Included in Christ: Scripturally unraveling the apparent incongruity between gay Christians and the Church’s belief in “one man, one woman”
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
by Cristy Perdue, MD, IamIncludedinChrist@gmail.com
Chapter I. Thus far, in history, evangelical and other mainstream churches have chosen what appears to be the most conservative approach with regard to gay Christians. Churches have been friendly to gay people but have not allowed them to participate in membership or in ministries of the church. Some churches with traditional views may allow those who maintain celibacy to participate, but would not consider a gay couple for membership or ministry.
Gay Christians and gay Christian couples are in our Christian churches all over the world. Whether someone is a Christian since his upbringing and comes to realize he is gay, or whether gay and seeking a closer relationship with Christ, these people are in virtually every church, whether congregants realize it or not.
If gay people are committing sin because of their same-gender attractions or in their covenant, Christ-centered, same-gender relationships, then the Church is doing the right thing to condemn them, and probably is not going far enough. But if God honors same-gender, Christ-centered relationships, and gay Christians, then the Church has misinterpreted key Scriptures which have been mistranslated, misunderstood, and misused to unjustly condemn gay Christians. God hates injustice.
Proverbs 17:15: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both.” It is my conviction that we must therefore consider this matter more thoroughly, as I believe the traditional, Christian community has condemned the innocent.
I hold that the traditionalists’ premise, “Scripture is clear that homosexuality is a sin,” is actually wrong. I will present my case directly from the Scripture. The vast majority of Christendom holds to this premise, and for those in agreement, there is comfort and assurance in this mantra. For decades and generations, this phrase has been heralded by countless trusted leaders. Our Bibles read (in more recent translations) that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God. Thus, it is very reasonable that Christians currently hold this belief. Here, I present my case that the premise is wrong, and what is abundantly clear in Scripture, beyond which we cannot extrapolate, is that “male-male sexual acts involving abuse, exploitation, and idol worship, and all same-gender sexual activity related to rejection of the Creator are sinful.” Since 1946, Bible translators have erroneously referred to those acts as, “homosexuality.” Further, we will consider biblical exceptions, one of which is specifically instituted by God Himself, to “one man, one woman,” and one of which was noted by Jesus, as well as exceptions to other previously held traditional positions within Scripture, to which traditionalists no longer hold. The Word of God absolutely does not change. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our understanding of the Word of God changes, as the Holy Spirit within us guides us to understand His will for our lives and for His Church.
A dear friend of mine is a gay woman who has never known Christ. Over the years, I have prayed for her salvation. She was invited to a megachurch in Atlanta around 2007. When she began attending, I was so thankful and optimistic about God’s work in her life. She enjoyed the church and community so much that she wanted to volunteer. She signed up to help with the nursery. After her first Sunday volunteering, she was told that she was not allowed to be in the nursery. She requested to meet with the pastor. When she asked why she was not allowed in the nursery, he said, “because you are gay.” Genuinely confused, she asked, “what difference does that make?” He said, “I’m sorry. That is our policy.” Thereafter, he recounted this conversation to his congregation, saying that it was the hardest conversation he had ever had. I am dumbfounded by this event. She had literally never known Christ, and had never in her life heard the gospel presented to her, beyond what he had said from the pulpit. He could have presented the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to my friend instead of simply rejecting her. At this point, over a decade later, I am in a position to present the gospel to her. She graciously declines, but I continue to pray that she will one day see the God Who loves and adores her and does not reject her. The Church desperately needs to look more carefully into this matter and engage gay people, rather than reject them.
Consider another example, this one involving a Christian. This is a typical understanding of options for gay Christians in our current environment. “As a gay Christian [man], I am looking at two possibilities for my life: I could marry another man, and live the rest of my life with nagging doubts that I have sacrificed my relationship with God for this marriage. Or, I could choose not to marry a man, and blame God for the loneliness that I feel. There’s a third option, and that’s to kill myself now, while I still am in good relationship with God.” -Anonymous
The following are statistics from a study published by Andrew Marin in 2016:
- 86% of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people were raised in church.
- 54% leave by the age of 18, and many of them did not want to leave.
- 76% of them are open to returning to church.
- 92% of those who want to return to a local church are not asking the church to change its theology, but to accept, welcome, and love them.
The Church loves everyone and wants to welcome everyone into a saving relationship with Christ. However, the Church cannot condone sin. The Church recognizes that people are imperfect, and everyone sins. There are statistics, for example, that reveal that addiction to pornography is not uncommon in churches today. The unique situation with gay Christians, however, is present when gay Christians do not agree with the Church, and believe that same-gender attractions and committed, covenant relationships are not sinful. In other words, the Church will accept someone who sins, provided that the person agrees he is sinning. But the Church cannot accept someone who believes his relationship is not sinful, when the Church believes he is living in sin.
Is a monogamous, permanent, Christ-centered, same-gender relationship blessed by God, or is it sinful? Our failure to agree on the answer to this question is the crux of this issue.
There exists within the Scripture a great example of this unusual phenomenon. There was a very important issue that divided Christians in the New Testament, some of whom believed the act to be sinful, and some of whom believed it to be blessed by God. I will examine this closely.
As this issue is gaining attention in the Church, it is very important for the Church to understand the Scriptural basis held by those gay Christians who believe that Christ-centered, same-gender attractions and covenant, permanent relationships are blessed by God.
For those readers who believe that marriage is only appropriate between one man and one woman, I am not asking you to give up your view of marriage, or to change your theology. I only ask that the reader be willing to hear how and why we, some gay Christians, holding the Scripture as the absolute highest authority in our lives, honestly believe that God honors our lives, even within committed, same-gender relationships. I believe that God has equipped me to bear this burden of Scriptural proof within my community, as my partner and I are the only known gay Christians within my local church.
I believe that God blesses gay Christians and Christ-centered, same-gender relationships, and that these people should not be excluded from membership and ministry in the local church. Unless and until churches realize the possibility that this may be true, we will never be able to effectively minister the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to this beautiful segment of God’s creation.
For those who cannot consider homosexuality to be anything other than a sin against God’s design for humanity, I humbly request and thank you for hearing me out over the next 19 short chapters.
Chapter II. Imagine if you will, a room full of 500 people who have all come together to worship the Lord. There’s a band up front. There’s worship music. People are worshiping the Lord Jesus, some with their hands in the air, some prostrate on the floor before the Lord. Someone in the crowd has a beautiful giant orange and red flag, and he’s waving it rhythmically with the music. It’s a beautiful scene of worship. The leader says into the microphone, “if you have your prayer language, just begin to pray in tongues as the Spirit leads.” And then gently, softly, people are praying in the Spirit, worshiping and thanking the Lord. The music continues, and another song is sung. Thereafter the voices of people praising God can be heard. Eventually among the sounds of worship to the Lord, one voice stands out. This one voice is singing, and all the other voices and sounds die down. Amazingly, the man holding the flag is now in the center of the auditorium in front of the stage, singing, beautifully, slowly, in tongues. And the whole crowd is silent. And then it ends. You could hear a pin drop. Seven seconds later, the bassist on the platform sang the interpretation: “I dwell among you. I call you My friends. I dwell among you, and I hold your hand. I am the Lord your God, and I go before you now. Lift up your head in this place, and wear My heavenly crown.” The tongues and interpretation were both sung in the same tune. It was incredible.
More people lay down, prone, on the floor, on their faces before God. Many were crying; some were laughing and jumping and praising God out loud. There was an atmosphere of worship in that room unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have seen the Lord give a word through tongues and interpretation countless times in my life. Until that day, I had never once seen it happen in song.
This scene I describe involved 500+ Christians, approximately 99% of them, gay. There are large groups of gay Christians all over the world who meet for conferences. Many of them are in covenant relationships or marriages with their same-gender partner. These gay Christians love and honor the Lord with their lives. They are walking with the Lord.
The Immersed Conference 2018 was titled Healing and Miracles by Faith. It took place in July 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. I describe this scene because I know that many people do not realize that gay Christians even exist, or, said differently, that gay people would take any interest in Christianity, since the Church typically rejects them.
Chapter III. I present here the possibility that God lovingly, legitimately, purposefully creates some people with same-gender attraction, and that He never intended for them to be excluded from His kingdom. Some immediately assume that one must disregard the Bible to believe this. However, I will demonstrate that the same-sex practices referred to in the Bible involve idol worship, abuse, exploitation, and rejection of the Creator. The lives of gay Christians do not reflect the same-sex practices described in the Bible.
Another view that some traditionalists have begun to consider is that “God’s best” for everyone would be heterosexual marriage. However, perhaps God “reluctantly” allows same-gender expression, just as He reluctantly allowed for divorce (Matthew 19:8) and for Israel to have a king (I Samuel 8:7). While this idea could be painful for some gay people, it may be a reasonable starting point to begin this conversation.
“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14b (NIV)
Many gay Christians believe that Scripture suggests we are fearfully and wonderfully made, even while gay. The Church would not disagree that even gay people were fearfully and wonderfully made; however, traditionalist Christians believe that we were appropriately made with the capacity for heterosexuality, but that the results of sin in the world have led to same-gender attractions.
If there were a gay couple blessed by God in Scripture, the Church would be inclusive of gay Christians. If we knew that there existed, now or in the past, a gay couple whose relationship was blessed by God, then the Church would be inclusive. To take it one step further, if the Church believed that the possibility exists that a gay couple could be blessed by God, that is, that gay relationships did not dishonor God, but rather, brought honor to Him, then the Church would probably want to be inclusive of this small Christian minority in their midst. In other words, I am setting the standard of proof here very low purposely. The standard I propose is, simply, whether or not even the possibility exists that God honors some gay Christians, even while gay, and that God honors some same-gender relationships, and whether the possibility exists that the Church has been wrong on this topic. If that possibility exists, and if we can find the error in our long held premise, then I think the Church would not want to continue to reject gay Christians and gay people. Consider a different scenario. If a man took his father’s wife as his own and the two began attending church as a couple, the church would rightly question this situation. This is adultery, a very serious sin. The local church would have to take the man aside and explain that living in an adulterous relationship is absolutely forbidden in the church, and taking one’s own father’s wife actually makes the act especially heinous. There is no possibility that this situation or one like it would honor God. Since that possibility does not exist, the local church must deal with the couple, and if they do not repent, then exclude them.
The idea that homosexuality is a grave sin against God is seared, as with a hot iron, into the consciences of many Christians. However, recent scholarship has called the premise into question. If Christians re-examine their premise and remain certain that homosexuality is sin, as we are certain that adultery is sin, then traditionalist Christians will proceed with that view and continue to reject gay Christians in our churches. But if new information suggests that the Bible actually condemns molestation and abuse, rather than homosexuality, and that “one man, one woman” has godly exceptions in Scripture and today, then we must reconsider the Church’s long standing rejection of gay Christians.
If those in the Church with the traditional view could possibly be wrong in their long-held, iron-clad beliefs that homosexuality is a grievous sin against God, then let’s consider whether the principles of love and grace should dictate that the Church be inclusive, rather than exclusive of gay Christians and gay Christian couples.
Neither side, the traditionalists nor gay Christians, condones or promotes sin. Holding to the Scripture as the highest authority in my life, I will present my case here, that God is not dishonored, but rather, He is pleased and honored by gay Christians and permanent, loving, monogamous, Christ-centered, same-gender relationships.