Can You Be Evangelical and Gay-Affirming?

Can You Be Evangelical and Gay-Affirming? May 12, 2014

I don’t think so — at least not yet — and I’ll try to make my case on a live webcast on Wednesday:

Join us by registering here.

"Have you considered professional online editing services like ?"

The Writing Life
"I'm not missing out on anything - it's rather condescending for you to assume that ..."

Is It Time for Christians to ..."
"I really don't understand what you want to say.Your"

Would John Piper Excommunicate His Son?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I thought it could work. I really did. But you get “farewelled,” like, a BUNCH 🙂

    Question is: Do you hold on to the evangelical label in an effort to help make it a more diverse tradition. Or do you let all those people who say you can’t be evangelical and affirming define evangelicalism for you?

    I don’t know, but I’m exhausted by the whole thing.

    • davehuth

      I know Evangelicals love them some neologisms, but verbing that noun is the worst I’ve heard in a long time. Blurgh. #FarewellFarwelling

      • I once head someone call it “excommunitweeting”, which was kinda funny.

        • davehuth

          It can all become quite complicated…

          Deuteronomy 24:
          “If a man reads a blogger who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he types her a tweet of farewell, tags it to her, and sends her from his feed… then she will call herself whatever the hell she wants, for the whole system is crazyass bonkers in the eyes of the Lord.”

        • gimpi1

          Excommunitweeting Eeew. Funny and disturbing all in one poly-syllable made-up word.

    • Jane Halton

      Or what about those of us in a denomination that is not that attached to all things evangelical, are way passed horrid things like ‘you must change you orientation’ but are not yet gay-affirming (in the ‘behaviour sense, sorry, I’m trying to use their language). I am literally TORN. I am completely affirming but if voices like mine ‘go’ – then will it ever change?

      • WonkishGuy

        It’s hard to tell without knowing which denomination it is. I’d say it depends on whether there is already a sizable number of people who are affirming and on whether they are free to express their views without being labeled divisive and considered second-class Christians. If you don’t feel like you have to hide what you believe to avoid controversy and there is the possibility of genuine dialogue, then staying is the best option. But if you don’t feel comfortable being openly affirming, then the possibility of effecting real change is probably illusory as that denomination is not yet ready for it.

        • Jane Halton

          I appreciate the thoughtful reply.

    • KStrett

      Do you use the Bible as the barometer for what is acceptable or what the current cultural trends are?

      • Andrew Dowling

        Do you worship God or a book? Christianity is not Islam . .the Bible, unlike the Quran, is not supposed to be the be-all end all divine rulebook dropped from heaven.Gaining proper insight from the Bible actually requires one not treating it as inerrant and thoroughly perfect/pure.

        • KStrett

          The Bible is the inspired word of God! If the Bible clearly states a certain behavior is a sin, if you are a Christian you would have to believe the specified behavior is sinful.

          You are attempting to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole to make the Bible conform to the current cultural sentiments on homosexuality.

          The majority of you are doing this be conflating the Laws of Moses with sinful behaviors. There is a difference between not eating certain foods and adultery.

          If you believe the Bible is not the “be all end all” and that you can ignore what it says, anything is permissible!

          • Like eating bacon?

            • KStrett

              Daniel, what point are you trying to make here?

              The majority of people on here are essentially arguing that because you don’t need to follow old Testament laws such as food laws in order to be saved, all behavior is Biblical acceptable. This line of thinking is absurd.

              Another variation of that argument is:

              Because you don’t need to follow old Testament laws and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross also applied to gentiles, that means Christianity is all inclusive.

              If this is the case all behavior is acceptable. The problem is that isn’t what Jesus taught. He taught that people who don’t believe aren’t going to heaven. He wasn’t preaching all inclusive universalism.

            • I’ve never heard that before! Will you tell me now about wearing clothing of two types of materials? Or mention shellfish?

  • Jane Halton

    So interested in this! I *think* but I am not positive, I want people to stay and be the change. I have some hope left.

  • Steve Chalke just found out the answer to that question…

  • Darach Conneely

    Evangelicalism never stuck with dead tradition in the past but, as a living and growing community, faced the tough questions. We have changed long held traditional views on slavery, the age of the earth and evolution, women’s ministries, divorce and remarriage, drinking alcohol, dancing and going to the cinema. Apparently it is even acceptable, if frowned on, to question hell (John Stott). But apparently while it was ok to ask questions and re-examine scripture in the past, evangelicalism has come thus far and no further. If some evangelicals want to close the door to the tough questions facing us today, why should that stop more radical evangelicals doing what radically evangelicals have traditionally done?

  • Al Cruise

    Can you be evangelical and be saved?……. ” If anyone says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar.”

    • Livin

      You just inferred that you hate evangelicals so by your own standard you are not saved either….
      “For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. “

      • Darach Conneely

        Oops there you go too… and me.

        • Livin

          The road to Hell is wide and we are on it 😉

  • Livin

    Jesus taught celibacy first then that man and women were made for each other. If we decide to be inclusive and throw away Pauline teachings then where should we draw the line?

    • Ric Shewell

      If we decide to be inclusive, we will be in good company with Philip who baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch, Peter who told Cornelius, “God has shown me that he shows no partiality,” and Paul who fought for the inclusion of uncircumcised believers. It is part of our church heritage to extend welcome to the outsider, outcast, and other. To say that modern day homosexuals fit the description or idea that Paul had is to read our experiences into Paul, rather than listen to Paul. In any case, if you are going to attempt to be rigid to a literal interpretation of Paul, I assume that you are pro-slavery, your women wear head coverings in church, and your women are forbidden to wear gold, pearls, or braid their hair.

      • Livin

        As far as Slavery everyone is owned by someone be it a government, or a employer. Jesus and Paul teach us that the kingdom is not of this world i.e. the outside world should have no effect on your relationship with the kingdom.
        As far as family units everyone needs to have a head of household be it male or female. The practice of head scarfs is a spiritual practice not something that hides inner beauty.
        But you did not answer the question if we extend out and there are some good reasons to look at it, where should we draw the line?
        My suggestion is that any practice that leads to not seeing Jesus as God and part of the God-head should not be put forth as not a sin.
        Where and how should we draw the line?

      • le

        Inclusion? Jesus said… I did not come to bring together but to divide.

        Eunuch – no sexuality stated. Used as a person who worked for kings and queens

        Cornelius – yes, all can come. Doesn’t mean all have made the choice sin scripture talks about how many will fall away. How many are unsaved. Paul states how many are actually false converts and teachers.

        Modern day homosexuals are no different than past homosexuals.

        Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
        Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And
        such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

        I think everyone knows that’s 1 cor 6

        Repent (TURN and LEAVE) from your sins of homosexuality, adultery, fonication, idolatry, stealing, murder, drunkardness, extortion.

        Accept Christ as Messiah

        • Matt El

          Galatians 3.28-“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”….. so uh, yeah….

          • KStrett

            You are making the same error as Ric and taking passages out of context to make a case for your own personal preconceived belief.

            The context of Galatians was there was a group within the Church who was teaching following the laws of Moses was a requirement for salvation.

            You are twisting the passage to fit your preconceived idea that homosexuality has the Biblical stamp of approval. Your argument boils down to this:

            We are all one in Christ, therefore I can engage in behavior X regardless what the Bible says about X.

            • le

              Bingo Kstrett.

              Next thing the homosexuals will say is that sex between two consenting adults called brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, etc… are perfectly legitimate as well considering we’re all ‘one in Christ right?

              • KStrett

                Sex between parents and children is child abuse. I don’t think homosexual activists will launch a propaganda campaigner to legitimize incest like they have to redefine marriage.

                However, the argumentation that people are using on this message board to give homosexuality the Biblical stamp of approval dictates all behavior is permissible.

                • Andrew Dowling

                  No, it doesn’t dictate “all behavior is permissible” . . .can you not see a clear delineation between behavior that harms others and behavior that doesn’t?

                  • KStrett

                    ‘ you not see a clear delineation between behavior that harms others and behavior that doesn’t?”

                    As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, you can disregard what the bible says is sinful behavior?

                    In other words, in order to be logically consistent you believe that premarital sex id Biblically permissible too, correct?

                    If you don’t believe premarital sex is permissible:

                    When did Jesus or the apostles marry two men or women?

                    They answer is they did not. This leaves you with two options

                    1. Jesus is God and believes homosexuality is okay but forgot to gives his stamp of approval and let homosexuals lead a life of sin for 2000 years.


                    2. You are replacing what the Bible states about homosexuality with your own beliefs.

                    Do you believe I have the constitutional right to change the definition of marriage so I can marry two women?

                • le

                  K… While I can’t speak to any specific person on this board, you might want to do a bit of research on LAMDA then. They’re mostly homosexual men who want to legalize sex with boys and men.

                  • Lamont Cranston

                    No, they are pedophiles who want to legalize sex between adults and children. Not that I’d expect a lying bigot goon like you to understand the difference. May your journey to “heaven” be long and painful.

                    • le

                      When a man (older male) has sex with a boy (male), or, a woman (female) who has sex with a girl (female), that’s not homosexuality?

                      definition of homosexuality
                      homosexuality (attraction to members of the same sex)

                      There’s nothing bigoted about telling the truth Lamont. While there are men and woman who are pedophiles, but it still also homosexuality as well.

                      I don’t normally use that website as I’m not a big fan of psychology in it’s present form… but I’m sure you’re more inclined to do so. So, for your benefit I give it to you.

                  • KStrett

                    I am aware of the attempt to normalize pedophilia. I believe an academic paper was published in the psychological realm, that argued sex between adults and children isn’t mentally harmful to children.

                    The fact that the author of the paper wasn’t run out of the field is frightening. However, this is not being pushed by the same people who want to redefine marriage.

                  • Andrew Dowling

                    Right because LAMDA are at the forefront of the gay marriage movement . . LOL

                    The Netherlands have had gay marriage for 15 years . . please show me their disastrous trend towards legalized adult-child relationships. How about Massachusetts. who have had gay marriage for a decade?

          • le

            Matt you and Tony and the ones that follow his ‘teachings’ are gnostic at best, and outright New Agers at worse.

            That means you believe another gospel.

            Here’s why:

            Gal 5:19-24 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that

            they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

            But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

            And they that are Christ’s have crucified he flesh with the affections and lusts.

        • WonkishGuy

          I’m not sure what this post is trying to accomplish. It’s rather unlikely that those of us who have studied the issue for quite some time will all of a sudden decide that we were wrong on the basis of a passage of Scripture that we do not believe says what you think it says.

          I find it bizarre that people always feel the need to go to affirming blogs and websites and “preach the Gospel”, as if all of us were necessarily unsaved. I think it turns people off more than anything.

          • le

            I find it bizarre that after 2000 years of biblical scholarship from even Liberals, that all of a sudden scholarship would change.

            Mind you… there isn’t ONE shred of evidence that says otherwise.

            Not one. Nada… zilch..

            By the way…..Patheos is a supposed ‘christian blog’. Says nothing about ‘affirming. THe only thing ‘patheos’ should be affirming is the fact that Jesus Christ specifically is telling you to repent of your sins.

            Jesus / God Incarnate said:

            “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

            Genesis 2:24 – God
            Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

            Jesus God Incarnate said:

            Matthew 19:5
            And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

            Jesus God Incarnate said

            Matthew 19:6
            Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

            Jesus God Incarnate said;

            Mark 10:8
            And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

            Paul that horrific missionary Apostle said:

            1 Corinthians 6:16
            What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

            Ephesians 5:31
            For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

            Is it coincidence that someone else tried to use the same Galatians verse on whether or not women should be in the pulpit? I think not.

            Sorry, you are NOT in Christ unless you obey the commands of God/Jesus.

        • Guest

          First of all, how can we have a fruitful conversation if you assume that arguing for the inclusion of homosexuals means that I don’t “accept Christ as Messiah”? (Also, Christ is the Greek translation for the Hebrew word ‘Messiah,’ so there’s a little problem with your wording there).

          Secondly, you can’t claim one verse to describe all of Jesus’ hopes and goals. What about “when the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” or what about Isaiah 56:3-8. Especially 8, “I will gather still others to those I have already gathered.” What about Paul’s commandment to invite strangers into your home? There are plenty of examples and exhortations to welcome people into the community.

          Third, the words translated in the KJV for effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind, are malakoi and arsenokoitai. The first word literally means “soft” or “limp” ones. Do you really think Paul means effeminate people? Or might there be some sort of prostitution practices where boys are castrated before puberty and used as prostitutes for sick old men? Perhaps Paul is talking about prostitutes who castrate themselves to be more appealing to a clientele. Since that was a practice in Paul’s time and geography, maybe Paul is talking about that. I’m not sure, but isn’t it worth investigating? Because that seems very different from what we are dealing with today. And arsenokoitai, a word that isn’t found anywhere else in Scripture or ancient Greek literature, but it can be broken up into its root words: arsen from aner (man) and koitai (sex). So I guess it means “man-sexer.” But if its paired with malakoi, and IF malakoi are male prostitutes, maybe Paul is referring to people who use male prostitutes. I don’t know for sure, but once again, isn’t Scripture important enough for us to all the investigation and learning we can?

          Finally, if you’ve read this far. I understand your point of view. I understand where you are coming from. At face value, it looks like a clear mandate against homosexual behavior, but I and host of other deeply committed Christian think that it might not be, and for the sake of our neighbors, we need to take a hard look at the Scriptures and be open to what the Spirit is teaching us now. I hope you can understand where we are coming from.

          • le

            Actually, it’s hard for someone to have a fruitful conversation when someone wants to play word games Guest.

            Christ [krahyst] Show IPA noun

            1. Jesus of Nazareth, held by Christians to be the fulfillment of prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the eventual coming of a Messiah.

            2. the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (used chiefly in versions of the New Testament).

            3. someone regarded as similar to Jesus of Nazareth.

            There’s no problem with using Christ / Messiah at all. You don’t accept scripture as true. You accept it as something that you can move and fit into your own world.

            Actually, one scripture CAN mean it. There are plenty others that likewise do. I just happened to give ONE.

            “What about “when the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” or what about Isaiah 56:3-8. Especially 8, “I will gather still others to those I have already gathered.”

            Both verse are talking about people in the O.T. and the N.T. who are believers. ‘already gathered’ means people like Peter, Paul, Mary, Moses, Isaiah, Jonah, etc..etc..etc…

            We KNOW what Paul is saying because there are NO other types of relationships that Paul, Peter, the writers of Hebrews, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Jesus speak of in any other sense; other than in a negative light. All relationships outside of man/woman married relationships are spoken as outside the bounds of a Godly relationship.

            Nobody, you, Jones and Matthew Vines can try to twist scripture all you want, but there is not one shred of evidence that points to any other relationship as being ‘good’ or ‘very good’ as Mr. Vines wants to use.

            Repent and ask for forgiveness from God and accept what His Son has done for you on the cross. Give you life to Him and OBEY His commands.

            Isaiah…. those who are already believers

      • Matt El

        This post made my heart happy! Thank you!

      • KStrett

        You are making a gross category error. The issue is not about being inclusive but if following the laws of Moses was a requirement for salvation.

        You are comparing the discarding of Old Testament laws because Jesus died for our sins on the cross with the Church embracing a behavior the Bible clear teaches is a sin.

        • Guest

          Okay, sure, I am making an analogy between events in 1st century church and events today. Realistically, whenever we apply the Scriptures to our settings, we are drawing analogies. When we apply “eating meat sacrificed to idols” to activities we should abstain from for the sake of others’ consciouses, we are drawing analogies. That is what I am doing. I am saying that there is a thread of hospitality to the outcast, strung throughout the New Testament.

          You are saying it is a difference of category. I am saying it is a difference of degree.

          Of course I can use other examples where evangelical communities have disregarded New Testament words in favor of compassion, hospitality, or common sense.

          For instance, in the mouth of Jesus, any divorce and remarriage (except in the case of adultery) is considered adultery and a sin. However, very few church leaders would say to a woman who leaves her husband in the case of abuse is sinning. Why diverge from Jesus’ words? Because it is the trajectory of the Kingdom and the New Testament to offer compassion and welcome to the one who is trampled. We see marriage differently today. We don’t like divorce, but we certainly understand it.

          Another case is women wearing jewelry and braiding their hair. In 1 Timothy, Paul instructs women to be quiet and learn from their men at home. Many evangelical communities are happy to uphold this verse! However, the verse immediately preceding it tells women to not wear gold, pearls, or elaborate hair styles. Why do so many evangelicals choose to obey one verse and not the other. They’re side by side! Is it because modern evangelicals are becoming more reasonable, and see the prohibitions on jewelry as a bygone commandment? So why one and not the other?

          So, the church universal, evangelicals included, have a history of working with the Scriptures, and discerning God’s word for us in our contexts. We’ve discerned that it is a right thing for slaves to break free from their masters, women to leave abusive men, and women to wear jewelry. Not even coming to the table to discuss homosexual Christians reveals a bias, not a consistent hermeneutic.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Great post!

          • KStrett

            You doubling down on the category error logical fallacy. You are comparing traditions with behavior that the Bible clearly calls a sin.

            Your logic chain dictates all sin is Biblically acceptable. Take out homosexual behavior and replace it with adulatory of premarital sex.

            “However, very few church leaders would say to a woman who leaves her husband in the case of abuse is sinning.”

            Nice straw-man. Because church leaders and I would imagine Jesus are fine with divorce when a woman is being beaten all sin is permissible or just the one you like because of the current cultural trends?

            Jesus would be fine with granting a divorce on the grounds that a woman was being beaten, therefore adultery is okay……..therefore, premarital sex is okay.

            I believe being unevenly yolked is also grounds for divorce. A good case could be made that a wife beater isn’t saved to begin with.

            “We see marriage differently today. We don’t like divorce, but we certainly understand it.”

            Here the crux of the issue. You are using the current liberal cultural trends as the barometer for your rationale rather than what the Bible says.

            I hope you would concede that the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a sin. In order for homosexuality to be Biblically permissible, the Church would have had to marry two men or women together.

            When did original the Church marry two men or women together? They did not ! Both the OT and New Statement clearly states homosexual behavior is a sin.

            What you are left with is you think something is a good idea and you are replacing what the Bible states with what you think. However, I suspect you will utilize deconstructionism to get around this problem.

      • Ric Shewell

        Ric, are you seriously going to engage this conversation? Do you think it’ll be fruitful at all? What are you doing?

        • Ric Shewell

          I’m doing it.

          • Ric Shewell

            changed my mind, I’m not.

            • Ric Shewell

              apparently, Ric, when you change your mind about engaging and delete your posts, your posts are actually deleted, just your name from them. Well, nice try anyway.

              • Andrew Dowling

                I’m in the Twilight Zone . . .

        • Aveeps

          it’s helpful to me. I have to listen to the wrathful in my life and your responses were helpful to me. So, thanks for fighting it “out loud”. (hatred and wrath are in the list…never mentioned as a problem by those who are hating a listed sinner)

    • Andrew Dowling

      Jesus making a comment about some people being celibate for God doesn’t equate to a Godly proclamation that all people should try to be celibate but fall on marriage as a second choice. Just like Paul’s letters to specific churches in the 6th century were not written as God-sent rulebooks for all humans to live by for all time.

  • Can you define “gay affirming”?

  • Guest

    Galatians 3.28-“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”….. so uh, yeah….

  • Guest
  • Sarah Raymond Cunningham

    Sometimes I think you “can” be anything you have the patience and bandwidth to be. The question isn’t always, “CAN you be X and Y?” but “If you choose a faith that mixes traditional and progressive elements, without disavowing those on either pole, will YOU be able to tolerate being misunderstood, labeled, critiqued etc. with any amount of graciousness?”

    And if so, can you keep that up indefinitely? 😉

  • BradC

    I agree – I don’t think you can. Most that claim the tile “Evangelical” are in that
    camp because they are literalist. Most literalist do not recognize the
    limitations of language or human conceptual ability and end up worshiping their
    theological structure and interpretive scheme of the Bible.

  • tee kay

    Well, I don’t know enough about the evangelical faith to know if that’s acceptable in their churches, but I know as Christians all sin is to be repulsive to us.

    Did you hear that? Not the sinners but the sin itself. To live homosexual is to choose a lifestyle that’s not pleasing to God.

    So while we still want to embrace the sinner we should do all that is in our power to help our brethren to overcome the shackles of sin.

    I have a lot of agnostic friends and skeptic friends that say if God is real why can’t we see Him. I always reply is not seeing Him reason enough to discredit His existence so I find this video below to answer that question awesomely:…

  • Livin

    Post moved……

  • Billy North

    I think it comes down to recognizing that Christianity is an historically diverse religion. No particular tradition has authority to define orthodoxy; particularity American evangelicalism. In an effort to retain that category we do injustice to the rest of Christendom; contemporary and historical.