For a Christian who is just beginning to come to terms with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, or for someone who is comfortably out as queer but who is only just starting to take religious faith seriously, reconciling these two identities may often seem difficult or even impossible. “Gay Christian” is an oxymoron, we are often told, both by some religious conservatives, who are appalled by our supposedly sinful lives, and by other gay men and lesbians, who object to our participation in what is assumed must be deeply homophobic ideas – the Christian faith. However, the alleged contradiction is apparent, not real. There is no conflict at all between homosexual identity and religious faith, but only with some human churches and individuals who misrepresent the Bible and Christian belief. Negotiating the apparent conflict is possible, but like coming out at all is a long term process and not an event, so too is coming out in church. As we do so, we all need to develop the knowledge and spiritual armour to shield us from the opposition we may meet along the way.
The key components of that are:
- confidence that our sexuality is entirely natural and healthy;
- knowledge that the Scriptural evidence against homoerotic relationships is somewhere between tenuous and non-existent,
- and appreciation that the more important message of the Bible is of inclusion and justice, not exclusion;
- most important weapon of all, must be the active development of a strong life in faith itself, by active participation in a faith community, or the development of personal spirituality and regular prayer.
- participate actively in a faith community
- and keep reading – here, elsewhere on-line, and in print.
This site aims to offer suggestions and resources on all of these. (In addition, there are specific considerations that apply to queer Catholics. These I have addressed separately, here).
The bedrock of the argument against any form of unconventional sexuality is that only heterosexuality is “natural”. The pages on Sexuality and Gender present extensive evidence to disprove that assumption. Same sex attraction and sexual expression are entirely natural, and has been described for all periods of history, for societies in all parts of the world, and even in a wide range of animal species. For some individuals, some cultures, and some animal species, same – sex activity may even be more common (and so more “natural”) than opposite sex activity.
It is completely untrue that the Bible “clearly” condemns homoerotic relationships or activities in general. The most that can be said is that there are a handful of verses that are often interpreted as being hostile – but these interpretations have been seriously challenged by modern scholars, many of whom now believe that they have been distorted by mistranslations or misinterpretation, or are simply not applicable to modern same sex relationships. These few supposedly hostile verses are in any case more than compensated for by the extensive passages that emphasize love and inclusion in general, and some which are specifically supportive of same sex affection (“The Gospels’ Queer Values“, and “The Queer Bible: Beyond Family Values “) – and by the numerous verses that prohibit other activities, and are widely ignored by most Christians. For more on some constructive approached to the Bible, browse the Queer Scripture pages.
But the most powerful armour against homophobia or prejudice in the name of religion comes from the heart of the faith itself: develop in spirituality, and through prayer form a direct relationship with God. Whatever some peoples in the churches might do, God will never reject yo. As you grow in personal faith and spirituality, you may come to the conclusion that many thoughtful writers on the subject have done: that same sex orientation can be a spiritual gift not a curse, and that integrating sexuality and spirituality can benefit both. My pages on Queer Spirituality list collect links to numerous posts on this theme.