Blog

Is There Such A Thing As A Gay Christian?

I have been asked this quite a few times over the years and the issue was brought up again recently due to the Supreme Court ruling on Friday. Can gays be Christians? Or, better, is there such a thing as a “gay Christian”? Many, in my circles, would believe that someone who engages in a homosexual life style is necessarily excluded from the Kingdom of God unless they repent. Repentance here would mean a change of thinking and, shortly following, a change of action – no longer participating in this lifestyle. In other words, while some would be willing to say that a homosexual can be saved, their salvation necessitates their change of lifestyle within a short period of time.

While I agree with those who say that homosexuality is a terrible sin (Lev. 18:22, 20:13 Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:6; 1 Tim. 1:10), I do not believe it is one that is outside the realm of a believer’s carnality. Neither do I believe that if one practices homosexuality their entire life, they are necessarily excluded from the Kingdom of God. I hope people do not misunderstand my purpose here. I in no way endorse homosexual behavior or seek to relativize its standing before the Lord as an abomination. But I do think that sometimes, we who are not tempted in such a way can fail to see the seriousness of the struggle experienced by people who are tempted towards homosexuality.

Best book I have read on the issue of the hermeneutics of homosexuality: Women, Slaves, and Homosexuals by William Webb:

[Tweet “I do not believe homosexuality is a sin outside the realm of a believer’s carnality.”]

Having Humility in Our Assessment

Sexual sin and temptation are part of everyone’s life. We are born with a drive toward fulfillment of this God-given part of our humanity. Some will deny this drive because of God’s calling in their lives (e.g., singleness). Yet sin has corrupted this drive and we are all born infected with sin. Because of upbringing, genetics, cultural influences, and other factors, people will experience this corruption to greater and lesser degrees. I personally have never felt any inclination toward expressing my sexual corruption in a way that was focused on the same sex. Why? Not necessarily because of good choices I have made, but because the genetics, upbringing, and influences were not there. I have just never had the sinful bent within me that compels me to lust after someone of the same sex. Don’t get me wrong. I have a sinful sexual bent, but it is of the more natural kind. This does not justify it or make me more innately righteous than the homosexual, it is just a fact that this is not a sin I have ever had to deal with.

I thank God that this is the case because I know that whatever sinful inclination I have, it will get the better of me at some point. It is just the way it goes, living with corruption. I also know that I will not be alleviated of my bents until the restoration of my body at the resurrection. I just have to do whatever I can to master my sinful tendencies until then. As Bono says, “some days are better than others.” I can identify with sinners because I am one. I can identify with those who have a bent, because I have one (many actually). Therefore, when I see someone giving in to the bent of homosexuality, I am saddened. My heart goes out to them because their problem is essentially the same as mine. We have a corrupted nature that causes us to give in to our bents.

[Tweet “I know that whatever sinful inclination I have, it will get the better of me at some point.”]

Now, back to the question of the hour. Can homosexuals be Christians? This is really a theological question that evidences a lack of understanding about sin and redemption. It reveals a major misconception about the nature of sin, placing homosexuality in its own category because of its physically depraved nature. While I do believe that homosexuality is a worse sin than many others (that is right, not all sins are equal like some would have us believe), I don’t believe that those who have that bent should be seen differently than others.

Can Sinners Be Christian?

We could ask the question this way: Can people who have sinful bents be Christians? Of course. Who else can be? Christ was the only one that did not have a sinful bent. Okay then, how about this: Can people who have really bad sinful bents be Christians? Again, the only biblical answer is yes. People who have really bad sinful bents can be Christians. Really, the question that is being asked is this: Can sinners be Christians? To that, I say, is there any other kind of Christian?

 

Some would respond and say that while they are willing to concede that homosexuals can be Christians, they must be in the process of overcoming this sinful behavior. In other words, they must have consistent and perpetual victory over this bent. Hold on there. While I agree that homosexuals can and sometimes do have victory over this bent to the point where they redeem themselves completely from this lifestyle, I don’t necessarily think that this is always going to happen. I would say that in my life there are some bents I have had victory over, and some that remain as a naggingly persistent web. This web is one of deception and destruction that can easily trip us up. Listen to the writer of the book of Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The writer of Hebrews says that it is “easy” to get entangled in this web. The passage warns of the ten euperistaton hamartian – literally, “the easily ensnaring sin.” I believe the primary referent for “the easily ensnaring sin” is the sin of unbelief (the subject of the book), but this sin of unbelief expresses itself in the sin of the hour. In other words, the sin of unbelief leads to our practicing our particular bent. Most importantly, it is “easy” to fall into this.

Again, while I agree that homosexuals can and should be overcoming this sin, it could be the case that they have become entangled in it. This entanglement may be the very acts of homosexuality, or it may be the plight of struggling with it until redemption. It is no different for those of us who are not bent toward a homosexual lifestyle. Some of our most serious bents may plague us, literally, until Kingdom come.

[Tweet “Some of our most serious bents may plague us, literally, until Kingdom come.”]

Doesn’t Paul Say that There is No Such Thing As a Gay Christian?

Many refer to Paul admonishing the Corinthians to look back to their victory over sin, implying that they did not practice such things any longer or were completely delivered from them. One of these sins is homosexuality.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

While this seems straightforward upon a cursory reading, I don’t believe that it supports the case that homosexuals can’t be Christians for two primary reasons. First, the people to whom Paul was writing were sinners and were in the process of being rebuked by Paul. Notice here just three chapters back:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

They were fleshly. The sins described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are fleshly sins. This means that the Corinthians were not necessarily doing well. Yet Paul says they were washed and sanctified. Now either Paul has a slight case of amnesia, or we have to understand 6:9-11 differently, which brings me to the second reason I believe this passage cannot be used by the person who says homosexuals cannot be Christians. Paul identifies Christians with Christ, not with their sinful disposition. In Pauline thought, people who are clothed in Christ’s righteousness are no longer named according to their sinful bent, even if that bent may continue to entangle them. The Corinthians were entangled in their bents to be sure, but Paul sees them through the righteousness of Christ. This is why Paul could say “such were some of you.” This does not make their sinfulness any less severe, but it does say that Christ’s redemption, in Pauline theology, has redeemed the sinner, though he remain in a sinning state. Those without the covering of Christ’s righteousness are still identified by their sin in the eyes of God. Therefore, in this context, it is true that fornicators, thieves, coveters, homosexuals, and all unrighteous people (those not covered by Christ’s righteousness) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But thankfully, we have been covered by His righteousness and set apart, though we are still sinners.

[Tweet “Paul identifies Christians with Christ, not with their sinful disposition.”]

Suggested Article: “Are We Sinners Who Are Forgiven or Saints Who Sin” by Robert Saucy

Can Gay Christians Be Gay Activists?

One more thing. I often hear this concession: While I believe that homosexuals can be saved, they cannot believe that homosexuality is approved by God or attempt to justify their sin, and they most certainly can’t be gay activists.

I understand and agree with this to some degree, yet I still say that this is not always the case. We all have ways of justifying our sinful bents, whatever they may be. Sometimes we minimize their seriousness, while other times we outright deny them. It is also often the case that we just do not ever deal with them. For twelve years after the resurrection of Christ, Peter continued in his belief that Jews were better than Gentiles. He lived twelve years after becoming a Christian believing that he, by virtue of being a Jew, was so much better than Gentiles that he would not even set foot in their house. Speaking to the Gentile Cornelius and his family, he said, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28). What if Peter had died in year eleven? He would have died living his entire Christian life as a prideful racist. Racism is spoken of in the New Testament as a mark of ungodliness even more frequently than homosexuality. Therefore, while I believe that the conviction of the Holy Spirit should be there and it should change our hearts, we have this uncanny tendency to justify our sinfulness to ourselves and to others or to just ignore it.

[Tweet “We all have ways of justifying our sinful bents, whatever they may be.”]

Having said all this, we all need to recognize the utter sinfulness of sexual perversion. Homosexuality is a sin, and a terribly destructive one at that. But we need to be careful and gracious with those who struggle with this sin, understanding that the struggle against sin is the plight of us all. The solution is not for us to compromise to the politically correct agenda of our culture, which has turned this sin into a perfectly acceptable lifestyle choice. But at the same time, we need to be gracious, knowing that the only hope anyone has is to be covered in Christ’s righteousness, not our own.

Can a gays be saved? Yes. All sinners can be saved. Indeed, all Christians are sinners. Let us all view this important issue in light of a deep understanding of the plight of sinfulness and may God help us to overcome the resulting bents.

“Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).

[Tweet “Can a gays be saved? Yes. All sinners can be saved. Indeed, all Christians are sinners.”]

Follow C. Michael Patton on Twitter: [Tweet “https://twitter.com/cmichaelpatton”]

22 Responses to “Is There Such A Thing As A Gay Christian?”

  1. A gay Christian is a contradiction there is no way you can be both.

    • Michael Patton 2015-06-30 at 10:18 pm

      Can there be such a thing as a lazy Christian? A bitter Christian? A gossiping Christian?

      • If one is involved in on going sin without confession and repentance that person’s salvation is in serious question. How much Savior are we allowed without Lordship? I’m surprised Michael at your missing this. I would have thought better. Also gay activist are not big on confession or repentance. They are propagators of sin.

      • I thank God for the comments,I wouldn’t have been able to put it in a better way.Its better to stand with the truth than bend to accommodate sin and sinfulness.Without holiness,no man shall see the Lord! I dont think Jesus ever tolerated sin,neither did the apostles,we shouldn’t.We are to be presented to the Father,a church without spot,blemish or wrinkles,I believe there is no room for compromise.

  2. Marvin The Martian 2015-07-01 at 12:39 pm

    Is there such a thing as a merciless, graceless, unforgiving Christian?

  3. Serial: sequential, successive, consecutive, ongoing.
    Unrepentant: impenitent, unapologetic, unashamed, shameless, unabashed.
    Repentant: spiritual transformation (metanoeo), abandonment of sin (epistrepho).

    Is there such a thing as a serial murderer Christian, serial rapist Christian, or serial pedophile Christian? And could we not add a serial/”practicing” homosexual, serial adulterer and pornographic addict to the above “Christian?”

    Your argument would have us to believe, based on our own struggles with personal sin, that yes a homosexual can or could be a Christian covered by the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Are we not called to repentance? Do we all struggle with sin in our lives? The answer to both is a resounding YES! Scripture clearly defines this. But the difference between both the struggling sinful Christian and the homosexual who believes they are Christian is their hearts true desire. Christians who struggle with sinful desires and fail spend countless hours in anguish and prayer for spiritual transformation and abandonment of sin. The Apostle Paul clearly shows this in his testimony before Agrippa in Acts 26 about himself. Here Paul testifies to his sin and his true repentance. This is what we are called to. It may take months, it may take years, and it may take a life time but this is what we are called to. We are not called to remain in sin so grace may abound.

    But of the so called Christian homosexual, are they not giving hearty approval to others that which they themselves do? Do some advocate acceptance of their sexual sinful bent rather than acceptance of that which God has spoken? Do they credit God through creation in justifying their sexual leanings and do they speak of love with the total abandonment of truth? This is the difference. It’s not whitewashed by the sins of other Christians. It’s revealed by the heart of those who commit “a” sin.

    Our Lord took the sin of murder and adultery from the physical act to that which resides in the heart and that’s where we need to define this debate. Not by the physical act of the sin but by the heart of the individual.

    Is the heart’s desire of the sinning individual true repentance or justification before others of their sinful acts?

    This argument would make it impossible to execute church discipline; after all, we are all sinners. Having an openly practicing homosexual within the fellowship opens the door to an openly practicing adulterer and an openly practicing pornographic addict. We can’t justify church discipline because; after all, we’re all sinners aren’t we? Our sinful bent’s are now one authority on the “stage of truth” therefore, let us reason.

    In your argument one might say, you are causing someone to treat with contempt the word of God by rationalizing it against “the human sinful bent.”

    I never thought I would say this Michael, but this has the stench of postmodernism running all through it.

    • I’ll come back and read everything in detail but your last sentence caught my attention. I read “Gay Marriage: 6 Reasons Christians Should Not Be Too Alarmed” a couple of days ago and came away with the feeling that there was something not quite right with Michael’s opinion and left a long comment on the post. I’m still not sure what is “off” with his arguments.

      I exhort my children to make sure that everyone in the discussion/debate is using the same definition for the key (and ALL for that matter) terms. My son showed me a definition of feminism today which illustrated the need to defining terms perfectly. Check out the definition for yourselves.

      Well back to Michael being “off.” I’ll give it some more thought and reading and see if I can put my finger on it. This reminds me of the old joke “So you want a day off?”. You have to read carefully and think about it to understand why they are able to come to such an obviously incorrect conclusion.

  4. Ja I now no longer need to bandage my pain witgne totten 2015-07-01 at 4:32 pm

    I am confused. I was of the understanding that in order to be a MEMBER of a Christian church (I am Baptist) there is an expectation that you accept the statement of faith and the scripture as infallible as God’s words to us. To be forgiven of sin first we have to admit it is a sin and to ask forgiveness. I am a compulsive over eater and when it gets ahold of me it is discusting and painful.
    Today I have not binged in several years. With the help of prayer, God wisdom and guidence and a supportive family

  5. Jane totten 2015-07-01 at 5:03 pm

    Sorry about my last comment, I hit the wrong button. Any way– today I no longer need food to bandage my pain. But first I needed to admit I was doing something wrong. Gay activists don’t appear to be admitting that they are doing something wrong. As for gay people coming to church, by all means, as scripture teaches we must love everyone. And who knows maybe their eyes will be opened as they learn God’s word and it’s meaning.

  6. Having a same sex desired feeling is a moral development of that leads to also pornography magazine publishing and photos of children abuse and some murder of victims
    Marriage in gay community is just a legal cover up of sexual activity that is privileged belief of a few self esteem people who won’t have a more happy relationship between with thier choise of partners always looking forward to meeting the next person and sexual assault or l mean romp in the hay.

  7. Perhaps there is a deeper problem for both sides in regards to sexuality. We aren’t able to see the forest from the trees.

  8. I think MP article is spot on. What I see is that the message board responders are having a difficulty with the general homosexual message that is being portrayed, i.e., there is nothing wrong with homosexuality because God made me that way. MP said that such a message is wrong and there isn’t support for it in the Bible, but condemnation for someone who rejects God and pursues it.
    Now, if someone who is engaged in homosexual activity and feels no anguish of guilt for such activity, but still calls himself or herself a Christian, I think everyone would ask that person to truly examine their heart and we have a right as Christian brethren to confront that person. The problem is that we don’t get this issue down to a person level, i.e., a one on one, rather we read stories, watch tv, and see this general support for homosexuality. But again we don’t know these people personally and maybe their hearts are being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Maybe they are being convicted but ignoring that conviction like many of us do when we engage in gossip, tell lies, brag about our successes, etc. I would assert that engaging in gossip is endorsing/promoting such sin like carrying a banner saying “Gay is okay!” Sure one is more of a public display of support for that particular sin than the other, but a Christian can be engaging in both types and still be a Christian.
    Now we should be confronting our Christian brethren who are engaging in any sin openly, the problem is that many churches and their leaders desire not to confront. They are failing to properly balance grace and truth, leaning to heavily towards grace.

  9. I am working through all this. All the comments help me as I think about what I heretofore thought was a firm Biblical foundation, thinking that repentance accompanies salvation. I think J.R. expresses that view well.

  10. The Klein Orientation grid has 21 boxes, each with a score from 1 to 7, so the total score could be anywhere from 21 to (7 x 21), with tons of possible ways to get the same score. When people take this as a test repeated times, nearly everyone has a change in score or a change in profile from time to time. I wouldn’t want to try and be the one to decide which profiles make someone “gay” as opposed to which don’t, let alone try to determine which profiles a true Christian could be “allowed to” have at a given moment of his or her life. While I believe that correct Bible interpretation and the leading of the Holy Spirit will lead every believer away from homosexual thoughts and practices, I know that there are times in my own life when I was grossly misled by what I thought I saw in the Bible and times when I walked in the flesh instead of in the Spirit, being a true Christian right through those times.

  11. Can a prostitute be a Christian? Can a demoniac be a Christian? Can a traitor be a Christian? Can a murderer of Christians be a Christian? Yes! God made the first move to all these people, changing them from the old to the new. It’s easy for straight people like me to classify homosexuality as a sin that can easily be rejected, to most gays I know it is merged with their identity and evident since childhood. It is easy for us to expect them to just give it up, it must mean the most difficult kind of struggle to those who do so for Jesus.

  12. Marvin The Martian 2015-07-21 at 1:08 pm

    I think the bigger question is what is your identity? Or better yet, what is the posture of your heart? I reject the premise of a gay christian. That is akin to saying “I’m a lusting for pornography christian”, or “I’m a drug addicted christian”. What is it about the sin of homosexuality that deceives those who have such a bent into thinking that they MUST permanently merge their identity with their sinful bent? If you are in Christ, you are a new creature, period.

    Does that mean you no longer have your sinful bents? Oh how I wish it were so. I am very sympathetic to the plight of those who struggle with same sex attraction. When they speak of the guilt and shame they feel for having desires they KNOW in their heart of hearts God sees as an abomination, I know how they feel. I struggle with a lust for pornography. And I feel tremendous guilt and shame that I still have the desire (and sometimes cave in) to view images that I know God detests. And if I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve asked God to remove those desires from my heart and yet they still reside….I’d be a wealthy man. I’ve come to accept that in this area of my life, simple obedience is what He wants from me. I fail at this much more often than I should. But I HATE that I do. And I should hate that I do. I would NEVER seek the kind of validation for my sinful bent that the “gay christian” does. Am I going to say that a “gay christian” cannot be saved? I won’t go there. That is not for me to judge. I would warn any person who calls themselves a follower of Christ and does suffer from same sex attraction that if their sinful bent causes them to reject the plain reading of Old and New Testament teaching on the subject, then they ought to examine themselves to see if they are truly of the faith. Just my two cents….

  13. Michael, I can not go along with you on this one. You do not sound like the apostles sound when they address sin in light of the gospel. If the question is, “Can a professed Christian – one of God’s elect children – fall into the sin of homosexual acts and lusts?” the answer is, Yes. If the question is, “Can a professed Christian self-identify as a homosexual Christian, the answer is no, he/she must not.” To give ourselves a positive identity using a peculiar sin as the adjective is itself sinful and contrary to the gospel. There is no sin in Christ and by virtue of our union with Christ we can not self-identify as being alive to any sin. We are dead to sin because Christ died to sin. We are alive to righteousness because Christ rose to life. “Gay Christian” is false to who we are in Christ and remembering that it is false and why it is false will do much to mortify sin because then we are fighting by faith – looking to who we are in Christ, delivered from sin’s penalty and power.

  14. Christ came not into the world to condemn the world because,,,,
    the world was condemned already. Homosexuality was condemned , judged. The homosexual needs a savior and after that its between him or her and thier Lord. And savior.

  15. I appreciate what you’re saying here, and I see you’re getting slammed in the comments for people thinking you’re not being ‘firm enough’. I’m afraid I’m going in the other direction! From talking to my gay friends, the ‘gay lifestyle’ they want is to go to get up, have a shower, go to work, come home to their spouse, kiss and feed their kids, chat about their day, have a hug, and have sex with probably the same amount of regularity as heterosexual couples do. I know why you’re saying that it’s a problem with ‘lust’, but it seems to jar a little when we are talking about Christians who want to have exclusive monogamous relationships. (I know there are some people who are promiscuous, but my strong impression is that most committed Christians who are gay are hoping for much the same thing as heterosexual Christians, just with a partner of the same sex rather than the opposite sex).

    I know that in some senses it can be helpful to distinguish between gay orientation and sexual acts, because the Bible doesn’t have anything to say on orientation. But in the heterosexual world, we tie love – committed, married love – and sex very closely together, and rightly so. Is it so strange that the homosexual world also wants to do that? It is not so much that a gay person wants to have sex with someone of the same sex, but that they have fallen in love with someone, they want to spend the rest of their lives with them, and to express that love physically.

    Do you have any thoughts on that?

  16. No! You cannot be a homosexual Christian. You are confusing once in a while sin with a sinful lifestyle. Matthew 18 says that if someone in the church is living in open sin, including homosexuality, you must go to them and tell them to repent. If your homosexual fellow church member says that he will not repent, then you take two or three witnesses. If that doesn’t work, you take him in front of the church. If he still says, “No, I will not stop my homosexuality.” He is to be treated as if he was an “infidel”. That is, someone who is not a true believer. God says that if you will not repent of open lifestyles of sin, then we are to assume (possibly incorrectly) that he is not a true believer. If I tell a lie and I don’t repent, then God is going to be very upset with me and I will lose fellowship with Him. If I’m married and have an affair, but don’t repent. Then I am going to lose fellowship with Him. Can you be a Christian living in sin? No. Will you sin? Absolutely. Must you repent? Absolutely. If you don’t, are we to assume that you are not a true believer? Absolutely.

  17. The judgement is final on such. It’s the end of the road they only await death and damnation from this point. Romans ch 1: ff

    Appealing to obscure scriptures, like in Corinthians, or side stepping the scripture for worldly reasoning doesn’t give GOD the glory.

Leave a Reply