No, Christians. There is no ‘Third Way’ on Homosexuality



One of the very first references the Bible makes to LGBT people is a command to execute gay men.

“If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”  (Leviticus 20:13 NAB).

After this passage, no one who sincerely believes that gay people shouldn’t be murdered should be putting any moral stock in what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

But that’s not the world we live in, and so this article is necessary.

The Bible’s other admonishments against LGBT people are likewise detestable. In Leviticus 18:22 they are called abominations. Romans 1 calls them unnatural. 1 Timothy 1 claims that they cannot inherit eternal life.

Fortunately, the Bible is wrong. As sure as it was wrong about a geocentric earth, slavery, genocide, child abuse, the role of women in society, the creation mythos, and a hundred other things, the Bible is wrong about homosexuality. LGBT people are not abominations, nor do they choose to be ‘unnatural.’ Sexual orientation is an immutable part of a human being, like race, eye colour, artistic or intellectual talent, etc. Whether or not sexual orientation is defined by genes, prenatal conditions, or other factors, scientific advancement has made it blindingly obvious that sexual orientation is a natural spectrum, ranging in heterosexuality as the most common but including bisexuality and homosexuality as alternative traits.

The Christian prejudice against the LGBT community should have been dropped around the same time they discovered that black people are not cursed by their god and that owning and selling them like chattel isn’t moral, despite the Bible’s contrary commands on the subject. There are a hundred different Christian ways to defend or dismiss the passages in the Bible that allow for the owning of human beings, but it still stands that very few Christians today believe that slavery is a morally acceptable practise in the modern world. These verses are easily dismissed. So are the New Testament verses that call long hair on a man detestable and call for women to keep their heads covered. When a verse clearly affects the powers that be in Christianity, it is excused and dismissed. When they target a vulnerable minority like LGBT people, however,,,well skip back to history.

I addressed American Christianity’s crusade against LGBT people in my previous article written on the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder, but they are points that bear repeating. Ever since the word ‘homosexual’ was first used in the English language in 1891, ever since a better understanding of what orientation is, ever since the APA removed homosexuality from its list of psychological disorders in 1973, Christians have fought tooth and nail to prevent LGBT people from being treated like human beings.

Christian groups were behind the Briggs initiative that strove to ban LGBT people from being public school teachers.

They have opposed every measure for marriage equality that has ever come up. (And before SSM, they equally opposed interracial marriage).

They have opposed every measure to ensure that LGBT people are not discriminated against in the public and business quarters.

They opposed the repeal of DADT and supported stripping gay men and women of their careers and service on account of their partners and families. More servicemen and women were discharged under DADT than were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

They campaigned for the draconian laws abroad in places like Uganda that have mandated the death penalty and life imprisonment for LGBT people.

They have opposed programmes in public schools meant to assist at-risk LGBT youth.

They have spread lies about links between homosexuality and pedophilia.

They have told their Christian followers to treat LGBT people with disgust and a gag reflex.

They have used every slanderous term, slur, and description when addressing LGBT people in the public forum.

So why, why, why do people still give a rat’s shit about the Christian view of homosexuality? The majority of Christians still see LGBT people as sexual deviants who will burn eternally for their sins. A minority believes that churches should be inclusive and actively campaign to draw LGBT people back. But the lack of LGBT interest in religion shows that the majority of the community wishes that Christians would just, for once in history, leave them alone. Stop ministering to them, discriminating against them, pandering to them, discussing them, debating them and just leave them be to live their lives in peace.

But Christianity can never let go of its abuse of minorities without a fight. Which brings us to ‘The Third Way.’

Marriage equality is marching across the land. Gay people have the right to serve their country in dignity and honour. In the past decade, the LGBT community has lived openly and freely for the first time in history. Acceptance of bigotry against LGBT people is no longer the norm. And those Christians who desperately want to cling to their prejudices and moral superiority have been forced to repackage anti-LGBT animosity in a new and shiny package, wrapped in ‘compassion’ and ‘love.’ They call it ‘the Third Way.’

Christian articles on ‘the Third Way can be found here, here, and here. In essence, the Third Way states that a Christian can show love and compassion to an LGBT person and support their human dignity while still personally opposing homosexuality and same sex marriage as God-pleasing. More importantly, the Third Way teaches that LGBT people, Christians who are LGBT affirming, and those who are still prejudiced against LGBT people, can come together under the great banner of Christianity and not let their disagreements affect their fellowship. The Third Way claims that homosexuality or prejudice against it is not a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and therefore fellowship can exist in tension.

Sorry, I just vomited in my mouth a little as I wrote that.

I’m going to spell this out very clearly. The Third Way is not compassion, or compromise, or fellowship, or love. It’s spiritual abuse.

Several definitions of spiritual abuse are listed here. I’m using Ronald Enroth’s definition as stated here:

“Spiritual abuse takes place when leaders to whom people look for guidance and spiritual nurture use their positions of authority to manipulate, control, and dominate.”

When you tell LGBT people that they are disordered, damaged, or spiritually unpleasing because of an intrinsic part of their humanity, because of the gender of the individual they fall in love with, or because of the family they raise, that is spiritual abuse.

When you pressure or shame someone into celibacy, it’s spiritual abuse.

When you disguise these actions as piety, love, or spiritual compassion, it’s spiritual abuse.

When you tell someone that condemning their orientation, partner or family is loving because living in sin results in damnation, it’s spiritual abuse. Saying ‘I abuse you because I love you and something worse will happen if I don’t abuse you, so don’t complain about being abused,’ is spiritual abuse.

And trying to bridge the gap between abusers and victims is enabling spiritual abuse.

The Third Way is how Christian writers like Jen Hatmaker can publish a 2,000 word article about how much she loves and emphasises with and cares for LGBT people and still say “I want you to know that I land on the side of traditional marriage as God’s first and clear design. I believe God’s original creation is how we were crafted to thrive: in marriage, in family, and in community, which has borne out for millennia in Scripture, interpretation, practice, and society.” You see, Ms. Hatmaker’s family is a blessing from God and a joy in her life because she’s straight. LGBT people’s marriages and families are contrary to God’s will and therefore to be condemned. But she loves them.

This type of love is worth nothing. This is spiritual abuse.

It’s how Zach Hoag can write about how Vicky Beeching’s parents condemn her sexual orientation and say “This is what I mean when I talk about a third way….The mutual acceptance and love among affirming and non-affirming Christians, which really lays the much heavier burden of change upon the non-affirming side of that equation.”

This is enabling spiritual abuse.

And I’m calling it out.

My blog turned a year old a few days ago. Over the past year, I’ve developed friendly acquaintanceships and even friendships with (primarily progressive) Christian bloggers. I didn’t think it possible considering my past experiences with extremist Christianity. But that’s not going to stop me from calling out abusive ideas and teachings.

Progressive Christians, your attempts to find a third way between affirming and non-affirming Christians disgust me just as much as the bigotry of your conservative brothers in Christ.

In many ways, it disgusts me even more because its wrapped in an insidious package being touted as ‘love.’ It disgusts me because once again you have allowed concern for your theology and the fellowship of your religious sects to get in the way of your basic human dignity.

I am disgusted by how Christians like Jen Hatmaker and others like her so casually cause grief and pain to a community that just wants to find happiness in their lives and families. I am disgusted by the pious compassion they wrap this abuse in.

And I am beyond disgusted by Christians who try to bridge the gap between abused and abusers for the sake of unity and fellowship and at the continued cost of spiritual abuse.

You’ve had 2,000 years to get your religion right. There is no excuse anymore.

You either condemn abuse, condemn those who teach spiritual abuse whether in a spirit of Christian love or otherwise, or you stand by and let more people endure the pain of your prejudices. And then you wonder why people flee your sanctuaries in droves.

Christians, you boast of your love towards your LGBT brothers and sisters. Now, defend them.

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8 thoughts on “No, Christians. There is no ‘Third Way’ on Homosexuality

  1. I find those most interested in the ‘Third Way’ are attached to denominations where this issue is creating tension. So I see their calls as nothing more than self-serving. They fear the splits they have seen in other denominations, especially given the general decline in membership affecting most denominations. If I may quote C.S. Lewis “‘Like a good chess player, Satan is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.” In the words of Alan Paton, they should be asking themselves what is right, rather than what it expedient.

  2. The third way is nothing more than a futile attempt to avoid what LGBT people have long known will happen to the Christian churches once LGBT folk finally achieve full inalienable equality. Every gay person from a Christian background has searched and futilely hunted for a compromise. No such compromise exists.
    Either homosexuality ceases to exist or Christianity changes its doctrine. Homosexuality will continue to exist for as long as the Christians continue to birth homosexuals.
    Prevaricating by sitting on the “Third Way” fence wont stop schism in the church, it will demarcate the boundary between the two factions.

  3. This was beautiful. I just wanted you to know. I find this “third way” just as repulsive as you do; it’s shocking to me that anybody talking like that thinks they’re fooling anybody. It’s not a new way at all. It’s just the old hatred and fear wrapped up in a big ole Jesus smile, and the people pushing it don’t realize yet that the rest of us have figured out that their redefinition of love is not one we are obligated to accept.

  4. I am a follower of Jesus Christ & I will be the first to say that many “Christians” actually worship a different god. I was a social worker for 15 years, working with gay men dying of AIDS, and let me tell you, if Jesus was on earth at that time, He would have been ministering in that community. I learned that God loves all of His children, especially those of us who are suffering. How do I know that? Because He used me to provide love and care for the unlovable. My clients ate meals with my family on holidays, attended my kids school events, spent time with my relatives because their own families could not accept them. I knew that God approved of my efforts, because He opened doors for me & my clients that remained closed for others. I have prayed constantly about the gay community for years. The Holy Spirit has given me a better understanding of Jesus’ desire for ALL of His children, including gays, atheists, liars, hookers, addicts, in other words, HUMANS to follow Him. If we read the gospels and only follow the “red” words, we would be the hands and feet of Jesus on earth and earth would be a better place. Instead, fools like Mark Driscoll, Ted Haggard, Steven Furtick, Benny Hinn, Jim Baker & the entire TBN crew rise into power & folks follow THEM instead of sticking with Jesus. Makes no sense. But thank you for your words about Mark Driscoll and get busy researching Steven Furtick, another son of the devil. Never forget Mr. Irishman, satan is real and he hates us. He seeks to lie, steal & destroy us. You wanna have some REAL fun???? Ask Jesus to make you a famous devil-stomping blogger. Beating the devil gives the human heart great satisfaction. Go for it, Mr. Irishman. Christ is in your blood, in your DNA and in your soul. Don’t believe me? Ask HIM. And no, you won’t be going crazy when you hear His voice. And no, you can’t run and hide when you realize God is real. I tried to. (grin) It doesn’t work! I suspect that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Creator of All That Is Seen and Unseen and when you hear Jesus’ voice for the first time, you’ll probably say something very profound, like I did. I said, “Holy shit! God is real. I’m outta here. I’ll go hide deep in a cave in somewhere. No WAY am I having God following me around and getting in my business” Then I fell in love with Him & finally, at age 52, learned who I really am. Keep up your good work!

    • ” including gays, atheists, liars, hookers, addicts, in other words, HUMANS to follow Him”

      Um, thanks but no thanks – we arent sinners and we dont want your pity. Honestly, we dont really want anything to do with people like you who are slaves to an imaginary sky daddy…

  5. “scientific advancement has made it blindingly obvious that sexual orientation is a natural spectrum, ranging in heterosexuality as the most common but including bisexuality and homosexuality as alternative traits.”

    Don’t forget bestiality and pedophilia.

    • You compare LGBT people to child rapists and dare to lecture me about morality?

      Every accredited psychological study has indicated that homo and bisexuality are legitimate points on the Kinsey scale while bestiality and paedophilia are not orientations, but philias, a totally separate study. However, such disgusting slander and homophobia is not tolerated on this blog. This is your only warning.

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