To a substantial number of jesus a gospel of love, the concept of a gay Christian is not only oxymoronic, it’s highly offensive. To them, any such designation flies in the face of all that is holy and right. This is based primarily off of their view that homosexuality is a sin–an abomination in the eyes of God. While that particular point is debatable (and not the point of this article), let’s grant it for the sake of discussion. Even if homosexuality is a horrible sin against God, could there possibly be such a thing as a gay Christian?
I had a somewhat frustrating discussion with someone on my Facebook wall recently concerning this designation. He believed that the phrase “gay Christian” was a slap in the face to God because it amounted to making someone’s sexual orientation more important than God–based solely off of the fact that “gay” came first in the phrase.
I explained that the grammar of the phrase actually placed the import on the “Christian” part, seeing as it was the noun that “gay” simply described. Someone claiming to be a gay Christian is, in fact, claiming to be a Christian. They were simply a particular type of Christian–one who has same-sex attractions.
What many people don’t seem to realize is that just because someone considers him/herself a gay Christian doesn’t mean that they hold to any particular view of homosexuality, or of their own orientation. In fact, you know nothing whatsoever about such a person, except that they are a Christian and also have same-sex attractions. You don’t know their theological view of homosexuality, or whether they welcome their attractions as a benign part of their nature. They could, in fact, hate that part of their lives with every fiber of their being. It doesn’t stop them, however, from being a gay Christian… a christian who happens to have same-sex romantic attractions.
So, whether homosexuality is sinful or not is actually immaterial, as it relates to this designation. A person can be a compulsive liar (e.g. because of a psychological defense mechanism), yet be a Christian. They’re struggle in this particular area doesn’t invalidate their salvation; yet the simple fact is that they are, indeed, a liar. So, while the designation may seem weird or contradictory, a person can be a liar Christian. The same can be said for any type of vice.
The difference, as it relates to homosexuality, is that you aren’t gay because of what you do, whereas you’re a liar because you lie. You’re a gambler because you gamble. You’re a thief because you thieve. But, you’re not gay because you’ve done anything. You’re gay because of inner attractions you have toward the same sex, whether you act on them or not… whether you welcome them or not.
So, if you ask me, even if homosexuality is a sin (and I personally do not believe this one bit), the designation “gay Christian” is much more benign than any other sin designation. Heck, a person can be a gay Christian, and yet be celibate–something a number of straight Christians aren’t!
But, this issue goes far beyond a simple designation based on the descriptive adjective, “gay”. It runs to the very core of the most fundamental doctrine in Christianity–soteriology: the doctrine of salvation. The idea that someone is not a Christian because of sin that they commit (even if habitually) flies in the face of our being saved wholly as a result of the grace of God, through our faith. If someone cannot be a gay Christian, no one can be a Christian ever, under any circumstances. Since we know that no one is without sin, no one could qualify for salvation. Consequently, either gay Christians exist, or Christians don’t exist!
There are those that say that one should not accept a sinful “identity” if they are born again. Their identity is in Christ alone; so whereas they may struggle with same-sex (gay) attractions, they aren’t actually gay. I think that’s not only a dishonest and disingenuous way to understand reality (both spiritual and practical), but it’s also self-deceptive.
One of the primary things you learn in Alcoholics Anonymous is to accept the reality that you are, indeed, an alcoholic. People stand and publicly own up to something they may have denied for years… “I am an alcoholic.” They understand that a primary component to recovery is acknowledgement. The same applies in the spiritual sphere. Even if homosexuality is a sin, one cannot be “delivered” from it if he/she never acknowledges the fact that they’re gay. Yes, they may have, struggle with, or be challenged by same-sex attractions… But after finding a million innocuous ways of referring to it, the simple fact is–they’re gay!
It’s a shame that people in ex-gay ministries are taught to lie to themselves about who they are. It’s a shame that when Scripture tells us that the truth will make us free, gay Christians are convinced to live a lie. It’s a shame that the type of loathing and self-hatred that causes a person to distance themselves from who they are is thrust upon gay people by the traditionalist wing of the Church.
But, times are changing. The fact is that there is a gay Christian movement in progress. People across many denominations, backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations are finally realizing that God does not condemn people because of their sexual orientation, or even if they live in accord with that orientation (e.g. marry someone of the same-sex). They’re coming to realize that not only do gay Christians exist, but they are… we are a valuable part of the Christian and human communities.