I was tempted to hold off blogging on this topic until after the Christmas holidays, but with kids’ home from college and families gathered, I decided differently. As spiritual leaders in our families, we ought to be the thought leaders, pro-actively engaging our children in this conversation.
Anyone who spends any time with younger Christians will tell you, most are ready to accept same-sex attraction and marriage as a fact of life. And, if Christians don’t, then we’re unloving. Most haven’t thought much about the distinction between practicing homosexuals and celibate ones. But, we have the opportunity to guide that discussion thoughtfully and biblically.
So, for the last year, I’ve been meeting with two Christian gay men. Both are committed to Christ and to celibacy. I’ve met with them to try to better understand the gay experience, the pain, the loneliness and the frustration. In particular, I wanted to explore with them ideas to help homosexual Christians, committed to celibacy, live life in all its fullness, in every way the Bible allows, both in and out of the church.
Here’s my position on this issue; I do not believe it’s a sin to be gay or lesbian any more than it is a sin to be a “straight” who is tempted by lust. We are all tainted by the fall and sin has corrupted God’s original intent for human sexuality. That’s not the way he made us. It’s what we’ve become. All sex outside of marriage is sin and I do not believe the Bible allows same-sex marriage.
I’m happy to call my brother and sister in Christ, any straight, gay or lesbian who has surrendered their life to Christ and is committed to a celibate lifestyle. So, the ideas I’m about to put forward are for this group of Christian homosexuals only.
(For an expanded understanding of my views on homosexuality and “gay marriage” see my blog of; Dear Michael, a Parent’s Letter to a Gay Son, dated 9/23/13.) http://bit.ly/1bBkTJu
In my discussions with these men, there are certain issues that most discourage homosexuals who are sincerely trying to live a holy life. They are;
1. They feel isolated, judged and misunderstood by their heterosexual family and “friends”.
2. They feel alone and fear living alone, the rest of their lives.
3. They believe they’re not accepted or even wanted in most churches. They have spiritual gifts, but no place to use them in the evangelical church.
4. They sense the evangelical community expects them to “try harder” to repent of same-sex attraction, and if they did, they would be “healed”. They’ve cried out to God for years to change them and he hasn’t yet and they’re not sure why. (More on this topic in my Thursday blog.)
So, I’m putting the following out-of-the-box ideas forward in an attempt to begin finding practical, yet biblical solutions to these issues. If you’re like most Christians, you’re initial reaction may be shock. I’m not necessarily recommending each of these solutions. But, I want to explore ways we can show grace to serious homosexual Christians that do not violate any biblical prohibition. Please pray about them and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. Then I’d enjoy reading your comments.
1. Could a Christian gay man cohabitate with a Christian lesbian woman?
Co-habitation is a serious problem today as more and more unmarried couples, especially heterosexuals, are living together, without any legal or moral commitment to do so for life. Co-habitation is a serious issue for Christians for two reasons. It’s generally understood that an unmarried man and a woman living together are fornicating – an old fashion word for having sex outside of marriage. It’s also a problem because it’s an alternative to God’s design for a true family anchored by a man and woman committed to God and each other for life and committed spiritually, morally and legally to any children they may have.
We have no problem with two Christians of the same sex living together, rather than living alone and lonely. Why would we have a problem with a Christian gay man and a Christian lesbian woman living together? There is little temptation to have sex and there is no future family that will not get formed. In fact, living together may actually help them resist the sexual temptation they’d have if they lived alone or with someone of the same sex.
2. Could a gay or lesbian marry a heterosexual person of the opposite sex and have a family?
I’ve been told a true story of a celibate gay man who felt called to be a pastor. He graduated from a conservative seminary and began a friendship with a heterosexual woman. As the friendship deepened, the man admitted to this woman that he was gay, but said his desire was to marry, live his life with her, have a family and serve the church. He had to admit that their sex life would undoubtedly never be what she might desire, but he loved her and was committed to live as a faithful loving husband all of his life. After much prayer and in consultation with her pastor, she agreed to marry him. They now have three children and he is still a pastor of his church.
I find no biblical reasons to prohibit a marriage like this and I find it to be an elegant solution to the problem of loneliness. This isn’t a “cure” for gay-ness. So, while the same-sex attraction will always be a temptation for him, it’s no different than the sexual temptation any straight pastor faces.
3. Could a spiritually mature, celibate gay Christian ever be in a position of leadership in your church?
One celibate gay Christian told me, “Clare, the evangelical church is driving conservative gay Christians out of the church. They aren’t allowed to serve in youth or children’s ministry, hold office or serve anywhere. Evangelicals are afraid of us. So, we end up in theologically liberal churches because they value inclusion or in a LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender) church. I don’t think that was Christ’s design for the church, to be organized around a social issue. Besides attending a church like that is an even greater temptation for me.”
I told him I was unaware of a single celibate gay or lesbian Christian in my church. His first observation is that most have probably already left my church, or are married and have kept their sexual orientation a secret, even from their spouse. This group will probably never “come out” for fear of losing their spouse, family and friends.
So, how would you feel about that? Would your church embrace a married, Christian homosexual who is faithful sexually, only to their spouse of the opposite sex? What about a serious, celibate and single homosexual Christian? Would you allow them to lead a small group or be a deacon, or elder? If not, what is it that disqualifies them?
I need your help. So, I invite your comments and questions. This isn’t an area of expertise to me, so I need the counsel of godly men and women to find biblical and practical ways of helping “mainstream” homosexuals who are serious about holiness.
These are the kinds of questions we need to answer biblically and lovingly for the church to begin feeling safe to homosexuals. I would suggest you consider inviting any homosexual who might be attending your church to contact a pastor or an elder, equipped to engage on this subject and begin a safe and confidential dialogue.
I’m committed to bringing this issue to the elders of my church and begin the dialogue of educating our congregation to be more open and welcoming of celibate gay or lesbian Christians. I can’t imagine Jesus being anything but proud of us, if we would open our arms to this group of what many Christians consider, modern day “lepers”.
Q & A on Thursday. This Thursday my blog will be a Q & A on questions or comments I’ve received from people who’ve previewed this post. I’ll also expand on some issues which were too long for this blog.
Questions: So, what do you think? Do you agree – disagree? Do you have any other ideas for incorporating celibate homosexuals into our faith communities?
Following Jesus in Real Life