There is no coherent way to combine the identities “gay” and “Christian.” Homosexual practices are sins, and those who refuse to repent of these sins cannot be Christ’s disciples.
The word “gay” can refer to:
- A pattern of male sexual attraction for other men.
- An identity rooted in such a pattern of attraction.
- More broadly, a variety of identities and practices that depart from the norm of male-female conjugal union. In this sense, it is the opposite of “straight” and a synonym of “queer.”
This word is a euphemism that contributes to the perception that homosexual practices are relatively harmless. It diverts attention away from the most important characteristic of homosexuality (the structural incongruity involved in homosexual practices) and towards less important issues of fashion, and mannerism. The euphemistic quality of the term is heightened by the fact that its older meaning has to do with being light-hearted.
One further effect of using this euphemism is to draw our attention away from people’s actions and towards their character or identity. In this way, the term contributes to the habit of thinking about homosexuality as an innate aspect of someone’s character or identity. In reality, homosexuality is a chosen pattern of action, a chosen identity, or an unwanted temptation that nevertheless arises from a person’s sinful will.
Christians who use this term should be watchful not to indulge the unbiblical notions that 1) homosexual practices are not serious sins, or 2) that these practices arise from a person’s true identity. Normally, it would be better to use the more specific and objective term “homosexual.” This would be closer to the biblical terminology — a man who “lies with a male as with a woman” (Leviticus 18:22).
When “gay” is appended to the name “Christian,” things are even more complicated. The very phrase “gay Christian” inevitably carries an air of novelty and provocation, since the two have historically been understood to be mutually incompatible, even antithetical.
The terms are put together in one of two ways. The first, called “side A gay Christianity,” revises traditional Christian teaching to affirm homosexual practices. One of the primary arguments for such a revision is that the biblical writers (including Jesus) did not know all that we know today about homosexuality. First, they only knew of homosexual practices that involved other sins like exploitation and promiscuity. It never occurred to them that homosexual unions might be loving and committed, and they would have approved them in this case. Second, in a pre-scientific era, they did not know about sexual orientation. If they had, they would have continued to forbid sexual behaviors “contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26), and explained that this meant that everyone should act in keeping with their orientation.