Can Gays Be Christians – Yes or No?

Can Gays Be Christians – Yes or No? February 27, 2014

Church Door Chained

“This morning in my adult Sunday School, someone said ‘I don’t understand how homosexuals can say they are Christians.’ How do I respond to this?  I am a Christian, raised our gay son in a Christian home.”

This statement from a reader came in an email and is commonly asked as a real concern for people, as if being a Christian means being free from difficult issues they personally don’t understand or find reprehensible. Where do I begin? I hear this concern like a big ball I need to pack in a suitcase — I’m looking for the best way to deflate it.

To say, “I don’t understand how homosexuals can say they are Christians,” is like saying, “I don’t understand how judgmental people can say they’re Christians… or Latinos can say they’re Christians… or overweight people can say they’re Christians… or women can say they’re Christians.” To ask how homosexuals can be Christians is to tie up being a Christian with one’s behavior, or to tie up being a Christian with one’s predisposition at birth – depending on whether one views homosexuality as a choice or not.

We first have to ask: “What is a Christian?” By definition, a Christian is someone who accepts Jesus as Savior. People who were excluded by their behavior, Jesus dramatically included — which raised the eyebrows of the religious leaders of the day. [Acts 10.] People who were excluded by a condition of their birth (being born a Gentile or born blind), an attribute outside their control, Jesus dramatically included — which raised the eyebrows of the religious of any day. [Acts 8,  John 9.] 

Whoever accepts Jesus, to them he gives the right be to be called ‘children of God.’ [John 1:12.] Being a Christian is unrelated to our personal condition, and unrelated to our behavior; it is related only to our relationship to him.

We have a hard time with that as human beings. We think Jesus should accept those we consider worthy, and reject those we consider unworthy. Look at how many times the religious leaders wanted to exclude people in the Bible and throughout history. Women. Children. Jesus is clear about people wanting to include the “good” and exclude the “bad” according to our own calculations.  He repeatedly tells us not to do that.

Jesus gave countless examples of how God’s thinking is different from our thinking, but we have a terribly hard time putting down our yardstick. When people insist on wrongly judging others, we as responsible defenders of the faith must speak up and say no, that’s not the truth of Jesus or what he offers us. That’s not acceptable.

To the mom who asked the question above, I wish I had one quick simple answer that would change people’s minds — and hearts. I have not yet found that one answer.

Instead, I say to parents, “Love your children. Let God do his work in them, whatever it is, just as you want others to let God do his work in you.”

I say to the church (to those who will listen), “God never told you to make a gay person straight. Decades of tragic harmful reparative therapy has proven that that whole endeavor (of “reorientation”) was not God’s idea or his heart.”

Of course homosexuals can be Christian. Every bit as much as I can be. And you. All of us are in need of amazing grace, and Jesus’ focus is always on relationship, always on the heart. The moment we forget that is the moment we chain the church doors and turn the whole gospel into a noose.

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  • It seems to me Jesus Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross is either enough or it’s not. It cannot be enough for some and not enough for others. For those who would add requirements to his death on the cross I would say “your Jesus” is awfully small and your heaven not supernatural if human behavior can alter the worth of the sacrifice required for entry. Thankfully I choose to believe Jesus is enough and he has proven himself time and time again.

  • That’s exactly right. Thank you.

  • Richard Fleming Stutz

    No different than a straight person who is committing adultery says they are a Christian… we all are broken in one way or another and we all need God’s grace for redemptive healing. I really like your quote on making the Gospel into a noose… reminds me of how many different ways Christians argue on the technicalities of how to get saved, the rest is all window dressing without love.

  • Richard Fleming Stutz

    No different than a straight person who is committing adultery says they are a Christian… we all are broken in one way or another and we all need God’s grace for redemptive healing. I really like your quote on making the Gospel into a noose… reminds me of how many different ways Christians argue on the technicalities of how to get saved, the rest is all window dressing without love.

  • Thanks Richard. Even if they think it is a sin like adultery, one look around and it is easy to see that most of the church does not treat them as if they are “no different”.

  • Thanks Richard. Even if they think it is a sin like adultery, one look around and it is easy to see that most of the church does not treat them as if they are “no different”.

  • snooks

    Mrs. Cottrell, I agree with what you’ve written, and yet, the Scriptures do state that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. I know it’s God’s job to resolve people’s sins, but, as a Believer, and someone who is friends with many LGBT individuals, how do I love them well, in Jesus’ name, and yet, tell them the truth of what the Scriptures say, because it does come up, and THEY ask. They want to know why the Bible says what it says, why does God hate them, why do Christians hate them? I honestly don’t know how to go about speaking the truth in love with these people I love, and being honest about my beliefs and what the Word says.

    I would really appreicate sound, Biblical advice on this.

    *On a side note, this is regarding my lost, gay friends, who know I’m saved.

  • snooks

    Mrs. Cottrell, I agree with what you’ve written, and yet, the Scriptures do state that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. I know it’s God’s job to resolve people’s sins, but, as a Believer, and someone who is friends with many LGBT individuals, how do I love them well, in Jesus’ name, and yet, tell them the truth of what the Scriptures say, because it does come up, and THEY ask. They want to know why the Bible says what it says, why does God hate them, why do Christians hate them? I honestly don’t know how to go about speaking the truth in love with these people I love, and being honest about my beliefs and what the Word says.

    I would really appreicate sound, Biblical advice on this.

    *On a side note, this is regarding my lost, gay friends, who know I’m saved.

  • I would encourage you to send them to my resources page with scholars who have studied this at length. Brownson. What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say. Vines videos. All better material than pulling from verses, out of context, unstudied, without proper context. The bible does NOT say living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. What is a homosexual lifestyle? What is a heterosexual lifestyle? Is it a monogamous married person? Is is a celibate nun? Is it a prostitute? But the second major point is that Jesus does NOT tell you to put conditions on HIS love he wants to offer freely through you. That’s something we’ve added to the scriptures, it really is. Paul’s words themselves have way too much context to address here (see Brownson), but just the context gives us pause. He was talking to specific people in a specific time about specific situations. He was NOT writing the new Leviticus. What’s the answer to your dilemma? Point them to Jesus, point them to Jesus, point them to Jesus. He is full well capable of directing them, and he is much more trustworthy than a church in splinters over this. I really appreciate your heart here, I truly do. I know you want to do the right thing. But we have to keep the first thing the first thing. If your friends are asking you about the Bible’s view on this, given the dispute over these passages, I think your only answer is, “I don’t know!” First things first: Love God, love others. If that sums up the law and the prophets, then let’s hang out there instead of hastening on the the law and the prophets. Thank you for writing and sharing your heart.

  • I would encourage you to send them to my resources page with scholars who have studied this at length. Brownson. What the Bible Says and Doesn’t Say. Vines videos. All better material than pulling from verses, out of context, unstudied, without proper context. The bible does NOT say living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. What is a homosexual lifestyle? What is a heterosexual lifestyle? Is it a monogamous married person? Is is a celibate nun? Is it a prostitute? But the second major point is that Jesus does NOT tell you to put conditions on HIS love he wants to offer freely through you. That’s something we’ve added to the scriptures, it really is. Paul’s words themselves have way too much context to address here (see Brownson), but just the context gives us pause. He was talking to specific people in a specific time about specific situations. He was NOT writing the new Leviticus. What’s the answer to your dilemma? Point them to Jesus, point them to Jesus, point them to Jesus. He is full well capable of directing them, and he is much more trustworthy than a church in splinters over this. I really appreciate your heart here, I truly do. I know you want to do the right thing. But we have to keep the first thing the first thing. If your friends are asking you about the Bible’s view on this, given the dispute over these passages, I think your only answer is, “I don’t know!” First things first: Love God, love others. If that sums up the law and the prophets, then let’s hang out there instead of hastening on the the law and the prophets. Thank you for writing and sharing your heart.

  • That’s absolutely true. Way too much for us to wield around verses, like the child of a surgeon wielding scalpels because he’s seen Daddy do it. Better bring the person to Daddy and let him take it from there. Thank you, LostGrrl.

  • That’s absolutely true. Way too much for us to wield around verses, like the child of a surgeon wielding scalpels because he’s seen Daddy do it. Better bring the person to Daddy and let him take it from there. Thank you, LostGrrl.

  • Yes, that is devastating for people when it’s not even true. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch asking, “Is there any reason shouldn’t be baptized?” What a perfect time for Philip to say, “Actually, you can’t be a sexual minority and a Christian. Sorry.” But he doesn’t. For us to do so is to add to the scriptures (and to misinterpret them). Thanks for sharing, Criselda.

  • Yes, that is devastating for people when it’s not even true. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch asking, “Is there any reason shouldn’t be baptized?” What a perfect time for Philip to say, “Actually, you can’t be a sexual minority and a Christian. Sorry.” But he doesn’t. For us to do so is to add to the scriptures (and to misinterpret them). Thanks for sharing, Criselda.

  • Beautifully said, Edward. Thank you.

  • Beautifully said, Edward. Thank you.

  • Yes it is. Thank you.

  • Yes it is. Thank you.

  • Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you are looking and listening as God shows you what he wants. No better place to be. Bless you too, Avalon.

  • Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you are looking and listening as God shows you what he wants. No better place to be. Bless you too, Avalon.

  • I know it does, Brian. But what it is condemning is “excessive lust.” It’s very hard for us in 2014 to read into a context from 2000 years ago, to understand what it is really saying. But the short answer is that the men in ancient Greek culture were married to women, and they had extra sex with men and with boys. Paul was condemning this idol-worshipping, “excessive lust” Paul calls it, especially as it included raping slave boys. It was NOT talking about what we know as homosexuality today, which was not even a concept in the Bible. I really recommend Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian. http://astore.amazon.com/freed086-20/detail/1601425163 He has researched this a LOT and presents the cultural, historical context. Paul wrote Romans as a letter to a specific audience. It’s like finding a letter from Marc Antony to Cleopatra with no historical context and figuring out what it means. We are certain to get it wrong! To pull a verse like that out and wave it around is also certain to get it wrong. We have to understand it much better than that, which many scholars have spent a lot of time to do, if we have any hope of understanding it well. Thank you for commenting, Brian.

  • Well, you’re right, Brian, in that ALL sin means independence from God. That is the only real sin! Doing things our own way instead of in relationship with God. But because the Holy Spirit leads us in all truth, because we hear Jesus, the Shepherd, and we recognize his voice, then it becomes very personal. “Anything not done from faith is a sin.” There’s a good one for starters! I agree, Brian: we all need Jesus. Blessings to you.