GLBT: essays, sermons, testimonies, etc
Can a LGBT person become & remain a Christian?
The acronym LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
The acronym LGB refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
The first draft of his essay was written in 1998, when the term "homosexual"
was a neutral term to describe lesbians and gays. It has since been used as a
snarl word by religious and social conservatives, and has been avoided by most
lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBT). The
preferred term is now "lesbian and gay" among the LGBT community. We have
altered most of the references in this essay accordingly, and will be doing the
same to the rest of our LGBT section.
Many people have been taught during childhood that same-sex sexual behavior is
condemned both by God and by their religion as unnatural and morally
degenerate. If they discover later in life that they are lesbian, gay, or
bisexual they often go through a spiritual crisis. Too many realize that
their sexual orientation is unchangeable, and that they have great difficulty going through
life as someone that they have been taught to hate. They become depressed; some commit suicide.
(As many as 30% of teen suicides may due to this cause; one of the costs of
homophobia). Survivors experience a conflict between what they are and what
they believe. They sometimes abandon their religion. Some become
The purpose of this essay is to explore the possibility of a gay or lesbian
restoring their faith by overcoming the apparent conflict between their
religion and their sexual orientation. We will select what might be the
most difficult example: that of a gay or lesbian, ex-fundamentalist Christian
who believes that the Bible is inerrant; (i.e. is without error in its
original form) and whose denomination condemns same-sex behavior.
Step 1: What Did Jesus Christ Say about same-sex behavior?
He is recorded in the Bible as having given hundreds of instructions
covering behavior and thought; but none of these dealt directly with same-gender sexual
Jesus concentrated on a person's interactions with God and his fellow humans.
He did tell the woman who committed adultery to go and sin no more. But that
was the only time he is known to have commented on sexual morality. Jesus
may have felt that a gay, lesbian, or bisexual sexual orientation and same-gender sexual behavior were not matters worth commenting upon.
Some biblical commentators have interpreted Matthew 19:12 as an indirect references to LGBs:
"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Step 2: Understanding the Hebrew Scriptures:
There are a half-dozen places in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that have been
traditionally interpreted as condemning gays. There are a similar number of passages that talk positively about loving two committed same-sex relationships that may or may not have been sexually active. It is important that
we go past English translations, like the King James Version, and
determine what the original authors wrote. In their eagerness to condemn
gays and lesbians, the translators and interpreters of the Bible often
introduced an anti-same-sex bias in their conversion of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into English. A careful
analysis of the original texts reveals a different story:
||Genesis 19 describes the destruction of Sodom, which has been attributed
to their gay citizens. A common interpretation is then the men of the city wanted to rape the
(male) angels. Actually, the text at this point is ambiguous; the original
Hebrew word sometimes referred to sexual activity although it usually meant
"to know" in a literal sense. But a careful reading of Genesis and
Ezekiel reveals that inhospitality, pride, idol worship, and lack of
consideration for the poor were their prime sins of the city folk. If same-sex
involved, it was obviously not consensual sexual activity; it was rape. So
we can safely conclude that Sodom was destroyed because of the sins of its
citizens which included their practice of humiliating visitors by rape. Judges 19 seems to
be a duplicate of the Genesis story. Needless to say, there is no connection
between loving, committed same-sex relationship and same-sex rape.|
||Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 appears to condemn male same-sex behavior, but
actually seems to refer to temple prostitution. Even if it did refer to lesbian
and gay relationships, it would not be applicable to Christians today, any
more than are the other 612 laws which make up the Jewish Holiness Code.
It is less than genuine for a Christian teleminister or theologian to imply
that these verses are still valid for the beliefs and conduct of Christians,
while stating that the almost all of the remaining laws of the Holiness Code are not applicable. Some commentators have suggested that a literal interpretation of these two passages shows that they condemn two men having sex on a woman's bed, but does not directly condemn same-gender sexual behavior for anyone.|
|Deuteronomy 23:17, I Kings 14:24 and 15:12 are mistranslated in some
versions of the Bible as referring to same-sex sexual behavior. "Temple
prostitute" would be an accurate translation. |
|Ruth 1:16 and 2:10-11 describe a deeply intimate relationship between
Ruth and Naomi which may or may not have had a sexual component.|
|1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 20:41-42 and 2 Samuel 1:25-26 describe a deeply
intimate relationship between David and Jonathan which may or may not have
had a sexual component. |
We conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures condemn male rape of other males, and temple
prostitution. The two passages in Leviticus are ambiguous but might condemn same-gender sexual behavior by Jews today. It appears to be silent on gay and lesbian relationships. One
can be confident that centuries of fire and brimstone sermons on
same-sex relationships based on verses from the Old Testament are misinterpretations
of the Bible.
Step 3: Understanding the Christian Scriptures:
There are many places in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) that have
been traditionally interpreted as condemning
|Romans 1:26 and 27 has St. Paul criticizing sexual activity which is
against a person's nature or disposition. This passage has been variously
interpreted to refer to all same-sex behavior, to orgiastic activity,
to temple prostitution, or to heterosexuals who were engaging in same-sex
exchanges. The meaning is unclear. |
|I Corinthians 6:9 contains a lists of activities that will prevent
people from inheriting the Kingdom of God. One was once translated as referring
to masturbation, and is now sometimes translated as "homosexual" or as
men molesting boys. The
true meaning is lost. |
|1 Timothy 1:9 is similar to I Corinthians. |
|Jude 7 refers to the people of Sodom as "giving themselves over to
fornication and going after strange flesh". The latter has been variously
translated as humans engaging in sexual intercourse with angels, as same-sex
sexual behavior, and as males raping other males. The exact meaning is lost. |
We conclude that St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures seems to have
condemned some sexual activity, but it is unclear which ones. There is
no mention of loving, committed gay and lesbian relations in the Christian
Step 4: Understanding the beliefs and policies of religious institutions
Some Christian denominations appear to be give great emphasis to what people
do in bed with each other, rather than concentrating on drugs, hatred,
homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, poverty, racism, religious intolerance, sexism, violence, etc.
Over the past few centuries, many sexual debates have emerged
between established religious organizations and secular groups in society.
These have included:
As a general rule, liberal faith groups resolve these conflicts
first. These are followed by the mainline religious organizations, and
finally by the fundamentalists and other evangelicals.
|birth control |
||ordination of women as clergy |
||same-gender sexual behavior |
|inter-faith marriage |
|inter-racial marriage |
||pre-marital sexual activity |
|roles of men and women in marriage and society, and |
As one example, consider birth control. At the turn of the century, all or
essentially all religious groups condemned family planning; some were active in
promoting laws to ban the sale of contraceptives. Today, almost all groups
consider birth control to be a non-issue. One major exception is the Roman
Catholic Church. But even here, the "People of God" (the church laity) has
almost fully adopted birth control in their own lives. One widely circulated statistic is that 98% of women have used a method of birth control that is banned by the Catholic Church.
Consider most intractable conflict: abortion.
A few decades ago, there was a unified front among religious groups keep
the procedure criminalized; legislation reflected this. Currently, the most
liberal/progressive religious groups (Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church
of Canada, United Church of Christ, etc.) support a woman's right to choose.
The membership of mainline religious groups (Anglican, Congregationalists, Methodists, etc)
hold opposing beliefs. The most conservative (fundamentalists,
other evangelicals, etc.) are unalterably opposed. But even in the latter case,
there is some movement in a liberal direction: religious groups now widely support a
woman's access to abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest,
or if it is to save the life of the woman. Here we clearly see a debate in
progress in which the most liberal groups change first, followed by the
mainline, with the conservative wing lagging far behind.
Inter-faith and inter-racial marriages were once hot religious topics.
They have mostly become non-issues. Female ordination, feminism, and other sexually
related topics are currently being hotly debated.
With the possible exception of the most conservative, North American faith groups are
A survey of Christian churches and other religions
reveals that many groups are agonizing over changes to their policies. Many
decide to take either no action or to take the next step towards
liberalization. To our knowledge, no faith group has gone in the opposite
direction. As more lesbians and gays come out of the closet, more
scientific research reveals the causes of sexual orientation, and the next
generation takes over positions of power, the relaxation of policies against
GLBTs are expected to continue. We expect that early in the 21st
century, most religious groups will accept that same-sex attractiona are
not chosen and are unchangeable in adulthood. Those still opposed to
same-sex behavior will probably concentrate on convincing lesbians and
gays to remain celibate.
||Celibate gay and lesbian adults are eligible for membership and/or
||Sexually active gay and lesbian persons are eligible for membership
|GLBTs involved in loving committed relationships should have their
unions recognized in some form of religious ritual,|
||Same-sex marriage rituals should be allowed, where permitted by legislation,|
||There should be some form of educational process of the general
membership about sexual minorities, in order to compensate for the hatred
taught by most religious groups for centuries.|
We feel that the trend towards accepting homosexual sexual orientation as natural,
normal, and unstoppable, and that all religious groups will eventually abandon their
restrictions on gay and lesbian participation. It will probably take many generations
for the most conservative groups to complete this process.
Step 5: Where to Go for Spiritual Support
There are several options:
|68 Christian and non-Christian clergy in Madison, Wisconsin endorsed a
statement: "A Madison Affirmation: On Homosexuality and Christian Faith" on
to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-OCT-14
Author: B.A. Robinson