For those of you interested in researching what the Bible says about homosexuality, or if you have questions about how the church should treat gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered members of your congregation, please consider the following sources:
You have questions over the specific Bible Verses in question:
Whosoever Magazine has a page giving an overview of how each of the Bible verses in question is discussed, interpreted and applied. This can be found at http://www.whosoever.org/bible
The best resource on the web is “A Letter to Louise” which not only gives you the Biblical texts, but also gives you the best argument for affirming gays and lesbians. Written by former pastor, Bruce W. Lowe, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the writing is clear, concise, and thorough.
On the website for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Howard Bess has an overview of the scriptures as well, taken from his book, Pastor, I’m Gay. http://www.wabaptists.org/bible/bess.htm
Another, even more thorough look at the scriptures passages comes from the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, and is a strong look at the Biblical passages. They also have a great page discussing homosexuality from all sides, all religions.
I recommend too a look at the book, Jesus, The Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers if you want a meaty discussion of the passages as well as a comparative look at this issue and the issues of slavery, concerns about women, divorce and interracial dating were argued using the Bible.
Homosexuality in the Bible by Walter Wink is a great essay exploring those passages as well as what the Bible actually says about homosexuality.
You are a family member struggling with understanding your gay family member:
Do you have a son or daughter who is gay? Can my gay child change? is a powerful essay reflecting the questions parents of gay children ask and giving you the answers you need. There are more resources for parents at the end of the essay.
A site created just for families of gays and lesbians–to help them talk through it. Someone to Talk to, is an incredible site filled with information specifically for parents. The articles and stories section is by far the most thorough I’ve come across. There’s a section on the church at its best, and the church when it fails.
This page from the Gay Christian Network is written by family members of gay people.
If you are married to a person who has come out, you might want to read Carol Brammer Boltz’s blog, My heart goes out. She was married to Ray Boltz, the Christian music artist who came out in 2008, and is still his biggest supporter.
Coming Out: an act of love a book by Rob Eichberg is also helpful–giving you insight on what it means to be come out to and to come out.
Letters from family members as collected by PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian And Gay people)–a pdf.
Your Denomination’s Stand and GLBT resources for your denomination:
While this website was at first built for Baptists (mainly because I am one and the churches I am working with are Baptists), there is a wealth of information for other denominations too. Religous Tolerance website lists 47 denominations and their stands on homosexuality, as well as groups within those denominations who are trying to work for gay and lesbian inclusion. Find yours and find out what resources are available to you. I’m just going to hit some of the major ones below, or ones that affect my church, and our denomination.
If you are Catholic, you will want to see Dignity USA/Canada. On this page are LOTS of resources for Catholics who are questioning the church teaching on sexuality, or even just wondering what the other side might have as evidence for treating gay Catholics with dignity.
The Association for Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Churches lists more than 60 Baptist churches currently that have done studies and decided to welcome and affirm gay and lesbian people into their congregation, single and married, active or celibate.
If you are Presbyterian, here is a website that shows resources for the two opposing views, and here is the website, for The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, for those churches who recognize the worth and value of gay and lesbian members. The link carries you to their FAQ on sexuality and the church. And the More Light Presbyterians, working for full inclusion of gay and lesbian members.
If you are Mennonite, this site will help you most. It is the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT interests.
If you are Lutheran, the Religious Tolerance website has a good overview of the history of this issue in the Lutheran church in Canada, the ELCIC. But even better is the ELCIC’s own website and its page on same sex issues. They have several categories of essays written so that the council could make decisions regarding their stance and practice. These essays are really thorough arguments for considering gay and lesbian members as full members of the church.
If you are from the United Church of Canada, you already know that they are both welcoming and affirming to everyone. This did not happen overnight, but they were one of the first churches to have the discussion. It wasn’t easy for them. You can read more about their struggles, and their ultimate breakthroughs, and how they are supporting GLBT folks.
Pamphlets or PDFbooklets for Churches or individuals
Some great resources from Christian Community for churches considering becoming Welcoming and Affirming, including free downloadable books, Taking a New Look: Why Congregations Need LGBT members, and Silent and Undecided Friends: Motivating Greater LGBT rights advocacy among Clergy and Congregations. Both of these are available either free as a PDF download or for 5 bucks.
Articles using scripture to support same-sex unions, and people, in the public media.
The Conservative Case for Same-Sex Marriage (in Newsweek, Jan 6 2010)
Our Mutual Joy: Arguing for gays using Christ’s argument for Love (Newsweek, Dec 6 2008)
DVDs that present the issues well
For the Bible Tells Me So, a DVD documentary that examines four families as they discuss what it was like to have one of their children come out. This also includes several interviews with Biblical scholars on the passages in question.
Through My Eyes, another DVD, is full of real testimonies. These are 36 Christian teens and college students talking about their struggles with coming out in the church.
Fish Out of Water, another fine DVD film examining gays and the church. The link is for the trailer.
Building an Inclusive Church: Church Toolkits
Now that you have read material about homosexuality and the Bible, you might want to approach your church. How do you do this? Several people have designed toolkits for helping to build inclusive churches. I suggest downloading their pdfs, or buying their modestly-priced booklets (often $5-$7). They’ve done the work to map out a plan.
The Institute for Welcoming Resources has a Building an Inclusive Church: a Welcoming Toolkit which they offer for free.
The Gay Christian Network also has a Church Toolkit that is worth looking at.
Organizations, groups, other helpful people:
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Canada is setting up a chapter in Whitehorse. Justin Lemphers will be the contact person. As a support group, they help people with questions regarding their children and friends. They also keep struggling people alive, heal families, and strengthen communities. You can be a part of healing this community. Justin (332-2330) and on the web: http://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/index-e.asp
Gay Christian Network: an organization for gay christians, has great radio podcasts, organizes a large gay christian conference every year in January. It is the place for gay christians to come and find others, and to find reassurance that they can be gay and Christian. GCN has even made church tool kits for those who want to discuss GLBT issues in their church.
Inclusive Orthodoxy: a webpage devoted to keeping churches strong in orthodoxy and inclusion of gay and lesbian people.
Out in Scripture: an online bible study presented by the Human Rights Campaign, written with the help of over 100 skilled scholars and pastors from 11 different denominations, aimed specifically at keeping gay and lesbians close to scripture and Christ. http://www.hrc.org/scripture/index.asp
Soulforce: started by Mel White, this organization seeks to change hearts and institutions through non-violent resistance, following in the footsteps of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
When someone comes out to your church
Sometimes, someone comes out to your church which prompts you to look for answers, or sometimes you want to start making a policy that will help you deal with this eventuality. You might consider these things: when someone comes out in your church.
When you want to come out to your church
It’s a big step to tell your church family that you’re gay. If you are in a church that believes that gays are inherently sinful, or that a “gay lifestyle” is sinful, just asking the congregation or the administration to read a few pamphlets might not change minds right away. Read this: when you want to come out to your church for some tips. And hang in there!
Suicide and the LGBT community
Suicide for gay youth is a huge problem in the world, but I think the pressure is greater when you come from a
religious and/or conservative environment. Studies agree with that.
- LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection (Ryan C, Huebner D, et al – Peds 2009;123(1):346-352)
My research here comes from the Trevor Project, the leading organization examining, and helping to prevent, suicide
in LGBTQ youth. Go there for more information about suicide and the LGBT community. There’s no sense in
allowing even one person to take their life over Christian principles. Jesus came to offer life, not death.