Gay and Christian


The title of this post is the title of an article that was submitted to this journal in spring 2010, and I’m pleased to make it available on the blog using my account.

Gay and Christian

I am gay and Christian. For many, these are seen as contradictory identities. I must admit that this essay is part of my “homosexual agenda” to normalize LGBT Christians to evangelicals. I’ll make my agenda, both for this essay and in life, explicit at the outset: I want to share my story as I’ve experienced and interpreted it; and I want other LGBT people who read this and have trouble reconciling their faith with their sexuality to be encouraged.These goals aren’t completely accomplishable in this essay or in my lifetime, but this essay is a good start.

I grew up in an evangelical family and church. My experience of evangelicalism growing up actually defies many of the stereotypes: we weren’t anti-science; we weren’t anti-intellectual; we were loving. I’ll admit that we were Republican, though, which is a stereotype. You’ll notice I keep saying “we” in my description of my upbringing. That’s because I’m still proud to identify with my past. My father and mother were great parents, and it’s clear that they loved me. As a child, every night before bed, I’d give mom and dad a hug and kiss goodnight. In high-school, they’d go to my cross-country meets, marching band games, showchoir competitions, etc. They made sure I did my homework, and did it well. We were very involved in church, and as a child, they’d even take me to vacation bible school every summer. I remember accepting Jesus into my heart several times in my childhood, just to make sure I was actually saved. In any case, I’ve had a relationship with Jesus and His Church from a young age.

Fast forward to junior year at an evangelical college. I had dated three girls by that time, and all of the relationships lacked the physical. By that I mean that I could barely bring myself to touch them romantically – holding hands, hugging, being touchy, kissing, etc. My first girlfriend broke up with me largely because I wasn’t being physical with her at all. My third girlfriend actually got mad at me one night in the car, after almost three months of dating, because we’d never kissed, and she thought I wasn’t attracted to her – I wasn’t, but that wasn’t her fault.

So back to junior year of college. It was then I discovered that I was strongly attracted to men. Yes, it took me that long! I decided the best way to deal with it was to shove it out of my brain, ignore it, keep going after girls, and hope it went away. I did my best to ignore it, but it just wouldn’t go away. How did I discover I was attracted to men? I discovered because one day I caught myself staring at a cute guy and having sexual feelings for him. I wasn’t purposely staring, either. It was just natural and subconscious to me. By the time graduate school rolled around, I was catching myself staring at guys far too often, and in a way that never happened with girls.

It was then that I decided it was time to admit to myself that I was at least bisexual. I figured since I’d dated girls, and talked/joked about them sexually with friends that I must like girls at least a little. Also, I really, really didn’t want to admit I was gay. I figured that if I was bisexual, I could marry a woman, not tell my parents or family, and not live a dreaded life of celibacy. So I started telling friends that I was bisexual. Little did I know, but self-identifying as bisexual is pretty common for gay people as they’re “coming out of the closet.”

Things changed. As I started thinking more deeply about my sexuality and my past, I realized that not only did I only ever catch myself checking out cute guys and not girls, but I’d been checking out guys since puberty. I’d even purposely pick a shower locker next to attractive guys in high-school, and I remembered always having to distract my mind in the gym showers. I recalled also that my physical relationships with my girlfriends were practically non-existent. It was becoming ever clearer that girls were not my main attraction: I was gay. But I desperately didn’t want to be celibate and lonely, which I thought the Bible required of all gay people.

So I started looking at the moral arguments against homosexuality, and then the biblical arguments from pro-gay and anti-gay biblical scholars and theologians. Sure, anal sex seems unnatural. The primary function of an anus is pooping, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to use it for secondary purposes, especially when there are good reasons for doing so, such as a desire to have sex with someone whom you love. And Protestants put themselves in a pickle with the “unnatural argument,” because the primary function of semen is reproduction, yet most Protestants think birth control, condoms, oral sex, and masturbation are natural and morally acceptable, even though they thwart the primary function of semen. If they condemn anal sex because it’s unnatural, then why not these other forms of non-procreative sexuality? Sure, marriage and sex are often about procreation, but we let sterile people, old people, and people who don’t want children get married, and most of the time that people have sex, it isn’t for procreative purposes. Besides, LGBT people can and do adopt children. I certainly plan to. Sure, marriage has always involved opposite sexes, but for most of history it was also polygamous and focused on property rights. Most of the biblical heroes were polygamists. Sure, lots of gay people have promiscuous sex lives, but so do lots of straight people, and promiscuity is a chosen behavior, not an orientation. To be honest, all of the non-biblical arguments against homosexuality are very weak. It’s very hard to see how homosexual behavior, in itself, is harmful to self or society.

I’ve found the historical, biblical evidence to be ambiguous. The idea of a homosexual orientation didn’t exist in ancient times. So, the word “homosexual” is never actually found in the original text. Actually, the ancient of ideas of sexuality considered most adult same-sex behavior to be a form of gluttony. They thought it was excessive passion, due to boredom with women. Furthermore, most of the same-sex behavior in Paul’s time was exploitative and pederastic (i.e. man on boy). Paul does call same-sex behavior unnatural in Romans 1, but for various reasons I’m convinced his ideas of what is natural are probably culturally relative. We see a clue of this in the text itself, since the only other place Paul talks about unnatural behavior is in reference to hair length on men and women in 1 Corinthians 11. It’s unclear whether Paul would’ve known about loving, monogamous, marriage-like, same-sex relationships, since there are so few examples in the ancient data. And if he was aware of these relationships, was he referencing them or just the predominantly pederastic form of same-sex behavior?My exegetical examination of the historical data, and take on the few passing references to same-sex behavior is obviously not meant to be detailed. For a more detailed look, I suggest: Sex and the Single Savior by Dale Martin, or Frequently Asked Questions about Sexuality, the Bible and the Church: Plain Talk about Tough Issues.

If we’re going to allow reason and experience to guide our interpretations on evolution, divorce, usury, evil, prayer, slavery, and women, then why not homosexuality? Many who use the Bible to condemn homosexual behavior are a lot like young-earth creationists. They refuse to allow reason and experience to guide their interpretation of the text. They force reality to fit their interpretation of the Bible, and then insist that LGBT people must be rejecting God, and living depressed, promiscuous, and empty lives.

I think Christian sexual morality should be defined covenantally rather than biologically. I think orientation, gay or straight, is irrelevant to sexual morality. As a gay Christian, I strive for the sexual ideals of monogamy, fidelity, covenant, marriage, self-sacrifice, love, and joy. I think the primary purpose of marriage is found in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

I am gay and I am Christian. By and large, I live a happy and normal life. Part of my happiness and fulfillment in life is found in the relationship I have with my boyfriend, also a Christian. I admit that I’m a sinner, and I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I accept the Nicene Creed. I try to love God and neighbor, and try to live life as Jesus would. I have an honest and credible disagreement about the historical context of the texts, and I have a credible disagreement about interpretive method. It’s often hard for me to love Christians who condemn my relationships, because sexuality and romantic relationships are such an integral and fundamental part of the human experience. Yet, Jesus calls us to love one another, especially when it’s hard. I pray that as this debate rages in the church, we all learn to recognize legitimate disagreement, and that we learn to genuinely love.If you’re an LGBT person who has left the faith because the church hurt you too much, why don’t you consider going back? Take a look at the Gay Christian Network. Find a Christian church that accepts you as an LGBT person. The Church hurt me, but it’s also the only place that can heal me properly. Healing often doesn’t come by rejecting the community and tradition you grew up in; it comes by working through it. As St. Augustine wisely said: The Church is a whore, but she’s your mother.

38 thoughts on “Gay and Christian

  1. This article should have been posted a long time ago. It brings up such a relevant question that the Christian community largely skirts or all too easily deems as unholy and something we shouldn’t talk about.

    The thing is: we’re all weird, and we’re all not perfect. As Christians, we’re trying to live and love better (because Christ promises us a re-newal), right? I see this article as an attempt to start a discussion on that, and that is wonderful.

    I’m a heterosexual male, and I want to follow Christ better. And yeah, I still find myself scoping out girls all the time. And, I find that very disgusting about myself, especially because it so often leads me to lusting (which is our stupid euphemism for literal and figurative masturbation). I think that this grossly distorted desire in me stems from a deeper loneliness, or from a longing to be a part of a greater Beauty, or from the fact that lots of these silly girls are wearing stickers on their bodies and calling it clothes. (Don’t worry, I’m actually not that bitter, stickers are really fun.)

    How do I understand my sexuality in a way that allows me to love God better, and without feeling so much shame? A lot of times, I wish I was asexual, so I didn’t have to concern myself with this stuff. But the problem of my loneliness and emptiness would still remain. So I figure–well, if I just had good friends around me all the time, I could bear being single since I wouldn’t always feel this great loneliness. And maybe I wouldn’t worry so much about my sexual feelings or about being romantically involved with another human because I’d share in the community of friends, where there is love still. And is not both true Christian friendship and marriage defined by that virtue of self-sacrifice/self-destruction (love)? And so, if given the choice between such a community of friends and the wonderful burden of marriage, I find myself possibly very happy with either.

    So does that mean a Christian with a homosexual orientation is left with the option to either be single (but in the community of friends) or with a special partner/companion (but never engage in sexual acts)? I am not sure, but I remember a good friend once saying to me that “being a Christian is already hard enough; it must be that much harder being a homosexual, too.”

    Most days, I think that the “natural” sexual relationship God approves of is the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. But still, I’m sure God would disapprove of many bad heterosexual acts, just as he would of the homosexual ones.

    And for the record, I personally don’t know if I like the idea of God approving of homosexual anal sex. But I do like the idea of a God with some help for our problems. Because in the end, it’s just really hard to be a decent Christian and human being.

  2. Interesting article. It’s a remarkable attempt to consolidate so many different pro-gay biblical arguments together in such a short amount of space, all within the context of personal experience.

    I wonder though, if anyone else feels as though the arguments are a bit superficial (or peripheral). Especially to argue against such a deeply rooted prejudice, it might seem almost amusing to argue over semantics or cultural context (ok, maybe moderately valuable). I think it is more challenging to look at the message of the gospel and the significance of scripture more broadly. I liked Walter Brueggemann’s views on the two trajectories of the scripture, i.e., the trajectory of justice and the trajectory of holiness (google search: Brueggemann on Homosexuality to find the article by poserorprophet). I won’t say more about Brueggemann’s arguments (or poserorprophet’s re-appropriation of his OT theology) here, so as not to rob anybody of the pleasure of reading it themselves.

    My point (since it’s never clear): 1. Good points, but they can easily lead to surface level discussion of semantics/historical context. 2. Somebody read the Brueggemann article and dialogue with me about it. Okay. Thanks.

  3. You know, I’m all for deep arguments and everything, but personally, a lot of what “Christians” write, especially when it’s personal reflection, is pretty shallow and takes a lot for granted. They can do that because they’re arguing in line with something a lot of people agree with without really thinking about it.

    Being gay isn’t harder or easier than being anything else. I think the real issue people have/will have with this article and ones like it is that the author argues as though he’s normal and doesn’t really have to defend his sexual or religious orientation just like someone who’s heterosexual.

  4. Hi all,

    My name is Jon Searle and I authored this blog entry. As someone who has a year of grad school in philosophy under his belt, I wish I could say I was named after Berkeley’s famous philosophy prof, John Searle — but alas, no. 😦

    Elisa and Justin, you’re both right to note that this article is just a start, and there’s a lot more to say. Basically everything about that article only skims the surface, but such is the nature of a blog entry.

    For example, something I wanted to put in the entry is that I sometimes get asked “what if you’re wrong?” My answer is:

    I can’t imagine God thinking I’m doing anything wrong since I don’t think loving and committing myself to my boyfriend has any negative consequences whatsoever. I’m not treating myself or anyone else poorly.
    We all are going to come before the throne and find out that some of our deepest theological and moral convictions are mistaken. Certainly, all Christians should expect to be shocked finding out that they’ve sinned when they thought they hadn’t. How do you think God will act after telling us that some of our deeply held beliefs are wrong? My guess is there will be grace and forgiveness.

    Anyway, thanks for reading!

  5. Friend, you are deeply mistaken.

    I’ve noticed that some Christians say the words “We’re all sinners” in two different ways. Some mean that we have all fallen short of the glory of God and need a savior. Others mean that we have all fallen short, so we’re all okay and that we should live with sin. Your post makes it sound like you believe in the second meaning.

    To say that our sins are OK is missing this point. We are given new identities when we come to Christ. To identify ourselves to our former sinful tendencies would be to trivialize Christ’s work on the cross. This doesn’t just apply to homosexuality but to all sins. I sympathize with your struggles in that I am a single male and find myself constantly lusting. But to identify myself as a lust-er when our standing before God has been eternally changed by Christ, when Christ calls us righteous, would be to tragically miss out on the invitation to let the Holy Spirit lead us to Christ in the process of sanctification. You can no more be a gay Christian than a fornicator Christian; we may be there right now and sometimes we like being there and can’t help but being there. But we can’t remain there. We can’t stop repenting and give in. Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!

    Not only are we given new identities, but we are new creatures altogether. We can’t justify our sins through naturalness, for we were born sinners. We were totally, utterly depraved before Christ for even the best of our intentions and desires have been twisted into unfathomable shapes. Many sins are congenital, but all sins are deadly. But being a new creature means having a new heart, having new desires. We don’t have to live this old life anymore!

    Friend, hope that you keep on fighting and not acquiesce. I fight against my natural self, my lust, pride, and selfishness. Sometimes it seems like a hopeless struggle. But remember that the war has been already been won!!

  6. I think Justin Lee’s comment above is to say that A) it is sometimes hard to be a sexual person of any kind. And B) that it is hard to be gay and at the same time want to be involved in certain religious communities, especially in Christian communities. Even in Berkeley.

    So Laura Ferris- I don’t think it is fair to dismiss a comment like that as shallow or taking anything for granted. What he is saying might be obvious to you or the people of To An Unknown God, but I appreciate the conversation. And Jon Searle being brave enough to say what he has on the Internet.

    I myself am a pretty conservative Christian, even though Im’ struggling with many questions. And maybe you’re right to say many Christians have made “being gay” seem too hard for some people, including ourselves. But it is very important for me to know that I’ve maybe hurt my brothers and sisters, whether they are sexually energized young people who have a hard time talking about their desires or just what you call “normal”.

    I don’t think Jon is “normal” OR “weird.” I think he is who he is. The same for Justin. I don’t think being gay is always hard either, as you say. Or being young and burning with desire. But if one or both of them want to understand their own life and development that way, why stop them?

  7. I mean, so what I’m saying is that I think calling these personal reflections “shallow” is missing the point. Justin Lee is wisely pointing out, I think, that the controversy of this in churches gets to something deeper, maybe producing both problems at a surface level. This is how Jon Searle ends what he wrote. He wishes that “we all learn to recognize legitimate disagreement.” And I think he’s right.

  8. Jon, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’ve been able to integrate your sexuality and religious identity, and have found a partner with whom you can also share your faith. God is truly great!

  9. Thanks for the gracious comments, everyone. 🙂

    Clive, I didn’t mean to imply that it’s ok to live with unrepentant sin. I think willingly living with unrepentant sin is to abuse the grace of God in Christ. I’ll try and be clearer:

    “Homosexual behavior” is not a sin, so I have nothing to repent of.
    I think this because
    a) Christian ethics is about how we treat ourselves and each other, and I’m not loving my neighbor less merely by dating another guy. Sexual sins treat others poorly, not lovingly. For example, adultery, exploitation, or treating others as a sex object.

    b) I think Paul’s assumption that homosexual behavior is unnatural is culture bound. When deciding whether a rule or assumption in the Bible is still applicable, I think it’s most important to see if the reasoning behind the rule still applies.

    c) I undoubtedly have a more liberal view of the Bible than you. I’m not an inerrantist.

    You probably think I’m deeply mistaken on all 3 counts. It wouldn’t be the first time a Christian has told me that. We’ll just have to let God weigh in on some undetermined date :p

  10. Clara, thanks for the kind words. It’s remarkably hard to find another gay person who is also Christian/to whom you feel physically attracted/to whom your personalities are compatible. Partly, this is just hard for anyone, regardless of orientation. Partly, because not many gay people exist. Haha. And partly because a lot of gay people who grew up Christian feel too hurt to participate in church anymore.

    So yeah…I’m really grateful to have found him. He’s the music director at a Lutheran church and it just so happens that I’ve been in choirs since elementary school and love it. It’s been 1.5 years and things are going well!

  11. I don’t think Jon’s article is shallow: I was responding to Elisa’s comment above that she thought the argument was shallow especially for a topic where there was a lot of ingrained prejudice. I was trying to make the point that by requiring so much proof and “justification” from a viewpoint that is considered controversial is to already deem it as unequal to other viewpoints before you even hear what they have to say, or try to make this about “the gospel” broadly (Elisa’s comment again) and sidestepping the real issue – real people. I guess I failed to make that clear. But thanks for getting angry about what you thought I was saying, Jin! 🙂 I wondered, so I’m glad that didn’t just stand without clarification!

    And sorry to Jon, too, if you thought I was insulting your article.

  12. As in even if it were shallow it’s not anymore worth dismissing as anything else anyone “Christian” or otherwise says. Not that it is shallow. I disagree with Elisa’s take. I actually think your article is sophisticated and lucid, Jon.

    Sorry about that again.

  13. Though, what do you think I meant by “normal” other than “he is who he is”? Isn’t that what everyone’s normal is?

  14. What a thoughtful entry, Jon. 🙂

    May God bless you both and enable you to do more good together than could have been accomplished alone.

  15. Dear Jon,

    Homosexuality most definitely is sin. The unnatural argument itself is from Romans 1. But you don’t believe in the inerrancy of Bible, so it’s really hard to convince you by quoting scripture. Maybe the inerrancy is what we really need to talk about.

    So let’s do that. Where do you get your definition of Christian ethics? If it’s from the Bible, then why do you trust it since the Bible is not inerrant? At that point you are just picking and choosing the parts that you want to hear.

    Furthermore, let us assume that, yes, even though the vast majority of cultures view homosexuality as wrong, fine, Paul’s assumption that homosexual behavior is unnatural is culture bound. But where does that get you? You are presupposing that what each culture defines isn’t sinful. Your hidden assumption is that morality is subjective to each culture, that there is no objective morality. If you share the view that each human being is fallen, i don’t think it’s that much harder to imagine that each culture is fallen as well.

    You really can’t get away from the inerrancy of the bible. At that point, you can pick out anything you want… The whole “we are all sinner” part? who wants to hear that? Why be so pessimistic? Isn’t Christianity about being loving anyway? What about the part about dying to yourself? That surely doesn’t make sense. Or that part about eating His flesh and drinking His blood… yeah that one didn’t go down too well with some of his followers either.

  16. Hi Clive,

    I struggled with or not I should write a response because I think talking about the problems with inerrancy get us far from the original topic of being gay and Christian. However, I think I can respond in such a way as to flesh out one of my paragraphs in the article.

    There are a couple big problems I have with inerrancy. The first problem is unrelated to my article, the second problem is related.

    1) I don’t see any good reasons to believe it. Saying “You should believe in inerrancy or else there will be scary consequences for your other beliefs” doesn’t seem like a point in favor of inerrancy’s truth. Frankly, I’d be more scared if our most cherished theological beliefs absolutely depended upon inerrancy.

    2) I don’t think the concept of inerrancy makes sense, because the Bible does not literally speak to us. We always have to interpret it, and God hasn’t left us with a guidebook telling us how to read the Bible, or an answer book telling us which of our interpretations are correct.

    Take, for example, reconciling an old earth with Genesis. Sometimes, we should be willing to ignore authorial intention. If we were to discover (as is likely) that the author of the creation story really did think the earth was made in six days, that wouldn’t mean we should agree with him. It would mean he was wrong, and that we should still attach a looser meaning to the word “day”.

    With homosexuality and Christianity, I’m doing something very similar to the reconciliation of an old earth with the creation story. Because of science, I’m more confident that the earth was not made in six days than I am that we should interpret the creation story literally. Similarly, because of reason and personal experience, I’m more confident that homosexuality is not wrong than I am that Paul’s views about what is natural are correct.

    But look, merely having a debate about how to read certain verses, proves that we are interpreting, and who is to say that our interpretations are inerrant?

    *Even if I were to sign on to the inerrancy of Scripture, I would never sign on to the inerrancy of human interpretation, and we can never get farther than an interpretation.*

  17. btw, I’m not saying that just because we don’t have an answer book telling us which of our interpretations God likes, that we shouldn’t have convictions. Sometimes, we should. I would say especially when it comes to essentials about Jesus. I also have strong convictions about a myriad of theological issues.

    All I’m saying is that it seems to me that saying “the Bible is inerrant!” often means saying “I’m certain my interpretations are God’s will!” If we believe something to be true, then great. But why say it’s inerrant?

  18. Without commenting on the merits of inerrancy, I’d like to address three points made by Clive.

    First: Why is it that if we step one foot away from inerrancy that the whole Bible crumbles? Does it really? I don’t endorse this proposition (so don’t attack me for floating it), but consider:

    What if the Bible is just a reasonably accurate account of God’s work in history?

    Surely, every day, you rely on many sources of information that are not inerrant. For instance, you believe all kinds of things about Abraham Lincoln, yet none of your sources are inerrant. I think your claims that all of Christianity crumbles if inerrancy goes are a bit overstated.

    Second: Clive, I think the part of your argument that bothers me the most is this:

    “Where do you get your definition of Christian ethics? If it’s from the Bible, then why do you trust it since the Bible is not inerrant?”

    Simply because Jon doesn’t accept inerrancy does not mean that he doesn’t believe that Jesus said:

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

    I think it’s clear from his article that the Bible is, indeed, the source from which he derives his ethical system.

    Third: simply because Jon rejects inerrancy does not mean that he believes morality is subjective. As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, saying that a human being cannot know the truth is quite a different thing from saying that there is no truth. Jon is not denying that there is an objective morality. He’s simply attacking the idea that particular Christians can arrive at a wholly accurate understanding of that morality.

  19. Dear Jon/John,

    Inerrancy is not the same thing as strict literalism. Just as I don’t read the Psalms literally, I don’t read Genesis 1 literally either. But this doesn’t detract from its inerrancy. And yes, there wasn’t a “how to read the Bible” instruction given to us. But we were given someone better, a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us to understand the bible. And we were given each other as well.

    But let’s go back to the main topic. We both believe in the essentials that Jesus is Savior and Lord. I think we also agree on our sinfulness, that all of us were born in sin, unable to save ourselves.

    Now where does homosexuality fall under? Is it an essential doctrine? If it is an essential doctrine, how does it fit with all the other essential doctrines? I think you’ll agree with me that it does fit in pretty well with the bit about our own sinfulness. On the other hand, if homosexuality is not an essential doctrine, we would have to perform some interpretation gymnastics on some straight forward prohibitions on homosexuality, both in the Old and the New Testament. I gotta admit, I’ve been trying to do that with some other issues, and most of the time I think I’m just trying to fit my culture into the Bible, instead of the other way around.

    Okay. Seems like everyone here believes in objective morality. Where does that lead us? Since every culture has a different set of morality, every culture has gotten at least some part of it wrong. This means that “It’s okay in my culture” is not a defense. Something that’s okay in my culture can be objectively wrong.

    Lastly, I think the culture in Paul’s era was pretty similar to ours in regards to sexuality. (I would say they were even more liberal). So even if his assumptions on homosexual behavior are culture-bound, they still apply to our society today.

  20. Sorry… I wasn’t tring to imply that if you don’t believe homosexuality isn’t a sin, you’re not a christian. I merely meant whether it squares with what we do know about other essential doctrines.

  21. I take strong exception to the idea that we can state that 1st century AD culture was a certain way, let alone compare it to ours. (History major. Premodern, too.)

    Clive, doctrines, the system of theology that has essential doctrines, is itself extrabiblical. So… you’re still taking your own interpretive framework into it, a certain way of reading the text. Inerrancy is an extrabiblical concept, too. It’s not objective in such a way that you can win an argument: it’s contingent on the culture that’s interpreting things that way, and on the individual’s take.

    Also, I’m not sure everyone here believes in objective morality. I don’t know if I do. Is “God’s law” in the Bible law because it’s objective or because God gave it to a specific set of people at a certain time? This is a very intriguing, creative, and difficult question: the manner in which one reads the historical gospels, the word of God, the things it asks of us in our meditations over God’s Word. One so intricate and exciting that I’d hate to over-simplify it by hitting the Bible until it tells me if homosexuality is okay or not.

  22. First Jon, thank you for making yourself vulnerable by publicly sharing.

    I think some guys are making it more complicated than it needs to be, it all boils down to this:
    (1) We are all obligated to do God’s will.
    (2) God’s will is expressed in the Bible.
    (3) The Bible forbids homosexual behavior.
    (4) Therefore, homosexual behavior is against God’s will, or is wrong.

    Throughout the bible, God does not condemn homosexuals, but it is the behaviors (e.g. lust and adultery) that God condemns. We see such a stance in both the Old and New Testament… I think we can all agree on that.

    “Paul does call same-sex behavior unnatural in Romans 1, but for various reasons I’m convinced his ideas of what is natural are probably culturally relative. We see a clue of this in the text itself, since the only other place Paul talks about unnatural behavior is in reference to hair length on men and women in 1 Corinthians 11.”
    –>What evidence suggests that Paul’s stance on homosexual behavior was rooted in culture? What is Paul talking about exactly in 1 Cor 11 that supports what you say?

  23. “Also, I’m not sure everyone here believes in objective morality. I don’t know if I do. Is “God’s law” in the Bible law because it’s objective or because God gave it to a specific set of people at a certain time?”
    –>I think there is a confusion here. Can you elaborate on what you mean by “objective morality”? Also, can you also explain what you mean by God’s law being objective?

  24. Hello everyone. I have just a few comments. I’ll try to make them brief.

    First: Thank you, Jon, for sharing your story and for engaging in this conversation. I know that these kinds of discussions can be exhausting.

    Second: Jon, your arguments against the scriptural basis for condemning homosexuality are well taken. I am also a bit reluctant to say homosexuality is a sin based on the few Bible verses that explicitly mention same-sex romantic relationship. I think, however, that I may be inclined to believe that same-sex relationships fall short of God’s ideal because they cannot produce children. Perhaps this line of thinking does not work when comparing homosexual and heterosexual intercourse, but I think it could be valid when talking about the relationships themselves. The desire to procreate seems to be part of our identities as creatures made in God’s image. The desire is innate and universal, and it is consistent with God’s character as a creator and Father. Thus, it seems that God’s ideal marriage would allow for the ability to act upon those desires and procreate.

    I’d love to hear what you think about this idea, which I am sure is not original at all. My mind is not yet made up.

    Thank you again, Jon, for sharing. I believe conversations like these help create safer spaces for people to discuss sensitive and important topics like sexuality.

  25. @ktham Hi. Thanks for commenting. I’m pretty sure I’ve addressed every premise of your argument within the comments section. Why don’t you take a look over the comments and let me know if there’s still some confusion about my beliefs.

    @Stephanie Hi, I appreciate that you appreciate how exhausting conversations like these can be. haha! Honestly, it tires me out having to try and justify my existence as a gay christian. I used to try and convince everyone, but now I settle for less and remind myself that no matter what anyone says I know I have a good relationship with God. So, yeah, thanks for your sensitivity in this discussion. It doesn’t go unnoticed 🙂

    As to your question, I think from an evolutionary perspective, homosexuality makes little sense. Nevertheless, it exists and I don’t think there’s anything innately harmful about it. As I’ve said, I’m not treating anyone else poorly or loving my neighbor any less.

    There are similar scenarios among many straight marriages. For example, heterosexual infertile couples. They fall in love, and want to commit their lives to each other, maybe even adopt children. Still, they can’t have biological children. And so it is with gay people.

  26. @ Laura: Shallow was a bad word for it, I didn’t necessarily mean it to sound so pejorative. I think the article was a great start. I’ve read Fuller Seminary’s entire collection on gay theology (and, of course, its anti-gay counterparts), so it’s frustrating for me to keep reading “current” articles that utilize very old arguments (arguments that don’t seem to convince anybody, because, i suspect, they are prejudiced or afraid). I just want to hear something Jack Rogers hasn’t already said, is that too much to ask? Honestly, I’m not sure how you disagree with my take. My take wasn’t that Jon’s article wasn’t sophisticated. My take is that the evangelical mainstream is ridiculously behind the progress being made in theological studies… and that it is this way not because we don’t use the right Bible verses or understand Greek well enough but perhaps because the specific significance we have placed on the Bible is wrong, or maybe we’re just prejudiced and stubborn.

    I personally agree with Jon, I think a monogamous same sex relationship can glorify God. I think his arguments are convincing, just like I found Helminiak’s and Rogers’ books convincing. I was just hoping people will see some of the newer arguments being made in academia and comment on them. Didn’t mean any disrespect, Jon or Laura.

  27. Oh, and I did appreciate what you said about the real issue being about real people. I completely agree, and I don’t think it contradicts what I meant to say in my first comment. I mean that’s exactly what the Brueggemann article talks about! I have a feeling nobody read it…

  28. Elisa, would you mind sharing specific links? I’d love to check out some of these other sources that you’ve mentioned.

  29. Also, I know this is probably taking this out of context, but what the heck are people talking about when they say being gay isn’t harder than being anything else? And Justin, I don’t think your comparison is exactly fair either. It’s like saying being poor is not harder than being rich because sometimes rich people deal with other forms of poverty. Yeah, people say that and a nasty result is that they ignore the suffering of the marginalized.

    It SUCKS to be a gay Christian right now, and don’t diminish this by equating it to something heterosexuals struggle with. It is not the same. It’s actually quite insulting (even though I get that people are just trying to relate). Being an ally is great, but don’t absorb the suffering of the oppressed by saying that it’s a common human experience.

    I know it must be out of context and what you’re saying is more nuanced or completely outside of how I’m taking it, but I just needed to point it out and let a bunch of strangers know that it bothered me.

  30. @Elisa

    Hey there! I got what you were saying initially, and it actually makes me *really, really* happy when people in the evangelical community come out strongly in support of gay christians. We need your support!


    Take a look at the link I provided in the footnotes of my blog post. It’s titled “Frequently asked questions about Sexualiyt, the Bible, the Church”. This link will provide you with a number of theologians (including Jack Rogers) who come out in favor of including gay people in the church as they are. My favorite article is by Jeffrey Siker because he gives a strikingly good analogy of gay people in the church today and the new gentile christians portrayed in Acts

  31. @ Elisa – I want to read what you’re reading so badly! I’ll be looking up some of the authors you mentioned. I’m so glad you’ve elaborated your thoughts – do you write somewhere regularly? I’d love to read what you’re writing, as well.

  32. Elisa,

    While I appreciate your props, I am a bit ashamed of what I wrote back in 2005 regarding matters related to biblical theology and sexuality. At that time, I was still transitioning in my thinking on the matter. Now, I cringe that I once wrote that homosexuality is a symptom of the fallenness of creation. Egad. I have since come to believe that a good many non-hetero- expressions of sexuality are actually further examples of God’s ongoing good creative activity in the world.

    I have written some more mature reflections on that matter here:

    and also here:

    I have also commented about the challenges related to discussing such things with Evangelicals here:

    I apologize for the number of links, but I do feel that I need to fill out the earlier thoughts you mention, as I now disagree with some of what was there. At the end of the day, I leave that post up both to be honest about my own journey and with the hope that it might help others from Evangelical-type backgrounds to convert on this matter.


    Thanks for writing the article. It’s no easy battle engaging in this conversation with some folks (unfortunately, my patience appears to have decreased over the years) so I admire your goal and have tried to the same as much as I can as an ally.

    I have worked with homeless youth for over ten years now and it is absolutely disgusting how many kids are on the street because their Conservative Christian parents have put them there after they came out or were outed (in a survey done in Toronto, 40% of youth identified familial rejection of their non-heterosexuality as a primary cause of their homelessness). Many of these young people still value Christianity or some sort of relationship with Jesus and I have been able to help some to reconcile that with their sexuality (even if reconciliation with there parents is no longer possible or desirable).

    Lord, have mercy, eh?

  33. “I have worked with homeless youth for over ten years now and it is absolutely disgusting how many kids are on the street because their Conservative Christian parents have put them there after they came out or were outed”
    @dan: They put their kids in the street and call themselves Christian? That is terrible!! I think it’s fair to say that they aren’t truly Christian. Their actions are very hypocritical to the faith they profess.

    @jon: Thanks for the response and again for your humility. I did read the comments section, and the reason asked the questions did was because couldn’t find answers to the questions I asked you. I did quote you to make things easier. Note, I support the fact that you can be gay and Christian, but if you are to use the bible to support your case that same-sex “behavior” is ok, then I would like to see why and how it fits in the picture as God intended. I don’t want want to anyone to use “God” or God’s word in vain.
    You say Paul’s stance on homosexual behavior was rooted in culture, what evidence supports this? Paul’s stance seems to reaffirm what was found in the Old Testament on this issue so it seems like he holds his stance for the reason that it’s morally wrong, rather than culturally viewed as “unnatural.” Paul seems to equate homosexual lust/sex as sinful as heterosexual lust/sex outside of marriage, am I wrong?
    What is Paul talking about exactly in 1 Cor 11 that supports what you say? (i.e. you bring up this scripture reference without explaining how it’s relevant)

    “being gay isn’t harder than being anything else?”
    @Elise: I think being Christian is much more harder than being gay and is the struggle that really counts, look at Apostle Paul’s life, I think he suffered more than any other Christian (not to quantify things tho…), look at Christians in other countries who are persecuted for their faith, etc… We get to live in a country where we don’t have to face such hardships, how lucky we are! I’m aware that some are born with an inclination towards the same sex, and to me, that’s completely ok! They are just as much as my brother and sister as anyone else. It’s what they do with it that counts. God gave us free-will to choose how we want to live our lives, whether it’s by viewing our relationship with our Father as higher than any other human relationship, or idolizing romance. The bible says we are always on a constant battle with the flesh. We are to remain pure, outside of sexual immorality. The same rules apply on both homosexual and heterosexual people. Remember the distinction between orientation and the acts we choose to do. And if we have any idols other than God, such as money, sex, romance, other addictions, drugs, etc. this is very detrimental to our relationship with God, because we are to love God with all our mind, soul, strength, and all our hearts. I think most people prioritize their relationship with that special someone more than they do their role in the body of Christ, or so it seems. Your communal relationships are good for you but do not any specific romantic relationship be an idol. Your relationship with God is more important than any human relationship, I think we should all agree on that. Our God is love, not an essence of any romantic love for us sinners, but a love of compassion which we should try to imitate.

    I don’t see the reason for this issue to be so controversial. It seems that God intends for man and woman to be together, “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

    “I am also a bit reluctant to say homosexuality is a sin”
    @Steph: The orientation itself cannot be a sin, since sin involves a choice. Some people are unclear as to what “sin” is… it’s not just “bad things” but sins anything we do that distance ourselves from God.

    I might not have been a Christian as long as some of you guys here nor am that well-versed in philosophy, but it looks to me that God intends marriage to be between a man and woman, and I think we are trying too hard to get around this description when the bible seems to make it clear. I hope this doesn’t seem as an attack to you Jon. It’s just I’m not convinced that a homosexual relationship in place of the role of the heterosexual relationship as depicted in the bible can be what God intended.

    I guess I might have strayed a bit, but the main points to argue against I believe are:
    1) God intended man to be union-ed together with a woman
    2) homosexual /behavior/ (not the orientation) is a sin
    The Bible clearly says this, doesn’t it?

    We have brothers, and we have sisters, we are not in the fight alone. There is no excuse to be a lone ranger Christian even if you have a homosexual orientation. Your identity as a Christian is the most important identity you can have. Those that say God doesn’t want anyone to be alone, even for someone who is gay, indeed, you aren’t!
    Besides, not everyone is married! Take a look at the Christians who have lived in our world. We are primarily united in the vision we share in Christ.

    The problems I think our society face:
    1) Inability to accept one another, which goes against our commandment to love one another.
    2) Focusing and fantasizing too much on romantic relationships, rather than our greatest relationship with God, which should be higher than any human relationship. (This is for both gay and straight)
    3) We are called to a life of suffering for the gospel, not to live an ideal life with our ideal partner in comfort. We are called to carry his cross as well as Jesus’ disciples. And the cross he carried, we was literally carrying it as a dead man. So I’m astonished why there are so many debates focusing on marriage and gay marriage, that issue is so…. i don’t know, we know God’s intentions through the bible, and we know there is a dying world, I don’t see why we are caught up in such a mess.

    Before submitting this comment, I’m just scared I might give off that vibe since I might be arguing as if I was unloving, which I hope you don’t see as the case. I comment with all due respect and love as a dear brother in Christ.

  34. @Dan: You’re awesome! Thanks for the links and for your thoughtful blog posts. Are you currently studying at a seminary/divinity school? What sorts of sources are you looking at?

    @ktham: Friend, I do not mean to say that being gay is more difficult than fearing for one’s life in a persecuting country. But do we completely dismiss the suffering of the gay community in the US because it’s not as horrifying? What about the gay community in Uganda, where they are being killed for their sexual identity? These comparisons seem rather irrelevant and I am not sure what you mean by making them.

    What I said was specifically in response to Justin’s comment where he made a comparison between struggling with lust and struggling as a homosexual. Sure, everybody lusts, but heterosexuals do not have the added external persecution and discrimination to deal with. This seems kind of obvious. I just didn’t want to diminish the suffering of the gay Christian by comparing it to heterosexual lust.

    Also, you made the statement that “the Bible is clear”. The Bible is a lot of things, but it is certainly not clear. I’ve discovered this even before studying the Greek and Hebrew texts. If you read Jon’s article, you would find reasons why we cannot say the Bible is clear on this issue. You’ve made a blanket statement about marriage, but I am guessing you’ve come to this conclusion based on catch phrases you’ve heard in a sermon or through political propaganda. Where’s the biblical evidence?

    While I do respect some conservative Christians who have come to similar conclusions as you have, I do not think you have actually wrestled with the text if you can work with the premise that the Bible is clear. Give us verses that aren’t pulled out of context, give us deep theological reflection! It’s great that you are beginning to engage the issue, but I hope that your brotherly love for us will translate into a deeper processing of the text/ethical issue.

    @Jon: I LOVE meeting gay evangelical Christians and allies as well! There are so few of us that when we find each other, it’s understandably exciting.

    It felt really strange to read your article because I connect with so much of your personal experiences/insights. A few times I thought “hmm.. did I write this??” Thank you so much for sharing and I’d love to be updated on your experiences/learning. Do you have a blog?

    @Laura: I wish you could read what I’m reading too! I wish there were more articles available for free online… but scholars like to write in such obscure theological journals. I’m going to try and find out if there were any articles that you can easily download. Thanks for posting Jon’s article! It would be interesting to hear your thoughts as well.

  35. @Elise: Thank you for your advice. I don’t have formal seminary training as some of you, so it is good to see you guys who are commenting here studying the text, especially in the academic field. What I meant was clear, was the design God intended when he made man and woman and how they were made for each other to be a one-flesh union as stated in Genesis. Is that something up for debate? There are most certainly many passages that refer to husbands and wives as the family unit, starting with first man and wife (Adam and Eve). Can anyone of us really say with more certainty that God intended for it to be any different?

    “What I said was specifically in response to Justin’s comment where he made a comparison between struggling with lust and struggling as a homosexual. Sure, everybody lusts, but heterosexuals do not have the added external persecution and discrimination to deal with. This seems kind of obvious. I just didn’t want to diminish the suffering of the gay Christian by comparing it to heterosexual lust.”
    –> Indeed, the struggles won’t be the same. Wasn’t trying to imply they were.

  36. @ktham
    First, I feel as though you’ve kept this conversation civil, and I hope to continue with that. Thank you. As you pointed out, Christians often have a problem accepting one another and treating each other as brothers and sisters. This is especially true in the debate about homosexuality.

    I don’t think God clearly expresses his will through the Bible. Rather, I think, at most, humans can try to discern God’s will through their interpretations of the Bible.

    Usually verses become unclear to us when they don’t match with our consciences or they seem to conflict with what we think makes sense. For example, we’re “clearly” told not to kill, but what about war or imminent physical danger? We’re “clearly” told that the earth was made in 6 days, but modern geology is confident that the earth took much longer to form. We’re “clearly” told never, ever to divorce (depending on which gospel you’re reading), but what about when the spouse is very neglectful or abusive? We’re “clearly” told (in 1 Cor 11:14-15) that it is unnatural for a man to have long hair or a woman to have short hair, but isn’t that just kinda silly? Can’t we just tell that those verses are cultural? In the same way, I can just tell that the ancient jewish views on homosexual behavior are cultural.

    When we come across troubling verses like these, we either have to accept what sounds extreme, false or unreasonable *or* we have to find a meaning for the verse that is more reasonable. We should try to discern how the Spirit wants us to read the Bible. Sometimes, what sounds extreme is really what God wants. Pacifists would be a plausible example (although it is of course debatable).

  37. @ktham

    btw, the relevance of the 1 cor 11 verse is that the same greek word Paul used in 1 cor 11:14 is used in Romans 1 to describe same sex behavior. Those are the only 2 references in Paul’s writing to unnatural behavior. One has to do with hair length. The implication for me is that Paul’s view of unnatural behavior is implicated in his culture.


    Hey there! I actually don’t identify as evangelical anymore because I think my hermeneutic is outside of what’s acceptable in mainstream evangelicalism. Moreover, I’m just fed up with trying to fit into evangelicalism…so burdensome for me. Rather just be a mainline christian.

    I’ve read Brugemman before on this, and I read the link you sent. I really like his hermeneutic, but I suspect that most evangelicals would find it troublesome, precisely because it allows you to sanction “sin” like homosexual behavior. I don’t think trying to use Brugemman’s “Jesus focuses more on justice than the holiness code” heremeneutic (<– of course i’m simplifying) is more convincing to an evangelical than appealing to historical context.

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