Churches are often asked questions that can be complex regarding same-sex attraction. These questions can be about personal struggles, family situations or are challenges to conventional theology. This page has some of the common questions asked and some thoughts that could be helpful.
A question that has been asked by more than one church has been, how to respond to a gay or lesbian couple who come to church, begin to attend regularly and then ask what is the theology of the church on same-sex partnerships/marriage?
Most churches would still agree that God created two genders, male and female, and that sex outside of male/female marriage is outside of his design.
How do I love my gay friends and family?
Answer - Haydn Sennitt
One of the most frequently asked questions that I get when I get when speaking publicly about homosexuality is, How can I support my friends who are ‘gay’ or living with (unwanted) same-sex attraction?
It’s a tricky question to answer, because for each friend and person you know who is same-sex attracted there are different factors at play and there’s no hard-and-fast rule to directly meet each and every situation precisely. However, there are a number of things that you can do, generally speaking, so that no matter who it is you’re dealing with, you can be prepared:
Haydn is also available to speak to churches and can be contacted email@example.com
Isn't the best response for Christians to 'love the sinner, hate the sin?
When gay people hear this, and they hear it often, they react with anger. When you believe that your orientation is genetic, this statement makes no sense. It would be like saying, 'love the left-handed person, but hate how they write with their left hand'. For gay people, hearing this statement is a nonsense because being homosexual is their identity it is who they are. As Joe Dallas says, "In using this phrase, Christians may mean love, but all people hear is hate."
If someone identifies as a 'gay Christian', they also do not see their behaviour as 'sin'. And for many Christians today, this statement is still seen as judgemental. They ask 'Who can judge another person and say that they are sinful'?
We are better off not using this phrase. Certainly, we are still called to speak truth and to abhor what God abhors, but this includes many things that we often ignore, such as God's hatred for divorce. When we use this term in speaking to gay people, they think of all the hypocrisy they see in Christians, from those who accept heterosexual failings, to child abuse in the church.
It is far better to show love, and to accept the person we meet whatever their form of sin takes. Forget the labels and simply love them as they are. Sometimes, the sin of homosexual behaviour is the lesser of the person's offence against God, when we get to know individuals, even if they seem 'squeaky clean' there is pride or underlying anger and rebellion.
A good discussion on this subject is found here: http://six11.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/why-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-fails/
What do you advise if someone has been invited to a gay wedding? What if it is for their off-spring?
What happens when a parent in your church explains that their son or daughter has declared that they are about to enter a same sex marriage. Perhaps they are in New Zealand, or will travel to New Zealand, or are expecting to be able to do this very soon in ACT.
The parent is in confusion. They have continued to confirm their love to their off-spring. Perhaps they have been courageous and have also shown love toward the partner. They feel sick inside at the thought of attending this 'wedding' but know that to refuse the invitation will only alienate them from their child even more.
The children in our experience, always respond with something like this:
"When you bring your religion into our relationship it makes me want to move further away from you. I don't believe in God, so I don't really care what you and your God thinks. I am gay,I love my partner and I choose to be with him/her, even if your religion doesn't accept this. Your truth is not my truth and you need to understand, that your hurtful and offensive comments have direct consequences.
When the parent comes to you. What kind of advice is helpful?
First, we need to recognise that attending a wedding is traditionally an affirmation of the event. However, for a parent, it can simply mean it is an affirmation of the child. This decision cannot be made easily and there is no biblical precedent for these kinds of life experiences that we are seeing today.
The main thing is to support the parent. They are facing a situation that can need the 'wisdom of Solomon' and every situation is different. A parent will often attend a wedding for a heterosexual couple, where they are not happy with a decision such as a child marrying an unbeliever. It does not make it that much different because this wedding is same sex. They are both situations that are out of sync with God's best for the off-spring spiritually.
It is important to let the parent know that they do have the right to stand on their beliefs. This may mean that they choose to be ostracised and not attend the wedding. As a leader, it is important to follow up these times as they are incredibly painful to parents and they deserve the support of the church whatever they decide.
Firstly, if a youth leader has had the courage to confide in you, this is a very great honour. It takes overcoming huge hurdles of fear and shame for someone to go to a leader and divulge this struggle.
The wonderful thing is that you now have the chance to address what is really going on in this person's faith and personal development. Not to mention giving them hope and the relief that someone confidential now knows what they are struggling with who will love them and help them work through this issue.
Should they step down from ministry? Only if they feel they want to. It is the same if you had a young person come and say that they were feeling tempted to sleep with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The temptation is not a sin. Or if a young leader divulged that they were struggling with the draw toward pornography on the Internet. First you would want to find in any of these cases exactly where the person was in addictive behaviours, or any kind of behaviours. If it is simply a struggle of temptation, diffusing the enemies condemnation by embracing the young leader and assuring them of your support is the first step.
If a person is practising sin, we have a mandate from the Bible that tells us we need a process of restoration. (Gal 6:1) In many cases it is a long process. In this case, time out is essential for the sake of the leader and the church. Too often people are considered to be 'fixed' and are put back into ministry too early. Because of their giftings and the need to fulfil positions for work in the church, the weakness in character is by-passed when what is needed is a long period to adjust.
Certainly in the area of same-sex attraction, it did not just start in a moment of time. The feelings may have started in a moment of time, but the development begins in the earliest stages of life. Fortunately for all types of brokenness, Jesus has the power and ability to cause our weaknesses to become strengths.
How can we help someone who has tried to overcome their same sex attraction but have failed? And in this they have been hurt by Christians or churches
The answer is to 'stand in the gap' (Ez 22:30). Apologise for past hurt from the body of Christ and offer hope and a love that will be as described in 1 Cor. The first attribute is patience.
It is good to listen and validate the pain that this person has already gone through. Then ensure that the experience this person has in your congregation is a different one. This means that it is important to train your leaders especially, to understand the issues around homosexuality. If they gain understanding of how this develops and some of the common experiences of homosexual people, they also gain compassion.
Anyone who has wounds from earlier church experiences will be wary. It takes getting alongside and being prepared to act as true family to rebuild trust. The gay community and pro-gay affirming churches will receive these people with open arms and unconditionally. We too need to open our arms as we would for a family member who is not living in any form of relationship outside of God's prescribed standards.
Over time, pray through the events of this person's past Christian experience and through their failures, to help them gain the strength that comes from forgiveness and from 'confessing their weakness' (Jas 5:16).
A person who has had a bad accident may take months or years to heal. We have to realise that these wounds can be emotionally and spiritually painful. Sometimes people react with anger or distress if a painful area is touched, even physically, this is true. Try not to be reactive about reaction! In time, the healing process can be complete if your church is skilful Then you will have some wonderful testimonies to glorify God and share with others.
Question: If we have two women who come to our church who are 'glued' to each other in a codependant friendship, is this something we should address?
Sometimes women form unhealthy friendships. They can be one-sided, with one woman feeling almost 'stalked' by another. It can happen when a counsellor spends time with a very needy person, or a connect group leader befriends another woman. It can happen between married women or young women who are living in the same place. It can look almost like lesbianism.
It is close to lesbianism as for lesbian woman, it is often more about the emotional connection than phsyical sexuality. At the heart, it can be idolatrous. It is sometimes subtle as many young girls will become clones as teens and most will grow out of this, but for some it is the only way that they know how to relate.
To try to pry two women apart who have formed an emotionally dependant relationship can be difficult and sometimes unhelpful. They are finding their hope, joy and safety in each other, so to be told to part and form more healthy relationships will cause them to feel anger, self-righteousness or fear. This is a situation that needs patient and wise intervention.
Teaching women what love is, is surely part of Titus 2:3-5. Many women have had bad experiences, perhaps abuse, dysfunctional family role models and little information on relationships with other women. They grow up with role models in movies and secular advice in magazines and from peers.
What a great opportunity for women's ministry to be able to teach the real value of healthy friendships between women. Slowly introducing others into the tight pair can be helpful and winning enough trust to be able to draw out what is really going on. Older women in the church can play a rich and valuable role in this.
Counselling can be important, but the church and help to re-parent the broken child within a woman who may be in this kind of friendship because she has missed on healthy development in her life.
This is where it can be very helpful to have someone from the outside, come to help demystify homosexuality and to help people understand more about this subject. When people understand that in the vast majority of cases, people have not 'chosen' to be gay, and that this is something that requires our compassion rather than judgement, it can change the response to one of warmth.
Some feel fear of homosexual people. This is a natural fear of the unknown. So, it does help if this subject is better understood. Certainly teaching congregants to love people as they are and show the kind of love that is described in 1 Cor 13, that is patient and long suffering, is most helpful. As we learn to listen to people and their stories, we discover that we are all not that much different.
any people in churches attend, with hidden things that they would fear to reveal and yet transparency is a wonderful path to healing. Often the reaction to people who are externally noted as gay or transsexual, can include two other mind-sets. Firstly, a self-righteous mind-set that sees an obvious sin, that can overshadow our own short-comings that may not look that obvious. I Tim 5:24 talks of how some people have obvious sins while others have things that 'trail behind them.' As pastors and leaders, it is often stunning to discover what likes beneath sometimes the most outwardly saintly congregant. We need to take Jesus seriously and teach people not practice judgments based on other people's 'logs'.
Secondly, it can be a fear that the person coming into the church will somehow infect or influence other vulnerable people such as the younger attendees. Again, this is best handled by teaching the younger ones the same lessons of understanding and loving welcome, but also making sure that they are well discipled in their own understanding of the Bible.
That Jesus said nothing about homosexuality is most certainly true! But do we interpret this to mean that he was therefore condoning? Well, if we were to take his silence on a subject as his endorsement of a behaviour, then he also condoned bestiality , incest, or pedophilia or cannibalism for that matter, as he said nothing about these subject and many others.
Remembering that Jesus was a Jew, it is hard to imagine that he was unfamiliar with the Old Testament passages that clearly defined God's feelings about the practice of homosexuality. All Jews were well aware of the standards set down and he was speaking to well informed Jews.
With all humanity, there is a constant attempt to push God's boundaries. We have a false sense of freedom that is at its heart simply rebellion that wants to drive us into a state of anarchy where 'each person does what is right in their own eyes' (Judges 17:6)
In the time of Jesus some Rabbis wanted to find theological reason for divorce. So in the answers that Jesus gave in this area, we see that he was fully in agreement with God's design for a male and female to join together in marriage. (Matt 19:3-6 Mark 10:1-12).
So although Jesus did not say anything about many sexual behaviours, he fully endorsed sex within marriage between a man and a woman. And although having grace on a people who had fallen to behaviour outside of the beautiful pattern first seen in Gen 2:22-24, he was also clear on sin outside of the union of marriage being something we need to turn from.
Were Sodom and Gomorrah judged because of inhospitality?
The pro-gay theologians put forth that Sodom and Gomorrah were judged because they were inhospitable.
The argument is taken from Eze 16:49-50 ESV "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. (50) They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it."
The main sin, it is said, was that Sodom and Gomorrah were not showing the correct hospitality. Some say that Lot had not followed through on correct hospitality regulations that would have required him to let the city elders know who had come into their city. They say that the Hebrew word shows that the men of Sodom simply wanted to (yada), 'know' who the two angels were and Lot had violated these regulations.
Answering the first interpretation, it is true that Sodom and Gomorrah looked much like some of our western civilisations today, excessively well fed, prosperous and ease and ignoring those in need. Our culture today can also be guilty of the sin of pride. However it was the grievous acts being done in these cities that had come to God's attention.
In Jud 1:7-8 ESV we read, "just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality (ekporneuõ) and pursued unnatural desire (strange flesh -heteros sarx) , serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (8) Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones." Which defines acts of sexuality as foremost amongst the sins Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of.
God had set his mind to send the angels to destroy these cities before the angels ever entered in the guise of human men. So this one act of wanting to 'know' them was not the cause of the destruction. Incidentally, the two daughters of Lot had not 'known' (yada) a man and it is clear that in this sense the word refers to sexual relations.
Then it has been argued that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were lusting after sexual rape and this is not the same as loving relationships between people of the same sex. It is more like the power acts of men in prison.
The fact that Lot offered his virgin daughters adds the thought that these men were primarily heterosexual men who may have been tempted to take the women. So the argument is that these were not homosexual men, but rather heterosexual men who were wanting to do 'unnatural' acts with men.
Undoubtedly, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were practising a number of things that were abhorrent to God. Greed and pride are notable but clearly Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of a spectrum of many sexual sins. Their society had broken down and it is possible that there were no expectations of 'loving relationships'. However, Lot had retained the hope of son-in-laws and there must have been in the human reasoning some who felt their acts or relationships were 'loving'.
Vincent McCann of Spotlight Ministries, writes in his apologetic of this theological discussion:
"Just because a person feels that what they are doing is right does not necessarily mean that God is in agreement with it (Prov. 14:12).
Those who are involved in incest could also argue that the relationships that they have are loving, and natural to them. However, this does not make what they do right. The facts are that the Scriptures make no distinction between violent homosexual acts, and homosexual relationships where a loving relationship is said to exist. Alongside numerous other sins, it is simply identified as being contrary to God's will."
A Second view of the argument regarding Sodom and Gomorrah
Were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed because of inhospitality?
Ezekiel 14:49 "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
If we ignore all the other scriptures about Sodom and Gomorrah such as Jud 1:7 where it clearly states that these two towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion and it was for this reason they were destroyed, we may be convinced that the text proof of Ezekiel is all there is to say on this subject in the Bible.
Today, many Christians are waking up to the need for the church to be more compassionate and less self-absorbed. This can lead to loud cries about social justice, and lobbying on social media. But as this scripture above notes, until we are willing to divide up our own large properties and share them with the needy, or eat more simply so that they can 'simply eat', we are being hypocrites.
We must take heed because this kind of selfish living covers all aspects and sexuality was certainly a big part of the ire God felt. Those who espouse Ez 14:49 as absolving gay behaviour, do not go on to read the next verse, 50, They were haughty and committed abominations before me.
God says plainly that he hates pride. And he is clear that his judgement was not because Lot did not inform the elders of the city of his visitor's arrival. If that were the case, God would be a very cruel and captious God indeed. Besides, he had set his mind to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, long before these two angels set foot in the city.
Certainly it was for more than homosexual acts, but we can not ignore that this was included in his list of sins.
God Hates Prawns
It is argued that Christians pick and choose from the OT law. Why should homosexuality be condemned when Christians think nothing of wearing clothing of mixed cloth and eat shellfish and pork?
The Old Testament law contains recognisable ritual, social and moral law.
The ritual law is not fully followed even by orthodox Jews today, because there is no temple in existence.
Social law was given for the circumstances they lived in, firstly as people living a nomadic life, then as dwellers in a time where hygiene and health science was unknown. God laid down some very radical rules that were seen by the people of the Old Testament as general law. We now can see that many of these laws were for practical reasons to keep this nation healthier than the nations around them, and socially in order.
These social and ritual laws were over-ruled or considered inconsequential, in New Testament writing. For example Peter seeing the unclean animals as fit to eat, and Paul speaking of all food now being 'clean'.
The one area of law that continued, and was endorsed by Jesus, was moral law. The New Testament continues many passages to acknowledge that laws of sexual purity as understood in the Old Testament have not changed. The penalties in Christianity became submission to grace, rather than inflicting harsh punitive judgements.
But the pursuit of purity and refraining from any sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman was reinforced by Jesus (Matt 19:3-7) and taught throughout the New Testament by the writers of the letters.Link to a very thoughtful, 30 minute theological discussion by Robert Gagnon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqK9LkqAgw0
Pro-gay theology revisits each passage, redefining them to say that God is certainly against people behaving sexually outside of their natural orientation. So this is said to mean that if a heterosexual person acts out homosexually, they are acting outside of their natural being and should be condemned. However if someone is homosexual then their 'natural' inclination toward same-sex behaviour is normal and to be accepted. Therefore, they argue, these passages are not referring to homosexuals in loving committed relationships. They talk of theology evolving as we now live with different social constructs.
These arguments are not consistent with the passages involved, which clearly condemn all same-sex behaviour. For two thousand years, scholars have understood the meaning and it is only now that some claim, we have been misguided.
Albert Mohler asks, "Is it "clobbering” people to point out that Scripture identifies their behaviour or attitudes as sinful?" And ascertains that it is certainly important that all of us own the truth of our sin whatever that might be.
Without a knowledge of our sinfulness, we do not know of our need for a Saviour In this sense, we all need to be "clobbered” by the Bible so that we will know of our need for Christ
Aren't we told in scripture not to judge?
Josh McDowell says that the most often-quoted Bible verse used to be John 3:16, but now that tolerance has become the ultimate virtue, the verse we hear quoted the most is "Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Matt. 7:1) The person who calls homosexual activity wrong is called a bigot and a homophobe, and even those who don't believe in the Bible can be heard to quote the "Judge not" verse.
When Jesus said "Do not judge, or you too will be judged," the context makes it plain that He was talking about setting ourselves up as judge of another person, while blind to our own sinfulness as we point out another's sin. There's no doubt about it, there is a grievous amount of self-righteousness in the way the church treats those struggling with the temptations of homosexual longings. But there is a difference between agreeing with the standard of Scripture when it declares homosexuality wrong, and personally condemning an individual because of his sin. Agreeing with God about something isn't necessarily judging.
Imagine I'm speeding down the highway, and I get pulled over by a police officer. He approaches my car and, after checking my license and registration, he says, "You broke the speed limit back there, ma'am." Can you imagine a citizen indignantly levelling a politically correct charge at the officer: "Hey, you're judging me! Judge not, lest ye be judged!'" The policeman is simply pointing out that I broke the law. He's not judging my character, he's comparing my behaviour to the standard of the law. It's not judging when we restate what God has said about His moral law, either. What is sin is to look down our noses at someone who falls into a different sin than we do. That's judging.
Jesus affirmed a gay relationship when he healed the Roman centurion's lover
A young leader challenged, "Jesus affirmed homosexual loving relationships when he healed the Roman Centurion's lover." This is proposed as another 'proof' that God is not against loving, monogamous gay relationships.
It is well documented that, in the time of Jesus, Romans had adopted the practice of older men, particularly wealthy men or men of authority such as the centurion would have been, to have a young male as a sexual partner. This was in effect pederasty. It was not the same kind of relationship that could be defined as a mutual, loving gay relationship. The older man would normally also have a wife and family.
In some Greek literature the word 'pais' pais was used to describe the junior partner in a homosexual relationship. But that is not what it means here nor the rest of the New Testament. The word 'pais' is also used to describe children, adolscents and servants.
The word 'pais' is used 24 times in the NT and in each case it refers to someone who is a servant or a dear child. For example, Jairus' daughter was described as a 'pais'. In Matt 12:18 Jesus is described as a 'pais' of His Father God, meaning he is a servant of his Father God. In the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) it appears numerous times and it always refers to a “servant.” There are no occurrences of the term anywhere in the Bible that can be interpreted as referring to the junior partner in a homosexual relationship. This word is used in the story regarding the Centurion, found in Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7: 1-10, with Luke also including the term 'doulos', meaning 'slave'. Although the word 'pais' is sometimes used in other literature to refer to a lover, it is not used this way in the NT and the reference to the Roman Centurion's servant should not be interpreted to be a young gay partner.
John Bryan,Professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary,discusses this subject here:
Mike Haley in his book, 101 Frequently asked Questions about Homosexuality, explains that the kiss was a common practice among Eastern men and still is. There is nothing erotic suggested in this. Then Haley goes on to talk of David and it would seem unlikely that this man was gay.
"we are, after all, talking about David - a man whose Achilles heel was his desire and insatiable lust for women. Remember, he's the same guy who had numerous concubines and wives and still couldn't be fulfilled, so he took another man's wife - Bathsheba - and killed her husband to cover his transgression. That doesn't sound much like most gay men I've met.
And besides, since when have the Scriptures ever shied away from direct expressions of inappropriate sexual relationships? If God intended for this relationship to be an endorsement of homosexuality (which would contradict his nature and rest of the Bible), the Bible would have stated something like this: "And Jonathan knew David" or "and Jonathan lay with David." Never is the Bible unclear where sexual relationship were obvious."
Haley concludes that to adopt the idea of David and Jonathan being gay, is to fall to self-deception. Others suggest gay and lesbian couples are found throughout both the Old and New Testaments, such as Daniel and Ashpenez, Naomi and Ruth, Jesus and John, as well as Jesus and Peter. These are stretches of the imagination, by those seeking to find endorsement in relationships where no true evidence can be found.