Many Christians seem unaware that their own views aren’t the only ones other Christians hold. This is true for a myriad of issues. There are no less than three views on whether Scripture is inerrant, four views on whether God controls everything that happens, four views on how Jesus’ death actually handles our sins, and three more views on whether being saved makes you stop sinning.
And all of those are considered well within the realm of “orthodox” Christian thinking. Just those four questions create the possibility of 144 different versions of Christianity – no wonder we have so many denominations.
An issue that has become increasingly divisive for Christians over the past few decades is homosexuality.
On one hand, Scripture uniformly denounces it. Just like tattoos, gluttony, and divorce for any reason other than infidelity – and many denominations have largely accepted those.
So while there are Christians who hold to “Scripture calls it sin, we must treat it as evil” – there’s also a large group of Christians who weigh the 5 verses that mention homosexuality explicitly against the 500 verses that talk about loving others, grace, not judging, redemption, forgiving, showing mercy, preserving unity, and seeking peace.
Rogue Millennials as a team does not have a uniform view on the subject, but we can see where both the older, traditional “ban it always” approach and the younger, nontraditional “cover this too in grace” approach are coming from. We want to share some articles by different Millennial authors this week on their own journeys. Consider these to be perspective pieces, not authoritative nor representing all Rogues (let alone all Millennials!).
Why Does it Matter?
Some brief notes on why this is important to talk about at all:
Out of American Millennials who say homosexuality should be accepted, 49% are Christian. What’s more, 17% are Catholic, 13% are Evangelical Protestant, and 11% are Mainline Protestant – these are normal, everyday Christians, not far removed sects or offshoot cults. (PEW)
While someone of the Silent Generation could live their whole life without meeting a gay person, 7.3% of Millennials and 12% of Generation Z consider themselves LGBT. Everyone knows someone gay today. Out of every 10 kids you know, one considers him- or herself something other than straight. (Barna)
In almost all Christian denominations in America, acceptance of homosexuality has grown in recent years. In many groups, the number is well over 50% – and the percentage of all Christians in America who say homosexuality should be accepted by society is 54%. (PEW)
So with that said, realize that this issue isn’t going way – it will be talked about increasingly, and churches will have to continually reassess their position in light of new demographics, younger congregants, and new laws. Case in point, today is the anniversary of legalization of gay marriage in America.
Common Christian Views
For a quick, broad overview: Christians typically break down into three categories on homosexuality.
- Traditional View – It’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong; we take the passages literally and apply them to all people of all times. Homosexual activity is sin, and homosexual desire is temptation to sin. As we are new creations in Christ, a Christian cannot identify as gay any more than they can now identify as a liar or thief. Homosexual practice should be treated as sin.
- Celibacy View – Homosexual activity is sin (forgivable, of course), but being gay is not. Being angry is not a sin but acting out in anger is; likewise, a person can be attracted to the same sex but remain celibate and be well within God’s commands. Gay identity is yet another consequence of living in a fallen world – just as thorns on a bush are a consequence and not a sin. Being attracted to the same sex is a controllable desire and we feel gay people should not act on those desires.
- Affirming View – Faithful, monogamous, covenant, Christ-centered marriage is possible for homosexuals and should, just like straight relationships, be the end goal. The cultural context in which the few passages banning homosexuality appear are far removed from our modern context and largely related to rape, child abuse, and power dynamics. While gay sex can be used in sinful ways, so can straight sex. We should err on the side of grace, leaving judgment up to God. It is ours to love and forgive; it is His to judge and convict.
Room for Disagreement
As you read articles this week, we’d like everyone to keep a few things in mind.
First, these are the experiences of real Christians dealing with real issues that affect millions of real lives. If you disagree, that’s great – it doesn’t invalidate anything they feel, have experienced, or have learned in their walk with the Lord. Keep in mind that your walk with the Lord is far from perfect and (hopefully) far from done as well. Be gracious and gentle as you respond with your own questions and contributions.
Second, there is room for disagreement. Every Sunday millions of American Christians attend church with millions of other American Christians who disagree with them on this issue. In fact, if you oppose homosexuality, it is possible you are now in the minority of your congregation. If you affirm homosexuality, you also need to be aware that many around you disagree – and for reasons just as good as yours. We don’t all agree, and that’s just fine. The way to salvation is a relationship with Christ – not being right about this one question of morality.
Many blessings to all our brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter what your sexual identity, and no matter where you stand on issues of sexual identity. We embrace you and look forward to discussion in love.
Further articles in this series:
LGBT Affirmation – on the affirmation view
Honoring Gay Celibates – on the celibacy view
Homosexuality and Sin – on the traditional view
For the Love of God, Try the Cheerios – a testimony and appeal of a married gay Christian minister
This is definitely a hot topic in Christian circles right now, so I’m really glad you guys have decided to address it. I appreciate your balanced and loving tone, too. Looking forward to the discussion.
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Thanks, Heather! When we say “hot” we mean rabid sometime! So we’re hoping everyone will keep it civil yet meaningful 🙂 You rock!
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I am excited to see how you guys tackle this topic. I honestly don’t know how i feel about the subject. I like hearing from all sides but ultimately I feel I will fall on Gods side. Just trying to find what other people say about it without having to fight and everyone unfriending or unfollowing everybody. Good luck with this
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YES. I honestly think a lot of our own views are shifting as we sort through the topic and talk with others and do our own research and thinking. But having the opportunity to discuss it without people unfriending or attacking will be a blessing!
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Of the three views you list, I don’t see any major difference between the first two. They both maintain that homosexual activity is sin, and therefore that homosexual desire is temptation to sin. It seems to me that there are really only two views, unless there is a distinction between the first two that I’m missing.
Also, and for context I’m writing from a Catholic perspective, I’m not entirely comfortable with this:
“If you affirm homosexuality, you also need to be aware that many around you disagree – and for reasons just as good as yours. We don’t all agree, and that’s just fine. The way to salvation is a relationship with Christ – not being right about this one question of morality.”
Definitely there is much disagreement on this issue. However, if we assume that God has set objective moral standards, and that God’s moral standards are rational rather than arbitrary, then the reasons for respectively affirming and opposing homosexual acts cannot be “just as good” as each other. The validity of one’s reasons can only be determined through argument, and unfortunately our society seems to lack the ability to have a respectful moral argument. I am grateful for initiatives like your blog that keep the dialogue going though!
Furthermore, the third sentence seems to me to set up a false choice. Yes, the way to salvation is a relationship with Christ, but how should I live out that relationship if I’m gay? Surely it must be on Christ’s terms and not mine. And so being right about important moral questions seems pivotal to a healthy relationship with Christ. Now I realize that “being right” about this question, from a Protestant perspective, might seem like a matter of merit, e.g. being a better theologian/interpreter of Scripture – and this seems unfair. Surely Christ in his grace wouldn’t reject me because I’m not clever enough to correctly interpret the relevant biblical passages? From a Catholic perspective, however, “being right” about this question simply means following the teaching of the Church, which anyone can and should know. To follow the teaching of the Church is, for Catholics, tantamount to following the teaching of Jesus – as he himself said when his disciples went out for their first mission, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16).
As you pointed out in your article, there are plenty of Catholics who affirm homosexual activity – apparently a higher % than Protestants! However, while Protestant denominations have various teachings (or in some cases, no teaching) on this issue, the Catholic Church has a clear teaching on it (see items 2357-2359 of the Catechism; link below), and those Catholics who affirm homosexual activity are either ignorant of the Church’s teaching, or worse yet, in rebellion against it – neither of which is “just fine”.
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Great thoughts. Typically, the difference between the first two positions is on whether homosexual desire (versus homosexual activity) is sinful or not. It is not sinful to want to lie – or to be angry. Yet it is sinful to actually lie or punch someone in the face out of anger. Yet it is also sinful to lust – so it isn’t always true that “as long as you don’t act on it, it’s not sin.” A traditionalist usually feels the desire itself is sinful, part of the Fall, something that must be rejected within that person. To a traditionalist, no one can “identify” as gay if they are a Christian – they must deny that desire, not identify by it. We are a new creation and therefore we can’t be “gay Christians.”
Someone who believes that being gay isn’t sinful – just acting out homosexual behavior is – moves into the celibate perspective. They believe someone can be gay and a Christian, but part of seeking righteousness for them will be keeping pure by celibate behavior. Someone can feel gay and even identify gay – they just can’t engage in gay behavior.
Hopefully that helps clear up the difference. There may be nuances in between each position – but believing even the desire and identity is sinful is a far cry from just holding that the behavior is sinful.
“Just fine” is a good way to express what we wished to express. Unless you, as a Catholic, believe all Protestants are going to hell – then you (like it or not) agree that it’s just fine for different types of Christians to hold different views on this topic. It is true even within the Catholic fold. Here’s a great article on how the current Pope has diverged from the “party line” at least five times on LGBT issues. When the Pope says, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” you can be sure there’s differences of opinion across the Catholic spectrum as well.
Part of this comes down to biblical interpretation. Check out the article on affirmation Adam wrote, if you have a moment. The teaching of the Catholic church has changed over 2000 years on a myriad of issues – it’s possible this issue will be the next. With so much division and with multiple interpretations available, I would never use “church teaching” as a immutable, immovable measuring rod – allowing for differences of opinion is “just fine” on an issue that is not necessary regarding salvation.
“Unless you, as a Catholic, believe all Protestants are going to hell – then you (like it or not) agree that it’s just fine for different types of Christians to hold different views on this topic.”
Once again, I think this represents a false choice. It is possible to not believe that all Protestants are going to hell (the Catholic Church does not claim the prerogative to consign anyone to hell), and yet to also not think it’s “just fine” that many Christians (Protestant and Catholic alike) reject the teaching of the Church on this moral issue.
Pope Francis upholds Catholic teaching on homosexuality. If his famous remark “Who am I to judge?” is taken in its immediate context and in the context of his subsequent comments about the remark and his other statements on same-sex marriage and gender (all of them, not only those selectively reviewed by Time Magazine) you will find that his views are exactly in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has placed more emphasis on article 2358 of the Catechism (which calls for people with homosexual inclinations to be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity) than on article 2357. This is in keeping with the overall emphasis of his papacy, which has sought to emphasise positive Christian virtues like joy, mercy, and compassion, stressing what the Church is for rather than what it is against. He rightly realizes that if the Church only talks about what it disapproves of, then it is not fulfilling its God-given mission to proclaim the good news.
The secular media tends to see Catholic teaching as shifting sand that evolves along a linear trajectory towards conformity with the values of contemporary Western culture. However, this is a gross misinterpretation on the part of the secular media. Catholic teaching on homosexuality has never changed and will not change. The Church is doing a better job of embracing gay people with respect and compassion, but this does not at all involve a move towards what you describe as an “affirming view” of homosexual acts.
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Any “Christian” supporting gay marriage is not a true christian, just a Christian by religion not as a believer and does not have the spirit of God.
That is one narrow minded way to look at it. Jesus said those who know him are saved – not those who agree with Chilavert on the issue of homosexuality. Keep in mind you have no authority from God to decide who is a Christian and who is not. I hope you continue to read and grow in your faith, as the Spirit opens your eyes to all He calls His!
How can you know Jesus and still be gay? Is Jesus gay?
Show me where He asked you to be gay or involve in homosexuality. There is none.
I’m not asking you to agree with me but if you say you are saved then agree with the Scriptures.
Sentiments and your lust cannot make you to be saved.
How can you know Jesus and still be a woman? Is Jesus a woman? Show me where He asked you to be a woman. Hopefully you can see how flawed your logic is. That is not how Scripture works.
These questions are irrelevant and shows a debased mind
As believers we abide by the principles of Christ. Being gay and homosexuality is not part of it. Why didn’t you dispute Romans 1:27? After all I didn’t write the Scriptures.
Stop deceiving the world with profane thoughts and teachings
You have given me my day’s entertainment, brother – and illustrated for our audience how narrowminded, bigoted and hypocritical those who hold the traditional view often are. You only keep half the Scriptures yourself – you still want to label gays as sinners but you don’t want to kill them as God commanded. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, though. They show people one of the three views Christians across the globe represent today.
Stop deceiving the world.
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Stop encouraging hatred, lack of grace, and usurping God’s role of judgment. You are sick with pride – learning some humility and remind yourself that God calls you to love, not hate, give grace, not judgment. 🙂
I’m not hating you, just telling you the truth.
The truth shall set you free
You are hating gays, and you are hardly setting anyone free! You make slaves of brothers and sisters in Christ, for whom there is no longer condemnation – but all you have room for is condemning. I don’t care about your opinion of me, ha – just your opinion of them. Your love or hate of me is completely irrelevant, I lose no sleep over it 🙂 I’ll always encourage you to treat gays like Jesus treated persecuted people, though.
I’m not hating gays. I’m trying to make you understand that being gay is satanic. I backed it up with scriptures. Let no one deceive you.
That was why Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by God. God has given us the laid down rules and we cannot allow our fleshy desire to destroy us.
Who am I to judge? The Scripture is already the judging the world by their wayward life.
Repent and see the Light of Christ
We shall not continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1)
For a little info on how many of the passages about homosexuality are not as clear as you pretend, check out the next article, by Adam about affirmation. You might find it instructive as to why millions of Believers have concluded that the homosexuality passages talk about a very different practice than we have today. Always good to read about the other side of the debate, to balance out your blind loyalty to reading the Bible without its context.
I’m surprised that in all these you haven’t quoted a scripture to back your argument. All your views are baseless, sorry to say.
Jesus welcomed gays for them to repent not to continue in the act.
That is definitely one opinion. Jesus actually never once addresses homosexuality so you wishful thinking that he welcomed them to repent is baseless. Continue reading the articles, friend – in the next one, Adam breaks down the Scriptures. I am not going to do here in comments something he did really well in the next article 🙂 This isnt a 3rd grade debate. Read on if you want to learn more about how affirming Christians view the Scriptures you think dismiss homosexuality. Thanks for dropping by! Read the next article if you want an actual argument!
How can I read articles that are profane in words? It’s waste of time.
I’m not arguing with you. I’m telling you the truth.
Well, at least you tried. 🙂 You should re-read this article. It is an introduction. It does not say homosexuality is okay, nor does it say I am one. It is an introduction to the next three articles lol. Read on, if you want to see why Some Christians take each of the three views presented in this INTRODUCTION 🙂 If you just want to believe what you’ve always believed, move on to troll someone else’s blog. Millions of Christians disagree that you have found the truth on this subject. Read the next article if you want to understand why so many of our Christian brothers and sisters have studied the Scriptures and concluded that your view is wrong as well as hateful. But if you don’t care, that’s cool – you missed the point of this article. It’s an intro 🙂
I don’t read articles that debate such issues
If you have sealed your heart to being gay then it’s your choice but does not make it a sinless act. The choice is yours but chose life and not destruction.
Amazing topic to talk about..
Thank you very much for sharing. I really enjoyed this post a lot… ♡♡
To learn more about LGBT history.. feel free to check out my latest post..
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Thanks for the heads up! Will check it out!!! Thanks for inviting us along on your own journey! 🙂