The issue of homosexuality has been much debated in the last 5-10 years among Bible-believing Evangelical Christians. Some churches affirm same-sex unions and lifestyles, while others don’t. Many Christians have simply decided that this is an issue that Christians need to “agree to disagree” over.
So is the question of being a gay Christian even that important in the 21st century? Yes, because this issue is crucial to the gospel and our Christian identity. In calling Christians to be holy, that necessarily includes not only our sexual behaviour, but also our thoughts and ideas about sex. Our understanding of our sexuality very much impacts our understanding of our identity in Christ.
In this episode, you’ll discover—
- What 2 key shifts having been taking place in Evangelical churches in the last 10 years?
- How is the issue of homosexuality different from other doctrinal differences and not just something Christians can just decide to “agree to disagree” over?
- What about the idea of a “gay Christian”? Should Christians who have same-sex attractions use the label “gay” to describe themselves?
- What does “gay” mean in relation to “sexual orientation” and is there a distinction between experience vs identity?
- How does the label “gay” differ from other identity labels Christians wear (such as racial or national groupings)?
- How should Christians deal with same-sex attraction?
As social values and attitudes regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage began to change over the past 30-40 years, evangelical Christianity has been unwilling to depart from the biblical beliefs that God created sex and marriage exclusively for the life-long union between one man and one woman. But within the last 10 years even that has begun to change. Many Churches now still want to affirm the sinfulness of any same-sex behavior, but make room for integrating alternative sexual identities into our identity in Christ. There is a great deal of confusion leading many Christians into dangerous errors and compromise
What’s wrong with a Christian calling themselves “gay”?
The really big problems is how inseparable the word “gay” is from sexual orientation.
Even the way we define sexual orientation makes determining sexual orientation an entirely private and personal decision. In the vocabulary and mind of our culture, “sexual orientation” is a statement about what “kind” of person you are, and a statement about your very nature (i.e. “what you are”). It’s where each person, based entirely on their own subjective, personal experiences, is concluding that they’re in some very fundamental way, a different kind of human being and have a different kind of nature, than other people.
The very idea of “sexual orientation” is a cultural construction grounded in a non-biblical worldview. As Rosaria Butterfield noted, “The concept of sexual orientation blurs the relationship between personhood and sexual practice (desired or actual). Christians are called “saints” in the Bible…Any category of personhood that reduces a saint to a sum total of his or her fallen sexual behaviour is not a friend of Christ.”
We cannot take a label like “gay”, which identifies a desire the Bible calls sinful, and attach it to our Christian identity. Paul makes it very clear that sinful sexual desires, which includes but is not limited to desires for members of the same sex, is the direct result of our sinful rebellion against God and the consequent beginnings of God’s wrath being pour out (Romans 1:24-27). Using “gay” as a Christian identity label means accepting the unbiblical category of sexual orientation and its Godless assumptions about human nature.
How should Christians deal with same-sex attraction?
- Christians must reject and stop using the culturally constructed concept of sexual orientation as a framework for understanding human nature and identity. We want people to form an entirely new self-understanding, identifying themselves entirely, (heart, soul, mind and strength), with the person and work of Christ.
- Christians need to grieve equally over the distortions to sexuality caused by sin (whether homosexual or heterosexual). All sexual sin is evil in God’s sight because it is the embodiment of our rebellion against the Creator. It takes one of the most sacred ways in which humanity bears the image of their Creator, and turns it instead into an instrument for satisfying selfish lust.
- Christians must be patient with those who use “gay Christian” as an identity label. We mustn’t assume that other Christians are using the vocabulary of culture out of defiance. Many of those who identify themselves as “gay Christians” are trying to work out their salvation and identity in Christ in the light of their own unique battles with the vestiges of their sinful nature.
For those of us in the church who do not have these struggles, it’s worth remembering that we haven’t always done a good job, and have often been downright hurtful and unaccepting toward those with same-sex attractions.
The problem could be that we, as the church, have simply not been deliberate or thoughtful enough about developing a redemption vocabulary of our own. This conversation is an attempt to help many of us toward correcting that. It will require us all working together with patience, grace and love. But with Christ’s help we can do it.
Adam Barr and Ron Citlau, Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth, (Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 2014)
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ, (Pittsburgh, PA, Crown & Covenant Publications, 2015)
Michael Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding with Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, (Lake Mary, FL, Charisma House Books, 2014)
Ron Citlau, Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted: Biblical Direction for Friends, Family Members, and Those Struggling with Homosexuality, (Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 2017)
- The Mistaken Identity of Sexual Orientation
- What’s Wrong With the Idea of Sexual Orientation? [EPISODE 6]
- Why Did God Make Male and Female?
- How Should Christians Respond to Identity Confusion?
- Sexuality – FAQ Guide