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Sunday, November 15, 2020

How does The Church handle its LGBTQIA members? A Sociopolitical Research Paper.

Answer: Historically we get an F, but we're in remedial class now so we're improving as a whole. 

*Disclaimer: I could not possibly do justice to the nuance of this topic in a 3-5 page double-spaced 12-point font paper. I was forced to choose a direction, and I ran with it. Given the time and space, I probably will write on this topic more in the future. I intend to give it the nuance and time each issue deserves. Therefore, consider this a primer for future discussions. I also reserve the right to change as I grow, this is how I am seeing it today. 


How does The Church handle its LGBTQIA members?


Sociopolitical Research Paper


Darrell Wolfe

Biblical Counseling, The King’s University

Counseling in the Church (BIBC 3304)

Glenna Massey

November 15, 2020




The following will be a short evaluation of how the Church has and should handle its LGBTQIA Members. We will review the impacts of the division with and in the Church, the role of the Church, and the response of the Church. Lastly, we will look at how a Biblical story reimagined could provide the answer.

Keywords: LGBTQIA, Gay, Lesbian, Gay Marriage, Gays and Church

The Impact of being gay in Church

            United Methodist Pastor Jimmy Creech wrote a book called Adam’s Gift, in which he speaks about the first time he was introduced to Adam, a man who was both gay and serving in the church (circa 1984) (Creech, 2011). Adam had same-sex attraction from an early age. He tried to ignore it and even lived as a straight man for a time. He lived and served God faithfully as a member of the United Methodists. Nobody at the church knew he was gay. His experience with “The Church” was that he was hearing about God’s unconditional love from one ear and about how God hates gays and condemns them to hell from the other ear. He could not reconcile these messages as he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality. Feeling shamed and guilty for simply being who he was, he even attempted suicide. All too often this has been the experience of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community both inside the churches as well as interacting with those claiming to represent the church in the community at large. While attending white parades (circa 1996-1998) in my hometown of Palm Springs, California, I saw someone holding a sign that said, “God hates gays”.

Even as many churches are getting better at their response, the larger cultural debate rages. Legislatures are gridlocked between the defense of religious liberties and civil rights, often resulting in Supreme Court decisions to determine where the lines are drawn in the US Constitution. The 2020 Bostock decision was the latest iteration of that battle (Bennett, 2020).  Faith-Based Adoption agencies are finding themselves in court over adoption to gay couples (Shellnutt, 2019). Youth Pastors will find that the up and coming youth are more likely than ever to either identify as LGBTQIA or be sympathetic to their plight (Shellnutt, 2018).

            To make matters more complicated, if a gay or lesbian couple begins to attend church they are faced with a new dilemma. If the church teaches them that their marriage is not authorized, do they encourage the couple to break-up and divide the children into two homes? One United Methodist pastor claimed that singling out the LGBTQIA community was a violation of the church's charter to “do no harm” (Steele, 2019).

The Role of the Church

The church faces a two-pronged battle. On one hand, the role of the church is to love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40)(Key Word Study Bible NKJV, n.d.). On the other hand, the role of the church is to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). For many sincere men and women who struggle with same-sex attraction (orientation), their options are churches that either accept the LGBTQIA positions on all fronts without challenge (Ex: Pro-Gay Marriage) or challenge the positions while rejecting the persons (Ex: Anti-Gay Rhetoric “God hates gays”). Both the Church of the Brethren and the United Methodist Church have experienced splits over the topic of how to respond to LGBTQIA issues; such as gay marriage (Silliman, 2020; Steele, 2019).

Jay Skylar, in an article analyzing the relevance of the biblical prohibitions of homosexuality, frames the arguments for a biblical acceptance of homosexuality as unlikely to be logically consistent with a Christian Worldview (Skylar, Jay, 2018). Yet, he demonstrates an understanding that Christians hold a dual responsibility to Truth and Love.

The Response of the Church

The response of the church is to love God, love folks, and speak the truth in love so that we can bring freedom into the lives of all who accept that truth (Matthew 22:36-40; Ephesians 4:15; John 8:32).

If we genuinely love God, we will have his heart for God’s people. The biblical account of the woman caught in adultery demonstrates how the church is to respond to sin, regardless of the nature of that sin (John 8:1-11). Under no circumstances is a follower of Jesus Christ to cast a stone. We cannot tell a person created in God’s image (Imago Dei), who was so precious to the Father that he gave his own son to ransom them to himself, that God hates them. In any scriptural list of things God hates, one can find their own pet-sin included. We have all fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23).

Yet, we have this second ideal: Speak the truth in love. Jesus ended his interaction with the woman by telling her “sin no more”. In the Handbook of Christian Counseling, Dr. Timothy Foster reminds us that “the first principle to remember is speaking the truth in love, the second is unconditional acceptance… it means not saying ‘you’ve got be different’(Foster, 2005)(Pg. 142). Ecumenical Minister David Du Plessis once said that he never told anyone they were sinners; that was the Holy Spirit’s job. His job was the love them well, introduce them to Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit do His job (Hearn, 1967). In other words, we accept you the way you are and refuse to force you to change, but we will challenge you to take your life before the Holy Spirit and let Him shape you into His image.

            One valid response is to work with people and lead them into a process with God to seek healing and restoration. In his book, Think Differently Live Differently, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) Bob Hamp tells the story of a woman who was set free from years of being trapped in anger, living in masculine expression. Based on the description, this woman could be classified today as transgender. Hamp softly challenged the lie she was living, “you know you are a woman, right?”. As she released the lies of the enemy (over many months), her body changed, and had her first-ever period in her mid-thirties. Her body had lined up with her created order as her soul healed, expressing physical changes in her femineity (Hamp, 2016)(Pg. 71-73). While this type of healing is highly dependent on God and should likely be sought through the careful hands of a trained and licensed Christian counselor, it is promising that such instances of healing can occur.

            Yet, we all know of people who prayed for some healing that never came (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.). What response can we give these people? What about those who found no success in “praying the gay way”? Phillip Yancey addresses the topic of pain in his book “Where is God When it Hurts?” (Yancey, 1997). He concludes that even when God does not bring healing, he comes alongside to be with us in our pain. We can find comradery with Jesus in his pain on the cross. Ultimately, we can all identify together with the same struggle. In an article about the church’s response to the LGBT movement, Andy Crouch concludes that “All of us know, in the depths of our heart, that we are queer. Our yearnings, especially those bound up with our sexuality, are hardly ever fully satisfied by the biblical model of one man and one woman yoked together for life.” Once Christians begin to see that we are all fighting the same battle (submitting our desires to God’s Word/Wisdom), we can see our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters as fellow strugglers and not enemies. 

            This still leaves the church with debates. What about gay marriage? What about gay lifestyle? Is there a difference between Orientation and lived experience? Sean Fryling, a Pastoral Care Pastor for Real Life Ministries, stated their position as follows. To anyone identifying as LGBTQIA, the church saws “Welcome, we’re so glad you are here!” Anyone asking to get into leadership or asking for the endorsement of their same-sex relationship would be invited into deeper conversations. They have had pastors on staff who have same-sex orientation but are committed to sexual expression being between one man and one woman in a lifelong covenant relationship. These pastors live as what the Bible would have called, Eunuchs. The Church works with these pastors (and others like them) to get help, counseling, prayer, and support. If they are committed to living faithfully to the Word, their orientation does not prevent them from serving (Fryling, 2020). To those asking for endorsement of their union, churches and pastors could say: “We believe in the biblical mandate for marriage being between one man and one woman. We would love the opportunity to discuss that further together, dive into the word together, and help you see why we believe that to be the case. Please keep coming, we hope you feel loved and accepted, but we cannot endorse the wedding you are asking for.”


While the need persists to remain unchanging on The Church’s stance on topics such as Marriage and Sexual Expression, the need also persists to remain unwavering on our commitment to the hearts of people of any sexual orientation. We must begin to see their struggle as no different than any other Christian’s struggle. Just as to the woman caught in adultery, we must say to everyone (ourselves included) “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. Then we must hold their hand and walk with them.


Bennett, D. (2020, June 17). LGBT Rights Ruling Isn’t the Beginning of the End for Religious Liberty. Christianity Today.

Creech, J. (2011). Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays. Duke University Press.

Foster, T. (2005). The Handbook of Christian Counseling. Wipf & Stock Publishers.

Fryling, S. (2020, November 11). Pastoral Care/Lay Counseling Interview: Real Life Ministries (D. Wolfe, Interviewer) [Interview].

Hamp, B. (2016). Think Differently Live Differently Keys to a Life of Freedom.

Hearn, J. (1967, June 30). David DuPlessis—"Forgiveness" June 30, 1967  pm [Audio Recording: Posted to YouTube by Jay Hearn].

Shellnutt, K. (2018, January 23). Get Ready, Youth Group Leaders: Teens Twice as Likely to Identity of Atheist of LGBT. Christianity Today.

Shellnutt, K. (2019, April 25). America’s Largest Christian Adoption Agency Lets LGBT Couples Foster in 1 of 35 States. Christianity Today.

Silliman, D. (2020, August 3). Brethren Against Brethren: LGBT Fight Divides Peace Church. Christianity Today.

Skylar, Jay. (2018). The Prohibitions against Homosexual Sex in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13: Are They Relevant Today? Bulletin for Biblical Research, 28(2), 165.

Steele, J. (2019, April 26). United Methodist Court Keeps Core of New LGBT Legislation. Christianity Today.

The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study BIBLE: Key Insights Into God’s Word. New King James (NKJV). (n.d.). AMG Publishers.

Yancey, P. (1997). Where is God when it hurts? Zondervan.



Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


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