I have interacted with a number of men and women who identified as gay atheists, and their atheism and their homosexuality were interrelated, since they rejected the God of the Bible because they understood the Scriptures reject homosexual practice. And so, given the choice of rejecting their own identity or rejecting a God whom they understood rejected them, they chose to reject Him.
Today, however, more and more men and women who identify as LGBT are professing to be devoted Christians, believing that the church has wrongly interpreted the Scriptures through the centuries and claiming that committed, monogamous same-sex relationships can be blessed by God.
It is for those of you who identify as both gay and Christian that I’d like to ask some honest questions. You may take them as adversarial, but in reality, I ask these questions in the love of God and the fear of God, being jealous for your well-being in the Lord.
And while it’s easy for some people to throw around the hate word, you will not find a syllable of hate in these words, because there’s not an ounce of hate in my heart.
1. Are you 100 percent sure that your interpretation of Scripture regarding homosexuality is correct?
I’m sure that many of you went through terrible struggles trying to reconcile your sexual and romantic attractions with the Scriptures, and it must have been an incredible relief to you when you heard of a different reading of the Word, one which told you that you could pursue a God-blessed relationship with someone of the same sex.
But are you 100 percent sure before God that your interpretation is correct? Are you willing to risk your soul in giving yourself to something that may truly be displeasing in His sight?
I once heard a gay pastor give a talk about these issues at a local gay and lesbian center, and to my surprise, he was not dogmatic in his presentation, saying that he thought his interpretation was correct, but he was anything but sure and definite. I asked myself: Then how can he doing what he’s doing?
A few years after that, I participated in a forum at a local college together with a lesbian pastor and some others, and again, to my surprise, the lesbian pastor was not dogmatic either, encouraging everyone there to seek the Lord and study the Word for themselves.
Of course, it’s good for us to be humble when approaching God and His Word, and none of us can claim to be right about every single doctrinal issue. But there are some hills that we must be sure enough to die on, and before you enter into a sexual relationship with someone, you had better be 100 percent sure that the union is holy in God's sight and that the marriage is a real marriage.
Paul wrote that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23), and so this is one mistake you really can’t afford to make.
Again I ask: Are you 100 percent sure that God blesses committed, monogamous same-sex relationships? If you say that you are, I can only pray for you. If you admit that you are not, then please, step back and reconsider.
2. Do your beliefs start with certainty about the authority of Scripture, or do they start with certainty about your “sexual orientation”?
From the many stories I have read about professing “gay Christians” (by which I’m referring to those who claim to follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at the same time), a common theme was that they struggled to understand the Word, feeling that the Scriptures were not as clear on these issues as they had once felt. But they were sure about their “sexual orientation,” and that became their primary point of reference. (I put “sexual orientation” in quotes because it is actually a relatively recent concept and one that is subject to different understandings.)
This means that there is a real possibility that you have interpreted the Word in light of your deeply rooted same-sex desires and attractions rather than starting with the Word and letting the Word interpret you. (I get into this in more detail in Can You Be Gay and Christian?)
3. What do you say to those people who are genuinely ex-gay or to those who are still same-sex attracted but have chosen to separate themselves to the Lord unless He changes them?
A close relative of mine was truly and genuinely ex-gay, surrendering his whole life, including his sexuality, to the Lord when he got saved and then discovering to his surprise some years later that he was now attracted to women. (Surely all believers in Jesus must acknowledge that He has the power to do things like this.)
Other ex-gays have told me in detail about how God changed their desires, either through extensive discipleship or through a dramatic encounter with the Lord or through counseling and prayer, and I have no reason to doubt their stories. In fact, I find it to be the height of intolerance to doubt them or, worse still, to mock them.
I also have met many others who say that their same-sex attractions have lessened but not changed dramatically or who tell me that those attractions remain the same as before but that they love the Lord, they know that homosexual practice is sin, and they are living overflowing lives in Jesus, totally content to be single.
As a heterosexual man, happily married for more than 38 years, I certainly don’t understand the challenges you face, but these friends I have just mentioned certainly do. What do you say to them? And what do you say to heterosexual Christians who, through no choice of their own, have remained single their entire lives and yet have served God faithfully and lived holy lives?
4. If you were convinced that God opposed all forms of homosexual practice, would you follow Him anyway?
In my book, I quote the words of a pastor in England who remains same-sex attracted but who renounces those attractions and lives a celibate life. He said that Jesus requires the same thing from all of us—namely, everything—and that He Himself is enough for us. This man's witness speaks volumes to all of us.
Would you reject the One who died for you if you came to the conclusion that He did not approve of same-sex relationships? Would your homosexuality come first and Jesus come second?
I know these are terribly weighty issues, and I don’t write things lightly. In fact, as God Himself knows, it is love that compels me to write, and I do so with pain in my heart.
Will you take these things prayerfully before the Lord? We are praying and interceding for you!
Michael Brown is author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.