I Think God Makes People Gay (Part 3): The Way Forward

I Think God Makes People Gay (Part 3): The Way Forward April 6, 2016


The Bible is part of an ongoing story of God moving towards his people, and human culture moving very, very gradually towards God in an ever-expanding consciousness. Since the very beginning God has been pulling us forward, showing us better and better ways to be human. We’ve come a long way and we’ve got an awfully long way to go, but each breakthrough in equality and justice is a step towards God.

Accepting gay people as equals is the next big step.

(See my previous posts I Think God Makes People Gay and I Think God Makes People Gay (Part 2) for why the Biblical argument against homosexuality doesn’t work.)

What are we so scared of?

I still sometimes doubt if I’m doing the right thing here. I suspect I’m not alone in that.

But what are we scared of? Do we really think that if we welcome, love and accept people in gay relationships, God will punish us? For what, being too inclusive, too loving?

If so, we need to seriously re-examine our view of God.

From what we know about Jesus, it seems to me that God is far more likely to be angry at those who exclude and alienate his beloved children because of their sexual orientation, than at those who find themselves experiencing same-sex attraction.

The standard is love

I know it can feel a bit like we’re lowering our standards. Like we’re letting go of our morals, changing the rules to make Christianity easier to swallow.

But it was never supposed to be about rules, that was the whole point.

We have the ultimate standard: love.

Real, life-changing, earth-shattering, hardcore, sacrificial, Jesus-love.

We stand against that which is harmful, damaging, unjust, unloving, inhumane – that which prevents people from living a full life in relationship with God and others. I can think of all sorts of things that fall into that category that are commonplace in churches. Homosexuality is not one of them.

A New Testament solution to the gay debate

It would be naive to expect everyone to come an agreement on this. If we try to force everyone to think the same, then we are missing the point (and we will fail).

In New Testament times, there were hugely controversial and divisive issues within the church that are perhaps comparable to the homosexuality debate today. There were an awful lot of Christians in the early church who argued that all believers should be circumcised, that they should avoid certain foods and that the Sabbath should be kept holy. Then there were other Christians (e.g. Paul) who strongly believed that Jesus had changed everything, and so these old laws no longer applied.

These issues were a HUGE deal at the time. The Jews had always done things this way (in Exodus 4, God nearly kills Moses for neglecting to circumcise his son!) so it is hardly surprising that people were not taking these new ideas lightly.

Paul’s response is very interesting. He doesn’t try to make everyone think the same as him, but instead suggests that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they feel is right before God:

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:1-6 NIV (emphases added)

Is homosexuality a ‘disputable matter’ in the church today? Absolutely. So what should we do?

Stop judging people. It’s not our job. If someone genuinely believes that God is happy for them to be in a homosexual relationship, then leave them be. If someone believes God wants them to be celibate, then support them. It’s not our place to judge.

This means that by Paul’s logic, even if you believe that homosexuality is a sin, you should still allow people in gay relationships to engage fully in the life of the church, and to participate in the sacraments (Romans 15:7).

(Note: marriage is a sacrament.)

Clearly this cannot be applied to just anything – if someone is doing something that is harmful to them or others, then of course the right thing to do would be to challenge that behaviour. But homosexuality in the church today is most definitely a “disputable matter”: whether it is a “sin” or not is entirely a matter of opinion.

People on both sides of the debate, then, are called to stand down; to stop trying to enforce their opinions on others, and to strive instead for unity. The aim of the church is surely to be a loving community, bringing people into deeper relationship with God and with others. Everything else is of secondary importance.

The church has failed at this spectacularly. I have heard of very few gay people who have felt fully accepted and welcomed in church. The vast majority of the time they are judged, excluded, prevented from fully participating. In many, many cases this will have led to them feeling that if God exists at all, he doesn’t like them very much.

Seriously then…

After teaching his disciples to be like children and to welcome children in his name, Jesus says:

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!    

Matthew 18:6 NIV

I have most often heard passages like this used to support anti-gay arguments. People are terrified that if they condone homosexual behaviour and it turns out to be a sin, they will be subject to divine wrath and punishment.

But Jesus was always welcoming people, loving people, encouraging them into relationship with God despite their many shortcomings. He always leaned towards acceptance, unity and love, and stood fiercely against those who insisted that people needed to meet standards of purity.

So what if we interpreted this passage more like this?

If anyone causes one of my children (gay or straight) – those who want to follow me – to fall away from me, woe to that person! If you exclude them or prevent them from fully entering into life with me, woe to you!

Sobering stuff. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait to see what is worse than having a large millstone hung around my neck and being drowned in the depths of the sea.

When it comes down to it…

For many people, the problem is that they just don’t like the idea of it. The thought of the “act” itself repulses them.

Well if that’s the case for you, you’re probably not gay.

If you don’t like it, don’t do it. Just don’t assume everyone should be like you.

Buckle up, we’re about to get serious.

If we are happy to allow people who are divorced and remarried to participate fully in the church, but exclude people in gay relationships, then our actions are based on prejudice. They have to be. Why else would we accept one and not the other? Whether we are aware of it or not, an underlying prejudice is colouring our interpretation of the Bible. Just as people genuinely believed that certain races were inferior and used the Bible to defend their position, if we prevent people in monogamous homosexual relationships from fully participating in church, we are using the Bible to prop up our own deep-seated prejudices. Prejudices that need to be seen for what they are and gouged out.

(I’m ashamed to say I am not completely over my prejudices, but I’m working on it. I can see now that’s what they are – ugly stains in my worldview that I’ve picked up along the way and that I am in the process of scrubbing off.)

Image via Pixabay

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  • Amen

  • I disagree as to homosexuality being a disputable matter. I think Paul was referring more to the foods we eat, traditions, and festivals. I think we need to be clear where God is clear and also not try to come up with answers where there aren’t any.

    I think you can disagree with a gay person saying that they believe God is ok with homosexuality. It’s pretty clear he isn’t.

    That’s like saying God is ok with sin.

    That’s not “judging” someone. It’s loving them enough to tell them the truth.

    On the other hand we should never come off as if we are better than anyone leat we also fall.

    We should love and accept people like Jesus does, without conditions. We should be kind and gracious yet full of truth.

    We don’t have to compromise to love people.

    His kindness is what leads us to repentance also. Not condemnation.

  • Jay Kiper

    (1Co 7:27) Have you been bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Have you been released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

    (1Co 7:28) But even if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. But such will have trouble in the flesh, and I would spare you.

    This is just one of many verses that talk about divorce and remarriage. It is a very clear message that divorce is wrong but remarriage is not a sin. The problem is that we all want to find something in the Bible that justifies the way we feel. But our feelings are not always justifiable.

  • rwwilson147

    Of course we should be accepting of Gay people. That is true but not the first step in the right direction nor the answer to the challenges we face as followers of Christ. Here’s why: if you individually or as a congregation of supposed believers in Christ pick and choose from scripture what you are willing to believe is true about the will of God then the same standard must be valid for all matters of faith. In other words, if you decide what to believe in scripture as right and worthy, and what to reject as unworthy of belief, there is for you no standard of truth beyond yourself or your congregation. That clearly make you rather than God the revealer of truth. Or, if you think that God is revealing new truth through you or your congregation then everyone and everything is equally the revealer of truth–hence if all is true then nothing is truly true because there are inherently contradictions out there. And we are inevitably all on our own in this world and there probably isn’t a world to come because there really is no knowable truth.

  • rwwilson147

    PS: there are alternative perspectives on every argument you pose; none of them is incapable of being view from a positively affirmative basis in relation to scriptural tradition. Piling up arguments that appear to cast doubt on the validity of the biblical teaching on marriage may encourage those weak in understanding of the Bible but appear superficial and insignificant to those committed to God’s revelation through his word.

  • Lee

    The argument that we cannot pick and choose from scripture, but must accept and follow every single thing the Bible says, is a major fallacy of conservative Christians.

    The fact of the matter is that no group of Christians and no individual Christian follows every single commandment in the Bible. Every group of Christians, even the most conservative and fundamentalist, picks and chooses which commandments in the Bible it will follow and which it will not. There are whole chapters of commandments in Leviticus that no Christian group follows.

    Those who say that we can’t pick and choose, but must follow everything in the Bible, are ignoring the fact that they themselves pick and choose, following some commandments of the Bible and not following others.

  • Lee

    About “lowering our standards,” the irony is that in pressing for equal marriage rights, gays and lesbians are also asking for a way for their relationships to be held to the same standards as heterosexual relationships.

    How is it “lowering our standards” to apply the same standards to homosexuals as we do to heterosexuals?

    In accepting same-sex marriage, we’re not “lowering our standards.” We’re applying whatever standards we may have for marriage, whether high or low, to a new group of people.

  • rwwilson147

    Major category mistake here. We, at least most of us debating the issues here, are Christians, which means we are subjects of King Jesus, adopted sons and daughters of the King, members of the people of God under the New Covenant. As such, we are not bound in any absolute or direct sense by the commandments given to the Jews under the Torah of the Old Covenant, but are only obligated to obey the teaching of Jesus, the one who made known the parameters of the New Law of Love, and who was himself the embodiment of the New Covenant way. So, believing and following the teaching of the one who picked and chose for us is not just a conservative Christian thing, it is THE Christian way.

  • Lee

    Hi RWWILSON147,

    Having criteria for how to pick and choose which commandments of the Bible to follow and which not to follow is still picking and choosing.

    Your criteria seems to be that if Jesus taught it, then we must obey it, but if he didn’t, then it’s not necessary for us to obey it.

    Does this mean that none of the commandments of the Old Testament are still binding unless Jesus reaffirmed them? Do you think we can just ignore the entire Old Testament unless there is a specific commandment in the Gospels to reaffirm any particular thing it says? And if so, how is the Old Testament even Scripture, if we can simply ignore most of it?

    And what about Paul? Paul is not Jesus. Is everything Paul taught binding on us, or only if Jesus also said it in the Gospels? What about what the rest of the Apostles say in the Acts and the Epistles? Are we not required to obey what they teach if Jesus didn’t teach it in the Gospels?

    Also, does your church teach that we must fully obey the following commandments of Jesus? Do you fully follow them yourself?

    If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29–30)

    But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:39–42)

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)

    If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. (Matthew 19:21)

    Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

    Make no mistake about it, you do pick and choose which commandments in the Bible to follow—even the commandments of Jesus Christ himself—and so does whatever church you belong to.

  • brassyhub

    Thank you. I’m a little sad and surprised that I seem to be the first to comment. At least there’s not been a storm of angry condemnation. Straight Christians seem to find it so hard to feel and express compassion for the non-straight. It’s not easy to be different. Anything but ‘gay’ in fact. Look at the rates of suicide and attempted suicide. And between the celebration of the courage of those who find the strength to ‘come out’, and the condemnation of sin and sinners, spare a thought for the thousands in ‘Mixed Orientation Marriages’, couples like ours, where one of the partners was wrestling against ‘same-sex attractions’ that God could and should and would remove. And he never did. So I find myself in a sexless marriage to a lesbian who is simply unable to feel or express any desire for me. We share love and friendship, but neither of us will ever experience the joys of sex. As long as we both remain faithful to our marriage vows. And we’re to old to start our lives again. For both of us, our sexuality seems an undiluted curse and not a blessing.

  • Richard Bauer

    this makes me sad to hear.