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