T Nation

Common Ground: Homosexuality and the Church


#1

I apologize for creating multiple threads, but I felt the other thread was accomplishing little except to stir up anger and defensiveness. The one thing I ask in this thread is that if you don't have something constructive to say, please don't post. I will hold myself to this same standard.

First, I want to say for the record that I believe Christianity has much to offer the world. I personally consider Jesus to be the greatest of all teachers. If the world would follow his message of love, most of the problems we create for ourselves and for others would disappear.

So, is there any possibility of common ground with Christianity and homosexuality?

Let's set aside the differences in Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality. Some Christian churches welcome people in same sex relationships, some welcome gays who are celibate, and some exclude gays entirely. Discussing those differences is not the focus of this thread.

Can we find any common ground?

What do you think about welcoming gays into your congregation who share your beliefs, and choose to be celibate for the rest of their life? Instead of sending the message that they are flawed and inferior, how do you feel about loving them for who they are? As long as they remain celibate, would you be able to embrace them as brothers and sisters, despite knowing that they are attracted to people of the same gender? Would you share communion with them, and even support them as teachers and pastors, if such was their calling?


#2

The church ain't a democracy. It's stance on homosexuality will never change. Like I said in the previous thread, it is condemned in scripture through out, cover to cover. For all the ambiguity in the scriptures this ain't one of those cases.
Now, I have no problems worshiping and welcoming homosexuals to worship God with me, but open them up to the sacraments I cannot do.

If you come to my church you will be welcome, but if you boldly proclaim you are an acting homosexual you will be stongly advised not to receive the sacraments. Now, there will be no gun to your head of course, but you are in excommunication as a practicing homosexual. You can hear the word but not receive the sacraments.
The piano player at my church is queer as a 3 dollar bill and he is treated just like everybody else. Now of course outside of my family I don't know how many actually know that, but we're not running to tattle tell on him either. It's kinda obvious though. It's got nothing to do with me. That's between him, God and the church.


#3

I think being celibate is just that (NON SEXUAL)


#4

Of course gays are welcome. Everybody is welcome. Everybody is loved for who they are. Nobody in church is perfect. We all sin and we all have a "thorn", an ongoing sin where sinful activity and beliefs are defined by the Bible. Consequently we all have our struggle, a fight to deny a part of who we are, the Bible says we are born with sin after all, be it anger, jealousy, murderous tendencies or homosexuality. For anyone truly seeking to refine themselves to the standards Jesus and the Bible in general put forth, we all have to give up a piece of our natural, inborn selves, it's part of the spiritual journey.

If you are truly interested in openly and honestly discussing issues on these matters I highly recommend a book called Blue Like Jazz. It's not a devotional, it's not a book with lots of verses and though shalls and shalt nots, it's a loosely written autobiography by a guy who believes in God as defined by the Bible but struggles with his understanding of it all. It has nothing to do with denominational nomenclature, it isn't apologetic, it's like reading an easy conversation. Highly recommend it.

And for the record, the message of Christianity is that all are flawed and inferior and made whole through a covenant with Christ, one in which sins are forgiven due to Christs death on the cross and ascension to Heaven on our behalf. Not just gays.


#5

He's the piano player, what did you expect? :wink:

I was actually referring to gay believers who choose to remain celibate. As long as they are celibate, would you feel comfortable welcoming them into your congregation, inviting them to share communion, and even ordaining them as priests?


#6

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm agnostic, but recently read "Have a little faith" by Mitch Albom and enjoyed it. I think there's wisdom to be gained from all religions and philosophies.

So if someone were openly gay in your congregation, but they chose to be celibate, would you consider them to be flawed or in sin? It sounds like they would be genuinely welcomed. Would they have the potential to be a pastor?


#7

Some one who has entered a relationship with Jesus, as defined by the Bible, would not be flawed, they are said to be made whole.

They may still struggle with "sins of the flesh" but this is where the mystical element of Christianity comes in to play. In God's eyes you are whole.

A person who actively fights his sin would be eligable to serve as a Pastor, yes. So, choosing celibacy over homosexuality would qualify, even if he slipped up now and then. There is a difference between slipping and being intentionally disobediant.

I really don't go to church much. I grew up going, I go at Christmas and Easter but I like to think my congregation would be accepting. People are people though and as imperfect as all people are, some may be hypocritical. The church doctrine would be accepting however as is true Christianity. Some people just have a judgemental thorn you could say.

I believe it was Peter who recommended Christians educate themselves on all religions of the world, not to replace their Christian faith but to know and understand. According to the Bible, this behavior is spiritually healthy, so long as other religions do not become idols.


#8

I'm encouraged to hear that there's a place for gays in your congregation, and not just as dogs to be tossed a scrap, but as equals with a seat at the table.

What would you think about them holding hands with someone of the same gender during church service, for example? Would that be considered sinful or is it ok since it's not a sexual act?


#9

Would a church not embrace someone who was born with a natural affinity for violence and hatred, but battled his sin and lived in peace? I never understood why many people put the sin of homosexuality in a category of its own, where special rules apply. The whore about to be stoned wasn't condemned by Jesus, but told to repent and sin no more. Why would a different set of rules apply for gay people? Surely, if this was the case, Jesus would spend more time on it in the New Testament?


#10

Good post. I think if more believers understood this, it would be easier for gay believers to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sexual orientation.


#11

Man this is a great question. However, God will have to make me independently wealthy and give me six more hours in a day to respond to everything I'd like to respond to here. The VERY short answer is that anybody who calls their sin SIN, a violation of divine law in agreement with God and is laying it on His altar as a warrior for His truth and testimony is welcome in my church. That would include homosexuality. I would go so far as to say (my considered opinion) that a person living by grace in victory of over this extremely powerful sin is storing up for themselves vast rewards in the coming resurrection for their stellar representation of the transforming power of the gospel of Christ. That would be in character for the God I know though I can't point to chapter and verse per se.

BTW, I happen to know for a fact that He can and has freed members of both sexes to live very godly married lives to members of the opposite sex. No doubt about it.


#12

It's more about the Bible than a congregation. If holding hands resulted in lust, then yes it would be sinful. If not, then no. You may get awkward looks due to a broken social more, but you would not have sinned. And even if you did get awkward looks or judgemental comments thrown your way, the true importance is a lack of sin. Your imperfect church mates would be the sinners for judging.


#13

Great post.


#14

In your view, is homosexuality inherently sinful? Or is it homosexual acts? If a person is openly gay, but doesn't engage in homosexual acts, is he free of sin?


#15

I'm pleasantly surprised to hear that.


#16

Elder Forlife is on a roll today. Sins of the mind and heart are just as offensive to the living God of the bible as overt actions. That's why He says that merely lusting after someone unlawful to you or being unjustifiably angry with someone is adultery and murder respectively (Matthew 5:27-28). Willfully maintaining a homosexual heart is as the act itself. Yes it is inherently sinful and is declared so in unmistakable terms to anyone without an agenda in both testaments. That said, temptation is not sin in itself until the subjective will embraces and upholds it. Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). (please don't ask me how that worked)


#17

No need to apologize most of us know that you're not quite right in the head.


#18

How about the desire itself though, the basic orientation? Do you consider that sinful, as long as the person isn't willfully entertaining lustful thoughts?


#19

EVERYBODY'S "basic orientation" is to sin, sin willfully, sin grievously and continuously until freed by the resurrecting grace of the Lord to live in obedience to His revealed will. Furthermore, even after knowing His saving mercy, remaining corruption will plague the new creature in Christ until death so that he (she) will war with that old nature all their days on earth. (Romans 7). That's the point. They are at deliberate self conscious war with all that is displeasing to the one they love above all else. The presence of that war is one of the greatest evidences of the presence of the living Christ in a man's heart.

The point? No, being oriented toward what is being fought with in the might of His Spirit is not sin in itself, once again including homosexuality. Homosexuality, as is ALL sexual sin, is horrifically offensive to the God who created marriage and sex to uniquely display the love and glory of His redemptive covenant to a dying world (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is not however in a logistical class by itself to be dealt with in ways that are different than other sins.


#20

Ok, sounds like you're not opposed to welcoming a gay brother or sister then, as long as they do their best to follow the teachings of Jesus (including, from your perspective, not lusting after or having sex with people of the same gender).

I wouldn't personally choose such a life, but I'm glad to know that there is a home for gays with religious beliefs, even when those beliefs include a conviction that homosexual behavior is a sin.

It's common ground.

From my perspective, people should embrace and live consistently with their sexual orientation. From your perspective, gays should follow Christianity, which includes not acting on their desire to love someone of the same gender.

But either way, at least there is a place for gay believers. I think that's important, and should be encouraged. The more they are genuinely loved, appreciated, and openly accepted, the easier it will be for them to reconcile the conflict of their beliefs and their nature. And the less guilty they will feel about not being able to change their basic orientation.