It is funny–to me–that Christians can get into such arguments about whether one can be gay and Christian, or lesbian and Christian, etc. Those on the religious extreme right insist that it is impossible, as if to be who we are as human beings is contrary to Christian teaching. This religious right is not made up only of “Narrow Baptists” in the American “Bible Belt.” It also includes other fundamentalists, such as Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, who has made it his personal mission to split that worldwide church communion down the middle over homosexuality.
But there have to be some standards, they say, some benchmarks. They feel that there is a “slippery slope” or a complete sell-out of Christian doctrine if we invite homosexuals in the door.
Aside from the obvious fact that we are already in the door because we were baptized as young people and accepted the faith and have never departed from it, there is something fundamentally wrong with their reasoning. Let’s take a look:
Christian teaching is first and foremost teaching about Jesus Christ. It is teaching about God’s gracious redemption of the human race for the sake of Jesus Christ. It is teaching about the Good News that Jesus died upon the cross in order to reconcile God and humanity.
If there is a standard or a benchmark, it would be the Nicene Creed, which was finalized in the 4th Century. This is the same creed that I used to bring some clarity to whether former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is really a Christian. I didn’t do that on the basis of whether Mitt Romney is a person of great integrity, and lives a clean life. I did it on the basis of whether Mitt Romney confesses the faith which all Christians have confessed in the defining doctrines which have never changed since the 4th Century.
A Creed is a concise statement of what a person or a group believes. The essential thing about this defining document of the Christian faith is that it states what Christians believe about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, the Christian Church and the sacraments.
It does not state what our opinions are about each other. It does not enumerate sins. It does not set admission standards except this faith in God and Jesus Christ. It does not include a doctrine about the Holy Bible, so as to whether the Bible is to be taken literally or figuratively in different spots, whether every word of the Bible is binding upon all Christians forever, the Nicene Creed doesn’t even go there. And most importantly, it makes no statement about human sexuality.
Is the argument over homosexuality really an argument of the Bible vs. the Creed? Those who are extreme right-wing Christians insist that the Bible trumps everything else. Yet the Bible, even more than the historic Creeds and other dogmatic statements and teaching, must be subject to study and interpretation. And the Bible itself must ultimately take the back seat to the authority of Jesus Christ. (“All authority has been given to me…”, Matthew 28:18; “You search the Scriptures…”, John 5:39)
Since at least the year 381 a.d., the Nicene Creed has been the statement which gave Christians unity. It formed the Church’s catholicity by defining a common faith in God and in the work of Jesus Christ. It did not attempt to settle all matters, least of all, human sexuality. After all, we put our faith in Christ, not in sexuality: not in heterosexuality or homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality.
Can one “be a Christian” and be LGBT? To confess my faith in Christ makes me a Christian, whether or not I fully understand myself, my sexuality, my gender, or my fellow believer. Is that clear?
— Pastor Dan Hooper, Los Angeles