Should An Openly Homosexual Person Be Baptized? – Rethinking Homosexuality (Part 3)

baptismIn my previous post I mentioned that I was posed the following question by two homosexuals jointly raising a child,

Which sin is greater: continuing with the way we choose to live our lives or having one of us move out and ripping apart the only home our son has ever known?

Here’s what I said…

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not God. But even if I did have a strong opinion on the matter, I wouldn’t give it to you. Do you want to know why? Because my hunch is you’re not really looking for an answer as much as you are looking for a reason to leave this church and turn your back on God. Others pastors may have given you reason to do so, but I’m not going to follow suit. You’re here for a reason, and that’s to find your way back to God. Once you do that, He’ll be the one that will help you answer that question.

Then I hugged them both.

In my mind two more important questions lurked behind the question they asked:

1. Will this pastor guy treat our sin any differently than the other searching non-believers in the Bible study that went home to continue to embezzle money from their employer, look at porn on their computers or abuse prescription drugs?

2. Can I really trust God?

The second question is probably the most important. It’s hard to fathom how hard it is for a struggling homosexual to darken the doors of a church building, let alone contemplate turning their lives over to a deity who is going to ask for radical, painful change. That takes a great leap of faith; probably more than most heterosexual people were required to exercise before they became Christians.

The real issue for me comes down to this: How can we expect any non-believer to truly have a heart for the ways of God BEFORE conversion?

Most pastors I know won’t baptize an openly homosexual person.

This is utter non-sense.

I understand there are varying theologies on conversion and baptism, but the one thing we can all agree on is that by the time someone has been baptized they’ve turned their life over to Jesus and have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

God in us.



An internal craving for the things of God.

A new mind.

A new heart.

This only happens post conversion.

How can we expect an openly homosexual person to even want to change their life without their minds and hearts being born again?

That’s like a doctor telling someone with radically spreading lymphoma to show signs of remission before he’ll give them chemo.

What we do here at CCV is allow anyone to make a declaration of faith and get baptized.

There’s no “sin litmus test.”

  • We don’t check to see if anyone is shacking up, or look for heroin tracks on their arms, or condoms in their back pockets. We assume that everyone is as screwed up as I was before I came to Christ.
  • Now, we make it clear before baptism that Jesus asks us to forsake everything that is out of line with his will expressed in the Bible, but we don’t stand at the baptismal with an exhaustive checklist in hand.
  • Afterwards, however, that’s when the work of discipleship begins – teaching people how to obey everything that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). People must be taught how to obey following baptism, not before it.

That’s when the subject of someone’s specific sin comes up.

And not before.

What do you think?

Series Posts
Rethinking Homosexuality
What If We’re Misinterpreting The Bible? (Part 1)
What Would You Tell A Gay Couple With Kids? (Part 2)
Should An Openly Homosexual Person Be Baptized? (Part 3)
Do Gays Feel Welcome At Your Church? (Part 4)
Are Homosexuals Born That Way? (Part 5)
The Radical Gay Agenda (Part 6)

Brian loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. He's a popular blogger, author, and pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  • Jim Chandler

    The problem I have with this viewpoint is:

    1. To repent means to see sin the way God sees sin. God hates sin so if someone is openly gay it appear to be repentance. I am not talking about homosexual inclinations, but someone giving into the sin.

    2. Scripture tells us to put an open sinner out of the church. (Although this does not happen much these days.
    1 Corinthians 5:1–2 (ESV)

    1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

  • Jimmy

    I couldn’t agree with Tim more. The Bible inextricably links faith and repentance. You don’t have one without the other. I know John the Baptist baptism was different than our NT Christian baptism but there are similarities and he refused to baptize people who were unrepentant. In the church we have indeed made homosexuality some sort of greater sin than the rest, and of this we must repent. I appreciate the compassion and love that you showed to the couple. That is how we should be– to all men and women who have yet to know Christ. Though I believe the gospel still calls us to turn from our sin and our self even as we turn to Christ. Baptism should be a reflection of both faith and repentance.

  • Brian Jones

    No. Definitely not saying that. Acts 2:38.

  • Paul Shickle

    Correct me if I’m wrong. It sounds as if you’re saying there is no need for repentance before the water baptism. If they haven’t repented, they haven’t received the Holy Spirit and therefore, water baptism would have no meaning just as it has no meaning for a little baby. Please clarify.

  • Jason Thomas

    how many times have we baptized someone and they never came back to church or continued to live in sin heterosexually, do drugs, or abuse alcohol?

  • kirkzimm

    My problem with the article is in the description of the role of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the power you are talking about is the power to live what you now believe, not necessarily knowing right from wrong. People can be convicted by conscience and/or the Holy Spirit as they read scripture before they become a Christian. Doesn’t belief and repentance precede baptism? This would suggest an awareness of sin preceding conversion… I think the problem with some of the comments is this – the idea of getting baptized is to give your whole life to Jesus. It is one thing to know that something is wrong, like pornography, and yet still struggling to eradicate it in your life – it will take the Spirit’s power. It is another to hear that homosexuality is a sin, and say that you want to follow Jesus but plan on continuing that practice without regarding it as sin after conversion. One is a struggle with failure; the other is a struggle with repentance.

  • Rob Petersen

    It seems to me that most people wrestling with this form of sexual sin do not see it as a lesser of two evils, but as a non-evil. I think the vast majority of encounters similar to this one are where those who engage in that kind of behavior want to baptize the behavior, not necessarily themselves. In other words, they’ll readily sing “Just As I Am,” but have no intention of joining in on “Trust and Obey.”

    Even so, if I were approached by someone who wanted to baptized, I’d baptize them, regardless of their hang-ups, but only after I explained the significance of baptism and what that would mean for their life. At the end of the day, one has to trust that the Holy Spirit will do what he promised to do.

  • Jerome Graber

    I have a real problem with this. If I came to your church and told you I loved porn, and you said “no problem, we’ll baptize you just like you are,” and then afterwards started telling me I had to give it up, I would feel deceived.
    Baptism should come after repentance. Nobody is perfect. But if you are embracing sin as your identity, you have not repented.
    Now, if you change your stance that homosexuality is a sin, then that is a different topic.

  • thesnarkyprophet

    Gay couple with kid…eh, not really very much brain work. Two much more cogent questions: 1) You’re the head dog in some mega church and only one partner is coming to church. You, nor whatever you call the guy you pay to play pastoral care minister have never been in the home. You don’t know this guy is “openly gay” – any more than you know some of the more esoterically fun things I and my wife do in our home. So, this guy finally calls you up and says, “Preach, I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and would like to be baptized. Can we do it this Sunday? Now, short of a big tongue kiss from his partner in front of the congregation after the baptism, short of the new member of your flock confessing his sleeping arrangements or short of the incredibly uncouth filling out of a membership application wherein you have the balls to ask this guy who he is sleeping with, HOW DO YOU KNOW HE IS OPENLY GAY? 2) The whole adolescent life of the kid is spent with his two fathers going to the “welcoming” Methodists down the street but the kid’s Junior year in high school he gets “involved” with the son of the Christian Church preacher, tells Dad and Dad over breakfast one morning that he’s seeing the Christian boy, wants to go to church with him and be baptized by HIM? Ooooooo….a closeted gay son of a minister baptizing an openly gay Methodist! Of course, this does not make “The Christian Standard” because they can’t figure out the bigger sin – baptizing a Methodist supporter or an openly gay teenage boy.

    Yes, there are ways to “divine” the ubiquitous “openly gay couple” and sometimes they’re pretty easy but how many hetero couples do you currently have in your congregation who are shacked up, been shacked up for quite a while, really have no intention of un-shacking ’cause they don’t believe in marriage (Kinda like, “Oh, I’m not religious but I am spiritual.”) And yet are some of your most regular attenders, biggest financial contributors, YOUTH SPONSORS!, and Sunday School teachers. And when one or both come to you after 2, 4, 6 years in the church and say we’d like to get baptized and we guess we better tell you…uh, we’ve been living together for the last 15 years, do you baptize them or do you REQUIRE THEY MARRY FIRST?

    When I was a wee lad growin’ up in my grandpa’s church, to have a divorced person, a person accused of adultery or just plain ol fornicatin’ or a divorced person from another denomination, or a person in your flock wanting to marry a…a…a…I almost can’t type it….a…CATHOLIC, as in ROMAN CATHOLIC, was a big deal. And the cohesion between area ministers was so tight that this couple, whatever the denominational mix or divorce status, yada, yada, yada didn’t get married, not in your church, not in the Baptists or Methodists or in the COUNTY! What has happened to that slippery moral situation?

    To answer your question, if the “openly gay” couple came to me and asked to join the Church (big C), subject to their acceptance of my counseling based on my understanding of the hermeneutics, I dunk’em, happily. Ahhhhh…what’s my understanding of the hermeneutics? Well, let’s take the famous story of Lot. It makes NO sense whatsoever based upon the context of the times. The mob of gay men were not out to have their way with VIRGIN girls (and Lot gets called a righteous man? Uh-uh)? I don’t think so. But in the time of war the city states of the region had just been through it was common practice for every male of the city to be the city militia and though Lot considered himself a Sodomite in good standing, the bad people of Sodom did not and they wanted to see the “spies” Lot let in. Middle Eastern manners – Lot thinks this is not going to be good introducing God HIS OWN BAD SELF to the Militia so he offers his daughters as hostages to guarantee Sodom’s safety (which was already toast). Then there’s Jerusalem being chastised for her sins and being told that not even Sodom sinned as badly as Jerusalem (I forget the book, major prophet though) now, was Jerusalem the Provincetown of the Levant or did Sodom have other problems. As for Leviticus/abomination – pro-Gay apologists say the hermeneutic here is that men were not to engage in the homosexual idol sex of Israel’s neighbors. Likewise, Paul’s mention of gay men in Roman’s one (and his lack of mention of Lesbians) had to due either with Idol sex service OR the Roman practice of a married man keeping a boy to relieve his dirty urges and not soiling his wife (pederasty). So really, the hermeneutic of the “I believe the Bible is in the inerrant word of God” crowd who also hate gays is either pretty thin OR we all better start killin’ us some gays as Leviticus COMMANDS.

    As to my counseling? It should be easy to guess based on the Great Commission. >smiles<

  • mark g

    When we are saved we are to become new creatures in Chris. It seems the man you talked abour wants God but doesn’t want to give up the old sinful ways. Should he be baptized, no!!! The problem is that there are too many congregations that would baptize him and welcome him with open arms!!!!

  • Diane Karchner

    Brian – baptize everyone who yearns for God. Everyone.

    I struggled with this topic for years. I think that is why God put such incredible people in my life that turned out to be gay. For those of them who asked if it was sin, I told them the same things, in this order. God loves them. I believe the Bible, and the Bible says homosexuality is sin. But I sin too. A lot. But less than I used to. God wants to help him, and me, with that crap/sin cause we can’t do it on our own. Thinking someone could possibly have it all figured out before they take the step of faith is ridiculous.

    John 15.12 Love each other as I have loved you. Maybe I missed the verses that say
    -Love God
    -THEN, Judge everyone (isn’t that sin, so how dare any of you judgers get baptized!!)
    -THEN, love them if they turn away from the blatant-most-talked-about sin-even-when-hiding-all-the-black-crap-inside
    -THEN, help them to make the decision to follow Jesus.

    From personally screwing this up alot, I believe that love is all we can give people. Truth, as the Bible teaches, is all we can tell. Then the decision is up to that person. And the judging is God’s not ours. Love ’em anyway!

    Love God. Love people.

  • Ed Fisher

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

    I think “cleansing” happens after we repent, confess our sins and are baptized. God will be faithful and just to cleanse us (and teach us) from all unrighteousness.

  • Jim Ray

    Sorry – no time to weigh-in today. So, Brian, it seems to me you handled the question very well. Yes, we should baptize the openly homosexual person who is ready & willing to surrender their life to Jesus. Who else are we going to baptize if not repentant sinners?

  • christianguys

    I think that the issue of homosexuals in the church is going to be the next biggest battle ground that church faces and if we are not careful, we will do significant harm to the cause of Christ!

  • Brian Jones

    Of course.

  • Gary

    Is repentance any part of a person’s pre-conversion experience?

  • Carlos Bello

    yeah baptize him .its symolizes the leaving the old way of life and a new one . it symoblizes a new life in Christ. everyone who comes to Christ should be baptized.. l= ) <3

  • PA

    I see the complexity of the situation explained above regarding the homosexual couple who didn’t know what was a worse sin – staying homosexual or splitting the family. Whether or not they were truly wrestling with this decision because they truly wanted to do what was right in God’s eyes by the Word He has given to us, or they just wanted to find a reason to leave church is between them and God.

    I think in the case of this tricky (or perhaps, “trick”) question that was posed to Pastor Jones, a good response would be inviting them to study what Scripture says about homosexuality (1 Cor., Rom. 1, etc). And affirming to them that the church will side with the Bible on the issue while helping them make decisions that would align them with God’s will.

    I believe it is the job of the church to stand firm to the Word God has given to us, and the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the homosexual. In this case can also trust that God will provide an answer to their difficult situation if they are willing to repent and seek to follow Him.

    The Bible does not categorize repentance as a post-Baptismal event – but rather, places it simultaneously with Baptism. If they are not willing to repent prior to baptism, perhaps they should not be baptized. However, it seems that this would be a wonderful opportunity to continue inviting them to church, praying for and studying Scripture with them.

    As for “coming as we are” – I agree we must. But we have to have a desire for holistic sanctification – a process that lasts a lifetime and will not be complete until heaven.

  • Matt

    I’d love a follow-up post on these people in five years.

  • Tim Snell

    I believe it all depends on what you mean by “openly”. If by that you mean unrepentant … then no, that would be an effort to legitimize the gospel in the persons eyes by changing it. There is far too much gospel with no repentance in the church today. Having said that, the church has, for far too long, treated same sex attraction as some sort of worse sin than others. This also cheapens the gospel. Romans 1-3 tells it pretty much straight up, we are all twisted and broken, and it is only by the grace of God that any of us are saved .. so I refuse to join the typical conflagration of right wing politics with the gospel of Jesus that demonizes one sin while leaving others unaddressed.

  • Scott Baker

    Just had this same conversation about someone who is living with someone and they are not married. The lady wants to be baptized and her boyfriend wants nothing to do with God. I was asked should the church baptize her–heck yeah! Put some burden on the Spirit to convict her, according to Jesus that is one of the roles of the Spirit. We have also baptized an openly gay person. We have told him you will here us call homosexuality a sexual sin like adultery or sex before marriage. We are honest about that up front. Some accept it, some don’t. Those who don’t are usually the ones not serious about their faith anyway.

  • Brian Jones

    Well said Tina. I like the way you put it better. :)

  • Tina Kachmar

    Perfect. Kinda what I was trying to say yesterday, but your wording is much better. The moment I got baptized I felt the Holy Spirit “wipe away” all the hurt that had been like a wet blanket over most of my life since the age of 5. I think if we show compassion and mercy and let God work through the Holy Spirit the end result, if the person truly wants to be like Jesus, is repentance and turning away from previous sins. I never understand why some people pour concrete over the way they think. Compassion was one of Jesus’ most alluring traits, more people should give it a try, in my opinion.

  • Brian Jones

    Thanks Perry.

  • Brian Jones

    Really? It would be interesting to compare notes.

  • Eric Partin

    Wow, this is the same conclusion we have come up with at our church.

  • PLStepp

    Agree. This is a vital line of conversation; thank you for opening it.

  • Dave Richmond

    If we’re not willing to baptize the lost in their condition of “lostness” then we need to stop singing ‘Just As I Am’ because we’re lying. Good stuff Brian.