Can you be gay and still be a Christian?

Is being a gay Christian possible?  This question in particular is how people usually approach this issue.  What is really being asked is, “Is homosexuality compatible or acceptable if someone wants to be a good Christian?”  In one sense, anyone can claim to be a Christian.  Hitler claimed to be a Christian, but most Christians would point out that at best, he wasn’t a very good one.  But most Christians quickly point out that everything Hitler stood for goes against Christianity.  Is it possible to want to exterminate an innocent race of people and still be a Christian?  If Hitler was misguided, then yes.  But if he fully understood what he was doing, as history demonstrates that he did, then the answer is “no.”

However, most everyone agrees that what Hitler did is wrong and that his lifestyle was wrong.  Is homosexuality sinful?  We are really facing the following dilemma.

  1. If homosexuality is not sinful, then the question is irrelevant.

  2. If homosexuality is sinful, then

    1. What does Scripture say about believers living in sin?

    2. What does Scripture say about believers living in sexual immorality?

Other articles show that homosexuality is sinful, so we will start from here.  The larger question is, “Is it possible to be a Christian who lives in unrepentant sin?” (2a). Additionally, we will answer the question, “Is it possible to be a Christian who lives specifically in sexual immorality?” (2b).

Rather than punting to Hitler, let’s look at some biblical examples that will help us understand this issue.  The Bible records the story of David who was both a murderer and adulterer.  These are two things the Bible specifically condemns.  Many websites quickly point out that David was a believer and “a man after God’s own heart,” and yet he did these sinful things.  However, David also repented of these actions.  Psalm 51 records his thoughts on the matter.  David committed adultery, but it was not his lifestyle.  David committed murder, but it was not his lifestyle.

Therefore, we see that there is a difference between being a Christian who sins, and being a Christian who lives in sin.  The Bible condemns both sinning and living in sin, but the Bible treats the two situations differently.

Concerning living in sin, 1 John contains a thorough treatment of the issue.  I John 1:6 says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Verse 10 also says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  These two verses alone make it clear that a believer cannot “walk in darkness” meaning continue in a sinful lifestyle.  Many people claim homosexuality is not sinful, but if the Bible says it is, then those people say they have not sinned and are calling God a liar.

The good news is found in between these two in verse 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Forgiveness is always available when a person “confesses” sin.  Confessing sin means that a person agrees with God that what they did is wrong, and that by confessing it, they repent of it and stop doing it.  This doesn’t happen in a homosexual lifestyle.  An active homosexual who has no intentions of stopping the homosexual lifestyle is not repenting and “walks in darkness.”  

However, to be very clear, homosexual desires are not in and of themselves sinful.  The Bible calls this “temptation,” and like all temptations, if people do not give in, then no sin has been committed.  Therefore, is being a gay Christian who never acts on his or her desires possible?  Yes, and it is much like being heterosexual Christian who never acts on his or her adulterous desires.

Back to the issue of a person living in sin, 1 John 2:4 says, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Again, many people claim to know Jesus but live deep in sin.  According to John, this isn’t possible.  

One last passage in 1 John should illustrate this point.  1 John 3:4-10 summarizes the argument, “4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”  

If homosexuality is sin, then living as a practicing homosexual is living in sin which is condemned in Scripture.  A person can claim to be a Christian, but that person is in fact not living as a Christian and quite possibly is rejected by God.

So we’ve shown Scripture’s view about living in sin in general, but does Scripture specifically address those who live in sexual immorality? Paul confronts this very issue in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.  Paul says, “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

To summarize Paul’s argument, sexual immorality is of the world and cannot be avoided.  But church members cannot avoid the sexually immoral of the world.  And in verse 11, Paul makes it clear that church members should not associate with anyone who makes a practice of sinning including the sexually immoral.  It’s important to note that sexual immorality is one of four sins listed, but sexual immorality is the primary focus.  

Paul’s final critique of the situation is telling, “purge the evil person from among you.”  In other words, any believer who is going to live in sexual immorality should be put out of the church.  This action isn’t mean-spirited.  Instead it is a punishment or discipline designed to show the offender that he or she cannot continue acting in that way.  

In summary

  1. It goes against the nature of being a Christian to keep on sinning or live in sin (1 John).

  2. One way of living in sin is to engage in a lifestyle of sexual immorality.

  3. Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality.  It is a lifestyle.

  4. No one in any sinful lifestyle can believe in Christ in the Biblical sense and continue in the old lifestyle.

  5. Therefore, homosexuals are not to be part of the church or considered part of the family of God until they repent.

Two things should be noted.  First, this applies to any lifestyle of sin, so the church isn’t just “picking on” homosexuals.  Second, forgiveness is freely available.  Is being a gay Christian possible?  Yes, provided that the gay Christian does not engage in homosexual acts which are sinful.  Indulging in homosexual desires both demonstrates that the spirit is not in the person, and that the person should not be in the church.  Is being a practicing gay Christian possible?  No, not in any sense of what it means to be Christian in the historic, biblical sense of the word.  Can a homosexual act like a Christian?  Yes, but only as far as they do all the other things that Christians do ignoring the fact that they are under judgment for neglecting Scripture and saying that they have no sin.

There are many “gay Christians” in the world who struggle with same-sex attraction, but what makes them Christian is the struggle.  Much like heterosexuals struggle with resisting their urges.  Much like some people struggle with controlling their anger or some people struggle with issues like kleptomania.  Having the urges is a result of the fall and our sinful nature.  Giving into those urges and living in them is the result of someone rejecting God’s word and therefore rejecting God.


Those who would like to read more on this topic are encouraged to check out:


Larry Tomczak - 6 Reasons Why Practicing Homosexuals Can't Be Christians

Matt Slick - Can practicing homosexuals be saved?

Anonymous - Can you be a homosexual and still be a christian and go to heaven?

Youtube - Should Christians Accept Homosexuality


Robert Gagnon – The Bible and Homosexual Practice

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