Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Affirming Church

Yesterday, we asked what a traditionalist church should look like in terms of LGBT folks. Today, I want to look at what affirming churches can and should look like. To summarize the affirming position:

In the affirming church, GLBT people are welcomed and celebrated as full members of the congregation. Options for gay and lesbians include marriage and committed long-term relationships.

So what does this look like? (Again, regardless of your theological position).

What specialized ministries and programs (if any) need to exist to help support GLBT folks?

How does a church create a healthy environment for dating, marriage, etc?  Is pre-marital counseling the same or different than for heterosexual couples?

How do we handle break-ups? Divorce?

What other considerations and issues are there?

OK… looking forward to hearing your thoughts…

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


Summary Thoughts on Celibacy

We had a great discussion/thread going earlier today here about what it should like for a church to support GLBT folks seeking celibacy.

The starting point of the discussion is that if a church is going to say that the only viable option for LGBT’s is celibacy or change, then the church needs to pro-actively create an environment that supports celibacy in its fullness.  

So what does that look like? Here are some of the collective thoughts that came up during the discussion:

– Churches need to look at their whole ministries to singles, not just LGBT’s. In one sense, LGBT’s are no different than other singles, but in other senses the issues and challenges are very different. This is a balance.

– Accountability and discipleship are essential. (Still need to tease out what this actually looks like… I think Mike got closest to some good specific wisdom on accountability).

– Leaders/teachers need to address these issues from up front, supporting the LGBT’s in the church, dispelling myths, etc.

– The focus should not primarily be on sex, but on the Gospel, following Jesus, discipleship, and the spiritual practice of celibacy as a way to serve in ministry (with an understanding that not all LGBT’s are serving in ministry or are even allowed to).

– You cannot have a healthy “celibacy culture” when people are in the closet and hiding. There needs to be a safe culture to say you are gay without shame. There is no such thing as a “healthy closeted celibate”.

– A culture of real grace needs to underly and undergird all of this.

– Additional resources, counselors, small groups, etc, are all important parts of the puzzle. (Personal note: being in a small group that all knows that I am gay and we talk about sexual purity/chastity issues has been the single best thing for me in my own process. My Monday Night Men’s Group has been a huge blessing and source of accountability, discipleship, grace and love.)

– There needs to be a better understanding of the differences between chastity and celibacy.

Those are some of the common ideas and themes that emerged from that conversation. I hope we can continue it and I hope others (including church leaders and pastors) weigh in.  I think we have just started to scratch the surface of the issues — but hopefully people can see it is a slightly more complicated issue than most people make it out to be.

Other complications for traditionalist churches is how do you deal with LGBT folks within your congregation who do not share the traditionalist view?

Other questions for traditionalist churches include: may celibate LGBT’s be members? Leaders? Work with kids/youth? What happens if they fail? Is their grace/forgiveness or are they thrown out of their ministry/leadership/membership role?

These are the practical and real questions for traditionalist churches. And in my personal opinion, traditionalist churches unwilling to really work through these issues need to stop all their rhetoric about “hating the sin, loving the sinner”, etc — because you can’t call people to mandatory celibacy and then do nothing to help them achieve that.

Tomorrow we will start a different conversation about the affirming church… I am expecting an equally good and fruitful conversation there.

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


The Traditionalist Church

The traditionalist church’s position on homosexuality can generally be summarized this way:

In the traditionalist church, LGBT folks have two choices: (a) successfully pursue sexual orientation change through prayer and therapy; or (b) successfully commit to life-long celibacy.

So here is the question I am interested in discussing (regardless of whether you agree with the traditionalist view point or now): WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE?

What should churches do to create a culture that supports life-long celibacy and/or change?

What ministries, mechanisms, and support should exist within the church to support gay men and women who are seeking change or seeking to live celibatly?

What happens if they seek change and it doesn’t happen? What happens if they fail to be perfectly celibate?

How can churches become pro-active dealing with this issue?

It is one thing for a church to say that your only options are change or celibacy, it is another to actually help people achieve those ends. I have heard many churches say that these are the only viable options, but do little to help support that end.


(Tomorrow, we will start a thread about affirming churches.)


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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


A Powerful Proposal: Huge!

This is a very powerful video that captures so much of what God’s vision for love is. Watch it and let it stir you. (There is some adult language in it, but I am assuming that since you read this blog and we deal with adult issues, you are ok with it… just wanted to warn you.)

HUGE! from Brandon Thomas Irwin on Vimeo.

Thanks to for the link.

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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Uncategorized


Let’s Get Practical

Let’s get practical about homosexuality and the church…

A little while back I posted a paper by Tim Otto suggesting that it is time for a third approach to homosexuality and the church — beyond the traditionalist position and beyond the affirming position. I thought it was a really thought-provoking paper that I hope you will take the time to read (click here). 

In the midst of his broader argument, Tim makes this observation:

“If you are espousing either homosexual celibacy [that is, the traditionalist position] or marriage [that is, the affirming position], but the church you are part of does not deeply support such people, then I wonder if you might be like those Pharisees that Jesus denounces, people who tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but are themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” 

In other words, for churches that espouse a lifelong-celibacy-or-change position (which is the dominant position of conservative evangelical churches), what are they doing to create a healthy and welcoming culture within the church for LGBT people — both seekers and believers — who are trying to live celibatly? What does that look like for a church?

And secondly, in affirming churches… what does it look like to help LGBT folks value marriage, date in healthy ways, have relational accountability, etc, within the church?

These are real questions that I am hoping you will weigh in on… feel free to weigh in specifically based on the position you hold, or on both positions. This is not a debate about the validity about one position or the other, but a practical discussion of how each position should actually be lived out in the church.

I am in the process of developing my own thoughts on this issue and will post some of those soon. But I really want to hear your thoughts on this. 

Now let me be perfectly honest and lay my cards on the table…

I have never seen nor experienced a traditionalist church that does this well. The very churches that advocate mandatory life-long celibacy for LGBT folks who cannot change do little, if anything, to create an environment that values and celebrates celibacy, singleness, etc. Maybe there are examples of churches that do this well… I have just never seen them (with the possible exception of Gateway Church in Texas).

I have seen, heard of and experienced affirming churches that are doing a really good job creating healthy environments for LGBT folks in terms of relationships, marriage, etc. But, I have also seen many (if not most) affirming churches that do a lousy job at this. They see it more as an issue of advocacy then of discipleship — and many of these churches have taken an “anything goes” approach — which is really not very helpful to anyone.

So all of that said, I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions for what good, healthy traditionalist churches should look like on this issue; and what good, healthy affirming churches should look like on this issue.

Looking forward to the discussion… tomorrow I will post about the traditionalist church… then Thursday about the affirming church… so you can post your thoughts there.

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Posted by on February 23, 2010 in Uncategorized


Sick Day

I’m taking a sick day and not posting today. I was supposed to continue the series on what the bible really says about homosexuality with a look at Leviticus… that will wait until Friday.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


What Do You Think Of This?

Sarah Silverman is a popular, funny and edgy comedian. She is well-known from late-night television, her own specials, and many TV spots.  Her show “The Sarah Silverman Program” runs on Logos TV — a cable channel marketed to the LGBT community.

Here is a promo for her show that runs on Logos:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. As a Christian, the representation of Christians makes me unhappy. On the other hand, I fully understand how Christians have developed this reputation. 

What does it say about the current state of relationship between the LGBT unchurched community and the church?

What can you, as a follower of Jesus, do to help bridge the divide?

What can your church do?

I think these are important questions to wrestle with, whichever side of the theological divide you find yourself on.


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Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

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