Churches' responses to the LGBT community:
Recommended books covering a
broad range of Christian beliefs
about the LGBT community.
The acronym "LGBT" refers to the lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender and transsexual community.
Some of the following books may help you understand the full range of the conflict over sexual minorities within their own and other faith groups.
Liberal denominations have typically reached the same conclusions as have many secular groups and professional therapeutic associations: that all three sexual orientations -- heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality -- are normal, natural variations of feelings of sexual attraction towards women and/or men. These feelings are discovered rather than chosen. They are fixed or essentially always fixed in adulthood. Members of liberal denominations generally accept loving, committed same-sex adult relationships and same-sex marriages as equivalent to those of opposite sex couples. Their beliefs are grounded on personal acquaintances with persons in the LGBT community, their interpretation of about a half dozen biblical passages, their interpretation of passages in the Bible that deal with love, acceptance, & the Golden Rule, and the findings of scientific studies of human sexuality.
Mainline faith groups like the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, etc. have experienced a multi-decade internal conflict about sexual minorities. This conflict has generated a lot of heat and pain. Their membership is composed of individuals, some of whom follow the teachings of liberal denominations and others who follow the beliefs of conservative faith groups.
Mainline faith groups in Christianity are gradually and painfully inching in towards acceptance of the LGBT community. The transition is alienating many of their older and/or conservative members. However, younger and/or liberal members tend to be very comfortable with the changes.
Conservative denominations have largely maintained Christianity's millenia-old tradition of condemnation of same-gender sexual behavior, as grounded in a negative interpretation of about a half dozen biblical passages that deal with same-gender sexual behavior. They reject such behavior and generally believe that God hates it. They have a major and growing concern that as the acceptance of sexual minorities and same-sex marriage continues to increase in the general culture that:
- Many of the public will consider their rejection of same-sex marriage as homophobia -- as a type of bigotry similar to racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
Public accommodations -- companies and individuals who supply goods and services to the general public -- will experience restrictions on their religious freedom to discriminate against the LGBT community. This has happened in perhaps a dozen instances across the U.S. where companies in the wedding industry have refused to supply goods and services ranging from baking wedding cakes to providing photographic services at a wedding or commitment ceremony of a same-sex couples.
About the following books:
Their messages generally follow one of two themes:
- The belief that sexual orientation -- as defined by the gender(s) to which a person is sexually attracted -- is discovered, not chosen, and is always, or almost, always fixed. The author(s) conclude that since humans are hardwired to seek intimate relationships -- rather than remain celibate without an intimate partner for life -- that the church should accept and celebrate loving, committed relationships and marriages by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
A growing realization that a person's sexual orientation is both unchosen and fixed, but that everyone has choices about whether to act on their feelings of sexual attraction or remain celibate without a intimate relationship for the rest of their life. Many conservative Christians appear to be moving towards this scenario rather then simply condemning same-sex relationships as a violation of the will of God.
Some recommended books:
We suggest that you use the hyperlinks to go to the Amazon.com web site and read the book reviews thoroughly before deciding whether to purchase one or more of these books. Please consider that you might learn more from authors whose beliefs differ from yours that from those that agree with your beliefs.
Standards Task Force of North Como Presbyterian Church in Roseville,
MN, has produced a most impressive book on homosexuality. Its main theme is
whether candidates who are in loving committed same-sex relationships should be
allowed to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church, (USA). It also covers many
other topics associated with sexual orientation, including reparative therapy,
suicide among gay and lesbian youth, homosexuality in the natural world, etc. Unlike almost all other books which take
either a liberal or conservative approach, this book attempts to explain all
viewpoints objectively. An amazing accomplishment; a strongly recommended book; an incredible resource.
Sam Allberry, "Is God anti-gay." The Good Book Company, (2013). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Allberry is an evangelical pastor with a homosexual orientation. He struggles with his same-sex attraction in order to remain celibate.
Joe Dallas & Nancy Heche, "The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A practical and compassionate response to same-sex attraction," Harvest House Publishers (2010). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. This is a book directed at conservative Christians who have a traditional, sin-based, interpretation of the six "clobber passages" in the Bible. It received more "1 star" reviews -- the lowest possible ranking -- than "5 star" reviews.
Wesley Hill, "Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality." Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Hill experiences same-sex attractions (SSA). He rejects attempts to convert his sexual orientation to heterosexuality. He also rejects entering a loving committed same-sex relationship. He believes that God is calling him to a life of celibacy without an intimate partner.
R.G. Hutcheson & P.L. Shriver, "The Divided Church: Moving
liberals and conservatives from diatribe to dialogue," Intervarsity
Press, (1999) Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store This is
written by two Presbyterians: Hutcheson is a conservative Evangelical;
Shriver is a liberal feminist.
Clifton Kirpatrick & William Hopper, Jr., "What Unites
Presbyterians: Common ground for troubled times," Geneva Press, (1997) Read
reviews or order this book. Amazon.com's book description:
"The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) often seems to relish its division more that it celebrates the unity that exists within the denomination. In What Unites Presbyterians, Clifton Kirkpatrick and William Hopper compellingly call attention to the ties that bind Presbyterians together as a community of faith.'
Justin Lee, "Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate," Jericho Books (2012). Lee identifies two opposite belief systems among Christians: One sees God as OK with loving, committed, sexually active same-sex relationships. The other believes that God wants people to totally refrain from same-gender sexual activity. He proposes that both sides treat each other with respect. Read
reviews or order this book.
Jack Rogers, "Claiming the Center: Churches and conflicting
worldviews," Westminster John Knox Press, (1995) Read
reviews or order this book safely From
"Rogers presents a persuasive case for the moderate
majority within denominations to take center stage, reasserting the
common ground among us in spite of our controversies. He combines
effectively historic perspective with contemporary relevance."
He uses the Presbyterian Church (USA)) as an example.
Jack Rogers, "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality," Westminster John Knox Press, (2010). Read
reviews or order this book safely
"In this revised and expanded best seller, Rogers argues for equal rights in both the church and society for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people. He describes how he moved away from opposition to support, charts the church's history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups, argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture, debunks stereotypes about gays and lesbians, and explores texts used most frequently against homosexuals and gay ordination. In this newly revised edition, he maps the recent progress of major U.S. denominations toward full equality for LGBT persons, adds a new chapter that examines how Scripture is best interpreted by Jesus' redemptive life and ministry, and updates his own efforts and experiences. The book also includes a guide for group study or personal reflection.
Mark Yarhouse, "Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends," Bethany House Publishers. He advocates an intermediate position: the belief that sexual minorities do not choose and cannot change their sexual orientation, but can and should choose to remain celibate and without an intimate partner for the rest of their life. This is a very hard sell, because people have been hard-wired to seek living in relationship. Read
reviews or order this book safely
Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update 2014-JUN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson