If you struggle with same-sex attraction, can you serve in ministry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
“Yes, Mom. If they have same-sex attraction, I believe 100% they can still be a pastor.”
I tend to reach out to my parents every night. Before I left for seminary, I got them an Echo Show. I use mine and call them and we can see one another and they can see Shiro and sometimes they show me their cat, Reagan. Neither of the cats really care for seeing one another and Shiro has never cared for seeing my parents and usually just keeps giving me kitty kisses while we’re talking.
Naturally, religious conversations come up and we were talking about the Methodist Church which they belong to. Their church is not budging on issues of sexual morality and does uphold the biblical view of marriage. However, my Mom was quite surprised to hear what I said.
“But isn’t that why our denomination is breaking away from the rest of it?”
No. It’s not. This is something that is a common misconception, but we definitely need to define our terms. For one thing, the more liberal churches are encouraging homosexual behavior and supporting that directly from the pulpit. If you have someone who is living a lifestyle and approving of it, then that is a problem.
I would say the same about a pastor who was involved in pornography or having a heterosexual affair or any other number of these types of sins. We need to treat it seriously. If a pastor struggles with porn, he should step down and get help and not return to the pulpit until he has his addiction under control and is no longer participating.
Keep in mind though, he could always in some ways be an addict to porn. That might not change, but what can change is what he has done with it. He is at the point where he knows that it is wrong and he is not participating and making excuses and likely has accountability software. (Actually, I think all pastors regardless should have that before taking a pulpit so their church can know.)
So what about someone with same-sex attraction? If they know that this is something wrong that the Bible condemns and they do not engage, then having the attraction and temptation is no sin. It is a problem for them to work on, but they are not doing anything wrong by having a temptation. They are still upholding biblical morality and Christian orthodoxy.
There are a number of Christians who do have this cross that they bear and I support. Sam Allberry, Christopher Yuan, and Wesley Hill come to mind. I would encourage Christians interested in this issue to also read Preston Sprinkle’s book People To Be Loved. Those who have this attraction and are living a celibate lifestyle should really be seen as examples exposing the myth that you have to be in a physically sexual relationship to be happy and the sufficiency of Jesus in all things.
So yes, I welcome them in ministry. They are my brothers and sisters.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)