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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Davienna

Do you believe that gays should be members of the church body?

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I know this is a very touchy topic and a lot might disagree to agree but what is really right and wrong? Should we start accepting gays as members of the church family? If yes, has the Bible that we have been using for decades changed?

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The church often excommunicated people who openly disobeyed the laws of God. Corinthians 5

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is intolerable even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been stricken with grief and removed from your fellowship the man who did this?
Homosexuality in the bible is classed as a sin in the bible.
"You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
And in the New Testament too
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
If homosexuals know this but won't change, why should they be in church in the first place?
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I know this is a very touchy topic and a lot might disagree to agree but what is really right and wrong? Should we start accepting gays as members of the church family? If yes, has the Bible that we have been using for decades changed?

 

As far as I am aware, homosexuals were always welcome into the church. Though in church membership, they'd have to submit to church discipline, and repent and refrain from living a homosexual lifestyle. I wouldn't call them a homosexual or gay unless they are identifying as that, and if they are, then I question whether they truly identify as Christian. If I stole something I am a thief, but if I repent from the sin and do not steal ten years down the road I am not going to self identify as a thief.

 

 

 

God bless,

William

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As far as I am aware, homosexuals were always welcome into the church. Though in church membership, they'd have to submit to church discipline, and repent and refrain from living a homosexual lifestyle. I wouldn't call them a homosexual or gay unless they are identifying as that, and if they are, then I question whether they truly identify as Christian. If I stole something I am a thief, but if I repent from the sin and do not steal ten years down the road I am not going to self identify as a thief.

 

 

 

God bless,

William

 

My sentiments exactly. I would welcome them into the church with open arms with hopes of enlightenment. But fellowships has to have guidelines as they need to refrain from the said activities that would suggest that they are still gay.

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It is interesting to say, but it really depends on the denomination of the church they attend as to whether or not they would be considered a member in good standing. I can tell you that in any truly conservative, bible believing church they would not be allowed membership until they have repented as @William outlined in his comment. If they are a member and it is found out they are homosexual then they would no longer be considered in good standing and it would be the duty of the church leadership (elder board/session) to begin proper disciplinary actions.

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I think they should. Their sexual orientation shouldn't be a problem to the religion. I know there's religious cases where gays will be "excluded", but in my opinion that's just wrong. They have every right to practice their religion.

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Yes, of course. I mean, they should be aware that not every church will be open minded enough to take them in, but I feel like religion has evolved enough to accept that there are people who like the same sex. Doesn't matter if it's natural or forbidden, it happens and unless it's harming anyone, it's not a problem. If a gay person wants to be a christian, I would give them 100% support. Nobody should be forbidden of praising God because of their sexual orientation. I hope people will realize this soon. Besides, I don't believe the new testament says anything about this. So if you belong to a church that's based on the new testament, it should be easier to accept the "not judge" rule.

 

You may want to read through the book of Romans, as what you have said here flies in the face of much of what is taught in that book alone.

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I disagree. Although Christianity is very progressive and modern to suit society's wider 21st values it very clearly states in the bible which is the word of god, that it is not acceptable.

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Well, let's put it this way... if gay people aren't allowed inside our churches, where exactly WILL they go in order to hear the Word of God and perhaps become His own? We are called upon to deliver that Word to the masses, and gays and lesbians are included in that description. We need to be all-inclusive in some things just to enable people to be able to learn about and grow in Christ. There have been people who have converted from the gay lifestyle because of Jesus, so we have to remember those few in order to help others as well. I'm not talking about gay pastors or lesbian Sunday school teachers here. I'm talking about people feeling welcome to come in off the street from ANY walk of life and be greeted as though they were our dearest friends. Should gay people be allowed church membership? Perhaps not... but they definitely should be allowed in and welcomed with open arms.

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Wow, this thread sure veered off violently in one direction.

 

No one is saying that people who are homosexual should not attend church. What is being said is that if they want to become a member they should understand that the homosexual lifestyle is not acceptable, as will any other sin issue that anyone might not repent of, while being a member in good standing.

 

Of course we should welcome anyone who feels called to attend church and worship God.

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I guess the sticky-wicket about having people attend church that are openly homosexual that the rest of the congregation not treat them as second class citizens, or somehow unworthy of God's love and forgiveness. That is probably the stigma many people view the church with. And as humans we do tend to continue to look at someone differently depending on the kind of sin(s) they may have committed even after they may have repented and are working to turn their lives around. This is most likely the biggest reason homosexuals do not attend the churches the belong to the more conservative denominations, as they do not want to feel judged just walking in the door.

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How long does an Alcoholic have to be sober before he can apply for Church Membership?

At that point, should he stop speaking of himself as "struggling with Alcoholism, but sober for X years"? Is he no longer an "alcoholic"?

If he 'falls off the wagon' and has three days of binge drinking after his wife abandons him and takes their son to another state, should he be stricken from the membership roll?

 

Are we going to apply this same standard to gossip? (which I believe falls in some of those same lists?)

 

###

 

To answer the OP for the church I attend. Anyone who shows up and claims to be 'born again' is considered a member. Anyone who does not consider themselves a member is a visitor.

Anyone who attends for more than a few times and is in open sin, will have their sin confronted. We host four or five weddings a year for people who arrive 'living together' and decide they want to be part of the church. We can throw a dinner and a party together on less than a week notice. :)

 

We have members who have struggled for years with substance abuse. They are always welcome. What they did/do was/is never OK. We all love them and are praying for them.

Some people eventually choose God, some people ultimately do not. We rejoice for the first and weep for the second.

 

We have a lesbian couple who attend. They are aware that we and God love them and we and God do not approve of their life style. The only hard line of intolerance that we as a church have drawn, is that we will close the doors of the church before we will perform or recognize any same sex marriage - no law will ever change that. They choose to fellowship with us.

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How long does an Alcoholic have to be sober before he can apply for Church Membership?

At that point, should he stop speaking of himself as "struggling with Alcoholism, but sober for X years"? Is he no longer an "alcoholic"?

If he 'falls off the wagon' and has three days of binge drinking after his wife abandons him and takes their son to another state, should he be stricken from the membership roll?

 

Are we going to apply this same standard to gossip? (which I believe falls in some of those same lists?)

 

Yes, we are going to apply those same standards to other sins. These are good questions and may even well be good observations about other members to be brought up to the governing body.... each denomination has its own way of dealing with it.

 

We have members who have struggled for years with substance abuse. They are always welcome. What they did/do was/is never OK.

 

There are some occasions when it is not appropriate for people to attend the church. Question, would you invite them in if they were high on crack or pcp? Does your church take into account the affects of sin towards the actual body of Christ? And the temptation that it may subject others dealing with issues as such within the church body?

 

We have a lesbian couple who attend. They are aware that we and God love them and we and God do not approve of their life style. The only hard line of intolerance that we as a church have drawn, is that we will close the doors of the church before we will perform or recognize any same sex marriage - no law will ever change that. They choose to fellowship with us.

 

So what happens if someone claims to be Christian and lives a sinful lifestyle yet wants your church to marry them? You mentioned your church will not marry those living with one another. How long must they be separated before your church marries them to turn your own question on you? Who or what body determines whether the party is sincere in repentance?

 

You haven't mentioned anything about church discipline towards its members and what they are actually held accountable for. Are members at your church only held accountable for tithes and offerings? Or are they held accountable in both life and doctrine? You partly answered whether one is held accountable in life, but now what about doctrine?

 

How would your church treat a Calvinist, for example, if they opposed your church's statement of faith or doctrine, and within the church body a Calvinist promoted the doctrine of Calvinism and began teaching others about it in bible study? Will your church show the same tolerance towards the unpopular issue of Calvinism as the popular issue of today involving the lesbian couple? Are the Calvinist free to attend and preach the gospel through the TULIP method or will they be silenced and told that the church disagrees with those particular doctrines? How far can the Calvinist go, can they push your congregation all the way to Reformed theology?

 

The whole purpose of church discipline is repentance. It isn't a witch hunt. I'm just curious how your church brings serious issues with members to light, and what discipline from Scripture are actually applied towards membership.

 

God bless,

William

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Different attitudes toward dealing with sin is what is looked at when considering how someone will be viewed as a member under the church leadership. If someone comes in as an alcoholic, homosexual, child molester, thief, etc... and they truly repent of their sinful lifestyle and work toward living by Christ's example then they should be allowed full membership. However, if they continue to back-slide and not take their repentance seriously then there are varying levels of church discipline that should be applied, up to and including excommunication, depending on the severity of the sin and their attitude toward it.

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Different attitudes toward dealing with sin is what is looked at when considering how someone will be viewed as a member under the church leadership. If someone comes in as an alcoholic, homosexual, child molester, thief, etc... and they truly repent of their sinful lifestyle and work toward living by Christ's example then they should be allowed full membership. However, if they continue to back-slide and not take their repentance seriously then there are varying levels of church discipline that should be applied, up to and including excommunication, depending on the severity of the sin and their attitude toward it.

 

Both Arthur and you, Knotical, bring up great points. The sin should be looked at as a very serious offense, for example, a gay man or straight man that is married to a woman may relapse or commit adultery. This brings not only a health risk to the spouse but serious mental affliction towards both the spouse and any children involved. Not to mention there is the image of Christ which may be positively or negatively perceived by how we handle the situation, and especially one that involves the Church's image. In another thread on the subject of whether transgender should serve in the military, nobody has brought up the reasons why so many were denied in the past. The military's image, one of solidarity had followed certain conduct befitting of serviceman. It is a wonder how we fail to see that sometimes in history that a secular institution could have a higher standard than that of the present membership in a church.

 

God bless,

William

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Great questions, William.

Keep me honest. ;)

 

Yes, we are going to apply those same standards to other sins. These are good questions and may even well be good observations about other members to be brought up to the governing body.... each denomination has its own way of dealing with it.

I'll be blunt here. I am skeptical.

It is nothing personal, I doubt I've ever even been to a church of your particular denomination (I have memories of a Presbyterian mega-church that was more worldly than many Tele-evangelists ... so I am guessing that was the OTHER one.)

However I have been in enough different churches to know that far too many churches are very squeamish about any sexual sins and very 'tone deaf' to the "need to pray for so and so, and let me tell you what I heard ..." :)

God may view all sin equally, most of his body tends to be more "Catholic" in their outlook seeing 'mortal' sins in others and 'venial' sins in themselves. This would probably be a good place for a verse about Logs and Specs, but I was never good at 'Sword Drills'.

 

 

There are some occasions when it is not appropriate for people to attend the church. Question, would you invite them in if they were high on crack or pcp? Does your church take into account the affects of sin towards the actual body of Christ?

Yes. The hard part of being a 'spiritual hospital' (as our pastor calls his ministry), is the need for good Hospital Security and a staff with the discernment to know when to call them into action. Anything that disrupts 'order' (that stands to get in the way of another member worshiping God) gets removed from the sanctuary and dealt with outside. Sometimes that means an Elder or Deacon listening. Sometimes it means just sending someone away to sober up and talking when they will remember. We have one Elder who has no problem reminding angry people that US Hwy 19 runs North and South from our front door and they are free to seek someone who appreciates them in either direction.

 

 

So what happens if someone claims to be Christian and lives a sinful lifestyle yet wants your church to marry them? Or are you suggesting that you or your governing body can determine who actually is the elect? You haven't mentioned anything about church discipline towards its members and what they are actually held accountable for. Are members at your church only held accountable for tithes and offerings? Or are they held accountable in both life and doctrine?

We are an independent church, so the Pastor is head of the governing body with a voluntary submission to other pastors who he respects for accountability. It makes for a flay hierarchy. With that clarification ...

Our 'governing body' has little real ability to see the heart/soul/salvation of another, so we do not attempt to try. We take each person at their word and allow them to stand before God. This leaves only their actions to be judged by Scripture. If what you DO is contrary to what God says, you stand already convicted by the word of God.

 

What 'sinful lifestyle' would disqualify someone from marriage? We have already taken a stand against same sex marriage. We will not perform it. We will not recognize it. We will close the doors of the charitable organization before we will bend on that point. In general, the sin we see tends to be in the other direction. We have far more visitors arrive living together (and happy to continue to do so) and be confronted by the church with God's word on the subject. WE encourage a separation, repentance, marriage and life-long commitment moving forward. These events usually involve one or both parties getting saved at some point, because it was God at work in their former life drawing them to repentance that drew them to our house in the first place.

 

Where discipline is required, we follow the biblical model to the letter. The person should have first been met with one-on-one by whoever first became aware of the problem. Where this was not able to resolve it, two or three witnesses (typically including the Pastor or an Elder) will talk with them. I know of many such quiet meetings and most resolve the issue as brothers. Occasionally, the issue is resolved with the unrepentant party storming off to someplace 'less judgmental'. In Fifteen years at this church, I have never been witness to a full body church discipline, but theoretically, the next step would be 'excommunication' ... asking an unrepentant sinner to leave and not return until they were prepared to do things God's way.

 

 

How would your church treat a Calvinist for example if they opposed your church's statement of faith or doctrine, but within the church body a Calvinist promoted the doctrine of Calvinism and began teaching others about it in bible study? Will your church show the same tolerance towards the unpopular issue of Calvinism as the popular issue of today involving the lesbian couple? Are the Calvinist free to attend and preach the gospel through the TULIP method or will they be silenced and told that the church disagrees with those particular doctrines? How far can the Calvinist go, can they push your congregation all the way to Reformed theology?

This isn't a hypothetical for me. I am a Calvinist Elder in a 200 person Pentecostal Church with a Pastor raised Moravian. I teach doctrine that varies slightly from the church's stated beliefs on subtle points. Nothing vital to salvation that I am aware of. I have none of the Charismata and make no bones about that fact. Those are not my spiritual gift. However, every Tuesday, I am able to teach real scripture (and not the latest Christian How to live your life book) to about 20 men from half a dozen different churches ... many of whom might never be exposed to the ideas of Reformed Theology otherwise, and they are as glad to learn as I am happy to teach.

 

There are some visitors at the Men's fellowship who are Pastors in their own right. One runs a prison ministry, two are retired. I welcome alternative viewpoints. I came to Reformed Theology from Atheism ... you want to test scripture, I say bring it on!

 

You had asked previously about Tithes and Offerings.

The Church teaches from Malachi (so I will let you guess their view) and I teach GRACE (God is not the 'godfather' ... no mandatory cut off the top, or else).

If it is scriptural, it is permitted.

 

 

The whole purpose of church discipline is repentance. It isn't a witch hunt. I'm just curious how your church brings serious issues with members to light, and what discipline from Scripture are actually applied towards membership.

 

God bless,

William

So far, physical removing of those who are actually disruptive, and talking have handled it.

Some repent, some leave, some become clandestine sinners.

Ultimately only God knows the beginning from the end ... I just get a quick snapshot in the middle and I need glasses to see clearly.

 

By his grace, I have not had to deal with serious issues AND a hard heart.

 

 

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G'day atpollard,

 

Thanks for addressing my questions and points.

 

However I have been in enough different churches to know that far too many churches are very squeamish about any sexual sins and very 'tone deaf' to the "need to pray for so and so, and let me tell you what I heard ..."

 

Want to clear your church out? Start preaching from the law on the topic of pornography :eek:

 

In all seriousness, I have seen congregations shrivel from addressing this topic only a couple weeks in of an ongoing sermon series.

 

God bless,

William

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We have already taken a stand against same sex marriage. We will not perform it. We will not recognize it. We will close the doors of the charitable organization before we will bend on that point.

 

Just sharing some information with you Arthur. Some churches only marry church members, it cuts down on liability. Something to consider if an issue were to arise again.

 

God bless,

William

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Everyone is invited to become one with the body of Christ so long as they live in harmony and faithfully follow the Gospels, Just as Jesus was the vine and we are the branches, whole we remain one in Christ, we will have Christ's life within us. So yes, gays can DEFINITELY be members of the Church body but they can not be married by the Church as that that goes against the precepts and teachings of Jesus.

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I would join in fellowship with anyone who is willing to give up the pleasures of the world for Christ. Everybody is human, and has urges to go another path. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, and the treasures of heaven is worth the things that are given up here on earth. We should all uplift and edify one another, and not let ourselves be deceived about what the bible says. There are certain ways of the flesh that God tells us we must leave behind to live a Christian life.

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I personally don't care if homosexuals go to church but it bothers me that they believe they have the right to force a pastor to marry them. They will blatantly tell youth your face that the Bible doesn't say anywhere that what they do is in fact a sin. This sort of blatant denial offends me. It's everywhere that God is okay with homosexuality by people who don't read the Bible and I find that frustrating. But if we kick them out of the church then they might never find their way to God. I'm torn, but if they don't understand that what they do is a sin then they aren't welcome to church.

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I personally have no problem with gays participating in the church. I feel that a desire to be Christlike applies to all of us. Some people have trouble with gays entering the clergy, but that would never be a "dealbreaker" for me, if I was looking for a church home.

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We can accept them if only they want to change their behavior. If they want to continue with their practice in church then we can't allow them to do it in churches. God says that we are all sinners and we have to ask for forgiveness. If gays can ask for forgiveness and stop their practice then they can be accepted in church.

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