The Christian Church (Disciples
of Christ) and homosexuality
About the denomination,
the issue and the
The Christian Church [CC(DoC)] has its headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. It is a
relatively liberal Christian denomination, numbering about 834,000 members in the U.S.
Their denomination is one of three to have emerged from the Stone-Campbell
Movement which began in the early 19th century. The other two are the
Churches of Christ, and the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.
The similarity in their names leads to a great deal of confusion.
Each congregation is theologically autonomous. Thus
there is a wide range of beliefs and practices among denominational regions and
individual congregations, on many topics, including sexual orientation.
They hold General Assemblies every otheryear, on
In common with other mainline and liberal Christian denominations, they are
experiencing a major internal conflict between their conservative and liberal
members over the treatment of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and
transgender persons/transsexuals (GLBT). The key
points of conflict are:
GLBT individuals' participation as church members.
Their participation in church leadership.
Church ceremonies that recognize GLBT committed unions.
As for other Christian denominations, the fundamental disagreement is
over the criteria for determining truth. Almost all agree that it is based
on four factors:
Interpretation of the Bible,
Scientific knowledge, and
Conservatives tend to value the historical interpretation of the Bible and
church tradition more heavily that scientific knowledge; they frequently have
few or no friends who are GLBT.
Liberals tend to interpret the Bible passages that might bear on
homosexuality differently from conservatives. They weigh scientific knowledge, and personal information more
heavily than church tradition.
The result is that the two groups take polar opposite positions on the
roles and rights of GLBTs in the church and society. Members on both sides are
undoubtedly able to verify through prayer that their
beliefs are in accordance with God's will.
An early key policy statement:
In 1997, the Disciples of Christ urged the enactment of:
"...legislation on local,
state and national levels which will end the denial of civil rights and the violation of
civil liberties for reasons of sexual orientation."
The resolution specifically recognized that:
among other elements of society, has contributed to the persecution and suffering of
homosexuals, and it is its culpability in this regard which provides one reason for
seeking a more enlightened understanding."
The GLAD Alliance support Group:
"Gay, Lesbian & Affirming Disciples Alliance, Inc.", (GLAD) is a support group for
gay and lesbian members and their supporters within the denomination. Its
founding was first announced publicly in 1987. Their goal
is "full dignity and integrity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and affirming people
within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)."
Their vision is:
"Called by God,
GLAD Alliance is a sacred community.
Led by the Spirit,
we are a prophetic voice
and a living resource,
present with our gifts to the world." 2
Their mission is:
"... to be a safe and faithful place for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Affirming community.
"Relying on Holy Spirit, we speak truth to power, advocating for
inclusivity, diversity, and justice in all manifestations of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)."
"Committed to transformation, we offer ourselves through education,
witness, and strategic action as a visible presence in solidarity with
those marginalized within the Church."
"We stand boldly within the Church to proclaim and embody the
gracious call to ministry for the whole people of God."
They have two quarterly publications, Crossbeams and
Crosscurrents. GLAD has area chapters in many urban centers in the U.S. As
of mid-2009., these included Colorado, the District of Columbia, Indianapolis,
New York City, North Texas, Northern California, Pacific Southwest, and Puget
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.