Should The Church Speak Of “Gay Christians”? -- By: Owen D. Strachan
JBMW 19:1 (Spring 2014) p. 4
Should The Church Speak Of “Gay Christians”?
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History
Boyce College and Southern Seminary
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of a name. Young parents feel the weighty responsibility of naming their children—do you go traditional? Ultra-modern? Use family names? Create your own? The possibilities are endless, even bewildering, but through it all, many young fathers and mothers feel the pressure of identifying their children by naming them.
A new text published by a historically evangelical imprint has raised afresh the question of name and identity for believers. In his new book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines seeks to legitimate homosexual practice among evangelicals.1 There’s much to handle and refute in this new book. Interestingly, I think the very descriptor in his title invites more thought. Is it a good idea to identify some Christians who experience some degree of same-sex attraction (SSA) as “gay Christians?” Is this a name—so to speak—that Christians should gladly assign to fellow believers?
We should note, initially, this is not a new descriptor. Some well-known evangelicals have used it in recent days. Vines, however, has infused new meaning into this terminology. Authors who have previously described themselves as a “gay Christian” have done so with the understanding that they are a born-again believer who experiences, to some degree, ongoing same-sex attraction and who willingly resists gratifying this desire. Vines, however, uses the term to signify a born-again believer who experiences same-sex attraction and indulges this desire in mutual, covenantal relationships to the glory of God. There is, in short, a vast and unbridgeable gulf between these two definitions.
The Present State Of The Conversation Over SSA
Before looking more closely at the theological ramifications of the descriptor “gay Christian,” we need to think for a moment about the state of the conversation among evangelicals on the subject of SSA. Speaking generally, in past days, most churches had little sense of how to lovingly help a fellow believer who experienced some degree of SSA following their conversion. The general assumption was that coming to Christ effectively cancelled out homosexual desire of any kind. If a believer did continue to feel pulled in this way, he or she needed to “Pray the gay away,” as the phrase indelicately went.
Today, for a variety of reasons, the church is discovering new and needed nuance in its app...
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