Can you be gay-vangelical?
Being both LGBTQI and fundamentalist… is that possible? Of course it is.
The great diversity present among fundamentalist and literalist Christians, relative to the small number of Bible passages that actually mention homosexual activity, leaves a lot of room for someone to be an LGBTQI fundamentalist Christian. Just as with the rest of Christianity, fundamentalist Christianity isn’t monolithic.
Wikipedia lists 130 evangelical denominations in North America, including Anglican, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox and Presbyterian ones.
While fundamentalist and evangelical denominations do contain their own diversity, their hallmark is that they generally prefer to interpret the Bible in a very literal manner. Fundamentalists largely believe that the meaning of the Bible should be interpreted exactly the way it reads in an English translation.
Apart from that, some but not all evangelical denominations practice speaking in tongues, believer’s baptism, or pacifism; some are liturgical, or take communion every week, or use only the King James Version Bible. There are even evangelical associations that affirm LGBTQI people, such as the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
Given the diversity among evangelical and fundamentalist denominations, it is easy to understand that even fundamentalists don’t all interpret all Bible texts the same way.
For example, a Baptists and a Pentecostal may differ in their interpretation of passages about speaking in tongues. And while many evangelical denominations believe baptism is a sacrament, the Salvation Army does not.
The toughest question facing fundamentalist LGBTQI Christians is how to interpret six or seven Bible passages — the “clobber passages”. Just as there are differences among fundamentalists about baptism, communion and speaking in tongues, there are differences in opinion on homosexuality.
And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination — Leviticus 18:21-22 (KJV).
Two fundamentalists can read this apex clobber passage in two different ways. One might say the text proves that two men having sex is a sin. Another may read the text and conclude that it’s about worshipping other gods and therefore does not condemn homosexuals. Once on an airplane I overheard a man say that a Jewish friend of his interpreted the passage to mean that it was okay for two men to have sex standing up.
There 1,189 chapters in the Bible, and only six or seven Bible chapters might have a text related to homosexual activity. What makes a person a fundamentalist is how they generally interpret all 1,189 chapters — not just the six or seven passages about same-gender sexual relations.
And just as no one has the authority to declare that an LGBTQI person is not Christian, I do not think a logical case can be made that a person is not fundamentalist on the basis of how they interpret about half of a percent of the chapters in the Bible.
A lifelong counselor, teacher and educator, having worked in elementary and secondary education for 25 years, Gary Simpson is a member of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association and has spoken and led workshops on gay-straight alliances, bullying, spiritual self-defense, gay Christian identity, and the needs of GLBT youth and young adults.
Currently studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., he holds a B.Ed. from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from Loma Linda University in Riverside, Calif., a Master’s in Religious Education from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.