October 25th, 2011
12:09 PM ET
My Take: Why Christians are embracing their LGBT neighbors
Editor’s note: Ross Murray is director of religion, faith and values at GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
By Ross Murray, Special to CNN
America is embracing its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Don’t believe me? Just look at the progress being made in faith communities.
The Christian church was once considered the final holdout for those who oppose equality for LGBT people. Staunch believers could gather in worship with people who thought just like them to hear sermons affirming the anti-LGBT beliefs they held in common.
For those of us who identify as LGBT, church was a place of fear and secrets. We had to figure out how to hide ourselves or how to find a more welcoming community.
But that is changing.
Although there is still a variety of scriptural interpretations, an increasing number of Christians are reading scripture and understanding that God’s design for the world includes LGBT people. It follows, good Christians believe, that if God made them, then I am called to love and support them.
Whole Christian denominations have accepted and embraced the reality of LGBT believers within their ranks and in their leadership. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ and Unitarians have formally accepted LGBT people within their denominations.
Even within denominations and faith groups whose policies don’t fully welcome LGBT people, there are growing numbers of people who have learned to love and accept their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
The Public Religion Research Institute found this year that as many as 71% of Catholics in America support lesbian and gay people, even up to the point of civil marriage, despite the Roman Catholic hierarchy telling them otherwise.
Of course, there still are Christian groups who work actively against equal protections for LGBT people and their families.
Indeed, as more Americans get to know and love their LGBT neighbors, the messages and vocal misinformation of anti-gay activists become even more shrill.
And yet more and more Christians are now living out the message of 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
How did this happen? More Christians now know someone who is LGBT. They probably even know someone from their church. There are countless faithful Christians who identify as LGBT.
These are folks who have found their faith in God to be stronger than the opposition of vocal anti-gay activists.
These LGBT Christians have shared their lives and their stories that build up love and break down fear, leading to tangible progress, especially with young people.
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, there is at least a 20-point gap between those ages 18 to 29 and those ages 65 and older on every public policy measure in the survey concerning equality for gay and lesbian people, with younger Americans gravitating toward equality.
Even Christian-identified young people increasingly support protections for lesbian and gay people, the same survey found.
Those who oppose equality can call it what they like, but the reality is that we are living in a society that has learned how to value LGBT people as they would others.
That attitude doesn’t rely on fear or lies, but on caring relationships and trust. It lives out the apostle Paul’s wish for the Corinthians that someday we will know fully, even as we are fully known. It is a biblically informed reality that is helping to make the world a better place.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ross Murray.
About this blog
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
If you do come to love and accept an LGBT person, do you REALLY think God will hate you? Of course not! God loves us all and encourages us to love others regardless. If your version of Christianity tells you otherwise, maybe it's time to change to a more loving version!
Love the person. Hate the sin. People love their ears to be tickled in this generation. Follow what Jesus says, not humans.
Jesus was human. I thought that was the whole point.
Jesus is God as well.
Christian, even if you come to love and accept an LGBT person God will NEVER stop loving you. Actually, he never has! God loves all people and will forever love all people. It's important to understand that he has always been against sin. That's the message of the Gospel. He loves you so much that he took all your sins upon him so that he could save you from damnation(a consequence to the original wrong doings of mankind.) John 3:16 For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus lived without sin to show us that we too can live without sin after accepting His help and recognizing that we are sinners and need help. Although Jesus was human, He did not lust after fleshly things. Knowing how God feels about ho-mose-xuality from the Bible, if you disregard that and do your own thing, isn't that going after fleshly things?
@Christian A.: I am saying this in love, I'm not bashing you, but expressing concern. It's also not directed just at you. You can't pick and choose what you want out of the Bible to follow and call truth. Either it's all truth to you or all false to you. Anything you perceive to be false would then question God's judgement.
Yes, Christians are becoming more pro-LGBT and this is a great thing, because that is what a TRUE Christian should be.
Not sure what your definition of TRUE Christian is. Mine would be doing what Jesus did. Casting out devils, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, helping the poor, tell people about how not to live in sin, giving clothes to the naked.
Sorry Ross....I don't buy it.
Gay are great! CNN is Great! Christains are bad! Being normal is BAD.
I did not write anything good about gays so my posts were not permitted. Now that is what this is about.
They're out to get you, Ezra. You are now on their List.
Do you want me to come out and getcha Ezra with my bag fulla Illinois Enema Bandit Juice. Not sure it will fix stupid though....just say the word.
Just because you have a forum to write this garbage, and just because some screwball editor has the poor judgment to publish it......doesn't mean most common sense Americans will fall for it. You have your little group of left wing screwballs, but thank goodness there aren't enough of you to have much impact. We have problems aplenty these days without having to tighten up every loose screw.
Fred, the way you use the phrase 'tighten up every loose screw' makes me wonder how you feel about rentboys. In dark alleys. After some Jim Beam and a fight with the wife.
Incase you hadn't noticed, those "Left wing nuts" you are referring to outnumber the non-"left wing nuts" in recent polls. The majority of Americans ARE accepting of LGBT people.
You are a very poor example of a person. I don't think one of my enemas, not even an ice cold one, will fix you.
I read several of the comments on this page and I have some thoughts. Being a Christian means being Christ-like. Many people claim to be Christians but have no concept of what it means. They pick and choose pieces of the Bible to fit what they want. "Jacob have I loved. Esau have I hated" ... God. is merely choosing one verse and trying to make it represent God. This is proof texting and discouraged when truly trying to understand a historical text like the Bible. Having said all of this, the Bible is very clear on what God thinks of LGBT. He destroyed a whole city for such practices. God is a perfect God demanding perfection, knowing we are not good enough. He is just because he has never changed his rules. Despite our sins, he loves us anyway. Jesus commanded us to "Love your neighbor as yourself". I can love friends and family, accept them, all the while not approving of decisions that they make or sins they choose to commit. I am a Christian, but you will never hear me speak derogatorily about LGBT individuals. I teach several, and each of them could tell you that I have shown nothing but love toward them, even if some of them know that I don't approve of such practices. I guess in the end I would say that either we are Christian and believe all of God's word, or we are not, and so choose to pick the parts that we want to fit our arguments for the time being. I choose to follow Christ; I choose to love; and I choose to stand firm to what is true.
The Bible never says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the people are gay. I do no understand why this is assumed to be true.
"He destroyed a whole city for such practices"
No he didn't he destroyed it because they were filled with pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered. Sound familiar?
I'm pretty sure I read a little something in there that talked about judging other people? Seems it's ok to judge if you think God would agree? The whole lesson of the bible is to treat other people with love & respect, not judgement and riddicule. Your right though, most Christians seem to be completely out of touch with the message.
Wow jal, you are so awesome. We are all very impressed I'm sure. Question though, if God doesn't want them to be LGBT, why did he make them that way? But it is so big of you to love them. They are soooo lucky to have YOU in their lives. Also, do you want soap in your enema or just warm water. You are so full of sh-it this is going to take a while. I may need an assistant. Maybe TC could help me.
S&G were destroyed becasue it was a sinful city but a gay reference is made for Lot to let the angels come out at behest of the men of the city so they could have s-x with them.
Problem here too is some of us think gays are made the way they are and some think not and science has proven it yet – so don't any of you go theere and quaote an invalid study. Even the genome project is not conclusive.
"but a gay reference is made for Lot to let the angels come out at behest of the men of the city so they could have s-x with them."
DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's why Lot offered his virgin daughters to a bunch of gay guys – you're reading into the story – it was about hospitality! How do you know the angels were men to make the story about gays?
"Problem here too is some of us think gays are made the way "
The APA and the AMA have stated being gay is a normal part of human sexuality it's why the laws got changed moron. LMAO!
ummm – you keep calling me a moron but if you look at how you interact it is quite the opposite. Note that you wrote "stated" – no one cares what they state – it's what you can prove – moron
ummm- if you were not a moron and an educated decent human being that knew the Bible – you would know that in Hebrew and Jewish custom – angels are messengers as men unless stated otherwise in Hebrew text.
"it's what you can prove – moron"
Hey see TC isn't as loving as it was trying to portray – you're come to the other side. The experts in psychology disagree with you and if there was nothing to prove the laws wouldn't have changed. Moron.
@ derp: If it is a "cobbled together bronze age collection of mythical fables" that causes a person to respect and honor others, perhaps that "cobbled together bronze age collection of mythical fables" deserves just a little bit of respect.
But it doesn't cause "a person to respect and honor others". It causes witch burnings, and inquisitions, and people to hate gays, and people to believe it's okay to stone people, and people to believe it's okay to own slaves, and....
Books don't cause people to have morals. People do. Man you really need a cleansing.
The fact that you actually typed "@ Derp" is literally the most hystirical thing I have seen all day.
You are right. Books don't cause people to have morals. Again, it is a choice. But those morals can be learned from books. And those morals mean nothing, unless they are obedience to God. I do need a cleansing. As do you my friend. Each and every one of our bodies is corrupted. Thank God for His mercy that our bodies will pass away and that we've been given an opportunity to live eternally cleansed from the evil of this world that so poisons all of us.
No Aaron I think you may have misunderstood. I think you are a complete moron. Being moral has nothing to do with God. God clearly does not get involved in our daily lives (I use the word God here so your pea-brain can follow along). People have free will. And the cleansing I am referring to has to do with the fact that you are full of sh-it and need an enema. You may have noticed I have thing about enemas. Does that mean I will go to Hell? It is good for the colon I think.
@ The Illinois Enema Bandit
One thing is for sure... one day both you and I will be dead. If you want to have written on your headstone "the disrespectful jerk"... that's your choice to make. A fool will wallow in his folly.
"The fact that you actually typed "@ Derp" is literally the most hystirical thing I have seen all day"
I could not agree more.
"One thing is for sure... one day both you and I will be dead. If you want to have written on your headstone "the disrespectful jerk"... that's your choice to make. A fool will wallow in his folly."
"The disrespectful jerk" is far better than the "Self righteous judgemental myth believing jackas s".
FOr more insight on this read novel - king of Bat'ha
Yet, another front-page biased CNN article and “opinion blog” (how about CNN showcasing the “opinion” of the majority of mainstream Christians…oh wait…that’s too close to the true feelings of Christianity towards this topic).
For me, it came down to making the decision to let God be God, instead of me.
I'm sure he's glad you gave him permission to be himself.
For me, it came down to letting god be the easter bunny, but then I changed my mind and let god be the tooth fairy, then I thought why not santa claus, and then hmmm, how about a leprechaun or... gasp... a flying spaghetti monster, yeah, that's it.
Everyone has their own beliefs and that is okay. It is when the people who are so full of their religious beliefs try to push them on others and spew hate. I grew up a catholic and no longer can look up to the priests. I still have my religion but don't push my beliefs onto others.
Yes you do if vote against civil rights for gays and lesbians.
exactly! please DON'T push your beliefs on me thanks! Including the ones that tell me to reject the teachings of my God in order to "tolerate" the opinions of someone else.
Go live in Iran for a little while and see how you feel about people's lack of tolerance, then come back and say that your way should be the only one tolerated and intolerance should be shown to everyone else.
exactly! please DON'T push your beliefs on me thanks! Including the ones that tell me to reject science, logic and reason in order to "tolerate" the idiocy of Christianity.
@tutu4u – do you think that interracial couples should be allowed to marry? If so, then you're are pushing your beliefs on racist bigots who would want to prohibit it.
I've seen lots of pieces here on CNN about how much this country is embracing this gay agenda, yet poll after poll after poll fails to show it. The MEDIA is all for it, but the average citizen is all against it.
Please define "average citizen" and where you found this infomation.
Are average citizens straight Christians only?
Omgoodness. Frank...I was wondering why is it that all CNN does is push pro-gay issues. Anything else is made to look bigoted and ludicris. Then I looked at the statistics and polls and saw that the opinion of the majority is contradictory to the major promotions CNN does.
Can't we just re-write the good book to mesh with modern society and be done with it??? It's already been done a few dozen times... one more time won't hurt right??
I wouldn't have much to say about people preaching whatever judgment they want in their own churches. I do draw the line when they insist on fighting legal equality for all – at that point, you become my enemy. Marriage equality, service equality, family equality – those are secular ideals for a secular nation. If you believe G-d doesn't like gay marriage, don't get gay married.
Christians are nothing like Christ. They are a hateful, hypocritical, bunch of bigots that use religion to justify their ignorant behavior.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.....
Why be wishy washy? Just tell us what you think. (idiot)
Um...I think you've contradicted yourself buddy.. The name Christian implies you "follow the principles of Christ". Jesus said you'll know them that follow me by their fruit. If they truly are the things you've named, then they aren't Christians...see, problem solved.
@tutu4u – then by your posts we can pretty much count you out of the club.
Could we do without you too?
I cannot wait for the day when there is no religion,I most definately will not be around but as sure as the sun rises that day will come. I already don't believe in santa or the easter bunny, so a carpenter from 2000 years ago who rose from the dead, I don't think so.
o All "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.
o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:
“ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice. "
"Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8
Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.
And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
I heard HeavenSent thinks you and hippypoet are the same person!
read the Bible and you will understand.
Here's the deal. Love the sinners and hate the sin. When you ask forgiveness for your sins, that does not mean that you can go out tomorrow and continue to commit the same sin over and over. God will forgive you, but at some point, He will have judgement as well. Marriage is between a man and woman, no more, no less. I have to abide by the laws of the land. Whether our government supports the LGBT movement or not, it will never be "marriage" to me. That being said, I will not crucify anyone for what they do, I will pray for them and their souls. I know that I am not without sin, and work through my faith to be a better Christian every day.
Where does the Bible say gay marriage is a sin?
When you put the word marriage inside quotation marks, you are demeaning the word, and you are NOT allowed to demean my marriage to my WIFE. We are a married lesbian FAMILY and have been for a little over 3 years. Get a clue, dondee, and grow UP.
"God will forgive you, but at some point, He will have judgement as well." What is that point? Bible passage please
You pray for us, we'll think for you.
American Evangelicals are a national embarrassment.
J.W. It specifies many times in the bible that marriage is between a man and a woman. Pattyboi – I didn't mean to demean your marriage, I just choose to not recognize it, like most of the states of our government. I don't know if you are in a state that legally allows gay marriage, and if you are, I wish the best for you. I will also pray for you. God Bless.
Gay marriage did not exist in biblical times, but that does not necessarily mean it is a sin. How is it harmful to society for gays to marry?
Vulpes – God will have judgement over everyone. What I'm saying is that you cannot go out and knowingly commit the same sin over and over, or else your request for forgiveness rings hollow. Warmest – I certainly will pray for you, but I am perfectly able to think for myself.
JW – Leviticus 18:22
Lev. 18:22 says nothing about marriage.
Hey what about the rest of Leviticus then? Oh...that's right it has to do with that annoying Mosaic law thingy....
Leviticus is so fun.....
– not speaking up to testify as a witness (5:1)
– touching an unclean thing (5:2)
– eating blood (17:10-12) hope you don't like your steak rare.
– making idols of cast metal (19:4)
– stealing (19:11)
– lying (19:11)
– showing bias or prejudice in court (19:15)
– making cuts or tattoos on your body (19:28) Your ears are pieced are they?
– turning to spiritist or fortune tellers (19:31)
Not sure what your point is ummm.
J.W: The Bible talks about marriage as being between a man and a woman. In Lot's day, Sodom and Gommorah were towns that partook in the same sin as today. One of these being ho-mo-se-xuality. Look what happened to those towns.