Earlier this week, I stumbled across a pretty intriguing conversation thread on a social networking site for gay folks. A guy asked “why are so many people surprised by Christian gays? Just ‘cause we are gay, does that mean we can’t share the same beliefs in God as others?”
One of the more insightful responses came from a student who said:
In my opinion, Christianity and being gay aren’t exactly the most compatible, one is always compromised and the two together cause internal conflict. Unless you make up your own rules or belief system (such as claiming that god loves you even though you’re gay while the rest of the community says otherwise); in which case, you’re not really following the religion’s precepts and you’re not being fully Christian, you’re being something else… but I just think it’s funny to hear people still calling themselves by the name of a denomination that hates them.
Does identifying as both gay and Christian cause “internal conflict”? Certainly. Is it difficult to fully invest in our faith when many churches can’t find a way to “tolerate” this fundamental part of who we are? Definitely. Are gay and Christian compatible?
I would answer yes.
If there is a conflict, it’s between us and the church… not us and God. God, after all, is still for us. Despite what his followers might sometimes say, he never stopped.
George Barna, an evangelical Christian pollster, recently interviewed almost 300 LGBT men and women (selected at random) about their religious beliefs. According to the results of Barna’s survey, lots of “us” still believe gay and God can go together. According to George Barna’s “Spiritual Profile of Homosexual Adults:”
- 70% of LGBT people self-identify as Christian
- 60% of LGBT people describe their faith as “very important” in their life
- 4 out of 10 LGBT people say that they are “absolutely committed to the Christian faith”
- 58% of LGBT people say that they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in [their] life today”
- 50% of LGBT people say that “the most important thing in life is to love God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul”
- 1/3 of LGBT people contend that their life has been greatly transformed by their faith
(When you read the report, you’ll notice that Barna’s findings highlight some significant differences between the spiritual devotion, practice, and beliefs of gay and straight people. Read the report. You’ll see what I mean. I’d love to hear your thoughts about why this might be. Post your thoughts in the comments or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll deal with this dilemma in a different post)
Although I don’t know Barna’s personal thoughts about homosexuality, his interpretation of this data is pretty insightful. He says:
People who portray gay adults as godless, hedonistic, Christian bashers are not working with the facts. A substantial majority of gays cite their faith as a central facet of their life, consider themselves to be Christian, and claim to have some type of meaningful personal commitment to Jesus Christ active in their life today.
The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians. Gay adults clearly have a different way of interpreting the Bible on a number of central theological matters, such as perspectives about God. Homosexuals appreciate their faith but they do not prioritize it, and they tend to consider faith to be individual and private rather than communal.
It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles. Although there are clearly some substantial differences in the religious beliefs and practices of the straight and gay populations, there may be less of a spiritual gap between straights and gays than many Americans would assume.
If these numbers are correct, Barna seems to be answering my new friend’s question by saying being gay and Christian may be difficult, but it’s certainly possible.
After all, lots of us are doing it.