The Price Churches Pay for Embracing LGBT Christians

The Price Churches Pay for Embracing LGBT Christians October 22, 2016

For churches that make the difficult decision to welcome and affirm LGBT congregants, there’s a kind of “coming out” process that is no less traumatic for the institution than it is for an individual. The church faces rejection from some of the very people who once called it family; it often finds itself emotionally isolated and financially unsupported; it endures accusations of godlessness and warped theology. It becomes the outcast. And like LGBT people themselves, sometimes the burden becomes too heavy, and the affirming church cannot survive.

Church Rainbow Flag Cropped

What prompts a church, then, to go out on a limb for the LGBT community? Sometimes it starts with relationships, like with Southern California pastor Danny Cortez, whose church adopted a “third way” approach after numerous gay Christians came to him seeking counsel and guidance. His church was ultimately cut off from the Southern Baptist Convention and struggled to hold together. Other times it starts with a study and understanding of scripture that is different from traditional views, like with Portland pastor Adam Phillips who spoke out publicly about his belief in Biblically sound same-sex marriage. His church was kicked out of the Evangelical Covenant Church and lost its funding. Sometimes, a church changes simply in response to the soft, subtle tugging of Spirit. Whatever the impetus, the motivation boils down to a single attribute: a willingness to audaciously love LGBT Christians.

We had the opportunity to witness this act of audacious love firsthand at the church we began attending last year. Only months after we started attending, church leadership came to a decision on its marriage practices—something that it had been carefully studying for close to a year. They chose to widen the church’s marriage practices to make room for same-sex couples, while still allowing space for disagreement and discourse. The decision cost them dearly. Many members of the congregation were outraged. More than half of the church left, some of them immediately and others in a slow drain over the following year. The church’s income declined in proportion. Families who had been friends for years saw their relationships dissolve over this one decision.

As new attendees who weren’t yet members of the church, we were blissfully unaware of how acrimonious the decision had been. When we heard the whole story months later, we were heartbroken and angry. We’re accustomed to being marginalized and criticized by the church, but this vitriol was now being directed at our friends, at allies who had so little to gain. It seemed cruel and unfair.

Initially we were angry at the people who left the church. We wanted to confront them: What gives you the right to abandon the church the moment you don’t agree with something? We have been disagreeing with the church for years, and yet we have chosen to stay in community. Were we not called to do life together? Were we the only ones who took that covenant seriously? We loved Jesus enough to suffer your disdain. There are gay Christians who spend their entire lives attending non-affirming churches, volunteering and tithing even in the midst of being marginalized and diminished. And in spite of that, they stay in community.

Afterward, we were sad because of the toll it was taking on our church. There were Sundays when so many chairs were empty it nearly brought us to tears. This church deserves better, we thought. And the correlation to empty seats, of course, was empty coffers. Our church leadership is refreshingly transparent with its finances, but updates during that season were painful, like a loved one divulging bad test results from a doctor time and again.

We also felt guilty because our church sacrificed for people like us. Although we had nothing to do with their decision, we have been the beneficiaries of the change, and not just in a theoretical sense: Earlier this year we were the first same-sex couple married by our pastor, with much of our church family in attendance. Our church suffered because it prayerfully made a decision that had no practical impact on the vast majority of its members. But it stuck to that decision because it believed it to be true; it held to the principle that it is better to err in the direction of kindness and love than in the direction of rules and righteousness. Christ, after all, surrounded himself with the most controversial of people, and His price for loving them was high.

Suffering love. Does that sound familiar? Never before have we felt loved by the church in the way Jesus loves us. At our church, we have been cared for with the kind of sacrificial love so many of us claim is the hallmark of the Christian faith. The people who have become our friends over the past year are literally sacrificing to be with us, bringing us “outcasts” into community at the cost of offending friends and losing relationships they care about. Is this not the kind of church Jesus hoped to build? And if it is, why is it so rare?

Now more than a year later, our church is in a much better place. Attendance is slowly growing and finances have stabilized. But more important than numbers or money is the culture of openness and love that this transition has fostered. We are a church that can wrestle with difficult questions and come out stronger. We are not threatened by a diversity of opinions on issues that are not core to the faith. Even in the midst of disagreement, we know God is big enough to hold us together. It has been a painful but valuable lesson learned. The same is true of Cortez’s and Phillips’ respective congregations, New Heart and Christ Church. In these communities, the resurrected body of Christ continues its work.

Do we have any input for churches leaders who are looking at adopting policies that allow room for same-sex relationship? It’s almost certainly going to be a painful transition. There will likely be hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and financial troubles. The only advice we have is the same advice so often given to young, hurting LGBT people: It gets better. Not only does it get better, but you come out stronger, with a capacity to love more audaciously than you ever imagined.

Audacious love knows no boundaries. It is a love that acts before it assesses, that kisses the leper and plucks wheat on the Sabbath for the hungry. Remember that the greatest commandment is not monitoring the rules, nor keeping company with the righteous; the greatest commandment, always and forever, is love.


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Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, used with permission through Wikimedia Commons. A version of this post first appeared on Modern Kinship.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Etranger

    As for the lgbt who attend non affirming churches and participate in them, shame on them, they are traitors to glbt out in the world. As for affirming churches, part of the reason they have lower attendance is because many who are drawn to them initially finally realize there is not much sense to church once one really starts thinking for oneself and using reason.

    • Some of them have no LGBT affirmative churches they can attend. Others have friends and family who attend that church, and may not want to give up those relationships, especially if they are not yet out to them. Yet others are working to change things from the inside. If not for such people, there would be no affirmative churches.

      • Etranger

        That makes little sense. There is no requirement to attend church. I love to swim. If the only swimming pool near me will not let women swim there, and I believe women should be able to swim as well, I can still swim there but I can be rightly called out for it. Life is full of hard choices. I know it can be hard to come out as gay and such in many places, and religious indoctrination and brainwashing us rampant. But if the glbt person is closeted, that is one thing. If they are a freethinking out gay person, they have no business fighting against other gay people by supporting non affirming churches.

        • Ivan T. Errible

          How about “church is boring”?

          • Etranger

            Ha, that is a great point too.

          • Church can be boring indeed. I’ve walked out of church services because of the boredom. In fact, on one memorable occasion, I actually climbed out of the window. But being a Christian? Knowing Jesus? To me, there’s nothing better. The dynamic life He gives is something that so many miss out on, because they (and I’m talking here about Church people) miss out on Him because they’re so tied up with Church stuff. So yes, I entirely agree – Church is boring, if it’s church without Jesus, which sadly it so often is.
            My related article on ‘Why be a Christian?’ is here: http://tinyurl.com/pmy58s8 if anyone’s interested. I don’t *think* its boring, but I leave that to the readers’ judgement….

        • If they are freethinking, why would this even be a concern? They wouldn’t go to church anyway. We’re talking about gay Christians here who want to continue going to church.

          While there’s no requirement to attend church, they may still wish to attend for the same reasons other Christians do. For some people – especially in small towns – it may be their primary social circle, and leaving it might mean no longer being part of the community. Perhaps they may have good friends (even pastors) there who are affirming of their identities, and they value that friendship. From my experience, no congregation or clergy uniformly agrees with the church’s official stance on LGBT people, especially in large churches. (EDIT: I realise from your profile that you’re an ex-Catholic, which tends to be stricter with everyone following what the Pope says. I’m Protestant, which gives much more room for individual beliefs and disagreements within the church.)

          I live in a conservative, homophobic area where if I were to avoid every organisation that wasn’t LGBT affirming, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, and I get annoyed when people (usually in huge liberal cities with many options) suggest that I’m supporting oppressive systems just by living my life. I’m fortunate to have an affirming church now – it’s literally the only one in the *entire country* and I’m lucky to live near it after it moved – but before I found that one I attended the non-affirming church I grew up in. It was something my family – who have all been supportive – did together every Sunday with my grandparents, followed by lunch. My parents had been concerned if I was still a Christian and I assured them I was. Suddenly not going to church would have made them question why. I also know that church is a very important part of their Christian lives, and I didn’t want to suggest that they were bad people for continuing to attend the church where all their friends were instead of staying home every Sunday. (As an atheist you may believe so, but as a Christian I don’t.)

          The church gained nothing from my attendance. It has thousands of members, and I didn’t tithe or serve (whereas I do now with my present affirmative church). It was a quiet sanctuary wherein I could pray and worship with my family, nothing more.

          Regarding your hypothetical, in such a situation I also wouldn’t swim, and it would be a hard choice between my desires and my principles. But when it comes to church it’s not just about me but also my family, and not wanting to hurt them or make them worry that I’m abandoning my faith. Now that I’ve found an affirming church, they’re fully supportive of me going there instead. If my family weren’t Christian and I was, it would be a much easier decision to not attend any church if there weren’t any affirming ones around.

          • Etranger

            Your comment is very thoughtful and heartbreaking. It shows just how powerfully destructive religion truly can be on people, especially gay folks.nit makes me so very sad for your situation in a small community and family that us controlled by the church.

          • Right now my church is actually the place where I find the most acceptance and love in a homophobic society where most people aren’t even Christian. So there’s no need to be sad for me. I’ve found my happiness, and I go to church to heal. It’s one of the few places where I feel fully, unconditionally loved for who I am, and it’s a church that’s doing a lot of social work and activism on behalf of the LGBT community. I’m honored to be part of that.

          • Etranger

            Very good for you! I am happy a good church found its way to your area. I am curious to know what country you are from? (“society where most people aren’t even Christian”). I feel you are up against much more than I initially realized!

          • Thanks! I’m in Singapore. Homosexuality is technically still illegal here, though it’s one of those laws that’s not actively enforced. Christians are about 15% of the population, with another 15% Muslim; the majority religion is Buddhism. A lot of homophobia here isn’t religion-based but cultural, and stemming from guys trying to prove how manly they are by bragging about wanting to beat up gays. I’ve been fortunate to avoid that because I keep a low profile, but that atmosphere sucks.

          • That’s a wonderful testimony right there.

        • I just moved to a new city and I’m thinking I may want to attend a welcoming, but not affirming church in order to put a face to the issue for the leadership/congregation. I want to show them that an out gay Christian can love Jesus and serve within the church just like a straight person. I want to offer to be a mentor to teens who are coming to terms with their sexuality and help them understand they don’t have to choose between their sexuality and their faith.

          • Etranger

            They will accept you since you are similar to them, I.e., you believe gays should be celibate to be Christian. That is not too hard for Christians to stomach.

          • Well, my view is a little more nuanced (I personally feel called to be celibate outside of a heterosexual marriage which I don’t ever expect to be in), but yes, definitely much more acceptable to most Christians. However I still meet many Christians that don’t approve of me calling myself gay or refusing conversion therapy and other methods of orientation change. Even within my own family it has caused some conflict, however, one benefit of holding the position I do is that it makes conservative Christians more willing to listen when I tell them that LGBT people aren’t abominations, that they are beloved children of God and a necessary part of the body of Christ.

          • Etranger

            “one benefit of holding the position I do is that it makes conservative Christians more willing to listen when I tell them that LGBT people aren’t abominations, that they are beloved children of God and a necessary part of the body of Christ.”

            Yes. But hardly an act of any heroism or progress. Good luck in your adventures. Just don’t claim to be doing any good for the common gay person lol. Now, like Matt Vines and Eve Tushnet, you have just set up a valid excuse for Christians to express their disdain for gays. They now will see it as okay to be gay as long as one is celibate. All the other gays? hedonistic sinners!! You are definitely right at home in your church and family since you hate those other gays too!

  • Mike Stidham

    The UCC, about 1/3 of whose congregations are Open and Affirming, has recognized this dynamic and advises their congregations making such a move to do so deliberately (IOW, take a lot of time to walk people through the process) with intentionality. Ironically, most of the members the church I attend lost after the move…were the entire LGBT population! (It’s a small church, we only had two couples. One couple left so that one partner could return to school in another part of the country; the other left because the mother of one of the partners got in a tiff with the pastor over an unrelated issue. Go figure.)

    • Mike Stidham

      OTOH, most of the people who actually voted against ONA stayed on after the vote anyway.

  • John Masters

    There will be suffering and loss, but this has to be viewed through a long-term lens. Fundamentalists love to point out that it is the “Bible believing” (meaning fundamentalist congregations that believe exactly as they do) are the only ones currently showing growth. Sounds good, but the demographics are not in their favor, and we are starting to see this leveling off.

    Here’s what happens. As the author notes, when a church or denomination takes a more inclusive stance, some people leave, and of course go looking for a church with beliefs more inline with their beliefs. The issue is that these people, statistically, tend to be older…and they will die out.

    Younger people have already either left “the Church” for good, over the lack of inclusion, or they may start coming back as they get older…but will likely come back to the churches which are now showing broader inclusion. Doesn’t help the current crop of churches and denominations wrestling with this today…but the long-term is a different picture.

    • J J

      ><

      • John Masters

        Just wondering…what’s your problem?

        • otrotierra

          Jeff J has an established tradition of hiding behind childish name-calling as a replacement for the legitimate counter-argument he can’t offer.

          • J J

            ><

          • otrotierra

            Ah, more cowering behind childish name-calling. Impressive theology you have there.

          • J J

            ><

          • otrotierra

            Nice gospel of insults you have there. All the frothing rage of a Trump rally.

        • His problem is that he doesn’t know that John is a man’s name 😉

  • Tori Browning

    It’s not “Audacious Love”, it’s Unconditional Love. You know, the kind that Jesus spoke about?

  • EnosBurrows

    As a gay man, I want churches to be welcoming.

    But this sentence stood out for its sheer naivety.

    “What gives you the right to abandon the church the moment you don’t agree with something?”

    Attending a church is a voluntary activity. In the US people have left churches over decisions they do not like for as long as there have been churches. That’s what religious freedom means. At our Dignity community in New York once, a whole number of people left when the majority decided that we would pay an organist rather than suffer through painful and unreliable amatuer efforts. Those who left simply thought that no money should be paid to anyone involved in liturgy. I disagreed with them, but of course *they had the right* to leave.

  • Deanna Dennis

    My church thrived after it openly accepted (and WELCOMED) LGBT people. In fact, the church was about ready to close its doors and now we’re a vibrant church reaching out and serving our community.

  • Richard Worden Wilson

    I think I am sympathetic to to the difficulties faced by non-heterosexual or sexually divergent people. I came to maturity in the milieu of the love generation in San Francisco (lived for years in the Castro District if that has any resonance for you). It was at the tail end of those years that I encountered Christ, became a believer, and rerouted my life to follow him and his teaching.

    As one committed to the teaching of Christ I find that discussions like this tend to ignore the vertical dynamic of the biblical call to LOVE. The most important part of Jesus’ simplified law of love is to Love God. If one looks through the blog post, and reads through the comments one will find (I think) there is no mention of how these all too socially and inter-personally oriented experiences impact one’s relationship, and that of our communities’ relationship, to God. Yes, there is the implicit assumption that one can relate to God fully in faith while practicing same sex relations. So, how do any of us confirm what it means to be a person of faith in Christ? Unfortunately, in this particular context it seems it is rather an either or proposition. Either one submits to the teaching of Jesus as reported to us by the “apostolic” witnesses in scripture or we apparently move on to what we find most acceptable to us in our current culture.

    Jesus himself spoke plainly about the nature of human sexual relations as being between a man and a woman “since the beginning.” That is what Jesus considers (note: not “considered” since we can’t confirm any possible changes to his view until he returns) to be normative.

    As for those of you who find “church boring,” come back when you find Jesus interesting. 8>)

    • Jesus did speak plainly enough. But plainly you have misread Him. How do you ‘LOVE’ God, by excluding two Christians who commit to the same terms of marriage as a straight couple–just because they aren’t straight?? I hardly call that Biblical. The standard of Christianity is not measuring everything out of the Bible like it is a magic eight-ball–you know, open it up, shake it around until you get a message to show up and call it revelation. The standard of Christianity is to look at your brother and sister and see if they are displaying the fruits of the Spirit–look that up in your Bible–those are the real traits of Christians–not their sexual identity.

    • Gregory Peterson

      The verses weren’t about who can marry, but who can divorce, hardly anyone, and why they shouldn’t.

      So, thinking of Matthew 19, do you live like a eunuch because of the reign of the heavens?

    • wullaj

      Your church might be boring to me, but my church rocks my socks off.

  • Dens of Thieves! Church-businesses are just that: money-dependent businesses who must/will cater to the customers. If everyone around your religion-business is, say (randomly) cannibals, then hosting a business that caters to the cannibal lifestyle will yield you a willing, tithe-paying audience of cannibals. If you’re surrounded by Vikings, hosting a warmongering church-model will make you a capitalistic success indeed. In other words, it really does not matter what theme you center your religion-business around, so long as those in your proximity are willing to pay for the service. You must therefore, adapt your religion-business to the consumer-class you’re attempting to service/tax. Conversely, living a Messiah-centric life and lifestyle, means that you will never set foot in (or enable) any of these businesses. All church-businesses are cults; every one of them, for all of time, everywhere. What Messiah came in the flesh to do, and did, was to utterly destroy them (the veil is rent in twain) and expose the hypocrites (the Pharisees of His time/culture) that exploited and adulterated the socially accepted presence of GOD, for personal gain; money and/or ego. Messiah Yeshua came to transform the individual Soul, One-on-one, and totally separate the Elect of YHVH, from all religious institutions, which are money-pits that serve only and exclusively, to covertly destroy the Soul. Addicted to Money! All Heaven-bound, Christ-centric people, labor with their hands and live a simple and contented life and lifestyle (1Ti 6; 2Ti 3; Eph 4), acknowledging money itself as the root of all evil, and not just the love of it (that too of course), but also the dependency upon it, and the many compromises made because of such a dependency, and finally, the ultimate enslavement it causes: You cannot and will not, serve YHVH & mammon! Church-businesses exist, only with (and for) mammon-$; conversely, personal relationships cost no money, if you live a Christ-centric lifestyle. The Lord’s prayer is John 17: It either defines your every waking minute, or not. Few there be that find it (Matt 7)! The infinitesimal Elect of YHVH, Love universally: our neighbors, our enemies; everyone and everything, just as our Master does. Messiah Yeshua destroyed religion, but Satan responded with the ultimate anathema, and recreated one in the name of Jesus: They multiplied! Nevertheless, we are not on Earth to judge others; we are all among the judged (Phl 2). Every lifestyle lived, by every human being on Earth, will be what they alone, will have to make an account for on Judgment Day. The Elect of YHVH therefore, has only one law to follow: The Royal Law (John 15; James 2; 1st John).

    • I think that last paragraph had too many exclamation marks in it.

  • Is it realistic for me to offer a [partial] solution to tthe financial problem?

    If finances become a problem, then downsize. I’d rather have five people in my living room who love Jesus, than five hundred who don’t.

    And by ‘love Jesus’, I mean in the way that He did – ‘inasmuch as you do unto these, so you do to Me’. Loving those nobody else loves, especially the ones that the Religious don’t love. Those that the Pharisees sneer at. I am constantly amazed at how so many in the Church today don’t realise that they are simply proud, arrogant Pharisees. But then part of being a Pharisee is that you are blind; blind especially to your own hangups. You can claim to love Jesus and yet only get on with those who agree with you. ‘Even the tax collectors and sinners do that’.

    Real Jesus love will always cost you something, whether it’s the pain of seeing those you are caring for suffer, or financially, or whatever. But the reward – that of actually feeling His Presence – that’s more than worth it.

  • Barrie Beaumont

    I believe the LGBTQ people are intent on changing the interpretation of the Scriptures to suit their personal situation/s. I have sympathy for their individual positions but I would like to put the question to each LGBTQ person who reads this. Have you talked with the one who created you about your situation. He knows you, he created you and why he created you the way he did.

    I am concerned at some of the comments I am reading. Affirming and non affirming! It appears to me that you are missing the point, and I ask have you established just what it is the point. God knows and would love to tell all of us if we would all stop pushing our point and asking him for a change and that includes the LGBTQ people.

    If you do not know the specific content of the Scriptures on this question and understand it correctly; then make sure you do. That is the essence of this matter. It is what God has laid down and not how any human wants to interpret it to suit their situation.

    The biggest problem with Christianity is that people read the Scriptures and either do no understand what they are reading or mis-interpret. This is another example.

    • Teresa Jean

      There is nothing in the Bible that relates to gays and lesbians being involved in loving long term committed relationships. That they marry has NOTHING to do with religion in Canada and the USA as marriages are a secular/legal matter. There is no “interpretation” of Scriptures. I too am a Christian and your view of what I believe is none of your business. I have a relationship with Christ and that is all you need to know. Actually, you don’t even need to know that much.

      • Barrie Beaumont

        Teresa Jean, thank you for your response which I am going to answer according to your sentences and in their order.
        1. This is a deliberate twist to suit your situation. The Scriptures denounce sexual deviation.

        2. What has that got to do with what I have written?

        3. Do you mean mis-interpretation of Scriptures? Are you commenting on the first sentence of my first paragraph?

        4. I am only commenting in an open forum.

        5. Teresa Jean you say that “what you believe is none of my business.” I am always sad when comments and responses in these forums reach the stage where a response contains sarcasm and becomes undignified. I wrote a general comment, I did not target you.

        6. I respect your relationship with Jesus but not your expressions which mock me as a stiving fellow Christian.

        I ask whether that is what Jesus expects of us if we are to walk together.

        • Gregory Peterson

          When you disparage minority adult relationships as just being about sex that you disapprove of, what do you expect.

          It’s not like that hasn’t been done before in American history, either, as all of those conservative Evangelical supported anti-miscegenation laws attest.

          • Barrie Beaumont

            Hello Gregory.
            You are talking about two separate relationships here.

            When you use the word disparaging, that is your selection and I can accept it in one way. Adult relationship based on friendship is just great.

            I am in Australia and the ssm debate is full one but it seems a bit behind yours. I am not a bigot even in the mildest sense. I am seventy nine, trying to live a Christian life but I am not a rusted on Bible basher but the exact opposite. I started Theological College because I was fedup with rusted on people in my church and I wanted to learn what the Bible actually said; what was behind the words.

            I avoid one sided discussion on the rainbow issue; from either side and believe that the rainbow side is using love and what Jesus did not say as using the Scriptures as a means to an end. All Scripture is “God breathed” and there is no going back on that.

            In 1992 John Piper drafted a statement for the Bethlehem Baptist Church that provided a framework for churches to minister to the LGBTQ community as it was then. It is worthwhile reading.

            The Scriptures do refer directly to homosexuality and no amount of bending or convenient re-shaping by the revisionists of our time on behalf of the LGBTQ community can change the meaning in the words.

            Romans.Chap’1. v’6-9.
            1st Corinthians. Chap’ 6. v9.

          • Gregory Peterson

            The context of Romans 1 is about not doing as the pagan Romans did, as Roman 2 makes fairly clear. It’s about creating a new identity in Messiah belief. Don’t go to ancient Roman ecstatic pagan cults and festivals.

            It has nothing to do with today’s loving adult relationships.

            No one is quite sure what Paul meant with the word “arsenokoitai” in 1st Corinthians. Chap’ 6. v9., and it probably shouldn’t be translated at all since it’s being used to justify oppressing minority people.

            In any case, both that verse and Romans 1: 27 are pathetically misogynistic by today’s standards.

            I don’t know about Australia, but in the USA, scavenging scripture for ‘proof texts’ to defame minority relationships as being just about sinful sexual behavior, and to legitimate discrimination and oppression of minority groups, has a long and very dishonorable history.

    • Look, I know you mean well, but, honestly, you really are misinterpreting the Scriptures. Once you get past that universal and cruel taboo which colors and controls your reading, you can easily begin to see, both in life and in the Scripture, that LGBT Christians can be and are called by God to ministry the same as straight Christians. And LGBT Christians can and do enter into a Christ centered marriage just as straight Christians. It’s not the Bible that’s holding you back.

      • Barrie Beaumont

        I do not know who I am responding to. Would you please give me your name.

      • Barrie Beaumont

        Absolutely no misinterpretation on my part. Please read my response to Gregory.

        • Barrie,
          Done. Look, the key statement you made is this, “The Scriptures do refer directly to homosexuality and no amount of bending or convenient re-shaping by the revisionists of our time on behalf of the LGBTQ community can change the meaning in the words.” Yet, I believe (and I suspect you also believe) that it is both reality and all the rest of Scripture taken together which produce truth. Taken together–all Scripture and all the facts about persons with an L, B, G, T or Q identity–one arrives at the simple truth that these people, as Christians, are no different than you or I. We can recognize, at that point, that their faith, as established by the grace of Jesus Christ, is as valid as our own. As Peter said, “Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?”
          I do not call you a bigot. You are not. But at your age, as mine, we grew up in a world which universally condemned this as taboo. It was inconceivable to us. So when the Bible seemed to confirm that which was engrained in our psyche we went along with it. It is that cruel taboo which is doing the actual bending and reshaping which Piper renounces.
          I would hope that somewhere along the line, you will begin to wonder if this change in society is not so much a liberal or ungodly conspiracy against good Christians. But, rather, the working of the Holy Spirit to lead us to recognize all our brothers and sisters in the faith and accept their leading by God to become faithful ministers of the gospel or to enter the bonds of Christian matrimony.
          Hope this helps. God bless you on your journey.

  • Eric Weiss

    Walking the Bridgeless Canyon is perhaps the best book on America’s and the church’s history re: LGBT people, and it now has a study guide. Any Christian who reads this book, no matter which side of the issue they are on, will be better informed afterwards. And the many personal stories are devastating testimonies against reparative or “conversion” therapy, or getting heterosexually married in hopes of “changing”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Repairing-Community/dp/1619200287

    The author, Kathy Baldock, helps and counsels churches that are wishing to become more open and affirming. She recently got back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand for that purpose.

    http://canyonwalkerconnections.com

  • Barrie Beaumont

    In my earlier post I wrote (last sentence, para’1) “He knows you, he created you and why he created you the way he did.”

    I am not totally convinced with the latter part of that sentence. I have read scientific evidence that homonsexuality is a developed condition, not a birth condition. As a striving Christian, (that is one who finds it difficult to take the name because it is falsely assumed by many) I am prepared, as I believe we should all be, to look at creation from logic as well as the Scriptural position.

    That leaves me in one position. If a person is confronted with homosexual tendencies yet longs for a Christian life, then the God, who created them is the life changer. I was tempted and I will say no more than that but if the tendency is there then your creator can remove it.

    It was easy for me, God did not want me there, but it will be hard and much harder for some.

    Reading the Scriptures and seeking justification through love is not compatible with God’s living and creation principles. It is a distortion of his process and a life test that some have to face up to.

    Have a conversation with God today, is the best way to start and keeping it up is to make progress.

    • Gregory Peterson

      I don’t understand where you’e going with this. Would you care to restate it or add to it?

      • Barrie Beaumont

        Gregory, I have given you plenty to go on.

  • Brandon Roberts

    it’s worth it

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Our church is going through this process right now, coming up with a “policy” on same-sex marriage.

    I am not enough in the know, but my interpretation of what has been going on is that there are some who are vehemently opposed within the parish council. The dumb thing is that this church is ELCA. Heck, the ELCA acceptance on things like this is why we chose to join the church in the first place.

    There were a bunch of meetings and stuff and we couldn’t attend, but I sent a note to the pastor to express my opinion, and referred to the sermon the week before where he had referenced Matt 25, as tonycutty invoked it earlier. As you do to the least of these, so you do unto me.

    I know the pastor is supportive, and I surely hope that this turns out right. And if those people have problems with it, they should leave. Seriously, it’s not even like we have openly gay people in the congregation (it’s a small church). This is just an issue of what should the church do if faced with the situation? Talk about something that has no effect on anyone.

    • jekylldoc

      No, if those people have problems with it, they should pray, and talk. In Matthew, it says if someone does something that offends, go talk to them. So we all need to be in conversation.

      They need to think about whether they can choose their own sexual orientation (they can’t) and whether the Bible reflects limitations of its time (it does) and where the Spirit comes from, and the meaning comes from.

      Most of them are going to eventually realize they had it wrong. The question is whether they are kicking and screaming right up until the light dawns, or whether they open their mind in response to challenge of the unexpected.

  • Jean Bell

    I first want to say thanks to the person who wrote the above article. In addition I must say that you are right when you say that the greatest commandment is love, however let me hasten to say that analogy has been taken out of context. Jesus require and expects us as born again Believers to love EVERYONE, but I must say here that what God hates is sin. God does not hate anyone, but because of His nature He CANNOT condone sin. To adopt to a Gay Lifestyle is contrary to God’s definition of marriage. The Bible consistently tells us that homosexuality activity is a sin. (See Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is as a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 proclaims that homosexual “offenders” will not inherit the Kingdom of God. God does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person maybe born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true to homosexuality.

    However, the Bible does not describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. According to the Bible, God’s forgiveness is just as available to a homosexual as it is to an adulterer, idol worshipper, murderer, thief, etc. God also promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13).

    In conclusion, I am in total agreement with those individuals that made the decision to leave that particular Church mentioned.