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Even Christian evangelicals are warming to gay marriage

39 Comments

Evangelicals are starting to change their minds about gay marriage. In recent months, three large evangelical churches - EastLakeCommunity Church in Seattle, Washington, GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and City Church in San Francisco, California - have announced that they no longer believe all same-sex relationships are sinful. Leading evangelical ethicist David Gushee changed his position on the issue in a landmark speech last fall, and celebrated pastor Campolo did the same in a statement on his website earlier this month.

This new pro-gay movement among evangelicals is still a minority, and staunch conservatives have been pushing back. But bit by bit, the number of American evangelicals who support marriage equality continues to rise.

A new poll released by evangelical research firm LifeWay Research in April demonstrated this shift. True, it showed that 66 percent of American evangelicals, fundamentalists and born-again believers say that same-sex relationships go against God's will. While that is a super- majority, it is a substantial decline from just three years ago, when the same poll found that 82 percent held this view.

In part, that shift can be explained by the same forces that have changed much of the rest of American society. More evangelicals have openly gay friends and loved ones and, according to LifeWay, those who do are nearly twice as likely to support marriage equality as those who don't.

But relationships alone are rarely sufficient to change conservative Christians' minds on issues that are both political and theological. After all, evangelicals have based their opposition to gay rights on the Bible since the LGBT movement began. For years, even many sympathetic Christians have felt unable to embrace the LGBT community because of Scripture.

But while the Bible doesn't change, interpretations of it can. Today evangelicals have access to stronger theological arguments for same-sex relationships than ever before. A representative example is New Testament scholar James Brownson's book Bible, Gender, Sexuality, which is making a deep impact among theologians and biblical scholars.

Add in the decline of the "ex-gay" movement, and the door opens further for long-term change. Exodus International, the largest organization promoting the idea that gay people can change their sexual orientation, apologized for the harm it had caused and closed its doors in 2013. Its former president even called for a ban on reparative therapy earlier this year.

Some evangelicals remain reluctant to acknowledge the reality of sexual orientation, but their numbers are on the wane. The new answer many are proffering - lifelong celibacy for all gay people - seems both practically and theologically unsustainable.

Churches are being forced to grapple more deeply with the human consequences of their beliefs, particularly because teenagers are coming out at younger ages than they have before. That's leading still more to reconsider their interpretation of Scripture, as Southern Baptist Pastor Danny Cortez publicly did last year after his teenage son came out to him as gay.

In my case, when I came out to my dad five and a half years ago, he was distraught. All he'd ever heard on the issue was that the Bible condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms. But rather than rejecting the Bible or rejecting me, he ended up changing his interpretation of several passages in Scripture. Today, he's both a fully committed evangelical Christian and a vocal ally of the LGBT community.

These changes aren't rapid, nor do they erase the significant harm many conservative faith communities continue to cause in LGBT people's lives. But along with the Supreme Court's ruling Friday to legalize marriage equality nationwide, this slow religious shift does provide many gay Christians with a much-needed hope.

It gives them hope that, not only does their government now treat them equally, but, one day, their families and churches will, too.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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Japan has never been Christianized. Here, gay is "hentai", a "variation". But just because something is "hentai", doesn't mean you wouldn't want to try it. Like spending an hour with a dominatrix is "hentai", but not a few guys want to try it. The notion of "gay" and "gay lifestyle" is still very vague here. A guy loves a guy rather than a girl. Well, that's "hentai", but so?

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Gay/Bi/Weird is promoted on TV daily here. Nice to see that too. Too bad they are not more open about it in public.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not sure I like the "Even" in the headline. Some of us Christians are actually pretty tolerant people...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Some Christians such as Hugh Montefiore (The late Bishop of Birmingham) have suggested the possibility that Jesus himself might have been gay. Assuming Jesus actually existed, it would have been quite unusual in those day for a Rabbi in his 30s to be unmarried and spend all of his time travelling around with 12 other guys.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I'm neither Christian nor gay, but tolerate both. At the same time I find it very hard to understand how a person can call himself or herself Christian when they indulge in practices that are VERY specifically forbidden in the Bible. I mean, it's NOT ambiguous about it.

God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Rom 1:26-27).

-8 ( +5 / -14 )

I find it very hard to understand how a person can call himself or herself Christian when they indulge in practices that are VERY specifically forbidden in the Bible.

I find that hard to understand too. The bible doesn't tolerate these same sex issues which have been making headlines. These LGBT evangelicals need to read deeper into the scriprures and decide which they want to be.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Both sides of the gay argument rationalize the scriptures to fit their particular agendas. I believe gays have a right to not be discriminated against, but the scriptures are strictly against homosexuality. You can get experts to rationalize them until they're blue in the face, but how do you get around Corinthians 6:9? The point is why don't we just chuck the scriptures all together?

Also, just because a person doesn't agree with homosexuality doesn't mean they're homophobic or a bigot. One can concede that homosexuals deserve the same rights under the law of the land but at the same time disagree with that particular lifestyle. It's reverse discrimination for homosexuals to scream in someone's face and force them to accept homosexuality.

2 ( +7 / -6 )

Bible also says Christians can't wear clothes with mixed fibers, can't have tattoos, can't get divorced, can't eat shellfish, can't wear gold...I mean the list goes on forever. People are just cherry picking about what they want to get riled up about.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Bible also says Christians can't wear clothes with mixed fibers, can't have tattoos, can't get divorced, can't eat shellfish, can't wear gold...I mean the list goes on forever. People are just cherry picking about what they want to get riled up about.

Exactly! This means religion and its scriptures are bogus!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bible also says Christians can't wear clothes with mixed fibers, can't have tattoos, can't get divorced, can't eat shellfish, can't wear gold...I mean the list goes on forever.

And that's why I ain't Christian nor gay.

But, I was just supporting Bertie's comment. I'm just saying, if you claim to be a christian you should practice what it preaches. Obviously god made adam & eve (genesis), not adam and steve.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Tokiyo:

Thank you for pointing out all the inconsistencies in the holy book. Yeah, can we make divorce illegal and punishable? As Wanda Sykes said, make marriage like the mafia - once you're in, you're in!

It really puzzles me how a straight person can get married and divorced willy-nilly, with no intention of having children, to someone maybe 60 years younger or older, and yet SSM is still debatable.

lubracasi:

Some of us Christians are actually pretty tolerant people...

We're talking about evangelicals here. Even the gay ones are homophobic.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Religion is bogus! Religion is a farce!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They're only warming to gay marriage out of fear. Have you tried having an opinion other than pro-LGBT marriage recently? Even neutrals get branded as bigots like lynch-mob victims.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Also, just because a person doesn't agree with homosexuality doesn't mean they're homophobic or a bigot. One can concede that homosexuals deserve the same rights under the law of the land but at the same time disagree with that particular lifestyle. It's reverse discrimination for homosexuals to scream in someone's face and force them to accept homosexuality.

Exactly

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Of course evangelicals are changing their minds and preaching a different tune otherwise they will lose their following and income. Duh! Politicians and religious leaders so whatever it takes to keep their constituency in their flock. The only thing that really bothers me about all the LGBT marriage things is that they get the legal right to adopt children and raise them in a home that will be predominantly LGBT and that will white wash their thinking and if you look at all the amounts of data about the LGBT community, they only hold but a small percentage of members worldwide. Would you feel comfortable if a black African family went to the USA and adopted a white child and took it back to Africa to be raise in some third world country with a people and culture that looks and act nothing like where they came from? I only used the black culture thing as an example but you can apply any other ethnicity or foreign culture to that argument. Can me and my gay lover (I'm not gay but lets use this as another mental exercise) get married, go to Japan and adopt a young boy and take him back to the USA to be raised in a household that will predominantly have gay culture. How will that child see themselves and assimilate into the predominantly straight culture? If everyone was LGBT then there would be no children born and the human race will disappear??? Vive la difference??

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Also, just because a person doesn't agree with homosexuality doesn't mean they're homophobic or a bigot.

Forgetting for a moment the absurdity of the notion of "not agreeing with" someone's natural state of being, homophobia/bigotry is exactly what it is.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The only thing that really bothers me about all the LGBT marriage things is that they get the legal right to adopt children and raise them in a home that will be predominantly LGBT and that will white wash their thinking and if you look at all the amounts of data about the LGBT community, they only hold but a small percentage of members worldwide.

A fair point

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I agree

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It's more to public acceptance. In some countries it's forbidden in culture and tradition so it is against law for cross dressing and same sex sexual intercourse.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Who's doing all the thumbs down? Last time I checked, the arse was for pooping, not a sexual organ.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...when I came out to my dad five and a half years ago, he was distraught. All he’d ever heard on the issue was that the Bible condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms. But rather than rejecting the Bible or rejecting me, he ended up changing his interpretation of several passages in Scripture.

In addition to the chronic cherry picking (as @Tokiyo pointed out), there is also the issue of evangelicals altering their interpretation of the Bible to fit their preconceived biases, like this Southern Baptist pastor referred to above. Think U.S. Civil War; people on one side using the Bible to justify slavery, while people on the other using it to condemn slavery.

Anyway I have seen more mean-spirited vindictiveness from evangelical types in my life than I have ever from non-religious people. And the adamantly anti-gay evangelicals are the worst — like the creepy Ted Haggard evangelicals who are closeted homosexuals themselves and have some other pretty horrendous skeletons in their closets.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The bible's ""meanings" can and ARE changed ALL the time. Basically you can make it mean whatever you damned well want too.

I just wished religions could get rid of their hatreds for others, that would be nice, like that will ever happen!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Can't religions just strip themselves down to the golden rule of 'don't treat others in way you wouldn't like to be treated yourself' and dump the rest of the superfluous supernatural and downright nasty add-ons? If you were to ask a morally decent person of any religion to distill their religion in a simple sentence, they'd probably come up with this anyway. The rest is very often outdated or just plain unpleasant.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sensato,

Anyway I have seen more mean-spirited vindictiveness from evangelical types in my life than I have ever from non-religious people.

Exactly.

I've tried to have conversations with evangelical types and came to the conclusion that there isn't much difference between these guys and radical muslims.

In both cases, what governs their lives is a voice in their head.

I think this is very dangerous.

7 ( +7 / -1 )

It's reverse discrimination for homosexuals to scream in someone's face and force them to accept homosexuality.

So its your people who have claimed that gays are not human that are now the victims? This is pathetic. Same line is given to explain white oppression by blacks in the USA, equally insane. Come on people, grow up.

The only thing that really bothers me about all the LGBT marriage things is that they get the legal right to adopt children and raise them in a home that will be predominantly LGBT and that will white wash their thinking

This is equally inane. Fact is that it is straight families that produced gay kids. And why is that Hawkeye, because the kids are gay not because they grew up in certain family type. So if a child in a gay family is straight, he or she will grow up straight. This is the simple truth. Much of what you write is rooted in kind of homophobia that thinks that people are turned gay (most of the time it is people who think they may be gay that express this tripe). The gay population will not increase due to gay marriage, you can bet your subscription to Men's Health on it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Let's get it straight.

The guys who lead their lives according to these principles:

http://www.evangelicalbeliefs.com

Are "warming" to same sex "marriage"?

Really?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The reason many of us Christians in the US are not beating the drum about this is purely realistic...humans need close relationships, someone to live with, to care for and be cared for. We saw the cruelty after 9/11 when gay partners were thrown out of apartments with no concern for their humanity...churches have done this, businesses, families have done this. Christianity is first the good news of the father's unconditional love for all His children and Jesus preached in the open air, not behind the barbed wire of exclusion. So many of us are thinking like this today. The issue of divorce went through this evolution. The Bible says, "I, your God, hate divorce." Some us see this not through the eyes of laws, but also abandonment and coldness in any human relationship.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

it showed that 66 percent of American evangelicals, fundamentalists and born-again believers say that same-sex relationships go against God’s will.

Yup, it was "God's will" to judge people and find reasons not to love them. Right? Sad.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

'Christianity is first the good news of

A pity the idea of death to 'witches', the execution of homosexuals and unruly teenagers and the advocation of slavery rather fogs this idea of 'the father's unconditional love for all His children'. Bigots have been using the verses which recommend death to homosexuals for centuries. The father could have helped 'his children' by not including this type of murderous idea in the first place.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The article should say pseudo-Christian ministers are pro-gay, guess reading the Bible isn't a requirement. One can be loving and tolerant of something and not approve of it guess they missed class that day.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

announced that they no longer believe all same-sex relationships are sinful. How does something go from being sinful to not sinful?

The whole reason why Christians believe homosexuality (the actions, not the person) are immoral is because they are contrary to life, not because "scripture says so". It's because homosexuality focuses on the self rather than the self-giving of yourself (sacrifice) to support the creation of life, something invaluable and precious beyond any other material want or "need". Being contrary to life basically means contrary to God because he is life and the life giver. Homosexuality implies "no life". Simple.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Are "warming" to same sex "marriage"?

Really?

Agree with you there

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

'The whole reason why Christians believe homosexuality (the actions, not the person) are immoral is because they are contrary to life, not because "scripture says so"

Which Christians would they be? Do you speak in behalf of this incredibly schismatic religion? Can I ask how you know the will of your deity outside of 'scripture'?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Todd Seiler: smoking, drinking, drugs, obesity and lots of other stuff we do is also contrary to life. Especially obesity. Have you been to the US recently? Yet, Christians say nothing about these. They are obscessed witih gays. Anyway, as a gay, I'm glad I live here in Japan. We are much more casual about it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Gee, I wonder when you looks at the cross tabs, whether there is a generational split on this...

IOW, yeah, there is.

The anti-gay, science-denying, religiosly bigoted and largely white supremacist Christian right wing is literally dying off. Y'know, the Republican base.

Either Republicans evolve, or die too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Gee, I wonder when you looks at the cross tabs, whether there is a generational split on this...

There is no split. Either you're a peter-puffer, or you're not. Take ur pick. Hopefully it ain't the latter-

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Todd Seiler>

The whole reason why Christians believe homosexuality (the actions, not the person) are immoral is because they are contrary to life, not because "scripture says so". It's because homosexuality focuses on the self rather than the self-giving of yourself (sacrifice) to support the creation of life, something invaluable and precious beyond any other material want or "need". Being contrary to life basically means contrary to God because he is life and the life giver. Homosexuality implies "no life". Simple.

No, Christians (some), doesn't support same-sex relationships out of understanding of the true meaning of what Jesus said. It was not a long time ago that this same train of thought you're using here was used to accuse and condemn people to die burning in bonfires in public places.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No, Christians (some), doesn't support same-sex relationships out of understanding of the true meaning of what Jesus said. It was not a long time ago that this same train of thought you're using here was used to accuse and condemn people to die burning in bonfires in public places.

Love the sinner, hate the sin comes to mind

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Xtiait will ever change, it is evil and bigoted to the core!

Glad I'ma liberal gay atheist who accepts all except bigots! :D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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