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Christianity and LGBT Equality

A Movement Forty Years in the Making

Since the advent of the modern gay rights movement, Christians have raised their voices for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. We have long looked at discrimination in our culture and wondered how is this injustice consistent with Jesus’ message to love our neighbors as ourselves?

Throughout the years, we found support with other like-minded Christians. Together, we gathered to study, pray, struggle and grow while embarking on a mission to make our churches and communities reflective of the inclusive love Jesus teaches.

Today, forty years after the first openly gay man was ordained in a mainline Christian church, we are a diverse, thriving rainbow representative of the entire Christian faith. We are moms and dads, city dwellers and farmers. We are middle of the road, strictly sidewalk and off the beaten path. Different but alike, we find unity of purpose in our Christian faith: to spread the joy and justice of LGBT equality.

The Movement Today

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 5,000 churches that intentionally embrace the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexaul and transgender people. Four of the United State’s largest Christian denominations, representing some 10 million people, have passed inclusive policies ranging from statements of LGBT affirmation to LGBT ordination and marriage equality. Other denominations are actively working to pass similar policies in the near future. 

But we are not just raising our voices in church settings. A majority of Christians believe our laws should protect the LGBT community from discrimination. Republican and Democratic politicians alike are invoking their Christian faith as a motivator for endorsing LGBT equality. And through grassroots action, everyday people are helping to make our world a more just and joyous place for all God’s children.

Denominational Policies on LGBT Equality

Believe Out Loud tracks denominational policies on homosexuality and gender identity. The chart below provides a snapshot of where major U.S. denominations currently stand on LGBT affirmation, ordination of LGBT clergy, and marriage equality. The smiley faces indicate a denomination that has policies and practices that are LGBT affirming; the neutral faces indicates a denomination is making progress toward LGBT inclusion or allowing for affirmation on the local level; and sad faces indicate a denomination has policies that are overtly discriminatory.

Even in denominations whose official policies are not LGBT affirming, you will find local congregations that are fully open to the LGBT community. Conversely, individual churches within generally affirming denominations are not always LGBT friendly. When in doubt, use our Welcoming Church Map to find congregations that have intentionally embarked on LGBT affirming ministries. To learn more about each position, hover your cursor over a face icon. 

LGBT Affirmation
LGBT Ordination
Marriage Equality

The Jehovah's Witnesses consider homosexuality a sin. 

The Jehovah's Witnesses consider homosexuality a sin and accordingly, do not ordain gay or lesbian clergy. 

The Jehovah's Witnesses oppose marriage equality.

The LCMS believes homosexual behavior is "instrinsically sinful."

The LCMS does not ordan openly LGBT clergy.

THE LCMS opposes marriage equality.

While the Mennonite Church USA is not LGBT affirming, there is an active movement led by the Brethren Mennonite Council on LGBT Interests, to move the denomination toward full inlcusion. 

LGBT ordination is not endorsed by the Mennonite Church USA.

While not endorsed by the denomination, some Mennonite clergy have performed same-gender unions without sanction.

The MCC was founded as an affirming Christian ministry to LGBT people and is an active advocate for LGBT equality.

The MCC recognizes and ordains openly LGBT clergy.

The MCC recognizes and allows clergy to perform same-gender marriages and unions; they actively work for marriage equality.

While the NBC USA holds no official position and leaves stance to local congregations, traditionally the denomination has viewed homosexuality as sinful. 

While The National Baptist Convention holds no official position, it is unlikely that they would ordain openly LGBT clergy.

The National Baptist Convention opposes marriage equality and forbids pastors from presiding over same-gender unions or marriages.

Although individual Presbyterian churches vary, the PCUSA is generally LGBT affirming and has a strong grassroots LGBT movement, led by More Light Presbyterians.

The PCUSA recognizes and ordains openly LGBT clergy.

In 2015, the PC(USA) approved marriages for same-sex couples in the first ever nationwide, grassroots vote on marriage equality by a faith tradition. The denomination now holds that marriage is between “two persons” rather than “a man and a woman.”

While RCA offical policy holds that "homsexual behavior" is a sin, there are local RCA churches that are LGBT affirming and a grassroots movement led by Room for All, to move the denomination toward LGBT inclusion.

While the RCA does not ordain LGBT clergy, openly gay clergy serve some local RCA congregations.

The RCA does not officially support marriage equality, but there are local pastors who recognize and perform same-gender unions/marriages.

Quakers range from being fully LGBT affirming to considering homosexuality a sin. The Friends General Conference is the most LGBT affirming of the Quakers' 3 major branches.

Quakers range from being fully LGBT affirming to considering homosexuality a sin. The Friends General Conference is the most LGBT affirming of the Quakers' 3 major branches.

Quakers range from being fully LGBT affirming to considering homosexuality a sin. The Friends General Conference is the most LGBT affirming of the Quakers' 3 major branches.

While the Church's position is to only welcome celibate LGB people, local welcome varies and many lay organizations (see Equally Blessed) are working for LGBT equality in the Church.

While the Roman Catholic Church has historically allowed the ordination of celibate gay men, a 2005 Vatican directive bars men with "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" from entering the priesthood.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes marriage equality.

The Salvation Army believes that LBG Christians must embrace celibacy.

The Salvation Army does not ordain openly LGBT clergy.

The Salvation Army opposes marriage equality.