The Gay Checklist for the Church*

There are many churches who are currently wrestling with what to do about the growing number of LGBTQ in their community. Some of these churches believe that being gay is a choice. Others say it’s not. Some of them believe that being gay is a sin. Other say it’s not. But in my tradition almost all of them agree that gay sex, even within a long-term monogamous relationship**, is sinful.

Okay. Let’s suppose it is. What should our churches do about the gays in their midst?

Inspired by the ethic of Jesus, who asks us to work on the plank in our own eye before trying to remove the gay speck in that gay dude’s eye, I have created a basic checklist for when it seems legitimate to single out a gay person in your church and tell them they have to repent or leave, thereby making them feel like they don’t belong or are a second-class citizen in your church:

As a church, we have asked every unmarried couple in our congregation if they are having sex. If so, we must ask them to stop. If they refuse, we must subject them to “church discipline” that leads to either repentance or excommunication or they leave on their own as a result of our passive-aggressive behavior toward them as we question whether or not they are even Christian.

As a church, we have looked over every person’s checkbook to see if they are greedy and/or lovers of money. If so, we must ask them to agree to a plan to be more generous. If they refuse, we must subject them to “church discipline” that leads to either repentance or excommunication or they leave on their own as a result of our passive-aggressive behavior toward them as we question whether or not they are even Christian..

As a church, we have looked at every male’s computer to see if they have watched porn in the past month. If they have, we must ask them to agree to accountability and a password protected internet. And give their mothers & wives the password. If they refuse, we must “love the sinner but hate the sin,” that is, subject them to “church discipline” that leads to either repentance or excommunication or they leave on their own as a result of our passive-aggressive behavior toward them as we question whether or not they are even Christian..

As a church, we have looked at every member of the congregation’s schedule to determine what idols are in their lives, the things that are more important than God. If they have even one, we must stone them (sorry, Old Testament) remind them that they “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). If they refuse to repent, we must subject them to “church discipline” that leads to either repentance or excommunication or they leave on their own as a result of our passive-aggressive behavior toward them as we question whether or not they are even Christian..

As a church, we have looked into our own hearts to see if we are being judgmental and hypocritical, discriminating against sins that are “obvious” and/or do not affect us (the speck) while not taking seriously the sins that do (the plank).

If we say every sin is the same, perhaps our churches should start acting like it in the way they treat people.

*This is a revision of a previous post
**Or as we heteros call this type of relationship, “marriage.”

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9 responses to “The Gay Checklist for the Church*

  1. Since this is an update to an earlier commentary, you might consider adding to the “Got Sin?” check list the newest take on gluttony… hoarding Twinkies.

  2. I think this is a bit of a straw-man argument. You seem to be inflating the notion that the only, Biblical action for any commission of sin is automatic “church discipline” and/or excommunication, thus bringing this “punitive model” to the point of absurdity. However, I feel you miss the heart of the matter here.
    While I definitely agree, in principle, that commission of all types of sin should be “dealt with” equally by the Church, and that one sin should not be viewed as more horrendous than another, so-called “church discipline” goes beyond the actual act. Justification – calling something “not sin,” which God calls “sin,” and, further, encouraging others to do so, is the greater part of the matter.

    Example:
    Johnny is “struggling” (as it’s referred to in Christianese) with fornication (as the kids call it, these days), but acknowledges that it is, indeed, a sin from which he needs and desires God’s help to overcome. When given any measure of accountability by other believers, he readily acknowledges his weakness and need to change.
    Meanwhile, Nancy is regularly committing the sin of gossip. Yet, she doesn’t perceive it as sin, encourages others to gossip with her, and ignores every Scripture which calls it a sin. She plays a game of semantics with the Word of God, claiming that it refers to some other act, or she justifies her position by claiming she’s not as bad as so-and-so. When given any measure of accountability by other believers, she bucks and continues to multiply her sin.

    In these scenarios, one might consider Johnny’s sin “worse” than Nancy’s. This is unbiblical; both sins are equal. However, the attitudes behind each are vastly different. Simply acknowledging that we each fall short of God’s standard doesn’t excuse us from the mandate to strive for it, regardless of how “impossible” a task it might be.

    It’s a fine tightrope walk between being judgmental and permissive, but we can’t be passive (and not walk it) for fear of falling either way.

    • What matter are you referring to? I am referring to pastors being discriminatory by only dealing with sins that “come up,” are normal, or more visible, rather than actually taking sin seriously and consistently. If you want to talk about whether or not gay Christians “justify” their behavior by playing fast and loose with their hermeneutic, then it seems you are committing a red herring, not me a straw-man. I am also not sure how my post indicates a desire to be “Passive.”

      Perhaps though I am missing the connections, maybe you can clarify.

      And as a side note, I would argue we all “play a game of semantics with the Word of God.” Unfortunately, that’s just called “reading a text,” or even more so, “reading a text outside the original time and culture in which it was written.” To think that you just “read it plainly” while everyone who disagrees with your interpretation is “playing semantics” is simply hermeneutically naive.

      • Firstly, and correct me if I’m mistaken, my understanding of this blog is that you’re saying, “if you’re going to behave thusly towards one sin, you should behave thusly towards every sin.” And, if that’s indeed what you are saying, I agree.
        The straw man to which I refer is the method you incorporate, as an example, into the argument – the notion that every sin act should automatically warrant “church discipline,” in a punitive sense. By excluding the dynamic of motivation – “the state of the heart,” I felt your argument was overly simple.
        The “passive” comment wasn’t particularly meant as a rebuttal – it was rhetorical.
        While I’d never presume to have a monopoly on Biblical interpretation, there’s a major difference between the notion that “the truth is unknown (to me)” v. “the truth is unknowable.” While my knowledge may be incomplete, there are definitely absolutes with God. Whether or not my interpretation, or my ability to explain it, is flawed is a non-sequitur. God’s truth is cut and dry, and He has a deep desire for His followers to know this truth. The “playing semantics” comment wasn’t meant to be a jab of any sort. All i meant is that you’d have to do a lot of “truth stretching” to legitimize any virtue in gossip.

      • Ah I see, yes we are agreeing then. Sure, my methodology was overly simple when I mentioned church discipline, I did so mostly as a rhetorical device. Truth be told, I’ve never been in a church that actually practiced self discipline in any meaningful or consistent way, so I just threw that out there as a “stereotypical” scenario. Apologies for the oversimplification.

        And I think we are agreed on epistemology as well, there are absolutes for God but not for us. Thanks for clarifying Mike and again, apologies for being flippant in my rhetoric.

    • “Simply acknowledging that we each fall short of God’s standard doesn’t excuse us from the mandate to strive for it…” i.e. “we can never be perfect, but make sure to strive for perfection anyway guys.” sorry for the sarcasm, but if christ is in me, i’m perfect. i lack nothing. sorry, i know it has nothing to do with the post, just had to throw that in there.

  3. Thank you once again Jared for this quite wonderful re-working of an earlier post. As a gay man and a Christian, I am often flawed by the willingness of some in the church to single out the gay person as (what appears to me) to be the ‘filthiest of sinners’ which i s how I felt as a young man growing up in the church, while all the other sins mentioned in the Bible see to go unnoticed and unremarked. It seems that being gay for some is THE great deal-breaker when it comes to intentionality of relationship and God, where God seems rendered powerless and His love voided by the capriciousness of the gay human being. I will share your post on my Facebook wall. I continue to link to your blog on my own.

    Bless and best wishes – Stuart

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