Gay Christianity – Pt 1: My Tsunami

Derek Ouellette —  January 10, 2013

This is the first post in which I want to chart my thought-journey on this rather difficult social issue.

I’ll never forget the day the firmament above me opened up allowing a tsunami to crash down upon the assumptions I had about gay people and Christianity. In the end my ark opened and I found myself facing a whole new world, unfamiliar and begging to be explored.

It all started in 2003. I was fresh out of Bible school and my pastor was quick to put me to work. I was leading a home Bible study on a subject I know not which. We were gathered around a large wooden table, there was about seven of us. I think I was the youngest.

I don’t remember where it came from or what the context was, but what I do remember was making this comment rather confidently:

“… and we know a person can’t be gay, and a Christian.”

Moving on as quickly as I arrived I found myself rather taken aback when Gary – the homeowner, our host – cut me off with this: “yes, a person can.”

My jaw dropped. You see, Gary is a solid Christian. He and his wife are two of the most sincere Christians I’ve ever known. And Christians are just not supposed to believe those kinds of things. Right?

I didn’t know what to say. My heart-rate rose immediately. I quipped in response, “no, they can’t.”

Gary smiled, calmly. “Yes, they can.”

I’m sure by this point my face began to visibly turn red. “No. They. Can’t.” With shaking hands I crunched the papers of my Bible hastily trying to find undeniable proof. Ah, here it is. “Look, Gary.” I was a little embarrassed and needed to reestablish myself as the authority teacher in the room. “Right here in Romans one.”

Gary, still calm but with a sharp look of determination in his eyes, said, “Oh I know what it says. But yes they can.” Helen, Gary’s wife, put her hand on his arm, “Gary, let it go” she urged. He continued, “I have friends who are gay, and Christian.”

Frustration does not quite capture how I felt. “Gary! How could you, a Bible believing evangelical conservative Christian, say that?”

He smiled and raised his eyebrows, “they have chosen to live celibate lives.”

Smash. I sat back in silence.

That was the tsunami. It was at that point that I discovered there were different ways to look at the subject of homosexuality and Christianity.

In the next week or so I’ll be exploring what my assumptions were. How I eventually overcame them. And what I believe today.

I hope you will follow this short series and join in on the discussion.

[See part 2: My Assumptions]

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Jo Malone

    There’s a lot of writing about this topic at the moment, and I welcome the discussion here :)

    • Derek Ouellette

      Thanks Jo.

  • CGC

    Hi Derek,
    The most influential Christian writer on my discipleship journey was Henri Nouwen. I have read almost all his works and I was surprised and not surprised when I read by Phil Yancey after Nouwen’s death, that he was a celibate gay Christian. I for one have believed for a long time that Christians can be gay and celibate. Now I am wondering about whether they can be gay and practicing? I say this in the light as a Pastor who has seen many Christians in the church who are serving and sometimes even leading and are with a partner they are not married to for whatever reasons. If they are Christians, what about gay people who claim to know and serve Christ? This is an issue I am also wrestling through as a Pastor. This does not mean I endorse sex outside of marriage (I don’t!). I just don’t know if this is always a deal breaker with God like someone is suddently not a child of God anymore and then when they repent or get married, suddenly they are a child of God again? This issue is complex and I often don’t like how Christians often single out the gay lifestyle as worse than all other sexual sins or is some kind of Evangelical marker for whether someone is orthodox in their Christian theology or not in regards to this issue.

    • Derek Ouellette

      Oh, wow. Thanks for that information about Henri Nouwen. You bring up an interesting point about sexual sin, whether homo- or heterosexual.

      • nellis cox

        Praise the Lord Derek.

        Choosing God over sin is the key each and every day, all of
        us have to make a choice in our lives. The Bible says choose this day in whom
        you will serve… God says that we are to love one another, but hate the sin. I
        believe this to be the truth, for sin is the enemy of God.

        A truly repentant heart obeys him follows the word of God
        and therefore does not mock God. But no one can serve two Masters if a person
        says he’s a Christian but yet goes against the word of God and there is an issue
        with sin. You can’t have a semi-hardened heart we must come to him with a
        broken heart willing to surrender every one of our issues, God does not judge
        the man he judges the heart.

        The label Christian that we put on those who follow Christ,
        really is taken very lightly nowadays even to the point that they are not
        writing new Bible I believe the title is Queens James version I kid you not. We
        are making light of sexuality and other sins in order to fit into God’s plan of

        You see I have known many gay and bisexual people throughout
        my life my sister was in that lifestyle for a while actually many years. Those
        I’ve talked to over the years have started out by saying they were born this
        way, but as it became close to them in conversation they would reveal a
        traumatic incident in their life when they were young that a change took placed.
        Let me remind you it’s only some not all. But as I researched (such a little) I
        found that choice was more often their agreement with the adversary and their
        lifestyle. Note could tell someone that the act a girl all the time, soon that
        spoken word can have an effect on the person.

        We all have to make a choice each and every day to sin or
        not sin, to love or not love, to believe in order to follow. One who practices
        homosexuality or any other sin for that matter and calls himself a Christian
        knowing that they are living and practicing in their sin, I believe won’t inherit
        salvation until they turn from their wicked ways. Thank God for the blood the
        mercy in his grace deserve salvation.

        God’s plan to salvation is one way…the road is narrow.
        Praise the Lord for celibacy whether homosexual or heterosexual God’s plan is
        for us to live the lifestyle he created and not with the adversary offers.
        Celibacy is something that we all should practice if we are not married
        according to God’s way. Next subject line would be “Promiscuous lifestyle is it
        so wrong?”

        Your brother in the Lord Elder Nellis

      • CGC

        HI Derek,

        I think the church has not been doing a very good job in reaching out much less loving gay people. How many “prephetic sermons” do gay people much less, women who have had an abortion have to hear to know that all the church has for them is condemnation and its better to either keep your mouth shut with the struggles you are going through or not to go to a church at all.

        I find Andy Stanley more like Jesus in his approach to gay people which he has been called out for and criticized by other Christians leaders for. Andy’s church bylaws I undersatand does not affirm the gay lifestyle and Andy says the farther gay people grow in Christian discipleship, the more they may discover a tension with their lifestyle choices and their faith in Christ. What the larger Christian community wants Andy Stanley to do is publically denounce the gay lifestyle so that everyone won’t misunderstand the kind of ministry or teachings going on at Andy’s church. This is simply crazy from my perspective. If Andy would do that, why would gay people keep flocking to his church? Why will gay people who want to know the Bible keep going to the Bible studies at Andy’s church?

        If people want to talk about a “gay problem” then I want to ask about “the church’s problem with gay people.” There are so many double standards, hypocrisy, and lack of love on this issue by so many in the church to the point that it is even a politicized issue.

        As far as all practicing gays go to hell, then what about all our young people in the church that are growing in their understanding of Jesus but have not been convicted to the point of not living with the person they are with? What about all the people who have been divorced for unbiblical reasons and married again? Are they living in sin as Jesus suggests with his words about committing adultery? Why do we show more grace and compassion on one group of people and less with another group of people? I’m just asking and still wrestling through with these issues.

        I could go on some crazy topics like what about all the Pastors who are addicted to pornography, are they going to hell? What about King David who when he did a Kingly thing and had several people killed/mudered when he died? Is David a murderer then and murderers certainly do not enter the kingdom of God. I just think we are more clueless that we claim when it comes to which people end up in heaven and which people end up in hell. Should not Jesus words in Matthew 25 warn us that there will be surprises on judgment day and even people we expect not to make it do and those we expect to make it don’t?

        Sorry for the post being so long!

  • Robin Bremer

    There is only 1 sin that send someone to hell and it is not recieving the gift of life in Jesus. Being gay is not how God made marriage. However either is lying, being rude, missing church, but they will not send you to hell. See Jesus died for all our sins past present and future. It is in the blood of Jesus we become saved not by our works. However once saved we are empowered NOT to sin. So someone saved and gay should be learning who they are in Christ and Gods perfect plan for there life and choose to walk in God PERFECT plan rather than in a un-natural -un-godly way. Just in the same way a smoker, drug user, hateful person should learn to OVERCOME these self destucktive things.

  • Drew Chapados

    Good post Derek–there is a big question I see in the comments that is part of all of our struggle–how much change must repentance effect in our lives in order to be authentic? Seeing all of us have our own personal struggles–if perfection is the ideal (which it is), must the ideal be met? Most of us would shudder if it was (1 John 1:7-10). The question with many of us is going to be–what is repentance? We know we should try not ‘to sin’–but if a liar repents and then two months later in a stressful situation lies again–has he repented? We know ‘lusting after a woman’ is a sin–a man repents but turns the corner one day and discovers he has lusted after someone again–can he be forgiven? I trust you know where I am going with this….the church cannot afford to be thought of any longer as hateful towards homosexuals–but needs to be a place where people gay or straight can walk together in their walks with God

    • Charles H

      Very interesting points Drew. As all Christians, I am sure, your points stick a cord because we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. I would agree with you to the point that a liar that believes that lying is not wrong can not be saves and a person that thinks that their lusting is ok gambling with their soul. A person who wants to be a Christian but can not come to the realization that Homosexuality is a sin is lying to them self. The Church can and should help a brother or sister that is struggling in their faith but know that they are wrong but can never help those that refuse to help themselves. Great points Drew and God Bless

  • Teresa A. Cooper

    I believe there are some things about homosexuality that the church is against because homosexuals do not procreate children, In the church children are the life for the future so homosexuality was made a sin because of this. I also believe that it is a very egocentric type of lifestyle and is not acceptable because I have noticed that a lot of people can have many believes but homosexuality is a human trait that should have compassion before anything else

    • Derek Ouellette

      There may be something to your comment about procreation. Thanks for the thought.

  • Mark Murphy

    Thanks, Derek, for raising and helping us to talk through this
    challenging issues

    I think it is important, as with any sin, to differentiate between
    what we continually practice and what we were.
    The Bible tells believers that we should not be practicing (Matt 7:23;
    Rom 1:24-32, Gal 5:20-21), or slaves to our sins (Rom 6-8). We may have been homosexuals, or adulterers,
    or alcoholics, or continually angry, or ….; we were dead in our sins (Eph 2:1-3). But if Christ has rescued us from the domain
    of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom (Col 2:13), we are now seated with
    Christ in the heavenly places (Eph 2:4-6).

    Yet, when reading Paul’s books to the Corinthians, it can be
    puzzling to understand this struggle believers
    can have with sin. Many of the believers at Corinth are described by commentators
    as “carnal” Christians. Yet, we see in 2
    Corinthians, that after being loving, but directly rebuked they were sorrowful and
    repentant (2 Cor 7:9-10 ).

    In the 2 Corinthian passages we see it is important to be straightforward
    with the gospel in dealing with any sin in our lives or the lives of others. The gospel cannot be bent or flexed to align with
    our feelings or inclinations. Paul dealt
    with the issue of hypocrisy and sin with both Barnabas and Peter (Gal 2:11-14). See the embedded article link for the
    necessity of God’s Word to guide us in this matter as it pertains to

    We should not qualify our relationship with Christian by
    attaching a label of a specific sin, such as a “gay” Christian. (see the embedded article link from Exodus, a
    Christian ministry to gays:
    ). Christ is to be exalted, and His children
    are to be holy. Dealing with the specific
    issue of homosexuality, again the issue of whether there is ongoing practice or
    celibate or heterosexual. Just as an alcoholic
    may have a desire to drink, but doesn’t succumb to the desire, individuals with who in the past were
    practicing homosexuals can be Christians.

    In the end, it is a matter of whether an individual is
    currently enslaved in a homosexual lifestyle or whether they have put it off
    this past, and are being renewed into a new creation (Eph 4:22-24). They are either a practicing homosexual or a
    practicing Christian, but never a “Gay” Christian.

    • Derek Ouellette

      You make many valid points Mark. Thanks for sharing.

  • Charles H

    I have to say that your thoughts on Gay Christians is one of the most thought provoking arguments I have heard on the subject. While the idea made me think hard on the subject, which I am sure was your plan, Mark Murphy sums up the correct conclusion. I would add though that being Gay is a sin and a choice. Just like some people are prone to Alcoholism I will submit that some people are prone to being gay but being prone does not trump the word of God and that is very clear. I will agree to the term recovering or recovered Homosexual just like Alcoholics and that it would be an on going battle but the basic idea is that the person would have to recognize that it is wrong and a sin past that it would be a personal battle that I think the church as a whole would support them in. The end point is that there can not be a Gay Christian. Thank you Derek for the great post and for making me look at this from a truly interesting angle. God Bless

  • Judy Montgomery Chartrand

    Derek, yes gays can be Christians, so can anyone practicing any type of sin, but being a Christian and a follower is a different matter. When we follow our Lord we are to try to put away all sins. Not that we will be sinless, since we are humans that is impossible, but practicing sin, will either send us in to eternal purgatory, or we will lose our rewards in Heaven. ‘No one is born gay”, I have to make this statement, and I make it mainly because of What God’s word says, and second because I was once a nurse, and I have seen the affects of homosexuality.

    God is very clear on all sin in scripture, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).”

    We as teachers cannot condone what God does not. If we are followers we are teachers, if we allow someone to practice their sin without witnessing the truth, God will ask us to account for that. God holds us responsible for our sins. If a gay is not practicing, hopefully that is because he has realized that it is sin, and he is to sustain from the practice entirely, and to desire what is holy.

    If someone is doing this, then he is not gay, since it is not a disease, nor a gene that forces our own bodies to conform to its control.
    Today, we have many in the Church teaching liberal thoughts. Well, God says he does not change, his word is the same today, as it was from the beginning. We must teach this. We change and progress, but we do not change the laws of God. I have heard more than once, because I am not single, men who think it is okay to have sex outside of marriage , saying this is the 21 century, this is when I feel that righteous anger that God allows, and I tell them, it does not matter what century it is, God’s word is the same today, as it was, it never changes. We cannot teach otherwise, if so, we are not doing God’s will. We are to welcome all into our church, we are to love all, we are to show compassion and mercy, not to condone any form of sin.
    I speak as someone who has lived an ungodly life for many years, claiming to be a Christian. I was a Christian, i grew up in the church, but I was not a devoted follower, because if I had been, as I am now, I would have put away the adulterous behavior, and would no longer have desired it. It took much hurt in my own life, to develop the kind of love for God, that made me desire purity over adulterous behavior.

    I will say, that i am not being adulterous now, and I would not call myself an Adulteress because I once was adulterous.