Many Christian churches are moving toward acceptance and approval of gay, lesbian, and transgendered people into their congregations. Currently, in the United States, the United Church of Christ celebrates gay marriage, and some parts of the Anglican and Lutheran churches allow for the blessing of gay unions.1 Even some Quaker groups approve of same-sex marriages and unions. In the rest of the world there are many more instances of acceptance and this movement is growing.
There were homosexuals throughout biblical history and that fact is sometimes used to indicate God’s approval; the idea being that God wouldn’t have allowed this practice if he didn’t approve of it. Other pro-gay arguments are that God created homosexuals, or God made them special, or that God decided they should be gay, and so on, and therefore everyone should accept it as normal.
Many think that God is directing this change, but evidence indicates it is only man’s attitude that is changing, not God’s. In a frenzy to become inclusive, church leaders make congregational adjustments for a number of reasons, including not wanting to lose membership or not wanting to offend or hurt people’s feelings. The arguments sound reasonable to many people associated with these same-sex and transgendered movements, but they should take the advice of the apostle Paul, which foretold of a time when evil would steal many away from the truth. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT).
Who are Gays?
This alternative same-sex culture used to be termed homosexual, then it was gay, then gay and lesbian. Lately it goes by the acronym of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) and some people want to add another letter for those who may be questioning their sexual identity, hence LGBTQ.2 The continued inconsistency in labeling this sexual and gender identity-based movement, points to the confusion suffered by the people caught up in these alternative cultures. Although they all display a “gay” rainbow flag at public events to demonstrate unity, there is growing dissension within the various groups as to how they should be labeled, so real unity is rather illusive. For the sake of simplicity, this essay will use the terms heterosexual for man-woman attraction and homosexual for same-sex attraction.
We know that Jehovah is pro-heterosexual because he created man and woman to work as a single unit. In the book of Mark, it states, “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:6–9).3 Nowhere in the bible does it state that God expects a couple to be anything other than a man and woman. God created only one life style: a heterosexual one.
In the garden in Eden, God made the first human creature and then took a part of its body and used it to create another human creature. These two creatures, each with different attributes, masculine and feminine, were the first man and woman (Genesis 2:7–25). He arranged the order of all animal creation to be of two, and only two, distinct genders. So, it is obvious that God created humans as heterosexual beings. God neither made them any other way, nor encouraged them to act in any other way.
Now, about this idea of being a transgendered person, God did not arrange for the possibility for someone changing their sex. Anyone deciding to cut-off something from their body, or attaching something different to their body, will not in any way change their gender. If you don’t believe this, have a transgendered person get their DNA tested and it will state what gender they really are. This is science, not wishful thinking. And about children feeling like they are of a different sex — give me a break. They are feeling the mixed hormonal signals of puberty and they will grow out of it, so give them a chance to mature.
Another observation is that some heterosexual folks are a bit annoyed that God’s rainbow is utilized for such a non-Christian purpose. They shouldn’t worry, because the six colors used in the rainbow flag are lacking one of the seven colors exhibited in God’s rainbow and is, therefore, not an accurate representation. The true rainbow is composed of these colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. In the Bible, the number 6 symbolizes human weakness, the evils of Satan, and the manifestation of sin. Seven is the number of physical and spiritual perfection.4 Essentially the number seven indicates completeness, showing that all things are accomplished according to God’s plan.5
Can a Homosexual be a Christian?
Scripture is rather specific when declaring God’s thoughts about homosexual behavior. He views the homosexual act as a detestable thing (e.g., Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26–27). The apostle Paul stated, in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” He goes on to state, “And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).
Notice that although Paul states the many evil things people do, he also indicates that it is possible to change and follow a correct path. God will accept you, regardless of your past, if you bring yourself into alignment with the laws he established. He knows that changing is not something that can be done instantly, but takes effort and therefore “is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The key here is wanting to change.
If you are outside of God’s will and unrepentant, then you are not a Christian. If you continually enjoy your sin and make no effort to change, you are not a Christian. But what if you are sincerely trying to change, and have a hard time with the struggle; are you a Christian or not? If you want to change, but are struggling, then yes, you are a Christian. It is that simple.
Author Shane Idleman made some good points about this situation. Concerning same-sex attraction, he said, “struggling with sin is much different than a lifestyle of sin; even Jesus was tempted with sin, but he did not give in. If we are repentant and growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . we will turn from sin, not embrace it. We will repent rather than excuse our actions.” He continues with examples. “Many Christians who have overcome alcoholism or pornography still struggle — it’s still a battle. They are one drink, or one click, away from bondage. The same holds true for those with same-sex attraction.”6
How Should People Treat the Struggling Christian?
It is very clear that the bible indicates that we should not judge one another and should love one another. We can generally welcome, speak to, and be friends with homosexuals just as we would with anyone else, especially those who are sincerely struggling with any un-Christian practice. We should welcome to the church “those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions” (Romans 14:1). If the occasion arises, encouragement should be given. A contemporary language bible gives reassurance this way: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:17, The Message).7 With God’s help, all things are possible.
Closer To Home
So far, this essay has been about how God views gay lifestyles and if a homosexual can be a true Christian, but it doesn’t answer how we should relate to gays outside of the Christian church. What if we find that a friend is gay, or that someone in our own family “comes out of the closet,” then what should we do? We have all dealt with some kind of sin in our own lives, at some time or another; if not, then we wouldn’t be human. In the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he wrote, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT). Jesus did not isolate himself from sinners, but even dined with them (Matthew 9:10–13), so why shouldn’t we do likewise.
And let us keep in mind, just as Jesus confronted the scribes and Pharisees over whether an adulterous woman should be stoned and he said, “let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NRSV), I’m sure it is reasonable to believe that it would also be his approach to a similar situation with a homosexual.
God tells us what is right and wrong, but he lets us make our own choices. It is true that “wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9), but God doesn’t give up on those following the wrong path; he loves us all. If someone we know is homosexual, we should show them the respect, friendship, and love we have always displayed. By doing so, we are not condoning their lifestyle, only respecting them as a human being. We neither have to steal with the thieves, nor go to work with the prostitutes, nor pray to some strange god with people of unfamiliar religions, just to be their friends. Neither do we have to join in homosexual practices, to be friends with our gay friends and family members. Don’t condemn or abandon them. If there is any hope for the non-Christian, it could, very well, come by demonstrating the same patient and loving attributes that God has shown to us.
Listen to these friends and family members and offer the same grace that Jesus shows to us, in spite of our faults. But if the subject does come up, be honest about your own beliefs and don’t deceive them by implying that you agree with their homosexual actions. If the subject arises in conversation, state your true beliefs without anger or harassment. Be nice and handle all situations with maturity. Perform as Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”(Luke 6:31).
Copyright © 2017, Dr. Ray Hermann,
(Leave any comment at end, after References & Notes.)
References & Notes
1. “Christianity and homosexuality,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 25 September 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_homosexuality
2. Author’s note: The confusion continues, since there are groups offering up other suggestions: LGBTI (‘I’ for intersex), LGBTQI, and LGBT+ (‘+’ to encompass a full spectrum of gender and sexuality), LGBTQIA (‘A’ for asexual), and several more variations. “LGBT,” (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2 September 2017), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT
3. Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), ©1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4. “Meaning of Numbers in the Bible.” (The Bible Study Site, retrieved 1 October 2017),
5. Elwell, Walter A., (Ed.), Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), vol. 3, p. 1198.
6. Idleman, Shane, “Can a Person Be Gay and Still Be a Christian?” (The Christian Post, 13 December 2014), http://www.christianpost.com/news/can-a-person-be-gay-and-still-be-a-christian-131155/
7. Peterson, Eugene H., The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), 1 Cor. 10:13.
9 thoughts on “Does God Approve of the Gay Lifestyle: How Should a Christian Treat Gays?”
very good article. I like this one
I never thought about the difference in colors between God’s 7-color rainbow and the gay 6-color rainbow flag. Interesting, seven colors = perfect and six colors = weakness, evil, sin. Thanks for pointing that out. I feel better now.
Thank you. I’m glad you caught that detail about the gay flag.
Yes its not right for christians to harass gay people but its also not right for gay people to harass christians which I had to endure during various outdoor christian events. I’ll leave them alone just leave me alone too. The tiny percent of gays in the population makes the greatest demands that all the world should agree with them.
To both Richard and Jennifer:
Thank you. You both make valid points. While I find that Christian activists are greatly outnumbered by the gay community activists, I agree, especially in public, Christians should heed “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV). And similar philosophy should be applicable to gays (and all other lifestyles, religions, etc). Excellent advice for the Christian is “do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1, NIV) and for the non-Christian, equivalent advice goes for you, too. The Bible gives good, solid, logical advice, even if you don’t believe in a creator.
Being a professional musician in New Orleans for over 50 years I’ve played a lot of gigs in the French Quarter and met a lot of gay people. Other than their sexual choice, they seem to be like everyone else. Yes, I am straight, and none of them have made any advances to me.
During their Southern Decadence Fest there are people with large “religious” signs calling these people insulting names. I don’t think this is right. These gay people are not bothering anyone. If God doesn’t like what they are doing, I’m sure he will deal with them in his own way.
Thanks. See my response to both you and Jennifer, above.