Can a Person Be Gay and Still Be a Christian?

A street preacher at a gay pride parade.
A street preacher at a gay pride parade. (Elvert Barnes/Flickr)

Many "Christians" are now suggesting that those who embrace the homosexual lifestyle can live in harmony with biblical Christianity. And more and more evangelicals with gay children are challenging the church to rethink its position. But can we rethink truth? Truth is not flexible when it comes to absolutes—it's solid and unyielding.

When children struggle with sin, parents should point them to the light ... to the truth. Truth liberates. Truth rebuilds. Truth restores. Truth heals. Truth transforms. Truth prevails—you don't change truth—truth changes you.

Are those who defend homosexuality, or who say nothing, truly loving the homosexual, or are they simply seeking to avoid conflict? For instance, if they are more worried about being liked than being truthful, do they really care for homosexuals more than those who are willing to risk their reputation, and quite possibly their safety, in order to speak the truth in love? The answer is obvious: Authentic Christians love the truth and others to the degree that they are willing to risk the consequences of confrontation in order to help others. This is genuine love, not hatred.

Reframe the Question

Can a person who struggles with same-sex attraction be a Christian?

Yes, in the same way that a person who struggles with alcoholism or lust can be a Christian. Struggling with sin is much different than a lifestyle of sin; even Jesus was tempted with sin but He did not give in (see Heb. 4:15). If we are repentant and growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—if He truly is our Savior, we will turn from sin, not embrace it. We will repent rather than excuse our actions.

Once a person believes and repents, wrong desires sometimes vanish. Praise God for that, but that's not always the case. For example, many Christians who have overcome alcoholism or pornography still struggle ... it's still a battle. They are one drink or one click away from bondage. The same holds true for those with same-sex attraction.

Would we say, "I believe that those who embrace pornography can live in harmony with biblical Christianity"? Or, "I believe that those who embrace adultery or fornication can live in harmony with biblical Christianity"? Of course not. Unfortunately, the battle cry is often focused on "individual rights," rather than obedience to God's Word.

Ironically, those who are voicing God's truth are often categorized as irrational, judgmental, bigoted and intolerant. But how can we warn if we won't confront, correct if we won't challenge, and contend if we won't question? We must speak the truth in love ... the Bible is crystal clear on sexual sin, including homosexuality.

Jesus would speak out against sin, but His love and mercy also reached out to those who regretted and hated their condition. Repentance is the key. We should have compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction because we all struggle with sin, but at the same time, we should not condone or excuse this type of sin any more than we condone or excuse any other sin.

In Acts 20:31, the apostle Paul spoke boldly as reflected in his statement, "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." Was he wrong, judgmental or intolerant? No, he was speaking the truth in love.

Jesus also perfectly balanced grace and mercy with confrontation and correction. He wanted people to know the truth even if it offended. Oswald Chambers said, "The words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt and offend."

The Bible was written so that people would know the truth—the truth about God, creation, sin, and redemption. We are not called to make truth tolerable, but to make it clear.

Here's the Truth

In addition to many Old and New Testament examples, 1 Corinthians 6:9 offers incredible insight. Paul says, "Don't fool yourselves," and adds that those who "do wrong" will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who indulge in illicit sexual sin, or alcoholism, or adultery, or homosexuality, and so on will be separated from God forever. This topic should not be reconstructed to fit a particular ideology; it has grave consequences.

The following analogy may help better understand this truth: A pig and a lamb both find their way to the mud. The mud represents the sin (the wrong) that we all fall into. The pig wallows in and enjoys the mud and may even lead others in, whereas the lamb hates its condition and cries out. That's the difference—those who are unrepentant and indulge in sexual sin are outside of God's will ... outside of salvation. This applies to all sexual sin outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Jesus speaks out against those who continually return and enjoy wallowing in sin, but His love and mercy reaches out to those who regret and hate their condition. A person cannot embrace the homosexual lifestyle and be a follower of Christ. They can attend church, participate in worship, and read the Bible, yet, be outside of God's will.

Homosexuals who remain monogamous are also outside of God's will because the entire relationship is wrong ... the union of two men or two women is not God's plan. Its not about being true to one partner; it's about being true to God ... "what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mark 10:9).

Be encouraged: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9, NIV). Repent and turn to Him today.

Watch the sermon, "Same-Sex Attraction–Balancing Grace & Truth," here.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He just released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God. Shane's sermons, articles, books and radio program can all be found at, Follow him on Facebook.

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