Differing Levels of Gay in the Eyes of Conservative Christianity


My last post was a little on the heavy side so I thought I might do something a little lighter and more fun this time around (well, that’s the goal anyway, it may not have ended up that way.  Oops).  I started this a while back, but never got around to finishing it until now.  So without further adieu, here’s a post on how Christians view various categories of gay people in the church.

While the conservative Christian Church can sometimes be pretty anti-gay, there are still various levels of respectability within the umbrella term of “gay.”  I’m attempting to separate out the various groups and organize them by how acceptable they are to those who hold  a traditional sexual ethic.  I don’t think I really have a point to make here, I just thought it would be an interesting exercise.  So here’s my list ranking from the most accepted to the least:

1. Ex-gays

This group consists of those who were once gay, but no longer identify that way, usually as a result of conversion therapy.  Most in this group spent at least some time engaging in same-sex activity at some level, but eventually turned to Christ and, with hard work and prayer, have come to a place where they no longer consider themselves gay.  For some, this means they report no longer being attracted to the same sex and sometimes even express feelings of attraction to people of the opposite gender.  For many, it simply means that they have maintained what they believe to be a sufficient level of sexual purity to allow them to forgo the use of the term gay.

2. Single SSA Gays

This refers to those who, for various reasons, don’t use (and often never have used) the word gay to describe themselves and instead, employ the term same-sex attracted.  This can mean that they believe the word gay is inextricably tied to being sexually active or simply that the word makes them uncomfortable or doesn’t fit with their image of themselves.  Many conservative Christians applaud those who eschew the term gay because, to many, it expresses an acceptance of ones attractions and an unwillingness to change them.

3. Mixed-Orientation Married Gays

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a mixed-orientation marriage (MOM) refers to a heterosexual marriage where one spouse is straight and the other is primarily or exclusively attracted to his or her own gender.  I, personally, have a huge amount of respect for those in mixed-orientation marriages as it adds a massively disruptive component to the already complicated sacrament of marriage and shows incredible dedication to living out one’s Christian values.  The reason I believe this is viewed as less acceptable than people who identify as as SSA is due to the fact that those in MOMs typically self-identify as gay and aren’t necessarily working towards changing that aspect of themselves which, as previously mentioned, is something traditionalists often disapprove of.

4. Single Celibate Gays

Like the previous group, single celibate gays often receive disapproval because they self-identify as gay rather than SSA.  Again, this is often seen as a way of accepting a gay identity which many believe should be overcome through prayer and therapy.  People in MOMs are seen as making strides towards heterosexuality through their marriage, however, celibate gays, though often committed to life long celibacy which can lead to difficult bouts of loneliness, are sometimes viewed as complacent in their attempts at living a holy life.

5. Gays in Celibate Same-Sex Relationships

It takes at least a moderate if not progressive theology for someone to be accepting of any type of romantic gay relationship even if those involved refrain from sex.  I imagine that many Christians are skeptical that two people who are, presumably, sexually attracted to each other, can engage in a long term romantic relationship without consummating said relationship (which, really, should be between that couple and God, but I digress).  However, whether they believe claims of celibacy or not, the mere fact that a romantic relationship exists is viewed by many as a rejection of the Bible’s condemnation of ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai, translated in some version of the Bible as “homosexuals” and in others as “men who defile themselves with men”).  The belief that those in this type of relationship are ignoring God’s law in favor of satisfying their own desire for companionship can lead those on the more conservative end of the spectrum to express feelings of antipathy towards those in this group.

6. Gays in Sexually Active Gay Relationships

Finally, those who are in consummated same sex marriages are typically the least accepted group of gays in the Church.  Many who have dug deeply into scripture and studied the language as well as the cultural context still interpret passages such as 1 Timothy 1:10 or 1 Corinthians 6:9 as condemning all sexual activity between two people of the same gender even in the confines of marriage.  As a result, there is often widespread disapproval of such couples in conservative churches which results in a distinct feeling of unwelcomeness and discomfort when they visit such a church looking for a spiritual home.

My hope is that wherever an LGB person falls on this list, they will be fully loved and supported in the Church.  When I say support, I’m not necessarily asking you to adjust your theology regarding LGBT Christians and how they live their lives, but merely suggesting that we can still worship alongside, love, and be a family to people with whom we don’t necessarily see eye to eye.  Remember, sexual identity and it’s Biblical implications is a hot button issue right now and is therefore a subject where it’s easy to identify disagreement.  For every Christian you know, there is probably at least one topic on which you and that person passionately disagree.  Don’t let this subject be one that divides and weakens the Bride of Christ.  Love each other in and through our disagreements.  And while the idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin” makes sense in principle, the rampant misuse of it has led to severe harm and a widespread call to retire it (for more info on that, see Beth Woolsey’s post here).  As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

2 thoughts on “Differing Levels of Gay in the Eyes of Conservative Christianity

  1. I’m not sure how to address all of the topics you’ve brought up as of late, but I think it’s important to change the understanding/perspective of relationships and self-associations. (Sorry if it seems a bit repetitive, I’ve been writing it all day… Kinda tired.).
    As Christians, we associate ourselves with holiness, selflessness, and self-sacrifice, etc. When we start to allow things into our hearts and lives that define ourselves as part of this world, we start believing lies about ourselves and define ourselves with things of this world instead of God. If we accept what the world tells us about ourselves then we doom ourselves to become like the world. We allow the defilement of our heart and mind and drag others into our sin.
    In psychology you learn to put things in boxes and categorize them giving them a more solid definition. As Christians, the world sees us as strange because we don’t abide by the rules of the world. We think strangely in comparison to what people of the world think, and strive towards selflessness and constraint the more we seek after God’s will for our lives. Psychology can help people as well as hinder and lead people down a path that may not have been an option in the first place and probably isn’t in God’s will for our lives. Over the years we’ve defined things and given names to things, making them solid objects in our world. We’ve defiled our language and given power to our sin by naming it and categorizing people living in that sinful state of mind and being. There are no sexual orientations, only sin that we’ve named and categorized as being such. God has given us free will so choosing to live a life of sin is by choice. We accept thoughts and feelings as who we are and embrace the enemies lies instead of discerning them as such and fleeing from that thought process instead of seeking God’s truth and will for us. People usually seek after the selfish desires and perversions of their heart. Once you accept and categorize yourself by the thoughts or feelings that may have passed through your mind at one point in time, the more you will accept and believe the solid lies the enemy has placed in your heart. The perversions will grow as you keep feeding into the state of mind that someone has already chosen for you. Don’t feed into your heart the lies that you are the sin that has seeped into your mind. Correct the thought process as it begins and seek God’s will for your life, pray against the perversions that are not of you because you are not of this world and do not define yourself with the things of this world, but by God and His will for your life.
    If we define ourselves with things of this world, we lose perspective as Christians because as Christians we are not of this world and should not define ourselves with things of this world. People in our lives curse us when they start putting us in a box, reinforcing what we have already allowed into our heart. Allowing God’s truth to overcome our shortcomings invites victory into perspective. We are not our sin and should not define ourselves as such, otherwise it becomes hard to turn away from the thought processes that lead us to the sin we choose to accept and invite into our hearts. Sometimes the fear of being something you don’t want to be will enhance brief moments of insecurity and make you doubt who you are. Moments pass, and if you don’t feed into that insecurity and accept that all decisions are by choice and not by the enemies pre-destined plans for your life, then you can choose to give those thoughts and perversions to God and continue to seek His will.
    People choose to disbelieve that their sin doesn’t affect anyone else. The way they talk, dress, act, and the lifestyle they choose doesn’t affect anyone but themselves and no one should tell them how to live their life… But people don’t take into perspective the thought processes of those around them, the sin in other people’s lives, the selfishness and self-serving appetite of others that are brought out by the selfishness of those around them. They don’t know peoples circumstances and they don’t care about anyone else but what they are set out to achieve. People are not an island, they affect people around them in a good or bad way regardless of the intent they may have set out to achieve. “Homosexuals” and people of this world may stir up unresolved issues for people around them that may be struggling with certain types of thoughts just by talking about it or seeing them with eyes of this world. People who wear clothing that is inappropriate, sun bathers, etc; They all provoke thoughts and ideas good or bad (probably not pure), and they may or may not be aware of how it affects those around them. We no longer live in a careful age where people are pleasant, reserved, considerate, polite, and thoughtful. At least for the most part. Respect for preserving innocence, appropriate topics, and conservative clothing seem to be rare occurrences. People think it’s liberation of the bonds of society or something. But it’s bondage to our flesh, it destroys society, it causes chaos, it breeds immorality and leaves people callus, numb, and perverted. No man is an island… Our sin spreads and defiles those around us.
    When we choose to be selfless and make positive decisions in our lives it usually affects those around us in a positive way. When we choose to stay in our sin, it causes a disruptive ripple in our lives that reaches out around us and unsettles people close to us.
    People see others as objects of lust because society has fixated its eyes on sexuality and pleasure. We don’t see each other individually as beings in earthen vessels, subject to chipping and wear, only able to endure the trials and tribulations of this life through the light within us that God commanded to shine through the darkness in our hearts. Through God there is hope in the darkest times in our life. We are born in this world but not of it. If we choose to see people as God sees us, then we can overcome our selfishness, our perversions, our trials and tribulations. We are on this earth for but a short while and our suffering is short compared to eternity.
    Being healthy, seeking God’s will for our lives (Meditating on His word and recognizing our selfishness. Seeing things for what they are in God’s light), being confident in His truth and looking to Him for understanding in our circumstances. These things will help us to overcome the darkness in our hearts and minds. As for how to view people. We were put on this earth to procreate… A man is a man and cannot be a woman. A woman is a woman and cannot be a man. God made man and woman to complement each other. We are different socially which has to do with hormones and stuff… Just think of it like you could have been born a woman. And if you were born a woman, you would fill the role of a woman. And if you were born a man, then you would fill the role of a man. We are beings within vessels and we should view each other as such. We’re all just trying to live life. God said to love each other as we want to be loved. And by doing so, you are loving others how they want to be loved… You wouldn’t want your children to be born into a world of perversion. You don’t want your daughters to be brought up into sexual bondage. You don’t want your sons to be brought up as rapists. You don’t want bad things to happen, so in turn, don’t kill people, don’t rape people, don’t be a bad example to the next generation and try to be selfless, don’t plant seeds of doubt into people’s minds, don’t let your bondage and selfishness entice those around you. Loving people isn’t just a sexual thing, it’s just doing for others what you would want done for yourself. It’s being healthy so people don’t have to take care of you, eating in moderation, not just bad things, and not in excess, so that you don’t get fat and become burdensome to those around you when you start having major health issues. Not doing stupid things that may leave you in a coma because you can’t control your impulsiveness. Controlling your anger. Not doing drugs because they leave you depressed and dependant on them which may cause you to do stupid things and end up homeless, draining everyone around you. Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s all of the commandments in one. You just need to see it as it is. It’s hard when you’re growing up, I don’t know why people have to subject kids to sex, violence, perversion, etc. We should be correcting childish behavior, not encouraging it. The world needs to grow up and figure out what’s important. Things of this world, or things of God. That doesn’t mean you need to live a boring life. Just know what is right and wrong and know what you should repent from, and what you can do in moderation. Just because you find people of the same gender to be attractive doesn’t mean you should encourage those thoughts and think what if… Lots of people have thought about that and it’s your choice to turn the other way. People of the opposite gender don’t find me attractive, or I haven’t found the right person because all people of the opposite gender are stupid selfish jerks… Start working on yourself and be content with yourself. Exercise and eat right, etc. You have to invest in yourself sometimes for other people to see how great you are and want to invest in you. Life is short, live it to the best of your ability. Just try to do so in the least selfish way with God’s help of course, because we can’t do it on our own.

    • Thanks for the comment! I definitely see where you’re coming from and, having not experienced same-sex attractions or gone through years of praying and begging God to take the attractions away, I can’t expect you to understand the confidence I feel that this isn’t a passing phase. I see this as my “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 2:7) and, like Paul, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I can understand how that can look to you like reveling in sin and, for all I know, it might be, but I believe that God has allowed this in my life so that I can be peacemaker and bridge builder between factions of hostile Christians and the LGBT community and hopefully draw people closer to Christ.

      I also understand your warnings against defining ourselves by the world’s terms and I completely get that. All I can say is that for many years, I tried to ignore these feelings I had and to separate them from myself; I pretty much pretended they didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop me from struggling with lust and pornography. The feelings and struggles were still there even if I didn’t acknowledge them. Now that I’ve stopped denying that the feelings are there, I’m in a much better place to deal with them and I’ve made a lot of headway in reducing my sinful behavior.

      Lastly, I really appreciate your heart and gracious tone; people aren’t always so willing go the extra mile to say what they have to say in a loving way, especially over the internet. I hope we can continue to converse and pray for each other and I hope we are both drawn closer to God through it.

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