Is it possible to be both a committed Christian and a practicing homosexual? As Americans' opinions on gay marriage and homosexual culture continue to evolve, this controversial question is beginning to come to the forefront of social and religious debate.
Below, watch a man by the name of "Jonathan" -- a practicing homosexual -- explain how he lives a healthy, Christian life (something many believers would claim is an impossibility):
The gridlock that has often characterized the relationship between Christian churches and the gay community is likely to intensify, as many denominations become more guarded, while society -- as a whole -- becomes more accepting of gays and lesbians. Back in May, Gallup found that, for the first time, a majority (53 percent) of Americans support gay marriage.
With the passage of gay marriage in New York State, many are wondering what the impact of these cultural changes will be on people and institutions that embrace religion. While some see the rejection of approval for same-sex marriage as bigoted, others contend that not embracing gayÂ nuptialsÂ is a personal right. Conservative Christians (which constitutes a majority of adherents) tend to be opposed, but what about progressive believers?
It's no secret that the left-leaning Christian community has been growing and expanding in recent years. But, how are left-of-center believers handling social issues like gay marriage? It seems that much of the work being undertaken by liberal pastors like Jim Wallis surrounds fiscal issues rather than social one (Wallis has actually come out against abortion). Back in May, Wallis' liberal group, Sojourners, faced scrutiny after it opted not to include an advertisement from a gay rights group on its web site. In response to critiques, Wallis wrote:
LGBTQ issues may not be our primary calling as our work against poverty and hunger, and for peace, but based on some reactions to our decision, I want to use this as an opportunity to clarify the positions and practices of Sojourners on this important discussion on the life of the church in the early 21st century.
...Our message has always been that no matter what your theological perspective or biblical interpretation on the issue of homosexuality, every Christian has the obligation to defend the lives, dignity, and civil rights of gay and lesbian people.
While Wallis focused on defending the rights of gays and lesbians, he didn't address the Biblical interpretation he embraces regarding those who lead a homosexual lifestyle. He, again, reaffirms that hisÂ commitmentÂ is more to "poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace." In the end, he encourages churches to make homosexuals feel loved and welcome. But, his rejection of the advertisement, despite his efforts to glaze over it, does seem to indicate some restraint in embracing the issue to the fullest.
In June, The Blaze reported on the Wild Goose Festival, a progressive Christian gathering that featured speakers, music and the like. Wallis, among others, was highly involved in the event and nearly 2,000 people flocked to the site of the festival in North Carolina. At the conference, gay rights was a major issue of discussion, as participants had the chance to "interact with justice, spirituality, and art." Religion Dispatches writes:
Though a wide range of issues were covered, including poverty and prison reform, there were enough speakers and individual discussions focused on LGBT concerns thatÂ Peterson Toscano, comedian and co-founder ofÂ Beyond Ex-Gay, jokingly remarked that conversation at Wild Goose was â��all queer all the time.â��
Toscano contributed to the queerness by introducing scenes from his play,Â Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible. â��Many of the most important people in the Bible are gender non-conforming,â�� he said.
Watch Toscano deliver a monologue about sexual identity at the festival, below:
The conference, in itself, is the perfect example of Christianity's division on the issue of homosexuality. While the Bible takes affirmative stances against its practice, religious people living in a world where gay culture is taking an increasingly prominent role may find themselves conflicted. Wild Goose participants weren't all embracers of homosexuality.
In fact, Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network was confronted by a man who claimed that practicing homosexuality is a "sin of our culture," and folk singer Michelle Shocked became visibly upset when asked about her stance onÂ homosexuality. She said:
â��Who drafted me as aÂ gay icon? You are looking at the worldâ��s greatest homophobe. Ask God whatÂ He thinks.â��
While a few gay men were invited to speak, transgendered individuals and out lesbians were excluded from the mix. Needless to say: Even progressive Christianity doesn't seem to be at a point in which the acceptance of homosexuality has saturated adherents.
The issue of gay rights continues to hammer away at Christianity, as denominations are splitting, arguing and turning away from one another over the issues of both marriage and ordination. For instance,Â the Lutheran Church is facing a split and the Presbyterian Church is becoming more accepting of homosexuals. Individual houses of worship are making changes as well, while the Catholic Church, among others, is hunkering down and maintaining its stance against homosexuality (remember the gay priest who was fired for advocating in support of California's Prop 8?).
Certainly, the battle is far from over. Christians who happen to be gay find themselves with a conundrum. If the Bible stands clearly against the homosexual lifestyle (you can read more about the Bible's take on Christianity, here), how do they progress in their lives concerning relationships and the like? Non-profits, like The Gay Christian Network (GCN), have launched to assist in studying these important issues. GCN describes itself as follows:
...a nonprofit ministry supporting Christians worldwide who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Our mission, "sharing Christ's light and love for all," is carried out in 5 primary directions, to impact individuals, families, communities, churches, and the world.
Many questions are floating around surrounding this issue: Is it possible to be a gay, practicing Christian? What impact will homosexuality have on religious institutions? Will a time come when all Christian denominationsÂ buckleÂ under the pressure and allow gays into their ministries?
These questions cannot be answered with certainty, but considering the cultural changes underway, exploring the implications of each is certainly essential.
What do you think -- is it possible to be a practicing homosexual and a Christian? Take our poll: