This may appear strange to put on a youth ministry blog until you consider youth ministries are being confronted with this issue and it’s only going to get more complicated the more we avoid it.
This is seriously uncharted territory for me, as a straight Christian male, to wade into. I raise this question genuinely with a heart toward finding out what Christ truly wants. I want to bring others into the conversation. My hope is people will choose to sincerely participate in moving toward understanding and catapulting the conversation forward.
The catalyst for this post came from a recent trip I took. I was in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago attending a conference for youth workers. As part of the conference, they had the most racially tone deaf thing I’d ever seen. It was done from stage with very pure hearts and no foul intent at all. I am thoroughly convinced of that. However, it was very offensive to me in a way that was hard to move passed. It got the wheels in my mind turning, though.
After the conference I stayed in downtown Atlanta for a few days before heading home to California. In the downtown area, there is a very mixed group of people – different races, gay, straight, very rich, extremely poor, middle class, etc. Immediately following the session I attended about race, being in a culture so different from my sheltered suburban life in Southern California put my mind in overdrive. Issues I don’t typically face were (in a good way) being debated in my mind.
One one side of the debate: What my sheltered self has always experienced and been taught.
On the other side: Christ’s acceptance of others as I was submerged in a world of “others” I don’t often encounter
Egging along these thoughts were challenging discussions with a very close friend and former student who attends a university in downtown Atlanta. We are both focused on making God the center of our lives. His experience in Georgia, however, has caused him to come to grips with issues which are new to my experience. We don’t agree on much outside of our faith, but we do agree that the world’s temporary tenants can get pretty messed up – which causes generational issues that don’t go away easily.
This blog post is neither an argument for or against gay people being Christian. It’s just a response to a thought process that began forming in my head in the middle of these experiences; the conference, staying in downtown Atlanta, and the thought-provoking conversations. I’ve been back from my trip for a couple of weeks and I can’t shake the thought process – and I honestly don’t want to.
If you’re a Christian and have ever studied Acts 10 and 11 you’ll remember that Peter was called by God to not make a distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. He was then summoned by Cornelius (a Gentile) to come to his home and tell him, his family and friends about Jesus. Peter did. Then something super cool happened – the Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit when they believed.
The problem was this was super offensive to the Jews and made Peter ceremonially unclean. He had to answer for himself to the other apostles. He told his story to the counsel in his defense.
Here’s their surprising response in verse 18 of Acts 11,
“When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'”
Here’s where my question, “Can Christians be gay?” comes in. If God is willing to fill the “filthy Gentiles” with the Holy Spirit, why would we as those filthy Gentiles ever say, “That can’t happen!” in relation to anybody else who God would choose to include?
Then comes the predictable firestorm of caveats and clarifications (as it did by the council when the Gentiles were saved – same firestorm, different issues):
- If they do believe, they can’t be practicing homosexuals
- If they do come to the church, they can’t serve in leadership
- They can’t influence our children
- and on and on…
To this I have to reply, if we use the litmus test of God filling them with his Holy Spirit, like the leaders did in the early church for the Gentiles, then we should also follow their example by not laying heavy burdens or restrictions on them. You can see that fight, and the resolution that came from it, in Acts 15. I recently heard a very respected, yet controversial, pastor say the requirements laid on the new Gentile believers were not to burden them, but to keep the peace between them and the Jews. It was a compromise to bring peace more than it was a requirement from God.
Admittedly, this is all brand new to me. I want it to be true… and I strongly hope it is. Will the Holy Spirit fill members of the gay community who sincerely reach out and believe in Christ? I don’t see why not. He did for the thief on the cross who didn’t change his life. He does for the members of other religions who choose to have faith in Christ as the only way of salvation and on and on.
Whatever the resolution is, here’s my bottom line for now, let’s not be the stumbling block or wall which would ever keep anybody from believing in Christ as their Savior.
Comments on this post will be approved regardless your response (for or against) this idea. However, hate speech will not be approved. I’m seeking to keep the conversation sincere and on topic.
Also published on Medium.