In what ways should the church respond to gays and lesbians who are part of the “body of Christ,” the church community?Many conservative Christians believe that the church should not condone a “homosexual lifestyle,” but should instead work actively to help homosexuals find a new life in Christ and to change their sexual orientation.
In 1992, a Presbyterian congregation in Rochester, New York, called a lesbian pastor to its pulpit, unleashing a nationwide controversy.
In 1995, a top executive in the United Methodist Church, who had been ordained for thirty-seven years, revealed that she is a lesbian, bringing public voice to the many ministers who had struggled silently with this issue.
The relations Paul describes, they say, are promiscuous relations, driven by lust and the desire to avoid acknowledging God; they are not relationships of mutual love, lived out in the context of commitment to God.
The issue of homosexuality, they argue, must be viewed in the light of the overarching Christian message of love and reconciliation.
In their view, the Christian community should reach out to welcome and support.
To signal their openness to gays and lesbians, many local churches have designated themselves as “reconciling,” “welcoming,” or “affirming” congregations.
Since attitudes and values are often profoundly shaped by religious commitments, the churches have had to examine rigorously and prayerfully what Christian attitudes toward gays and lesbians are and what they should be.
One issue has been the Bible and how to understand it.
Integrity, an advocacy network for "full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the Episcopal Church," marches in the Gay Pride March in New York City, 1991 (Photo by: Kim Byham, courtesy of Integrity, Inc.) pluralism.org" One of the most debated and divisive issues within the Christian community today is the issue of homosexuality.
As public conversation about sexual orientation has become more frequent and mainstream, American social, civic, and religious institutions have had to wrestle with new issues of public policy, civil rights, and religious conscience.