An Apology to Homosexuals from a Christian Leader

July 1, 2013

phelpsI want to take responsibility for those who claim Christianity and have acted despicably toward those who are homosexual. There are many who have spewed hatred and acted reprehensibly. I apologize on behalf of them all. Their behavior in no way reflects the nature of Jesus and is totally unacceptable. I am deeply sorry for the anger and vitriol you have faced from Christians.

While my apology falls fatefully short in undoing the wrongs that have been perpetrated against you, I humbly ask for your forgiveness, recognizing for some that the damage that has been done is nearly impossible to get past. I want you to know I’m praying for your healing.

For many this apology does not go nearly far enough. I understand this. Many would have me apologize for Christians who identify homosexuality as a sin. I understand that this position creates a huge number of ancillary difficulties for those in the gay life.

Unfortunately, I cannot apologize for this stance because I too believe homosexuality is a sin, the same as fornication or adultery – a choice that hails from the destitute state of the human heart, a status all humans share. For some, this stance instantly casts me as a hater. I would appeal to you that the fact that I differ with you in no way qualifies me as someone who hates you. On the contrary, it is love that compels me to write.

I know there seems to be a gulf between many who identify themselves as homosexual and those who call themselves Christian. I agree that in some quarters the distance is inestimable. But in other places, there is love and safety for those in the gay life who are looking for refuge, healing and freedom. My church is one such place. Our hands are extended to you in love.

Because I am going to publish more on this subject in the days ahead I desired that my first public words on this issue be words of repentance for the horrible way that many Christians have acted toward homosexuals. I believe when Christians begin to act in a way that is truly representative of Jesus many in the gay life will find hope and liberty. It’s in this spirit and through this lens that I offer this apology and that the rest of my writings on this subject should be viewed.

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33 responses to An Apology to Homosexuals from a Christian Leader

  1. 

    Amen! These are powerful words that need to be shared.

  2. 

    Why can’t more Christian Leaders stand up like this? The sin is the problem not the sinner. The sinner just needs love and the joy of the father in their lives. I pray that more leaders come forth and propose the same…this should be a movement within the “church”. We must walk forth together with love and grace and without judgement of the people….but we must release them from the bondages they are ridden with from this world.

  3. 

    @Christine, Honestly I feel that I am late in the conversation. But I don’t think it’s too late. I think there’s much hope ahead and many will find freedom as believers love like Jesus does.

  4. 

    Can you tell me where in scripture it says that sexual acts between two committed, loving, (and by most definitions) married individuals is a sin?

    • 

      @Joseph, thanks for your question. I think there are a number of Scriptures that speak to this. One of them is Romans 1:24-32. Blessings to you.

      On Jul 1, 2013, at 4:08 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

  5. 

    Isn’t that a passage about idolotry? Couldn’t “They gave up natural relations” imply that these men were heterosexuals by nature? The phrase translated as “gave up” is the Greek word aphente, meaning to leave behind, forsake, neglect, or divorce. Wouldn’t that mean, that because of their idolotry these men & women divorced themselves from their own nature, that of heterosexuality, and were consumed with passion for one another?

    • 

      @Joseph, I don’t have time to answer right now. But I will later tonight. Thanks.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 1, 2013, at 4:47 PM, “billyhumphrey.com”

    • 

      @Joseph, I believe you’re mixing two arguments here. As far as the passage being about idolatry, there is nothing in these verses that suggests this. You’d have to read that into the passage to make this assertion.

      In regard to your specific comment on the Greek word aphente, it appears you’re supporting a traditional interpretation of this passage, identifying those that Paul is talking about as those who have left their natural state, i.e, heterosexuality for homosexuality. Those of which Paul describes as “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness…” (Romans 1:29 NKJV).

      • 

        Nothing in the passage to suggest it is about idolotry? Have you read Romans 1? Do me a favor…verses 20-31. If that isn’t about idolotry, then I don’t know what would be. And I’m not mixing the two arguments, you are pullin a select piece out of the passage to make an argument, and disregarding the rest. You said “there is nothing in these verses that suggests this” shows that, because this passage is CLEARLY in the context of being turning away from God and being idolators.

        20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

      • 

        @Joseph,

        I think I’m misunderstanding the point you’re trying to make.

        Often these verses are used by those who embrace “pro-gay” theology as saying that Paul was only talking about homosexuality in the context of idol worship. That is why I was saying, “there’s nothing in these verses that suggests this”. Of course vs 22-25 depict idolatry.

        Perhaps you are saying something different? Sorry for assuming 🙂

    • 

      Hey Joseph,

      Romans 1 is a cause and effect passage. Because the people “did not retain the knowlegde of God” by “worshipping the creature instead of the Creator” (Idolotry), God gave them over to a “debase mind” and to uncleaness (sin, perversion). In otherwords, it is the idolatry (the cause) that led them into the sins (the effect) listed in Romans 1.

      However, the presence or absence of idolatry does not validate the listed sins in this passage either way. If Homosexality in this passage is sin only because it is connected to idolotry but otherwise okay when disconnected from idolotry then this rubric would also need to be applied to the remaining sins in Romans 1. Thus “sexual immoraltiy, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, decite,evil-mindedness, wispers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, …” ect would be sinful if connected to idolotry but otherwise permissable if not connected to idolatry… A “consistent” pro gay hermeneutic would be unacceptable.

      Secondly, if homosexuality is “not sin” then wether a person is “naturally” heterosexual and switches to homosexuality would still not render his or her actions as “sin”. This would be no different than a “vegetarian by nature” having a “steak dinner” or a naturally “gluten free person” eating a loaf of bread. Not maybe the wisest or most desirable idea but by no means considered sinful… Thus the condemnation from Pauls words as being “shameful”, having “vile passions”, “receiving the penalty in their body” and “deserving of death” is a bit extreme for a “non-sinful” behavior of simply switching your sexual orientation…

      Lastly, the passage simply says they exchange the natural use of the opposite sex for what is “against nature”. The “act” of sex with the same gender is what is being referred to as “against nature” not the perceived switch in sexual orientation of men or women. Paul couldn’t be more clear, it was the act of sin not the internal conflict of sexual desire.

      “women BURNING IN LUST with one another and men with men “COMMITTING” what is shameful”… “to DO THOSE THINGS which are not fitting”

  6. 
    Robert McDowell July 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Thank you for posting this statement. I was one of those that chose this lifestyle. The church did great damage in the sense of relating judgement and hatred for my choices. I never felt that I could live up to the standards related to me through the church. Riddled with condemnation and shame, I had no desire to know God. The truth rooted in love was what started to change my thinking, There is true freedom in Christ. It is a difficult and seemingly long process, but He will walk through the process with us. He loves us…. that is the revelation that changed my life. Looking forward to future post from your ministry. Thank you so much!!

  7. 

    Thank you Billy. I* have been struggling with how to respond to the Homosexual community and espec8ially those I come in contact with. I look forward to reading more and learning How I might be able to reach them the way Jesus reaches us with his love…

  8. 

    I find it pretty sad that it’s come to the point where you, myself, and many others have felt led to apologize for how a lot of Christians have treated homosexuals, but it’s a much needed apology. I often don’t know how to respond to others when they ask why I care if gays get married because they often pin my beliefs as a new “hatred” since I used to think it was okay. All I’ve been able to say so far is that God’s word says it’s a sin, marriage is modeled after the evident and coming marriage between the Bride and the Bridegroom, and my defense has been how we are to hate the sin, not the sinner. Although I haven’t used this as an answer yet, one of the big ones for me is how my supernatural perspective changed after I got saved. The thought of anyone having homosexual relations has bothered my spirit since then (as well as sex out of marriage or cheating). But anyways, I’m looking forward to seeing what more you have to say on the subject!

  9. 

    I think one of the things I’ve found about homosexuality is that it’s truly taken on as an identity. If a pastor says “Homosexuality is a sin”, referring to the act, the media could report it as ‘this pastor’ says “‘Being’ gay is a sin”. It’s an emphasis on the identity. I think that would be incredibly hurtful, when someone pulls out Leviticus and says “homosexuality is an abomination”, it would be translated in the mind as “I am an abomination.” Yikes, and that’s the message they’re hearing from the church: a whole lot of Romans 1 without responding like Romans 2 prescribes.

    The message I think would be the most clear would be “You are not what you do”, and call people to another identity, higher than identifying their value and self-worth with their occupation, education, sin and past.

    • 

      @Isaac Thats a huge point. It’s really odd that anyone would be primarily identified by what they do, especially sexual activity. Great point.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Jul 2, 2013, at 2:09 AM, “billyhumphrey.com”

      • 

        That’s how the Bible identifies them: idolators, murderers, liars, adulterers, fornicators and etc.

      • 

        But Billy, do you identify yourself a heterosexual? Does that mean you identify primarily as what you do sexually or is it an intrinsic element of your humanity? Being queer is about more than the mechanical act of sex. Why do conversations and assumptions about straight relationships focused on the heart and mind (love, devotion, fidelity) and conversations in your sphere reduced only to the act of sex. I know it is easier for you to reduce me to the act of sex but when I identify as a lesbian it is about a created orientation to live and love – and yes, have sex. There is my wife, my family and an entire way I have been created by God to love in the world.

        There is as much heart, mind and faithful soul in my identity as yours. I do not reduce myself to the act. You do.

        I know we are incapable of seeing eye to eye, but this argument of yours is a straw man.

      • 

        @Kimberly, We’ve gotta stop meeting like this…what will people think 😉

        I don’t imagine the individuals or issues at hand are reducible in the way you’re suggesting.

        My hope is that after our 3 hours of amazing dialogue you recognize that’s what I think.

        Kimberly, after yesterday I consider you my friend. I felt that we shared something that was meaningful, honest and real.

        I think a key to understanding is recognizing the influencers & truths(notice the small t, someone once told me it looks a lot like the cross) that each of us brings to the table and then relating to each other on that common ground.

        We probably will never agree because of the foundations that we orient from, but I’m convinced we can still love. Yesterday looked and felt like love to me.

        I hope we get the chance to hang out again soon.

        On Jul 13, 2013, at 8:21 AM, “billyhumphrey.com”

    • 
      Robert McDowell July 2, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Wow! Simple, but profound truth. Appreciate your insight. This is soo true… you nailed it! Thanks for giving me something more to “chew” on.

    • 

      Isaac, You are Spot On. Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I was trying to say when I posted (tho very long winded was I). Calling people to another identity, higher. YES, YES YES \o/

  10. 

    Man of God, may you continue to embrace the sinner, while not embracing the sin. Your comments and responses are always given as one who is striving to speak as Yeshua/Christ Jesus Himself would give… words given with His: agape love, grace, mercy, long-suffering, conviction and not condemnation; truth, shalom. Selah.

    • 

      Alyce, God does condemn them. He has a process by which those “overtaken in a fault” are to be dealt with in a church. If someone is already part of the church, they are removed from fellowship if they don’t respond. This would include homosexuals as well as adulterers, fornicators and etc.

      While it is wrong to spew hatred as the posted picture implies, known violators need to be dealt with outside of the church and not embraced as part of it. That would fly in the face of God’s specific direction in dealing with them.

  11. 

    Pastor Billy, I think its great how you are reaching out to the homosexual community with an apology from the church . You have a way of showing the community that the church God is wanting is about inclusion, not exclusion. God wants us to include the sinner, but exclude the sin through his word.

  12. 

    The problem is, though I admire a lot of what you said, that you still believe those that are homosexual are sinful and they choose to be that way. It is staring at fact, nature and science as well as the natural occurrences in hundreds of other mammalian species, and turning blindly to your prejudices. You tell these people that they are welcome at your church yet you still call their lives sinful. This is so confusing for so many people that are trying to accept who they are, while still being told they are leading an ungodly and incorrect life. If it was a lifestyle that could be altered(since you say it is a choice) than why have so many ‘gay cure’ ministries closed, such as Exodus, apologizing for the pain they have caused and to the fact that they are ineffective and do not work(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/gay-cure-christian-ministry-closes-down-after-its-leader-apologises-and-admits-hes-attracted-to-men-8668299.html.) There is no cure and asking them to be a part of a church will not help them of their “sin”(which it clearly is not). If you truly want to be a righteous man than remove your prejudice and see them as whole people living the lives they were meant to live. I see you and many others in your community of Christians as hopeful progress for the extension of equal rights for homosexuals, but I still feel like you are the ones that need to change your views and lifestyle if you still look down on them as sinful people. That is not extending equality, it is still putting yourself above them.

    • 

      @Ryan,
      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your sincerity. A couple quick thoughts:

      1) No doubt, the issue of choice is at the very core of the issue. And for certain is a very difficult question. I have talked to homosexuals on both sides, some who say they did not choose homosexuality and some who have said they definitely did. I don’t think we can find our answer to this through looking at subjective experiences.

      2) I don’t think looking at mammals is a good reference point. I’m sure you’re not saying that we are no different than animals? We have the power of choice, conscience, restraint, reason, morality, etc. Humans are the only part of God’s creation made in His image and likeness, reflecting the very nature of God. Animals aren’t an apples to apples comparison. Many animals abandon their offspring, eat their young and attack any and every threat. I know you don’t think that these actions should be replicated in humans as well.

      3) By saying that an action is a sin, doesn’t automatically demand that I’m looking down on somebody. I’m an ex-druggie, alcoholic, who was heavily bound with sexual immorality. I don’t look at people’s sin and imagine that I’m better than anyone. Sin is common to the human experience. We’re all born into sin. We all need a Savior. The presence of sin in no way makes me look down on anyone. I’m as sinful as anyone. Without Jesus, I was much worse. I concur with the Apostle Paul who described himself as the “chief of sinners.” By Jesus’ power and grace alone am I able to say I’m an ex-druggie, ex-alcoholic and no longer bound to sexual immorality. Please hear my heart in this and don’t assume I’m “looking down” on anyone.

      4) While I can’t speak for Exodus, I can speak clearly about the 20-25 friends I have who have walked out of the gay life. They are changed. Set free from what they would say was bondage. Several of whom are married, with children of their own. Notwithstanding the biblical standard, this fact alone makes it hard to convince me that someone can’t change.

      I so appreciate your comments. Blessings.

    • 

      I think when it comes to the origin of same sex attraction, there are multiple factors involved. I don’t believe any Homosexual person had an active choice in who they are attracted to. The attraction itself is simply manifested as temptation, which is not a sin (Jesus, tempted in every way yet without sin). I feel like this is another distinction to be made between Action and Attraction. People can’t choose who they’re attracted to, but they can choose what they do with that attraction.

  13. 

    You cannot take responsibility for and apologize for someone else. They have to do it.

  14. 

    Reblogged this on Finding Hope Again… and commented:
    Jesus have mercy on us! Give us love for all people

  15. 

    more meaningless homophobic crap. this is not an apology. this is a continuation of the abuse/

  16. 
    Robert McDowell August 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    God bless you Patricia. Brood of vipers. Pharisaical comment. Rooted in love should be all of our statements. Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you do.

  17. 

    What’s your sin? Sent from my Boost Mobile phone.