Agnostic Humanist In The South, LGBTQ Support

Why I’m Not A Fan Of The “We’re All Sinners!” Welcome Message

I fell into a comment thread of an article this morning where Christians were debating whether or not they should accept the LGBT community into their churches and it just saddened me because even the “Pro-acceptance” group posed it like, “My church accepts me and I’m a sinner! Of course we should accept gay people!” If you think of yourself as a “sinner” just by identifying as having a sexual orientation, you might enjoy twinkmovies.

And this is where my problem lies with the vocal support of the LGBT community by Christians. It often falls back to that premise. “We are all sinners!”

You know what I want? I want Christian supporter to say, “I do not believe homosexuality is a sin so why would I not welcome my gay neighbor?” And then leave it at that. Because the second you say, “I’m not perfect either!” you are implying that their homosexuality belongs in the list of “things that make us not perfect” and I find that contrary to the message I would want a struggling child to hear.

If my child is in the church and they are starting to realize they’re gay, I want them to hear voices that say,”I do not believe homosexuality is a sin!” And when someone spouts biblical references I want that person to say, “Yes. I’m choosing to ignore that part just like I choose to ignore other parts about what fabrics I can wear and what foods I can eat.”

I don’t want to hear Christians say they should welcome gay members like they welcome alcoholics or gluttons. I want Christians to say they look at gay relationships no differently than they look at straight relationships. It would be lovely to hear a Christian say, “I still think sex should be saved for marriage though, and I think that applies to gay sex too…” because that would be the most hilariously equalizing declaration I think I could hear.

“We are going to apply our fundamentalist beliefs about sex and marriage to ALL types of relationships!”

I would actually truly love that!

I just think the message sounds GREAT when it’s one Christian trying to convince another Christian to open their arms to the LGBT community. So, they keep using it. But when you deliver this message to a struggling gay person looking for a church home: “I will not shun you because you are gay, because I’m a sinner too.” Then it doesn’t come off the same. It says, “That love and companionship you are looking for in someone of the same gender, it makes you imperfect just like me! Welcome!”

It just doesn’t sound as welcoming as they think it sounds.

And maybe the faith doesn’t allow for those declarations of “Homosexuality is not a sin!” and I guess if it doesn’t, that’s my problem. If my kid decides some day he wants to shirk the secularism I raised him under, and find a church home, I want him to find one that looks at heterosexual relationships EXACTLY THE SAME as homosexual relationships. If John and Suzie aren’t considered to be sinning by enjoying healthy sexual relationship inside the bonds of marriage, then Joe and Frank shouldn’t be either. I don’t want him to have to settle on a church that says, “We welcome Joe and Frank just like Jesus welcomed sinners!”

Unless, of course, Joe and Frank are bank robbers too. Then feel free to group them in with the “sinner” label, just don’t do it SOLELY because they have sex each other, unless you consider John and Suzie sinners for the same reason.

11 thoughts on “Why I’m Not A Fan Of The “We’re All Sinners!” Welcome Message”

  1. I get where you are coming from, and to some degree I think we will see this evolve (stances on birth control anyone). But I don’t know that the majority of churches are going to get there anytime soon. We have a lot of older people with outdated views and power who need to be replaced first.

  2. I think that churches are moving in the direction you described but it’s probably going to be another generation or two (as MrsDragon stated). I actually have heard the “save sex for marriage” argument to include gay sex before.

    This is probably deep diving a lot further than you care about. There are some passages in the New Testament written by Paul (of course it has to be Paul because he’s both wonderful and awful) that I think are the main problem for Christians WRT homosexuality. Most believers know that they have been freed from Old Testament law, so those verses about fabric and shellfish and pork are dealt with by the New Covenant of Jesus’s blood and resurrection. But it’s complicated. First, Paul apparently coins a Greek term that has been translated as “homosexual” but it’s not so clear that’s what it meant. It’s very difficult to properly interpret a term that was used twice in the Bible an apparently nowhere else ever. Second, culturally, there was no such thing as loving, consenting homosexual relationships as there are today. What he was clearly condemning was oppressive sexual relationships, sex with children, sex with temple prostitutes, and generally idolizing human bodies and sexual pleasure over God. Third, Paul couches much of his language in terms of “unnatural”-ness. Today (most) experts have concluded that homosexuality or heterosexuality are natural – innate to the person.

    Jesus of course never spoke of homosexuality – not surprising as I mentioned above – it didn’t really exist in the form that it does today. Jesus did describe marriage as being between a man and a woman. But his discussion was actually in relation to divorce.

    All of this to say – there are serious people thinking and praying seriously about this issue. I would personally welcome anyone into my church. And yes, I am a sinner, and they are as well, but I would not tell them that who they love is a sin.

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH! This was actually a very enlightening comment. I always wonder why it’s so hard to toss some but not others but never considered the separation between old and new testament. Thank you greatly! Here’s hoping for future generations of Christians! 🙂

  4. As a minister in the United Church of Christ for a Church that voted unanimously to be open and affirming: here is our statement: We are a community seeking to know God and to live with compassion, justice and hope. We believe that the ways of Jesus can bring us great joy — and change the world!

    Come join us. You’ll find that you can be fully and completely yourself, accepted just as God accepts you. We are young and old. We are single, divorced, married and widowed. We have kids, and we don’t have kids. We are straight and gay.

    We have visible disabilities and invisible disabilities. We are Democrats and Republicans. We are lawyers and bus drivers and nurses. We are lifelong Christians, and we are also Jewish and agnostic. We are sure about our faith, and we have many questions.

    I love these wonderful people! And yes we are not perfect but we love each other and welcome all. Not all churches in the UCC believe this way but many do. It is a pity that there are so many churches out there that do not believe in the radical love of Jesus. There are loving and liberal churches out there and we are your neighbors.

  5. I am a Christian and HATE that whole “I’m a sinner too!” thing. I do not personally believe that homosexuality is a sin. As a previous commenter said, that type of relationship between two consenting adults of the same sex did not exist during biblical times, so how would it even be addressed in the Bible? Love is love and ANY intimate relationship founded in love has got to be a good thing. I have found that there are some progressive Christian churches that do believe that homosexual relationships are valued as much as straight relationships. You just have to search around a bit!

  6. I have struggled with this as well, because I have a child that could possibly come out at a later date, they are still figuring things out, but when/if they decide to, I want my church to welcome them. I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, love is love. Especially between two consenting adults, whether of the same sex or differing.
    I agree with the comments above, that same sex marriage was not addressed in biblical times, but that does not mean same sex love didn’t exist, it was just never documented. Divorce was mentioned, between a man and a woman, because that was traditionally the arrangement that existed.

    I read this article shortly after reading yours, and it struck me differently because of the timing.

    This article is talking about young men and women that want to minister but when they come out, they are ostracized, in many churches, compared to the ones that are accepted and encouraged in others.

    I will admit that the church I attend has its fair share of codgy old believers that still judge people based on “societal standards” that are 60+ years old. The younger generations, though, the ones that are making the differences in my congregation, they are not nearly as short sighted.

  7. Blessings to you and your family.

    John Pavlovitz is a colleague of mine! He writes a wonderful blog thank you for sharing.

  8. This is my go-to thought in re: to Christianity and Homosexuality. All love is from God. How anyone chooses to express that love is the business of that person, God and the consenting adult(s) they choose to love.

    In Re: to Paul’s letters, the time in which Paul wrote, during times of war and civil unrest, invaders and conquerors would sodomize and rape the losers in battle. From what I’ve gleaned was that this is what Paul was talking about when he used that Greek word that some people translate as “homosexuality”. Note that Rape of women isn’t really entered into the equation because Women were still basically considered property at that time.

  9. Another member of an “open and affirming” UCC church, and I wanted to add that you can’t just slap that phrase on your website. There’s a process of education and discernment, and then the Church body makes a deliberate decision to be open and affirming. I currently serve on our diaconate, and we are initiating a series of educational workshops to help our members act on their intention to be open and affirming (and that goes beyond LGBTQ). In my church at least, it is a far-reaching and continuous process.

  10. The discernment process is a deep and prayerful process. I am happy to hear that your church is embarking on this journey. No matter the out come it will deepen the bonds of your church.

    It was and is in my church as well. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary. The church members thought it would be a wonderful idea to discern their open and affirming statement to make sure it was the radical welcome of hospitality that they wanted to express to the community.
    Peace to you and your church community.

  11. Oh my…..the words that come flooding into my mind on this topic. I struggled with this mightily for a number of years. Finally after much research (I am engineer, ya know) and heart-felt thought and prayer, I found my answers.

    I would love to find a church that says this: “I do not believe homosexuality is a sin so why would I not welcome my gay neighbor?”
    Let me know if you see one around here.

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