Are you an organized person? Maybe you like to separate your jeans from your shorts, and even keep them in different drawers. While that certainly makes it easier to find your favorite outfit in the morning, what happens when you come home from shopping with a brand new pair of jean shorts? Where do they fit?
This is how many LGBT+ Christians feel. In the news and on social media, people paint a picture of rivalry between Christians and the LGBT+ community. This isn’t because LGBT+ Christians don’t exist; we erase them because we don’t understand them.
The Gay Christian Network (GCN) is a network of Christians whose mission is to “bring about a day when the church is the biggest ally and defender of LGBT people rather than a chief opponent.” The GCN recognizes two beliefs pertaining to LGBT+ Christians: Side A and Side B.
Side A says that God blesses same-sex marriages. Finding affirming churches is a challenge for many, but it is considered a valid theology. Some Old Testament laws we continue to follow (“thou shalt not murder”) while others are considered no longer applicable (“do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together”). How do we decipher what rules to continue following? Brent O’Neill, who graduated from Messiah College with a degree in Biblical and Religious Studies, argues that the Biblical problem is not homosexuality, but the historical and cultural issues surrounding it. For example, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed due to issues of rape, which is about power, not sexuality and attraction.
According to Brent, “In our 21st century minds, we say people have same-sex relations because they choose to, whether it’s a relationship, marriage or a hookup.” There are three reasons why men had same-sex relations in the first century, when Paul wrote his epistles: pagan worship, pedophilia and owners having sexual relations with slaves (a practice common with eunuchs). We must look at the fruit of issues mentioned in Galatians 5; if there is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, there is no law against it.
Side B is the conviction that same-sex behavior, but not attraction, is a sin. God calls those with same-sex attraction to a life of celibacy. According to Micah Weichbrodt, Junior Political Science Major at Biola University, “For the longest time I didn’t call myself gay, I feared the term like it was the plague. But eventually, after taking a long hard look at myself, my attractions, the things that I thought about, I knew that I actually was. And for me that was hard, but it made sense. Gay was something that actually described me.”
Micah identifies as gay, Christian and intentionally single. “Marriage, as it has been portrayed in all of Scripture, is always positively displayed as being between a man and a woman. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes there are nights where I want nothing more than to have a boyfriend, be sappy and romantic, and have someone to hold. But here’s the thing that gets me: marriage is a gift to man, but not a mandate….God created humans, not exclusively for the purpose of marriage, but exclusively for Him, and that gives me hope to be able to get past those temporary feelings of loneliness.”
Same-sex marriage is not the only LGBT+ issue in Christianity. Although conversion therapy is considered by doctors and the government to be abusive and ineffective, it is still practiced. Transgender Christians are another group that is often erased by Christianity and society, but are struggling to find their place in the church. As Americans, we have both the freedom of speech and the civic duty to defend the rights of others. Whether you’re Side A or Side B, take initiative to listen to others and let those jean shorts out of the closet.