their hate for Christianity. If they were adults they would simply move on and forget all about it, but they seem to relish their hate and bitterness, it makes them feel important to be persecuted. To live that way is to be emotionally and spiritually stunted your entire lives.

          • AS

            BY ALL THE SAINTS!!! Your insight is uncanny!

  • Nanci

    If LBGTQ couples are happy in your fellowship, good for them! I don’t see where people who have never visited your church have room to complain. This apparently works for all involved, so great! May God bless your ministry!

  • tc

    Kurt,
    I realized I had posted to a response on your post, but didn’t ever say anything to you (or Preston). I have been reading your posts throughout your time hear and want to say I greatly appreciate the perspective you bring (along with separately the perspective Preston brings to his posts). Being in the Seattle area (Eastside now), I can fathom the challenges the environment brings. I look forward to more of your sharing on how your new church community is going and the challenges and victories it encounters/achieves. I think with this post and your podcast that you are trying to come at the conversation with a different voice. I think the big challenge for all sides of the theological topic is to focus on listening to the spirit and also waiting for the spirit to move. On the one hand, you have the cry of how long Lord and on the other you have dogmatic Pharisee that doesn’t want to change one iota. To me, one need to review history. Even though we live in a modern age where change can occur quickly, history shows that slow and steady and spirit moved change is the best. The example I think of is that of William Wilberforce and the years of effort for the spirit to move on abolition in England. I think the progressives of today look to the sixties radicals and should instead look to the 1800’s or even the reformation period to understand that organization change takes decades.

    Just my thoughts.

    • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

      TC – I really appreciate your comments here. Thanks for demonstrating nuance in your reflections. Nuance is so important in these conversations. Thanks also for your encouragement… and hey… if you ever are on this side of the water on a Sunday, we would be honored to say hello!

  • Ficino

    Hello Preston, I’ve followed your posts for some time. Like Hilary above, I don’t find your stance helpful. You promote the position that I and my husband are in sin, not just as every human is in sin – cuz we humans are sinners – but because we are a same-sex couple. So your position boils down to the very “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing that you rightly notice can lead evangelicals into bigotry.

    I’ve posted on the following, actually, on your blog. There is no biblical condemnation of lesbians. Nothing at all in the OT. The one verse in Romans may well be about non-standard male-female sex.

    So, we have no warrant to think the the Bible condemns “homosexuality” as a blanket category.

    Why don’t we all just affirm each other as human beings, then as human couples, and move on from there?

    Well, because the texts …

    I stop here. I ask you to stand with a sizeable minority of your human race. We might go under if political winds shift. It’s happened before.

  • Hilary

    And this, ladies and gentlemen and people reading at home, is why I have no desire to be part of any religion or afterlife this guy espouses. If, according to his beliefs, being lifelong lovers with the woman I have twice vowed to live with till death do us part is enough to keep me out of the Kingdom of Heaven, I am better off not going there.

  • http://KurtWillems.com Kurt Willems

    Hello All: “No more mr nice guy” has been blocked. Sorry for his hurtful comments.

    • Hilary

      Thank you for doing that, although I’ll admit that I had fun replying to him. I think I was confused between me trying to reply to when Preston had wrote, and you talking about a sermon that was just a link at the bottom of the article. Just from a blogging persprctive, I think it would have been better to have Preston’s work and your sermon as two separate blog posts.

      I do believe that religious leaders absoluetly have the right to marry, or not, whom they choose according to their religious principles. So if you will welcome but not marry a same sex couple to your church and they are ok with that, that’s for your congregation to work out. Same as a Rabbi deciding to marry or not a Jew and a non-Jew, or a Catholic priest dealing with a civil divorced and remarried couple in his parish.

      I’m just sick to death of Christians saying that they will love and welcome gay and lesbian people, but . . . .

      . . . but they have to be celibate, and to even dream of finding soemone to love and live with of the same sex is a sin.

      . . . but they are going to “love” them while still “lovingly” speaking the truth that their ability to love and beloved in same sex relationship will bar them from the Kingdom of Heaven.

      . . . but they have to make it clear that same-sex romantic and sexual relationships is a sin like any other, no different from alcoholism or adultery.

      . . . but even if we tolerate your relationship, it will never be blessed.

      . . . but you have to be ok with us supporting politicians who attack your relationships, your very ability to have relationships, or even any dreams you have of falling in love as the most devistating danger facing our country. Politicans who make discriminating against you and people like you a central part of their platform.

      but, but, but, but . . . . . it just feels sometimes that when Evangelical conservative Christians are trying to reach out and be “loving” to gay and lesbian people, it’s limited and very conditional. I think you caught the backlash of how fed up I am with everytime I pass a church sign that say’s “All are welcome” and I know that there is an asterisks coming for me. I want to apologize if I accused you of practices or beliefs that you don’t actually do.

      If I know front and center, right up front, first thing out of the box that you support legal, civil same sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws in the secular realm of our country and government, then I have a lot more emotional room to maneuver and not be so defensive. We live in a pluralistic society and people are going to have all kinds of different views about marriage and sex. People are free to worship in places that champion straight marriage as the only right way to form sexual relationships, they are also free to vote with their feet and leave, or try and change things from within.

      My wife and I met 16 years ago. We exchanged rings and vows 12 years ago and got our civil marriage 2 years ago. I’m finding it’s a lot easier to agree to disagree, or respect other beliefs, when there is a direct and clear statement that having a different belief about the religous value of my marriage doesn’t mean a threat to the civil rights and responsibilites I have by means of legal marriage.

      If what you have in your congregation works for you guys, that’s fine. I’m just super-suspisious of Christians who think if they are nice enough, “loving” enough, we’ll change. That there is some magical way they can “speak the truth in love” about our relationships being so super duper extra sinful. LIke I posted earlier, if that is your truth, I don’t want your love.

  • Adam King

    If you won’t officiate at somebody’s marriage, you are holding that marriage as less than, and other than, other people’s marriages. No thank you. That is wrong and exclusionary. Why would I ever darken the door of such a bigoted church? Because you claim, hypocritically, to have some “good news” about inclusion and acceptance? You lie. And it is not good, and it is not news.

  • Hilary

    Troll. Flagged

  • drhill

    I don’t see a reason to treat gays / homosexuals special or unusual compared to any other sinner…like myself or Preston Sprinkle – who would no doubt claim himself a sinner saved by the grace of Christ. I would also say a homosexual individual should be welcome in a church, hopefully seeking the truth. However, the moment a homosexual insists on living in a sinful lifestyle, and having that lifestyle approved or accepted by the church body, or worse, celebrated… well, now you have a different issue. This is where lies need to be confronted. I would suppose at that point (following scriptures instruction) an individual would be rebuked; first in private, then with a witness, then publicly before the church and finally anathema from the church. Keep in mind this would be the same for any other sinner… drunkard, fornicator, thief – what have you. This would only be if you want a vital living church. Otherwise you could just be one of the new “rainbow” churches where homosex is celebrated – but the Holy Spirit is absent and the church is basically dead. A lot of the sermons there are feel goody pretty much, amateur psychology and socialism…That seems to be a trend these days.