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November 8th, 2010
10:26 AM ET

Gay Christians: WWJD?

Editor's Note: From CNN's Chris Welch and Jim Spellman

As more states consider whether or not to legalize gay marriage, church leaders have been forced to examine their theological position on homosexuality.    They find themselves asking the question about gays and lesbians: What would Jesus do?

And they are coming to very different conclusions.

Some churches have decided to take the "hate the sin, love the sinner" approach by actively lobbying against gay marriage.  Catholic leaders in Minnesota have turned to mass mailings as part of a media blitz to try to keep marriage between a man and a woman.

In Denver, an evangelical Christian pastor has split with his former church and started his own evangelical church that fully welcomes gays as worshipers and leaders.

The Rev. Mark Tidd says he does not see a discrepancy between the Bible and accepting members of the homosexual community.

"There's times when we change how we approach scripture because we observe how God is making God's self known in creation," he said.  "We don't consider it a sin to be gay and we don't consider it a sin if you are gay and seek a relationship which is the only natural one you can have which would be someone of the same gender."

Video: Colorado candidates debate same-sex marriage issue

Lisa Crane and her husband Ryan left their more traditional evangelical church for Tidd's church, and have no plans to go back.

"Do we ever worry like, 'Oh God am I wrong about this?' and 'Am I going to get to heaven and God is going to be like – No, you weren't supposed to let the gays serve communion!'" Lisa said.

"You know, I don't think so. That doesn't jibe with the Jesus that we learned about from the Bible"

About 1,000 miles away, Gretchen Thibault hears a much different answer.

"What would Jesus do?" she wondered. "Jesus loves us, but the activity would not be appropriate. Jesus loves the sinner not the sin."

Thibault is a Roman Catholic living in Minneapolis, where the archdiocese has distributed 400,000 DVDs encouraging its members to support the idea that individuals and not judges should vote on an amendment that would define marriage between a man and woman.

Thibault agrees with the message, and feels that gay people who act on their homosexual urges should not be eligible for all of the sacraments of the Catholic church.

"Jesus would say, 'Please come to church, you're welcome in the Catholic Church but' – and it's a huge very important 'but' – 'you should not be receiving the Eucharist,'" she said.

She added that she felt the same way about heterosexuals who engage in sexual activity before marriage.

Christians like Thibault are more common than those who, like the Rev. Tidd and the Cranes, do not see a discrepancy between the teachings of Jesus Christ and homosexuality, according to professor Randel Balmer, who teaches American religious history at Columbia University.

But he added that things are slowly changing - even among Christians.

"The younger generation ... don't really care about sexual identity issues," Balmer added.

He says that, as with issues like divorce, many people of faith will find ways to incorporate gay rights into their theology.

"These people are asking the right question," Balmer said.  "What would Jesus do? Would he revile these people? I don't think he would."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Evangelical • Faith Now • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality

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soundoff (485 Responses)
  1. J. Fritzl

    I dunno about anyone else, but to me a religion is either right or wrong. If it's possible to say, "Oh, I think Christianity is right, but I don't agree with discrimiation against gheys, so I'll found my own sect", then you lose the entirety of the truth. To me, there IS a right answer out there, and to settle for anything less is pointless. Truth doesn't change with public pressure.

    December 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  2. MN Mom

    Hmmmm....
    How about actually having a REAL separation of church and state in our country??
    A friend of mine posited the idea that all adult consenting couples could register with the govt. as domestic partners for the purposes of legal rights and responsibilities (insurance, next-of-kin, child custody, etc,) Kind of like the government "marriage license" now, but without any religious component at all. Notary public needed, or whatnot–but with the government only concerned about non-religious aspects like being in your right mind, not coerced, of legal age, not already registered with another, etc.
    Then, if you wanted to be spiritually married, that would be between you and your church or other religious authority. The government wouldn't get involved in that part at all, 'cause it wouldn't be their business. Thus, if a conservative group wanted to exclude gays, it could do so– yet it would not affect a gay couple's rights as a couple with employers, schools, etc. They could disapprove all they want, but gays could have the same legal protections (AND responsibilities, of course) as any straight couple.
    Then the issue does become one entirely of a religious nature. An argument about spiritual matters, not about tax-filing status and the ability to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner!
    I think my friend has a great idea. (and BTW, she's not straight, has a long-term partner. I'm the token straight married Christian friend, the one who is uncomfortable with some aspects of her friend's life, but admits we still have a lot in common and she's been a loyal friend.) If I were a young Christian living in a USA that just did the domestic partner thing for all couples: I'd shrug, get married in church and then register my husband as my domestic partner. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
    • WhySoSerious

      That's always what I've thought too. From a legal standpoint, I'm a little uneasy with the government defining what I believe in anyway, even if I happen to agree with marriage in a church environment. It makes much more sense to just create a nation-wide/state-wide acceptance of a legal agreement between two individuals, and then leave it up to the individual churches and communities to celebrate what they consider "marriage" at all.

      August 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  3. Rita G

    The Bible is EXTREMELY clear about this topic, both in the Old and New Testaments. (Gen. 19, Lev. 18:22, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, etc.)

    If you are a pastor and are ignoring or excusing these passages, do us all a favor and just stop preaching from the Bible completely. If you don't like it, why even bother calling yourself a Christian? There are so many other 'options' out there.

    Logically, either the WHOLE Bible is true, or it is wholly false. So, pick! Just be ready to defend it to God when He asks why you disobeyed Him.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  4. Steve Wambaire

    The best of this gay issue i ever saw was Rev Ed Bacon on Oprah "Being gay is a gift from God but our culture does not understand it" Christianity is about inclusion not seclusion.

    December 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  5. Creedence

    Nl, you stated this to Hope:
    NL

    Hope-
    You said "Suit yourself! You have your say, your way and your choice. But time will tell all things, and prove who's right and who is not. I know that my Redeemer lives, and HE will have the last word, not you, not I, nor anyone else! And no one will talk back then, you can be sure of that!"

    Again with the smugness, eh? I just don't understand how some people get off on trying to scare people. Even the Old Testament prophets never seemed to enjoy condemning people like some Christians seem to. A true believer would be satisfied in knowing that their savior will torture us, but people like you seem to lack that confidence and want to make our lives miserable before we die. Careful, God may judge you on this lack of faith.

    You really should be hoping that I'm right. That way you'll never have to face any judgment after you die. You do have to live with knowing how hurtful your message has been to people, however.

    Nl, If I may comment on your reply to Hope.

    First of all, I don't think she is trying to scare you, I think she is trying to share beliefs that she holds, as to perhaps get you to take a second look at things. I know sometimes it -co-mes across as stern or urgent, but that is only because the believer is freverent in trying to help save souls.
    If she does scare you, and you change your life belief to a positive (for God) when you breathe your last breathe, and find out you do have a soul, will you not remember Hopes words? Will you not be grateful that one Christian stood her ground, because she cared so much?
    Why would you even think a true believer would get glee out of knowing you would be tortured? That is absurd. A true believer would be saddened if anything, at the thought of that.

    Well, I can't sway your thinking, and will not try. But please understand that telling the truth as we know it to be, based on what Jesus taught us, is not judging. It is presenting the facts. If one feels judged, it is not by the Christian, or his words, but by the very two edged sw-ord that proceeds from the mouth of God....which is the word of God.

    Also, you asked Jeff a few questions, if I may comment as well.

    Divorce and remarriage...The bible does tell us not to be unequally yoked.
    I happen to think as much as this is a problem, it is one that is within the realms of normal and acceptable. Between a man and a woman, to most people. Perhaps that is why there is more acceptance amongst people. I think alot of people see a union between two people of the same gender as just a morally wrong thing. Two people of the same, cannot produce by normal means.
    That is why man and woman were created with the needed parts to do so. Anything that detracts from that, I guess is seen as lu-s-t, or sins of the fl-esh.
    But, be a-s-sured, sin is sin, regardless of what kind of sin. The bible tells us if we broke one c-o-mmandment, we have broken them all. That is why we are told not to judge, lest we remove the mote from our own eye. So, if you are condeming, making fun of, or putting another down, that is judging.
    If we rebuke the sin, and not the sinner, then that is acceptable. For you are simply stating that the bible says something is "sin".

    One more thing before I address women speaking in the church. Alot of athiest people are quick to scorn us, and put us down as believers, even to making fun of our Lord. Just as much as you all don't like a Christain "condeming" you, how do you think we feel? Have you ever thought about how you all may effect a person who is caught in the crossroads of his beliefs? Perhaps someone trying to make up his mind what he believes? Then hears all this nasty stuff, about how horrible Christianity is and so on? What if somebody never makes a decision, because he believeing what you all say? It goes both ways. I think respect begets respect.

    As far as women speaking in the church, mayby there was some specific problems within the church he was addressing at that time, which were as a result of women speaking, Perhaps it isn't that they shouldn't today. We know that some things as disc-u-s-s-ed under this thread, are not for today, such as sl-a-v-e-ry, for instance. Look how many women teach Sunday school and are mi-s-s-io–narys. When we say church, are we saying, as in a building where we worship, or within the church made up of believers, period?

    November 9, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.