Christian denominations and churches everywhere struggle with the issue of LGBTQ inclusion. With growing scientific evidence, our wider society has taken big steps, but too many religious families and communities have not kept up. As much as ever, many people still experience deep condemnation by evangelical and other churches, getting kicked out or altogether leaving. Dr. David Gushee offers a powerful, inspiring message of hope and healing by helping Christians to return to Bible study, prayer, and reflection in a way that creates a vision for a more inclusive church.
Arguably America’s leading Christian ethicist, Gushee has written many helpful books for churches, discussion groups, and individuals. Now, in what he describes as the most important book of his career as a Christian teacher, Gushee gives us this encouraging discussion on how he changed his mind.
From his own careful Bible study, research, and prayer, Gushee takes us along an conversational theological journey. In one book, he concisely marks out every single component of historic Christian sexual morality. He covers all of the relevant biblical passages and all the theological positions, including the key argument of creation. With a careful study of context and biblical language, he walks us through a principled discussion that is respectful of traditionalists while calling for inclusion and the end of contempt.
The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage. In the early 2000’s, Mark Achtemeier embarked on a personal journey with the Bible that led him from being a conservative, evangelical opponent of gay rights to an outspoken activist for gay marriage and a fully inclusive church. In The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, Achtemeier shares what led to his change of heart: the problems with excluding groups of people and the insights into the Bible’s message that led him to recognize the fullness of God’s love and support for LGBT persons. Readers will discover how reading snippets of Scripture out of context has led to false and misleading interpretations of the Bible’s message for gay people. Achtemeier shows how a careful reading of the whole Scripture reveals God’s good news about love, marriage, and sexuality for gay and straight people alike.
Does God’s word in the Bible really condemn homosexuality?…… Top scholars–like the late John Boswell of Yale, Daniel Boyarin of Berkeley, Bernadette Brooten of Brandeis, L.William Countryman of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Victor P. Furnish of SMU, Saul M. Olyan of Brown and Robin Scruggs of Union Theological Seminary–show that those who perceive Bible passages as condemning homosexuality are being misled by faulty translation and poor interpretation…… Taken on its own terms and read against its own historical and cultural context, the Bible simply does not condemn same-sex relationships as we understand them today. Danial A. Helminiak, Ph.D. respected theologian and Roman Catholic priest, explains in a clear fashion the fascinating new insights of these scholars…… The Bible has been used to justify slavery, inquisitions, apartheid and the subjugation of women. Now, in this books which has sold over 100 thousand copies, read what the Bible really says about homosexuality.
As a young Christian man, Matthew Vines harbored the same basic hopes of most young people: to someday share his life with someone, to build a family of his own, to give and receive love. But when he realized he was gay, those hopes were called into question. The Bible, he’d been taught, condemned gay relationships.
Feeling the tension between his understanding of the Bible and the reality of his same-sex orientation, Vines devoted years of intensive research into what the Bible says about homosexuality. With care and precision, Vines asked questions such as:
• Do biblical teachings on the marriage covenant preclude same-sex marriage or not?
• How should we apply the teachings of Jesus to the gay debate?
• What does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah really say about human relationships?
• Can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated, not chosen?
• What did Paul have in mind when he warned against same-sex relations?
Unique in its affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity, God and the Gay Christian is likely to spark heated debate, sincere soul searching, even widespread cultural change. Not only is it a compelling interpretation of key biblical texts about same-sex relations, it is also the story of a young man navigating relationships with his family, his hometown church, and the Christian church at large as he expresses what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.
Justin Lee, a gay man and devout Christian, bridges the gaps between his faith and sexuality in this insightful and touching memoir.
As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed “God Boy” by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events–his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the “ex-gay” movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible–that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance.
But more than just a memoir, TORN provides insightful, practical guidance for all committed Christians who wonder how to relate to gay friends or family members–or who struggle with their own sexuality. Convinced that “in a culture that sees gays and Christians as enemies, gay Christians are in a unique position to bring peace,” Lee demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from, and love one another.
In this revised and expanded bestseller, Rogers argues for equal rights in both the church and society for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people. He describes how he moved away from opposition to support, charts the church’s history of using biblical passages to oppress marginalized groups, argues for a Christ-centered reading of Scripture, debunks stereotypes about gays and lesbians, and explores texts used most frequently against homosexuals and gay ordination.
In this newly revised edition, he maps the recent progress of major U.S. denominations toward full equality for LGBT persons, adds a new chapter that examines how Scripture is best interpreted by Jesus’ redemptive life and ministry, and updates his own efforts and experiences.
The book also includes a guide for group study or personal reflection.
To listen to Jack Rogers’s interview about this book on WJK Radio with Dan and Jana, click here.
Churches in America are experiencing an unprecedented fracturing due to their belief and attitude toward the LGBTQ community. Armed with only six passages in the Bible—often known as the “clobber passages”—the conservative Christian position has been one that stands against the full inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. UnClobber reexamines each of those frequently quoted passages of Scripture, alternating with author Colby Martin’s own story of being fired from an evangelical megachurch when they discovered his stance on sexuality. UnClobber reexamines what the Bible says (and does not say) about homosexuality in such a way that breathes fresh life into outdated and inaccurate assumptions and interpretations.
Free online article by Colby Martin: Is t possible to be an open and affirming Christian while also holding fast to scriptural values and principles regarding sexual morality.
The Ten Commandments condone slavery, and Deuteronomy 22 deems the rape of an unmarried woman to injure her father rather than the woman herself. While many Christians ignore most Old Testament laws as obsolete or irrelevant-with others picking and choosing among them in support of specific political and social agendas-it remains a basic tenet of Christian doctrine that the faith is contained in both the Old and the New Testament. If the law is ignored, an important aspect of the faith tradition is denied.
In Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies, Cheryl B. Anderson tackles this problem head on, attempting to answer the question whether the laws of the Old Testament are authoritative for Christians today. The issue is crucial: some Christians actually believe that the New Testament abolishes the law, or that the Protestant reformers Luther, Calvin, and Wesley rejected the law. Acknowledging the deeply problematic nature of some Old Testament law (especially as it applies to women, the poor, and homosexuals), Anderson finds that contemporary controversies are the result of such groups now expressing their own realities and faith perspectives.
Anderson suggests that we approach biblical law in much the same way that we approach the U.S. Constitution. While the nation’s founding fathers-all privileged white men-did not have the poor, women, or people of color in mind when they referred in its preamble to “We the people.” Subsequently, the Constitution has evolved through amendment and interpretation to include those who were initially excluded. Although it is impossible to amend the biblical texts themselves, the way in which they are interpreted can-and should-change. With previous scholarship grounded in the Old Testament as well as critical, legal, and feminist theory, Anderson is uniquely qualified to apply insights from contemporary law to the interpretive history of biblical law, and to draw out their implications for issues of gender, class, and race/ethnicity. In so doing, she lays the groundwork for an inclusive mode of biblical interpretation.
By Dr. Ralph Blair
Dr. Ralph Blair
Of the Bible passages that have been interpreted as involving homosexual behavior, seven are mentioned most often. They are commonly referred to as “clobber” passages, because they are used by many social and religious conservatives to condemn homosexual behavior.
“Calvin Theological Seminary Old Testament scholar Marten H. Woudstra says: “there is nothing in the Old Testament that corresponds to homosexuality as we understand it today” and SMU New Testament scholar Victor Paul Furnish says: “There is no ‘text on homosexual orientation in the Bible.” Says Robin Scroggs of Union Seminary: “Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today’s debate. They should no longer be used … not because the Bible is not authoritative, but simply because it does not address the issues involved…”
Homosexuality and the Bible
By Walter Wink
Wink is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, Studiorum Novi Testament Societies, and has lectured at over seventy universities.
In 16 pages New Testament scholar Walter Wink shows that most of the biblical texts that purportedly deal with homosexuality are misunderstood. An academically sound contextual understanding, coupled with modern psychological and physiological insights related to homosexuality, yield interpretations and insights that are more in line with the Spirit of Christ. An excellent resource for biblical study of the issue.
Hearts Unbound: Engaging Biblical texts of God’s Radical Love through Reader’s Theater by David R. Weiss
HEARTS UNBOUND invites you to explore ten inspiring stories of radical love and welcome in the Bible. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and participatory, each session looks in-depth at the story, the historical context out of which it came, and some of the insights to be gained. Designed to be used as a small-group Bible study, HEARTS UNBOUND uses the format of Reader’s Theater. But fear not… no costumes, sets, or refined acting chops needed! All you need are six to eight people around a table, reading the script, having fun, all the while learning a great deal in the process.
All ten sessions are available for free download below.
All in God’s Family: Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families
Giving you opportunities to gather with other members of your congregation to pray, to learn, to share, and to work together to transform your lives, your congregation, and your world into a loving place in which God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families can thrive.
Queer Virtue by Rev. Elizabeth Edman
As an openly lesbian Episcopal priest and professional advocate for LGBTQ justice, the Reverend Elizabeth Edman has spent her career grappling with the core tenets of her faith. After deep reflection on her tradition, Edman is struck by the realization that her queer identity has taught her more about how to be a good Christian than the church.
In Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and Why Christians Should Care, Edman posits that Christianity, at its scriptural core, incessantly challenges its adherents to rupture false binaries, to “queer” lines that pit people against one another. Thus, Edman asserts that Christianity, far from being hostile to queer people, is itself inherently queer. Arguing from the heart of scripture, she reveals how queering Christianity—that is, disrupting simplistic ways of thinking about self and other—can illuminate contemporary Christian faith. Pushing well past the notion that “Christian love = tolerance,” Edman offers a bold alternative: the recognition that queer people can help Christians better understand their fundamental calling, and the creation of sacred space where LGBTQ Christians are seen as gifts to the church.
By bringing queer ethics and Christian theology into conversation, Edman also shows how the realities of queer life demand a lived response of high moral caliber—one that resonates with the ethical path laid down by Christianity. Lively and impassioned, Edman proposes that queer experience be celebrated as inherently valuable, ethically virtuous, and as illuminating the sacred.
A rich and nuanced exploration, Queer Virtue mines the depths of Christianity’s history, mission, and core theological premises to call all Christians to a more authentic and robust understanding of their faith.
For those who are transgender offered by Austen Hartke
From The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (Pacific School Of Religion)
“Transfaith: A Transgender Pastoral Care Handbook” by Chris Dowd and Christina Beardsley with Justin Tanis.
This practical resource can help congregations welcome transgender people. Chapters cover terminology, church writings on trans people, theological reflections, Bible studies with discussion points, extensive bibliography, and liturgies such as a rite for preparation for surgery and a renaming ceremony. A chapter on transgender people in the United States is written by Tanis, who directs the LGBTQ center at Pacific School of Religion. Dowd has pastored multiple churches and Beardsley is a Church of England priest. Also check Christina Beardsley’s book “This is My Body: Hearing the Theology of Transgender Christians”
“Transgender, Intersex and Biblical Interpretation” by Teresa Hornsby and Deryn Guest.
Biblical affirmation for LGBTQI people is presented by two well-known Bible scholars. They show that in the Bible, gender identity and sexual orientation are always dynamic categories that do, and must, transition. The book examines familiar (e.g., Gen 1; Revelation) and less familiar (2 Sam 6; Jer 38) scriptures to reveal the bias that makes heterosexuality and a binary two-gender system seem divinely ordained. They critique how biblical texts are used in Christian positional statements on transsexuality and provide statistic on violence against trans persons. Teresa Hornsby is religious studies professor at Drury University, Springfield, Missouri. Deryn Guest is lecturer in Biblical hermeneutics at the University of Birmingham, England. Published by SBL Press (Society of Biblical Literature, founded 1880).
Intersex And Faith
Intersex and Faith was born from a partnership between Lianne Simon and Megan DeFranza. Lianne Simon is a Christian intersex woman and advocate. Author of Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite and A Proper Young Lady. You can learn more about her at personal website. Megan K. DeFranza is a non-intersex Christian woman. She is a theologian with a Ph.D. in religious studies and author of Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God among other publications. You can learn more about her at her personal website.
Recommended Book covering historical, biblical, theological, and philosophical perspectives on intersex:
Charts a faithful theological middle course through complex sexual issues
How different are men and women? When does it matter to us — or to God? Are male and female the only two options? What about those caught in the middle? In Sex Difference in Christian Theology Megan DeFranza explores such questions in light of the Bible, theology, and science.
Many Christians, entrenched in culture wars over sexual ethics, either ignore the existence of intersex persons or avoid the inherent challenge they bring to the assumption that everybody is born after the pattern of either Adam or Eve. DeFranza argues, from a conservative theological standpoint, that all people are made in the image of God — male, female, and intersex — and that we must listen to and learn from the voices of the intersexed among us.
How can a church’s youth ministry have a positive impact on adolescents who struggle to live out their faith and their LGBTQIA orientation/identity? This guide for affirming congregations includes practical advice and a glossary. The author is pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Harvard Square. Published by Westminster John Knox Press.
Church members can learn how to affirm LGBTQ teens in this guide based on a youth ministry with 15+ years of success. The author is founding director of The Naming Project, a faith-based youth ministry and summer camp for LGBTQ young people and allies. Shows congregations how to create a program that affirms LGBTQ youth in their faith and their identity, accepts and welcomes diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, and equips future leaders for the church and the LGBTQ community.
This book offers insight and support from an amazing group of LGBTQ+ professionals, as well as testimonies from young adult queer Christians who’ve recently been exactly where you are. You’ll walk away with a lot of answers, prepared with tools to help. But most importantly, you’ll hear the good news: God loves you exactly as you are. No matter your identity or where in your journey of self-discovery you find yourself, you got this.
BELOVED ARISE is a movement to celebrate and empower queer youth of faith
We’re here to tell the truth. Let’s be honest, sometimes it can feel like no one understands you. And things people say can be really confusing, hurtful and even scary. We built this space so you’ll know you’re not alone. You’re one of us! And we stand with you as God’s children to let you know that you’re not broken or unnatural or shameful. Maybe it’s time to discover for yourself the simple, yet powerful truth about who you really are. YOU ARE BELOVED.
Written by LGBTQ+ youth ministers and church leaders and awesome youth advisors in the United Methodist Church, this Toolkit is designed to help you as a youth minister to grow in your ministry. Perhaps one day you were blessed by a young person coming out to you, or maybe you’re noticing growing discomfort with gender norms among your youth. We hope these resources will help you communicate affirmation and compassion. The same writers also offer this Resource Toolkit for LGBTQ+ Teens.
A Place in God’s Heart…
A Place at Christ’s Table
Worship Resources for the Welcoming Church Movement