Christians on Homosexuality: A Sin or Accepted?


Cresskill is a bubble of privilege. We have one of the best public school systems in the state, we’re in the 93rd percentile for safety, and the median household income is $141k. We comfortably live in a town where our rights are protected, discrimination isn’t tolerated, and people can be themselves without fear of persecution. Reflecting this, CHS is generally liberal. A survey of 40 random CHS students showed over half leaned left and were Democrats. But, there are still differing opinions. 20% leaned conservatively and a combined 21% said they were either Republican, Libertarian, or Independent. There is a world of diverse political parties, religious affiliations, and identities. To succeed in and out of Cresskill, you need to understand other views, even if you end up disagreeing with them anyway.
Growing up attending a Christian church forced me to open my mind to other rationales, as I was exposed to judgments and comments on women in leadership, creationism, and most prominently, being queer. Even though I disagreed, I wanted to learn more.
For this article, I define “Christianity” and “being Christian” as believing in the Bible as the Word of God. I also use “queer” as an umbrella term for a mass of sexual and romantic identities, but I exclusively mentioned homosexuality when speaking to others to avoid confusion.
Since Christianity revolves around the Bible, followers support what the Bible supports and condemn what the Bible condemns. For many Christians, this includes condemning gay people. To find out more, I interviewed three local religious figures: Jessica, Jack, and Moby. The views they hold fall into 3 categories: What God Says, What Christians Should Do, and What Being Queer Means.

What God Says:
Jessica, Jack, and Moby all stated that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin against God. Jack noted that Romans 1 “cites homosexuality in a list of other sins.” Jessica and Moby both mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah, often interpreted as cities destroyed by God because men tried to rape other men (Genesis 19:4-5, 24). Other Christians cite Leviticus 18:22, which states, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”
Though my interviewees do not share this view, some Christians believe that the Bible does not actually condemn being gay. They propose that these parts of the Bible are mistranslated or misinterpreted and had originally condemned rape, pedophilia, and violence.

What Christians Should Do:
Christians condemn homosexuality in different ways, with a stark contrast between condemning those outside and those inside the church.

Those outside the church:
Jack offers his insight on people outside the church: “There’s a verse that says: who are we to judge them that are outside the church…whatever’s legal and whatever people are mutually consenting outside the church, let them do it. I don’t think it’s our place to say you have to stop or somehow enforce that.”
Jessica goes in a different direction and talks about the common notion of hating the sin and loving the sinner: “I’m not going to condemn them. I’m not to approve of their lifestyle…of what they’re doing, but I’m still going to love them as a person. God loves all of us even though we’re doing things wrong sometimes; we can’t judge them.” Jessica tries to stick to a core value of Christianity, which is to love and not judge others. But, by asserting that homosexuality is inherently wrong, she may still be internally judging them.

Those inside the church:
If someone identifies with Christianity AND being queer, they have other thoughts. I asked Jessica what she would say if someone in the church came out as gay.
“So if somebody came into our church and said I’m a homosexual or lesbian…I would have no problem with them sitting in the 11 o’clock service and listening to the speaker because hopefully they will hear the truth by singing the Bible. But they will be asked not to break bread with us in the first service, the worship service we had.”
Jessica’s church holds an 11 o’clock family service where all are welcome, but it also holds a service solely for believers. By excluding queer people from the service of Christians, she posits that a queer person could not be a Christian. Jessica believes that to truly be a Christian, you must act in accordance with God, and being queer is not that.
Though people have varying ideas of what being Christian means to them, many others would agree that someone can identify as being Christian and being queer. In the end, they are both just labels assigned to oneself to better explain their feelings and actions.
Similarly, Moby expressed that “if someone says they are homosexual, they can still be here and hopefully learn the truth from these lessons.” Jessica and Moby both mention attending service to hear and learn “the truth,” meaning they would only allow queer people in church so they will change.

What Homosexuality Is:
Moby approaches being queer with complete negativity. He describes homosexuality as “perverted sexual behavior” and “perversed lust.” In this flawed mindset, Moby associates being queer solely with sex, dismissing the other parts of queer relationships, both romantic and sexual. He doesn’t recognize it as a complete identity, just the part that is the easiest to condemn. Sex outside of marriage is criticized by many Christians, so condemning queer sex isn’t that much of a leap.
Furthermore, Moby believes that being queer is a choice. He states that “the whole idea that people can be gay and are born gay is not…” Filling in the blanks, Moby believes people aren’t born gay. Later he explicitly states: “God created us a certain way. A person can believe they were born to be gay…but that’s not the truth.” If Moby thinks that people aren’t born gay, he thinks it’s in some way a choice. But, research and psychologists repeatedly put forth that being gay is not a choice. Even though we don’t know for sure why people are gay, who chooses to live a life filled with secrecy, stigma, discrimination, and broken relationships?
While Moby believes that people can stop feeling the attraction, Jessica only believes that people can stop acting on their attraction. Jessica and Moby act as if being queer is something that should be avoided and treated, that people who experience this attraction are sick and need God to heal them. They both stated that through Christianity, people have “come out of the homosexual lifestyle.” Jessica claimed there are articles and information about it, and Moby offered to give “real life stories.”
In more likelihood, the people in these stories didn’t actually stop feeling their attraction, but rather repressed it due to outside influence and internalized homophobia. By telling queer people not to act on their feelings, Moby and Jessica are expecting them to deny themselves love. They are supposed to reject feelings and their own identity, things they probably struggled to accept in the first place, simply because it pleases God.
Living life for God is a big part of my Moby and Jessica’s definition of Christianity, but it is also based on a harmful assumption: being queer is against God, and therefore bad. As mentioned, this is debated. But regardless of what God wants, my personal belief is that if it puts more love into the world, it can’t be that bad. What kind of God is against love and its expression? And since being queer isn’t a choice, didn’t God create us like this? What God creates us in a certain way, then expects us to reject that part of ourselves?
Though most Christians try to approach this with a lens of love, the consequence is felt the same. Condemning queer people won’t change who they are, but it may make them abandon the church and Christianity as a whole. Creating an inclusive and accepting space for queer people to worship will ultimately bring more people to God, and isn’t that what Christians want?
There may be flaws in my reasoning, holes people can poke in my argument, or some obscure research somehow proving exactly what God intends. But at the end of the day, no one knows if God is real and no one knows what God wants, but we do know that our actions have consequences, right now. Criticizing queer people or asking them to change is inevitably harmful, even if the intention is pure.