Reverend G. William AmesNovember 1996
This month's question comes from a young lady who asks, "How can I be gay and a Christian too?"
I have found that question to be one of the most frequently asked. The thing to remember is that being a Christian is a matter of choice while being gay is not. Being gay is the way that people are created. It is a matter of biology and genetics. It's not a choice that one makes one morning. Christianity however is a way of life, a philosophy of how to live and a spiritual path that a person can decide to follow and practice. Our sexual orientation has very little to do with it. Yet there are standards within Christianity which one decides to follow once the big plunge is taken.
Most people, straight or gay, feel that Christian teachings reinforce guilt. I find it to be quite the opposite. Christianity is based upon forgiveness and handing over to God those things which may not be ours to control or understand. Some doctrines, such as the Catholic doctrine which is based upon the interpretation of God's word and written by men who have a particular point of view, are based upon principles that produce guilt. The atonement of sin comes through some ritualistic approach like saying five Hail Marys and three Our Fathers for example. For some, reciting prayers as atonement for sin is somewhat like a Pharisee's demonstrative and public prayers to edify himself above others (I don't mean to single out Catholics however). The Catholic doctrine also places the priest as the intermediary between God and mankind when true Christian doctrine states that Jesus Christ was the only true intermediary between God and mankind.
When a person decides which religious doctrine under the umbrella of Christianity that they want to follow, my advice is that each denomination's doctrine be examined very carefully. For instance, does a denomination's doctrine state that a person can lose their salvation or not? Does the denomination's doctrine place some one other than Jesus between the believer and God? Does the denomination's doctrine state that salvation must be earned by works or is salvation given by God's grace alone? What matters is that the religious group base their Christian doctrine on the major themes and messages of the New Testament: love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and humility. And that salvation is given to believers by the grace of God alone; can not be earned through works (though faith and service is demonstrated by good works); and that one can not lose their salvation. That's not to say that we can't fall from God's good graces by doing the things that injure and wrong others and ourselves.
To conclude, Christianity is not an exclusive club. You don't need a membership card to get in the door nor do you even need to belong to an organized denomination. All you need to do is ask the Lord to come into your heart. Because God exists in three persons (the Holy Trinity), He will accomplish His work in you through the presence of His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit exists in all people but until we consciously invite God in, the Holy Spirit lays dormant and inactive. When a person invites God in, the Holy Spirit comes to life within us, activates those gifts that God has bestowed upon His followers and acts as a guide to keep His believers on the right path.
I hope that's not too confusing. And it's not like a believer loses control over his or her life. Believers still have the option of making good or bad choices for themselves. After all, isn't that what life is about? Choices? Let's try to make the best choices we can - for ourselves and the ones we love. Until next time, love and peace to you and yours...
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3: 12,13)