The question in the title is being asked more and more often of American pastors and clergy. The LGBT population hovers at just under 3% of our total population, but the culture of our day has grown fascinated with them, so these questions have become ubiquitous. Now, it is incumbent upon the church and Christians everywhere to figure out how we are to respond.
David Prince is one of the pastors at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church and a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He recently received an email asking him the very question that appears in our title – “Will I be Fully Accepted at your Church as a Gay Man?” Pastor Prince prayed hard about his response and then he shared it with the rest of us as a possible template to use in the future when we will most assuredly be approached with similar questions.
Here’s how he responded:
“Will I be Fully Accepted at your Church as a Gay Man?”
Welcome home to the beautiful Bluegrass. It is great to hear from you and to hear of your previous connection with Ashland. What a ministry this church has had for almost 100 years.
As to your question, it depends on what you mean by “I am a gay man” and what you mean by “accepted completely with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue?”
If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you struggle with same-sex attraction, recognizing any sexual activity outside of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and that you desire Christian discipleship to walk in line with the Gospel as you struggle with this temptation, then we would rejoice at your honesty and openness and receive you gladly at Ashland. We have faithful and accountable members right now in that very situation and attempting to live celibate lives to the glory of Christ.
Of course, this is really no different than a man who struggles with heterosexual sexually immoral desires or any of the myriads of sinful desires we all struggle with as disciples of Christ. Sin is an equal opportunity offender and something that every Christian struggles with in unique ways.
If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you embrace a lifestyle of homosexual activity and you refuse recognize it as sin no matter what the Scripture says and you are looking for a church that will affirm homosexual activity and/or same-sex marriage that would be a different matter entirely. But there is no uniqueness to homosexual sin in regard to this approach. The same would be true if a man came to us and said “I am a ‘name the sin’ man” and by that he meant he planned to keep on sinning in that way and embracing it as a lifestyle no matter what the Scripture says. There is a world of difference between struggling with a sin and embracing a sin. God saves us where we are, but loves us too much too leave us where we are. He is at work conforming his people into the image of Christ…
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