How My Views on Gays Changed

Fifty years ago, when I was a young believer, opposition to homosexuality was general throughout America. It was considered unnatural, and no one I knew even questioned whether it was ‘wrong’; it was just assumed to be wrong. We were ignorant.

In the 1970s I learned about a book written by Troy Perry called The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay. The sheer shock of the outrageous title caught my attention; who would even consider that Jesus would accept someone who is gay!

But another factor made it even worse—Troy Perry had been an evangelical minister. He was kicked out of three different denominations, including mine, and he still claimed to be a minister. In fact, he started a new church based on the idea that God accepted gays. How weird was that?

gay equal sign

Being Exposed to a Different Perspective

I wondered how Perry could have the audacity to make the claims he did, but his book was important to me because it was the first I ever heard that being gay was consistent with being a follower of Jesus.

Over the next 20 years, my views changed on many religious issues, but gay issues were not among them. As late as 1995 I read a book called God and the Philosophers that had a positive impact on me at a time when I really needed it. It was stories of various professional philosophers and their coming to embrace the existence of God. One of the writers, however, was an advocate for acceptance of gays; I simply dismissed their advocacy.

Up to this point, I had never met a gay person—or perhaps I should say I never met a gay person that I was aware of (no one announced their same-sex attraction), but I wasn’t anti-gay except that I thought it was inconsistent to be gay and Christian. I supported equal civil rights and deplored gay persecution.

As a retail manager, I joined a company that had several gay employees including two in my own store; I treated them as I treated any other member of the staff. I tried to engage one of them in conversation to help me better understand gay alienation in society, but he refused.

The Question of Gays and the Church Weighed Heavily on Me

Many believers began to protest the cruelty of marginalizing an entire group of people for who they are, and an increasing number began to speak up in support of gay equality—including gay marriage. But, sadly, a different Christian element doubled-down to marginalize and persecute gays even further. The way they promoted pain and hate was an outright horror.

The issue of Gays became polarizing among believers, and I felt a strong need to resolve it in my own heart, but I didn’t want to embrace gays in the church against God’s desire. I read a lot of material by gay advocates. An important one to me was Mel White’s book Stranger at the Gate. I knew White’s solid reputation among right-wing conservative Christians. If you are unfamiliar with him, the text from the back cover of the book might help:

Mel White was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters. He penned the speeches of Ollie North. He was a ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell, worked with Jim Bakker, flew in Pat Robertson’s private jet, walked sandy beaches with Billy Graham.

What these men didn’t know was that Mel White—evangelical minister, committed Christian, family man—was gay.

His story made a big impact on me, but I needed more than stories for me to accept that it was consistent to be both gay and Christian. Another author was asked how her claim that Jesus accepted gays could be backed up with scripture. Her response was, “He was inclusive.”

Jesus was inclusive; but is that enough to validate that one can be both gay and Christian at the same time? False assumptions can be made on either side of the issue, and the church in the past has assumed that these are inconsistent; but what does the Bible actually say about homosexuality.

What Does the Bible Say?

We must understand that the Bible was written by many people over a long period and that the authors all wrote from their own time and culture and reflected their own biases, but the question of what the Bible says about homosexuality is still a valid one.

As we begin to examine our assumptions, we must evaluate what the Bible really says about homosexuality; and it turns out that it says very little. Collectively, the few references used to support the idea that God opposes homosexuality are called ‘clobber passages’. They include: Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 19:4-5, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and I Timothy 1:9-10.

After careful consideration of these passages, and others, I concluded that there is nothing sinful about being gay. And it is no more sinful to express one’s same-sex attraction than it is to express one’s opposite-sex attraction.

Next time, we begin evaluating the clobber passages used to demonstrate God’s displeasure with gays.

I invite your comments and observations below.
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please sign up in the column to the right so you don’t miss future posts.
Have a great day! ~Tim
This entry was posted in Bible, gays, God, judgment, persecution and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to How My Views on Gays Changed

  1. michaeleeast says:

    I had a vision of God when I was 3 years old.
    So you can imagine my surprise when I was told that God hated me because I was gay.
    I never believed it.
    The saddest day of my life was when I heard about the Hell House.
    This was set up by an American Church to show kids AIDS sufferers being tormented in hell.
    I still find it hard to believe.
    But it showed me the depth of hatred and fear surrounding homosexuality and AIDS.
    The terror of hell drives these atrocities.
    They are to be pitied not condemned.
    The victims and the perpetrators.

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  2. Chas says:

    My own view on gay issues began to change quite early in my walk with God. The prevailing belief in the church seemed to be that all homosexual relationships were wrong, but this didn’t feel right to me, so I began to investigate what was in the Bible on this issue. The prevailing view that came mainly from the passages Tim has highlighted were that the Bible condemned male homosexuality, but it didn’t say anything about female/female relationships. The church view was that, if it applies to men, it should also apply to women, however, two passages that dealt with male homosexuality and both male and female bestiality (Leviticus 18:22-23 and 20:13-16) made no mention of female homosexuality at all. Looking then at Romans 1:26, which was being used by the church to argue that female homosexuality was wrong, it was not specific: ‘Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.’ At that point, I came to the conclusion that God did not find female homosexuality wrong.

    The next revelation for me came when a close male friend, who had been married for over 20 yrs, revealed that he felt attraction to men. During other conversations, he progressively revealed that his childhood had been traumatic: he did not know who his father was, and he said that his mother was a prostitute. I’m not sure that he had concrete evidence for that, but she seemed to have lived a dissolute life, going out until very late and drinking too much. The thing that seemed to have had the most impact on him, however, was that his stepfather had sexually abused him, yet he was the only one who had shown him ANY type of love. His stepfather eventually committed suicide, which had clearly upset my friend greatly, as he had lost the only one who had loved him. Subsequently, he also told another mutual male friend about his feelings and his past, and the fact that neither of us condemned him, or in any way changed our friendship for him, released him from the prison of denial that had kept him captive for so long.

    Once the shackles of belief in Biblical inerrancy were taken from me, I came to see that the writers were expressing their own opinions, not giving God’s Words. Anyone who believes that the Bible is inerrant is forced to take on all of the opinions and prejudices of these writers of scripture. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I would probably still have been in those shackles.

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    • Chas, how fortunate that you were able to change your views earlier in life. Perhaps I was deeper into fundamentalism, or more committed to it. It also began a long time ago in the 1950s and 60s.

      Whatever the case, it took me longer to come around, and belief in inerrancy was much of the reason for it. However, I have no doubt about the issue now.

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      • Chas says:

        It is important for us not to regret the timing of things in our lives; they happen when God wants them to. When I realized that I had come to believe (it didn’t happen right away, but was revealed when the Alpha course listed some things that one would expect to change when you believe in Jesus), I said to myself: ‘why didn’t anyone tell me this when I went to Sunday school as a child.’ The answer that God gave me was: ‘it was because it was not your time.’ The timing of everything is crucial, because God has a process going on that we do not know about; everything in that process has to occur at its right time and it must all be completed.

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        • sheila0405 says:

          Timing is everything. God moves when your heart is ready. I do believe that it’s important to always keep in mind that we are on a journey with God, and that we have to be open to his guidance. If we lock down our hearts within a belief system based on what we are being told by people rather than the Bible itself, then we are following men and women and not God. It’s important to examine why we hold a particular belief when we encounter a new way of believing. Sometimes we need to change, and sometimes not, but we have to listen to God about these things.

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    • Chas says:

      This is a postscript to my earlier post. Regarding my friend, whose feelings were dictated by the abuse that he had suffered, it is clear that to condemn such feelings would add to the suffering; i.e. it would be double-jeopardy.

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  3. sheila0405 says:

    I was fortunate enough to have a very close male friend at work, in the 70s, who happened to be gay. I had wonderful experiences with him, his partner, and their friends. Gays were regular people, just like me. A few of us became a close knit group, and we had so much fun together. I met and married my husband, and his sister was a lesbian. Once more, my exposure to gays was positive. I wasn’t much of a church goer, then, so I didn’t think about the religious aspect of it. When I recharged my relationship with Jesus, I brought the memories of those friends with me. My husband and I had moved out of the area. Last year is when my views pretty much cemented. But this comment is already too long, and I want to wait and see your next installments before I go further in my own journey.

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    • You were fortunate Sheila, and I look forward to hearing more of your journey!

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    • Chas says:

      My wife worked with several lesbian colleagues in the Primary Healthcare department of a local university. Shortly after Civil Partnerships for homosexual couples (the forerunner of gay marriages) were introduced in UK, one of these ladies entered a Partnership with her long time partner, and my wife and I went along to the celebration party afterwards. Soon afterwards, we had a party and the other partner, who did not work with my wife, but knew about my belief, came over to ask me how I, as a Christian, had been able to accept their relationship and celebrate it. She described her early experiences in a church in Northern Ireland, in which her lesbianism had caused her to be persecuted. I told her that my Bible studies (those noted in my earlier post, above) had shown me that God did not condemn lesbians. She seemed puzzled, but my reply satisfied her.

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  4. Justin Hanvey says:

    great thoughts man. Looking forward to your posts on the clobber passages!

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  5. Good stuff, Tim. I appreciate your willingness to share your story (which is very much like mine) of traveling from ignorant legalism to informed grace. Bless you!

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  6. Pingback: Homosexuality: The Case of Sodom | Jesus Without Baggage

  7. Marc says:

    Tim, Although I agree that there is nothing sinful about same sex attraction, how one acts upon the attraction does make a spiritual difference. Please clarify the next to the last sentence in your post regarding the sinfulness of expressing one’s sexual attractions. Is it your understanding that all sexual acts between opposite or same sex couples are not sinful, or equally sinful?

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  8. Pingback: Romans 1:26-27: A Clobber Passage That Should Lose Its Wallop | This is Important

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