Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some preliminary answers to a few frequently asked questions related to the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign. Frankly, it’s a work in progress. We invite you to give input or to raise additional question in our Forum, on our Facebook page, or by emailing us at info@GayChristianYes.org.
What is the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign?
The “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign is a bold and broad faith-based collaborative movement designed to make it clear that God does not exclude or withhold love because of who we are or how God made us. It is also an opportunity to foster healing, understanding, awareness and an acceptance of everyone and everything God has created.
The Campaign includes a number of components:
- Billboards and other media proclaiming “Gay Christian? Yes!”
- A new interactive website offering a constellation of resources that support the message of the Campaign.
- A coalition of pastors and churches welcoming and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians.
- Resources that assist churches in becoming more welcoming and affirming.
What is the Campaign’s message?
The first part of the message is that yes, you can be gay and Christian. We proclaim the love of Christ for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people—and those who support them. The Bible’s invitation of new life in Christ extends to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT people can—and many do—love Jesus and follow Jesus. This is the sincere testimony of those of us leading the Campaign.
The second part of the message is that we affirm the presence of LGBT people in the Christian community. We applaud all the ways that the Christian community is already welcoming and affirming LGBT people, and we invite—we challenge—the Christian community to continue on the journey toward fully embracing LGBT Christians.
Here are some of our more specific goals:
- We seek to bring together West Michigan’s support for LGBT Christians and allies.
- We want gay Christians to learn that there are people, places, programs and ministries in place and growing right here in West Michigan, ready to embrace, engage and grow with them.
- We desire to create a climate for visible and vocal gay Christians and allies to spread the Good News that all are welcome as Christ welcomed all.
- We work to create a space where parents can openly support their LGBT sons and daughters, where our youth will no longer live in fear and shame, and where our churches are not divided but whole because everyone can fully participate and share the gifts God has given us all.
Why are you launching this Campaign? What are you responding to?
As the name of the Campaign implies, we are responding to the question, “Can a person be gay and Christian?” More pointedly, we are responding to the message that one cannot be both gay and Christian, that the two are incompatible. Sadly—tragically—many Christians and many Christian institutions (such as churches) present such a message. This message of rejection has driven countless gay people toward lives of shame, anguish, fear, hiding and pretending, self-hatred, depression, isolation, and even suicide. It has driven others out of the church and sometimes even away from God.
Fortunately, some gay Christians have been able to embrace the core of the Christian message of good news in Christ, and they have been able to ignore the message that condemns them. Also, many individual Christians and churches are now coming to believe that the Christian community has misinterpreted the Bible as it relates to those who are gay. These Christians now fully embrace gay Christians within the Christian community. The “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign is working to encourage this new movement among Christians.
Why are you launching the Campaign during Holy Week and the Easter season?
First, this is the high point of the Christian church year, and so it is especially important to Christians. Regrettably, the Christian community has often told gay people that they are not welcome—and therefore are really not welcome to participate in this most joyful and significant celebration of our faith. So our pain of exclusion is particularly acute during this season. And our need for a message of welcome is thus especially great.
Second, this season centers on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and its message of new life in Christ. Christ conquered death, and thus we have eternal life. Too often gay people have heard the message that they are literally going to hell unless they become something they are not and cannot become. Once again, Holy Week and Easter is thus an especially appropriate time to proclaim a message of hope—that Christ died and arose from the dead for gay people too!
Third, the message of Jesus’ resurrection life has very practical application for the everyday life of gay people. For too long gay people have heard the message that they should stay in their tombs of shame, fear, and isolation. The message of Easter is that Christ conquered death in all its forms. (Aren’t shame, fear, and isolation forms of death?) God calls us out of all of our tombs—all of our experiences of death—and blesses us with abundant life.
What do you mean by “Christian”?
The coalition leading and supporting the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign includes people from several Christian backgrounds and affiliations, including Baptist, Christian Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian, Reformed, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, and various non-denominational churches. We span the spectrum of the Christian community in terms of our theological beliefs, but this is what we have in common: We love Jesus, follow Jesus, and know that Jesus loves us.
What do you mean by “gay”?
We simply mean those whose romantic and sexual attraction is directed toward persons of the same sex, in distinction from heterosexual people, whose romantic and sexual attraction is directed toward persons of the opposite sex. The vast majority of gay people, like the vast majority of heterosexual people, long to live in a faithful, life-long relationship of covenantal love—what we usually call marriage. Beyond that, gay people vary widely. In fact, our lives vary as much as the lives of our heterosexual neighbors.
We know that when some people hear the word “gay,” they think it refers to certain behaviors or life style choices that are abusive, dangerous, destructive, and antagonistic to God. This is most certainly not what we mean. We know that gay people are just as capable of living respectful, healthy, life-giving, God-honoring lives as heterosexual people. And that is what we are promoting in this Campaign.
What does “transgender” mean?
“Transgender” is an umbrella term used to describe those whose gender identity or gender expression does not match what society expects of their biological sex. This term captures a wide variety of individuals, from cross dressers to transsexuals, as well as those who may identify as no gender or gender queer.
I’m a lesbian—I don’t consider myself gay—but I am a Christian. What about me?
For the purposes of our billboard campaign, “gay” is an umbrella term for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). This is mostly a practical decision since LGBT is not clear to most people, and spelling it all out would take too much space.
Where does it say in the Bible you can be gay and Christian?
Well, it does not say so explicitly. But we believe that the message of the Campaign is consistent with the Bible’s message. We are all created in God’s image, and God’s invitation to participate in new life in Christ extends to everyone. In John 3:16 we read these words of Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” The invitation goes out to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, many gay and transgender people do believe in Jesus and follow Jesus. The simple fact is that there are multitudes of gay Christians!
Aren’t you ignoring the clear teaching of the Bible?
We know, of course, that some people sincerely believe that the Bible condemns same-sex attraction or same-sex unions or both. We too take the Bible very seriously, but we interpret it differently. In summary, we do not believe the Bible condemns—or even mentions—the gay orientation or faithful, loving, covenantal gay unions (or marriages) that we see in our society today.
We invite you to explore this website for resources that explain this approach in greater detail—books, DVD’s, articles, essays, and community events.
This sounds too good to be true. How do I know this isn’t from the devil?
When Jesus taught about distinguishing true teaching from false teaching, he instructed us to consider the fruit: “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17 NIV). Similarly, the Apostle Paul taught us about “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). Those of us leading the Campaign are Christians who have prayerfully walked this path, and we are sharing our understanding of Christ’s message of unconditional love, hope, faith and justice.
As our mission and vision states, we want to proclaim the love of Christ for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies, and to affirm their presence and inclusion in the Christian community. Why? Because we want to see West Michigan become a region where our vision becomes reality: That every Christian LGBT person may walk freely in the love of Christ. In this Campaign—and those leading it—we see the good fruit, the fruit of the Spirit that Jesus and Paul described.
I’ve heard gay people can change with enough prayer or counseling. Why don’t you promote a message of change rather than acceptance?
If you know of any people who have experienced a genuine change in the direction of their romantic and sexual feelings from same-sex to opposite-sex, please send them our way. We have never met any such people. In fact, the vast majority of research indicates that very few if any people can change their sexual orientation. And efforts to help people change their orientation often do more harm than good, driving people to feelings of failure and depression. (See our Articles section for a link to the website of Hope College Professor David Meyers to learn more about this.)
Of course, people can change their behaviors—and gay some people should, just as some heterosexual people should. So let’s focus on supporting healthy, committed relationships for all people, gay and heterosexual.
Did you say you have churches participating in the Campaign?
Yes. Several pastors and lay members of West Michigan Christian churches have participated in Campaign planning meetings and committees. In addition, 30 churches agreed to be on the list of LGBT-friendly churches on this website. Some of the pastors of these churches have agreed to provide individual pastoral care to LGBT people, including those who are not members of their congregations. And some churches have committed themselves to present a message of hope through sermons, adult education classes, or community programs.
The number of participating churches is growing steadily as church members learn about the Campaign and start nudging their leaders to join the conversation. If your church would like to participate in the Campaign—or if you would like your church to begin the journey toward welcoming gay Christians—please let us know.
What does it mean to be a gay-friendly church?
There is a spectrum of meanings, depending on the church and the denomination, and that is fine because we are all on a faith journey and are starting in different places. For some it means there was a period of study and a vote by the congregation to allow everyone to fully participate in the church. For others it means LGBT people are welcome with limited access, and for others it means talks have begun. To make it clearer for visitors, we distributed a survey to our churches giving them a chance to explain what it means for them to be gay-friendly. We will post the results of those surveys in the “Churches List” of our website as we receive them.
This is too divisive an issue. Why talk about this in church? I’m not gay, so why should I care?
We should care because people are needlessly hurting. We should care because our gay youth need to hear this message of hope repeatedly and from multiple sources. Our families need to know they are not in conflict with God for supporting their LGBT family members. Our churches and congregations need to prayerfully and with open hearts listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit and spread the Good News that all are welcome.
I’m gay, but I’m not a Christian. Why is it just “Gay Christian? Yes!”?
In West Michigan the predominant faith community is Christian and unfortunately, Christians have often been at the forefront of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. So we are responding to a particular need.
It’s also true that some Christians, including some Christian pastors and churches, are now on the forefront of working for the full affirmation of gay people in church and society. We want to highlight and encourage their efforts.
What is the history behind the “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign?
For over 10 years, Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) has been working for the affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people within the faith communities of West Michigan. As the culmination of a 2008 strategic plan, the GIFT board decided to live out the organization’s mission by developing a collaborative “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign with a media message, including billboards and a new website with numerous resources.
In 2009 GIFT received a two-year grant (recently renewed) from the Arcus Foundation for the funding of a new part-time staff member to plan and lead the Campaign. Thanks to the Arcus grant, GIFT was able to hire Theresa D. McClellan for the new position of Faith Advocacy Coordinator. Since 2010 Theresa has worked diligently to create a groundswell of support for the Campaign. She has convened countless meetings of volunteers to lay the foundation of the Campaign.
Now the Campaign is a coalition of gay Christians, friends, family, clergy, church leaders, church members and even some who have been shunned by the church because of who they are. All are working together to spread Christ’s message of hope and love, faith and justice.
This sounds so good and true. How can I help?
Pray for us and our Christ-driven mission for West Michigan. Support the churches and pastors who have opened their doors. Help serve on our committees. Support us financially. We have put our Campaign together with two part-time staff and many dedicated, talented and hard- working volunteers who believe in the message “Gay Christian? Yes!” Join us.
Faith & Sexuality Series: Engaging our Sacred Texts
Join us for a Faith & Sexuality Series during our GRITS adult meetings on Wednesday evenings during the month of February. This series will be lead by Gregory Eran Gronbacher, a gay Jewish man with a passion for theological study and discourse.
We will be encouraged to engage the Scriptures in new ways and glean from the perspectives of one another. This series is sponsored by the Gay Christian? Yes! campaign and GIFT. It is free and open to the public!
Dates: 2/5, 2/12, 2/19, and 2/26
Location: 207 E. Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(Turn North onto Barclay, turn into the top parking lot and head down to the bottom parking lot. The door is closest to the sidewalk on Fulton.)
Identify. Tell me why. GCY!
Need to create your video? All it takes is a webcam and five minutes of your time.
Using YouTube (or another preferred video hosting site), you record a web or phone cam video of yourself. Just tell us who you are. LGBT+? Ally?
Tell me why.
Explain why the “Gay Christian? Yes!” message resonates with you. What is your story? How do you find yourself reconciling your spiritual walk, your involvement in a church community, and the various other aspects of your humanity? Allies too! What message of hope can you offer your Christian LGBT friends and neighbors?
Affirm that you are among those who unconditionally recognize the sacred worth of each person and fully welcome all into the life and community of the church by saying “Gay Christian? Yes!” and/or by making a whimsical sign with the GCY name and website to hold up at the end of your video
Submit a link to your video at Facebook.com/GayChristianYes
or via email:
More helpful hints can be found by clicking on "Videos" above, and then on "How to Upload and Share your video"
Make your video today, and join the many voices proclaiming:
"Gay Christian? YES!"
Donate to the Campaign
The “Gay Christian? Yes!” Campaign needs your financial support. Gays In Faith Together (GIFT) runs the Campaign. GIFT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. US donations are eligible for tax deduction. Send your check to
207 East Fulton
Grand Rapid, MI 49503
Or donate by credit card by clicking on this button:
Note that your donation is for the GCY Campaign.
- September 24, 2014 7:00 pmGRITS
- October 1, 2014 7:00 pmGRITS
- October 8, 2014 7:00 pmGRITS
- October 15, 2014 7:00 pmGRITS