Can You Be Gay and Christian?

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Does God’s Word really speak against homosexual practice? Or would Jesus accept homosexual men and women as they are, without changing them?

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Jesus came into a fallen world because human beings had sinned and rebelled against God; we were hopelessly lost in our sin and could not save ourselves. That sin and brokenness takes on a thousand different forms; one of those forms of sin and brokenness is homosexuality.  Jesus died to save, forgive, and transform: homosexual and heterosexual alike. I believe in the power of the blood of Jesus.

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Whatever it is that you struggle with, whatever it is in your life that is contrary to God’s ways, it is not in your best interest to give yourself to it.  No matter how hard it is, there is a way of escape through the cross, and there is even a place of transformation.  Look to the One who is called Savior for good reason!

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Other Resources:

Can You Be Gay and Christian? [5 DVD set] Lecture Series with Dr. Brown; Topics include:  Are We Using the Bible to Sanction Anti-Homosexual Prejudice? | Is There Such a Thing as “Ex-Gay”? | Was Jesus Tolerant? | A Christian Response to Homosexuality: A Dialogue Between Mr. Harry Knox, Director of Faith and Religion of the Human Rights Campaign, and Dr. Michael L. Brown | Ministering to the Gay and Lesbian Community

A Christian Response to Homosexuality: Brown/Knox Debate [DVD] An important debate between Dr. Michael Brown, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, and Mr. Harry Knox, Director of Faith and Religion for the Human Rights Campaign, on the topic of “A Christian Response to Homosexuality.”

A Queer Thing Happened To America by Dr. Brown: This book chronicles the amazing transformation of America over the last forty years, literally, from Stonewall Inn to the White House, and addresses the question head-on: Is there really a gay agenda, or is it a fiction of the religious right?

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Interview with Michael Brown on the Critics of A Queer Thing Happened to America

Are Evangelicals Obsessed with Homosexuality? Free Article by Dr. Brown


66 Comments
  1. Leviticus 20:13
    “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

    Pretty hard to get around that one.

  2. I suppose the basic question is, “Can we be a Christian and live in sin?”

    I suppose I can answer, “Not for long.”

  3. EDH –

    What I had to say about homosexuality in the communities in which the Christianity emerged reflects a widely held understanding amongst historians.

    That doesn’t mean that Paul wasn’t indeed speaking in blanket terms about all homosexual behavior, I just think it’s unlikely given the context in which he wrote. And plenty of ink has been spilled on that subject and there remain differing understandings.

    I think that makes what Christopher had to say in his post all the more significant.

  4. Ryan,

    I believe that considering the entire testimony of scripture, Paul was not just most likely talking about all of homosexual behavior, but he inarguably was doing so. I believe the passage in 1 Corinthians is clear, but what Paul has to say in Romans 1 is even more clear and doesn’t give room for any other interpretation than the traditional one.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Again, I don’t see how the context in which Paul wrote was so drastically different than what we see today. I still have no solid reason to believe that the % of monogamous homosexual couples was any greater today than it was then. I’m still left with the questions, “What makes today’s homosexual activity different than those of the past”? “Why should we believe that homosexuals today are more inclined on being monogamous?” I don’t believe they had a much narrower and different view than what we are familiar with today. What exactly makes our view so uniquely different?

    “What I had to say about homosexuality in the communities in which the Christianity emerged reflects a widely held understanding amongst historians.That doesn’t mean that Paul wasn’t indeed speaking in blanket terms about all homosexual behavior, I just think it’s unlikely given the context in which he wrote.” Ryan

    How exactly does that relate to the texts Paul wrote and the questions I raised? I understand the sexual perversion/promiscuity that was going on in Rome in those days, that’s a historical fact. I’m trying to understand how you believe that specifically relates to what Paul wrote. In other words, every historian/scholar agrees that there was a lot of sexual immorality that took place in ancient Rome. Everyone who holds to the belief that Paul was condemning ALL homosexual behavior knows of the sexual immorality in ancient Rome and all who don’t believe that was Paul’s focus, likewise know of the sexual immorality. The question is how does that agreed upon fact apply to the specific wording/meaning of the text?

    “What I had to say about homosexuality in the communities in which the Christianity emerged reflects a widely held understanding amongst historians”.—–Ryan

    What do you mean by this exactly? Are you suggesting that the widely held belief amongst historians is that Paul wasn’t condemning all homosexual behavior in his writings? Or did you have something else in mind?

    And plenty of ink has been spilled on that subject and there remain differing understandings.—-Ryan

    Plenty of ink has been spilled on every single topic found in scripture with differing views on all of them. I have to point this out, because some mistakenly believe that you automatically have to give serious credibility to anyone who makes a differing argument on any subject just because they are a scholar or historian. Even the strangest of beliefs, will have a few scholars or historians who’ll support it. The Bible does say plainly that this will happen.

    I think that makes what Christopher had to say in his post all the more significant.—-Ryan

    What exactly did you find significant in Christopher’s post? What did you agree with? I think this might help me understand where you’re coming from more clearly. I, myself, strongly disagree with a few statements made in his post.

    Hopefully you can help me understand your position more clearly. Looking forward to your response.

  5. EDH –

    Behavioral percentages are entirely immaterial. If only one committed, life-long, monogamous homosexual couple existed it must be reckoned with as a category of behavior.

    The acknowledgment or recognition of monogamous homosexual relationships is absent from the historical record of the Roman world. It certainly received no recognition from a State in which marriage was a civil institution. And such relationships were certainly not tolerated amongst Jews. This is a question of evidence rather than belief.

    So where, exactly, would Paul have encountered the sort of same-sex couples would are seeking marriages today? Why should we think he could have even envisioned this as a possible way of living?

    Paul had in mind particular categories of homosexual behavior – those he and his audiences had encountered. Others were absent from his experience, and therefore outside these passages.
    No evidence exists that he was talking about life-long committed relationships between gays or lesbians, in the same breath as abusive, exploitative relationships of power, as adultery, or as base, promiscuous fornication. Even the connection of homosexual acts with “lusts” points towards this lacuna.

    So, I see no clarity in these passages that anyone, simply because of their homosexual expression, is necessarily outside of Christ.

  6. The acknowledgment or recognition of monogamous homosexual relationships is absent from the historical record of the Roman world. It certainly received no recognition from a State in which marriage was a civil institution. And such relationships were certainly not tolerated amongst Jews. This is a question of evidence rather than belief.

    Just to be clear, you’re saying that homosexual monogamy didn’t exist when Paul was writing?

    So where, exactly, would Paul have encountered the sort of same-sex couples would are seeking marriages today?—-Ryan

    I’m guessing he would encounter them(monagamous homosexual couples) the same place he would encounter mongamous heterosexual couples. Again, are you contending that homosexual monogamy didn’t exist in Paul’s day?

    So, I see no clarity in these passages that anyone, simply because of their homosexual expression, is necessarily outside of Christ—-Ryan

    By homosexual expression, what do you mean? Commited monagamous homosexual couples?

  7. “Why should we think he could have even envisioned this as a possible way of living?” – Ryan

    Do you think bestiality could be acceptable if a person was true to one beast? I have the impression that homosexuality is wrong to the core in the same way that bestiality is.

    Man is meant to be paired with woman. It’s that simple I believe. Homosexual unions of all kinds go against what God intended, there is not one that is acceptable…unless you’re going to argue that God intended for some people to be homosexual?

  8. Juan –
    I’m not even evaluating the merits of homosexual unions. And I’m certainly not going to take the bait of evaluating homosexuality vs. bestiality.

    And the very point of what I’m saying that there is scant evidence that scripture, read within its historical context, can be understood to say that “not one…is acceptable.”

    EDH –

    It’s certainly possible that life-long homosexual relationships existed in Paul’s world. But if you want to claim that life-long homosexual relationships were a commonplace, or even an acknowledged, feature of life in ancient Palestine, or anywhere in the Roman world, you would be arguing against the historical record.

    Roman writers and thinkers dealt extensively with the subject of homosexuality without touching on life-long unions. And such relationships would have resulted in death in Palestine.

    Within that context, a finding a blanket condemnation of every possible pattern of homosexual behavior in Paul’s writing goes beyond the text.

    I think this can only be ground on which to embrace what Dr. Mouw has called a more generous theology. That is, not blindly or silently tolerant, but generous enough to acknowledge and trust others’ heartfelt seeking of Christ.

  9. “And the very point of what I’m saying that there is scant evidence that scripture, read within its historical context, can be understood to say that “not one…is acceptable.”” – Ryan

    So you’re arguing that God intended for some people to be homosexuals (in its proper form)?

  10. Ryan,

    Thanks for the response. Is it fair to say you’re saying the much narrower view that Paul had vs what we have today is that there were simply less monongamous homosexual couples in his day?

    Before I get into a thorough exegesis of the texts (which is what this topic is missing) what do you suggest that Paul was most likely speaking of when he condemned homosexuality? In other words, what should I really have in mind when I come across the word “homosexual” or a phrase that I’m mistakenly looking at as the condemning of all homosexual acts?

  11. But if you want to claim that life-long homosexual relationships were a commonplace, or even an acknowledged, feature of life in ancient Palestine, or anywhere in the Roman world, you would be arguing against the historical record.—Ryan

    I’m not claiming they were commonplace or even acknowledged (they weren’t) I’m just wondering when exactly did this ever become commonplace in the homosexual community?

  12. We can continue a discussion about the historical context in which Paul thought and wrote, and debate the intention of his words. I recognize that numerous New Testament scholars, including liberal scholars, feel confident that Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality was without exception. Others, even while maintaining that Paul addressed a narrow range of behaviors, particularly pederasty, assert that Paul WOULD have rejected any homosexual bond.
    But even were this the case, why? Was it simply an expression of normative Hebrew culture that had developed, out Mosaic law, a strong homosexual taboo? Part of a broader rejection of hellenistic culture? Was it, as Robert Gagnon has argued, reflective of a coherent theory of sexuality, based on structural difference between the sexes?

    The underlying question is: does what Paul says about homosexuality apply to us in a literal and particular sense? Is it actually enmeshed in a scriptural context that gives those particular words force despite changed understanding of human sexual biology and the evidence of professing homosexual Christians? I think it is quite the opposite.

  13. @Mike. David did not sin when he had eight, nine wives. Abraham did not sin when had Sarah and Hagar. The Torah nener ever ever says that a man is sinning against God if has two or more wives. The Torah does say that a woman is sinning if she has two or mor husbands. These were a few of many laws given to Jewish people. How dare you judge David! Are you smarter than God. You are wrong. There are God inspired laws such as a brother who dies who has no heir must marry his brother’s wife to make an heir for his dead brother. This resulted in marrying another wife. There is no Old Testament scripture anywhere that would disagree with me. No where, no where does Moses book, the Torah, the Law call a man having two wives a sin. Jacob is not wrong either, with four wives. Please do not teach otherwise, do not misrepresent the Torah!

  14. @ Ryan,

    If the Torah and Prophets and the Writings (Old Testament to Christians) are not God anointed then and we give less credence to them then, we can claim our scientific theories and scientific logic to be as equal to these so called ancient Scriptures. Am I a completely stupid Jewish man for believing that the Torah is God’s holy spirit words written as a law to me and my forefathers, the Jews for thousands of years. Out of all of us Jews you will find not one of us who are orthodox that believe that the Torah of the prophet Moses would ever ever, never make the claim that you have made. And all we Jews live for is studying Torah, if you could be gay and obey the Torah we would have already known about it from meticulous Torah studies. You must really feel confident that Jesus changed the law for the Jewish people so now all his followers can be gay, if they only do it with one partner at a time(monogynous). You seem so bold and smart. Yet if you are correct then why should Jews believe in such a lawless messiah that tells his followers to do the worst things in the Law of Moses. Peace.

  15. The underlying question is: does what Paul says about homosexuality apply to us in a literal and particular sense? Is it actually enmeshed in a scriptural context that gives those particular words force despite changed understanding of human sexual biology and the evidence of professing homosexual Christians?—–Ryan

    Yes, Paul’s stance on homosexuality applies to us in a literal and particular sense today. The specific words Paul used in his writings show that he was condemning the full spectrum of homosexual acts, he was condemning the very union of man/man woman/woman. That condemnation eliminates the possibility of any type of homosexual behavior no matter how “responsible” it is (life long, monogamous,etc) from being acceptable in God’s eyes. Paul actually condemns every sexual union outside of the married male/female couple as being unacceptable in God’s eyes.

    But even were this the case, why? Was it simply an expression of normative Hebrew culture that had developed, out Mosaic law, a strong homosexual taboo? Part of a broader rejection of hellenistic culture? Was it, as Robert Gagnon has argued, reflective of a coherent theory of sexuality, based on structural difference between the sexes?—Ryan

    We, as Christians, believe that Paul wrote under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit and taught with the same authority as the apostles Peter, James, and John. With the same authority that all scripture (OT and NT) was written under. So it was much more than, “an expression of normative Hebrew culture that had developed out of Mosaic law”, although it was completely consistent with the law and Hebrew culture. Under the Law the marriage of a man/woman was elevated and seen as the standard, pleasing to God, and reflected what He first created with Adam and Eve. Homosexuality, on the other hand, was seen as a perversion from God’s standard and all who participated in it were to be put to death. Paul’s teachings on homosexuality accurately reflect what God thinks first and foremost, and then his own understanding. It’s not one or the other.

    Is it actually enmeshed in a scriptural context that gives those particular words force despite changed understanding of human sexual biology and the evidence of professing homosexual Christians?—Ryan

    What exactly is this changed understanding of human sexual biology? Honestly, I don’t see how that’s relevant anyway. If God declares something to be sin, it’s sin. Our understanding on anything moral should come in light of what God has revealed to us, not the other way around. The “evidence” of professing homosexual Christians doesn’t really mean anything. There are professing Christians who are fornicators, adulterers, and idolaters. What does that “evidence” mean?? All that shows is there are people who claim to be a part of the faith that really aren’t. The Bible has a lot to say about the reality of false converts.

  16. Wow.

    Here I’ve been thinking that gays I’ve had online conversations with recently were on the verge of actually calling God himself a “homophobic bigot” — but today I heard Franklin Kameny (recorded here in April 2011) actually say that.

    I’m still in shock to some extent.

    I’m only glad to know that there is no longer a doubt in my mind about this being a core belief of gay activists.

    President Obama lauded Frank Kameny and thanked him for “his leadership” (in gay activism) at the White House on June 29, 2009. I’m just glad I have no more doubt about Mr. Obama’s position on the Bible as “the word of God.”

    And Frank Kameny passed away on 10-11-2011 at the age of 86. He never recanted his views about God.

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