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Brief Biblical Case

for LGBTQ Inclusion


Experience of sound Christian teachings should show good fruit, not bad fruit.

Non-affirming beliefs about same-sex relationships and transgender people contribute to serious harm in LGBTQ people’s lives. From the inclusion of Gentiles in the church to the abolition of slavery, the church has a long history of revisiting the biblical text in light of compelling evidence that prevailing interpretations do not align with Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 7 that good trees bear good fruit. 


The Christian tradition doesn’t address sexual orientation.

In the ancient world, same-sex behavior was widely considered to be a vice of excess that might tempt anyone, like gluttony or drunkenness. Same-sex attraction wasn’t understood as the sexual orientation of a small minority of people. Affirming Christians are not overturning the Christian tradition on LGBTQ people—until recent decades, there has been no Christian tradition on LGBTQ people. 


Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate.

The Bible honors celibacy as a worthy calling, but it also makes clear that celibacy is a gift that not all have (1 Corinthians 7:7-9, Matthew 19:11). Requiring that all gay Christians remain celibate for life because of their sexual orientation is at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy.


“Gender complementarity” is a broad category, not a universally normative biblical teaching.

“Gender complementarity” can refer to a variety of understandings of how men and women complement one another in ways that many non-affirming Christians believe are necessary for romantic relationships to be moral: for example, gender hierarchy, procreative capacity, and anatomical complementarity. But the Bible does not teach that any particular understanding of “gender complementarity” is universally and exclusively normative. 


The arc of Scripture points toward inclusion, not exclusion.

In the Old Testament, those who were sexually different—like eunuchs and barren women—were barred from entering the assembly of the Lord (see Deuteronomy 23:1). But within the text of Scripture, we see greater inclusion of gender and sexual minorities: one of the first Gentile converts to Christianity was an Ethiopian eunuch (see Acts 8:26-39). The New Testament’s trajectory toward greater inclusion of eunuchs offers important precedent for the inclusion of gender and sexual minorities today.


Sodom and Gomorrah addresses gang rape, not a loving relationship.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is commonly assumed to have been the result of God’s wrath against homosexuality, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape (Genesis 19:5)—nothing like the loving, committed relationships that are widespread today. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality, and apathy toward the poor, but never for same-sex behavior. 


The prohibitions in Leviticus don’t apply to Christians.

Leviticus condemns male same-sex intercourse (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13), but the entire Old Testament law code has never applied to Christians in light of Christ’s death. Moreover, the prohibitions of male same-sex relations reflect culturally-bound concerns about patriarchal gender roles, which the New Testament points us beyond. 


Romans addresses unrestrained lust, not sexual orientation.

In the ancient world, it was assumed that all people could be satisfied with heterosexual sex, but that some people went beyond it due to their insatiable lust—leading them to engage in same-sex behavior. Paul isn’t condemning being gay as opposed to being straight. He is condemning self-seeking excess as opposed to moderation—a concern made clear by his repeated use of the term “lustful,” and by his description of people “exchanging” or “abandoning” heterosexual sex.


1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy address exploitation.

The Greek words used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 (malakoi and arsenokoitai) may have referred to certain forms of same-sex behavior, but most likely exploitative forms. In order to be faithful to Scripture, we must recognize a distinction between the same-sex behavior the Bible condemns and the desires of LGBTQ Christians for love, companionship, and family today.


Marriage is about covenant.

According to Ephesians, marriage is fundamentally about commitment—keeping our covenant with our spouse as a reflection of God’s own covenant with us through Jesus. The Bible doesn’t teach that marriage requires procreation or gender hierarchy. Instead, it teaches that the essence of marriage is covenantal love and faithfulness, and Christian same-sex couples live out that vision of marriage every day. 

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