Should An Openly Homosexual Person Be Baptized?

Orginally published on Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 7:40 AM
by Todd Rhoades

I had the opportunity to meet Brian Jones a few weeks ago in Florida. Brian says, on his blog, that he's an 'average guy', but he's writing some great stuff over at BrianJones.com. Recently, he's been doing a series on homosexuality, and in one of his latest posts, he asks the question of whether or not an openly homosexual person should be baptised.

To start off his post, Brian tells this story…

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 for 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?

You can read the rest of Brian’s post here as it relates to baptism...

What do you think?  Would you agree with Brian’s thoughts or would you tackle this thing totally differently?  Let’s hear what you have to say…

This post has been viewed 1952 times so far.

  There are 37 Comments:

  • Posted by

    I really appreciate Pastor Davis’ response, as well as his challenge to those of us who are heterosexual Christians.  He says:

    [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.]

    Sometimes we blithely say “sin is sin, all the same in God’s sight” (which I’ve said often), we ignore the all sin isn’t equal in regard to how to escape its bondage.  When I became a Christian in high school, I didn’t have to turn my back on much of anything or give up much.  I really can’t imagine what it would feel like if deciding to follow Jesus meant breaking up my family and leaving my child.  I appreciate pastor Davis calling us to reflect deeply these kind of things, through the filter of scripture of course, and allow our reflection to inform our responses.


  • Posted by Andy Wood

    I do appreciate how he handled the issue - it has the ring of the way Jesus treated people who were sinners-with-no-denying it.  I must also say that I am struck with the unique honesty and vulnerability this couple presented to Brian, which is quite different from the defiant, militant stuff you see elsewhere.  I wonder if he would have responded differently to someone who had never darkened the door to his church.

    With regard to baptism, I would treat an individual who had been in open, known sin the same way as any othe We’

    d have a talk about repentance.  The nature
    of the sin isn’t as important as the attitude of the heart and the WILLINGNESS to turn away from the sin and toward Christ.

  • Posted by Daniel

    A couple things come to mind.
    First, let’s remind ourselves that homosexual behavior is not the same as a homosexual orientation.
    Second, I do think it’s important to take seriously the call to discipleship. Certainly baptism doesn’t mean “I’ve got all my ducks in a row.” No. But it does mean “I’m committed.”
    And so the baptismal vows have to be sincere (and the baptismal vows should not just be a profession of faith, but a commitment to change lifestyles--and I mean that for everyone). Homosexuals should become celibate. Military officers should leave the military. Pornographers should leave the industry. Advertisers should seriously consider leaving the industry. Suburbanites should share their things. Cohabitating couples should get married. And so on and so forth.

    People should know (more or less) what they’re getting themselves into when they get baptized. As long as they do, they should be baptized, gay or straight.

    My two cents.

  • Posted by Andy Wood

    Hmmm.  Wondering about that whole military thing.  I never saw Joshua or any Centurions laying down that sword.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Good response! If someone says they trust Jesus and want to be baptized I say baptize them! The issues of sin in their lives can be dealt with apart from that, by the Holy Spirit and the community of faith working together.

  • Posted by

    Here’s the thing that got me in this matter.

    “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, these people have used a child as a means of legitimizing their relationship which God would not otherwise sanction or approve.  They present two options: stay in a lifestyle of sin, or possibly harm the child.  What they have failed to consider is that their relationship, as-is, is already harming the child overall--perhaps not openly obvious to the child or people looking in, but behind the scenes there is damage due to the immorality.

    I believe that this comment shows that they have no desire to truly repent of their sins, and wish to continue in a homosexual lifestyle.  And since repentance should precede baptism, I would not baptize them.

    I agree with all of the other comments about not baptizing unrepentant people who engage in other lifestyles of sin, too, from alcoholics to white collar criminals, adulterers to thieves.


  • Posted by

    I have a couple responses to this:  First you cannot love people you judge.  God might be able to but I have never met a Christian who does this well.  I think the order for us must be love first, then my words are not judgment but love.  The problem is that far too many times I start with judgment and call it love.  While the difference here might be subtle the end result is not. 

    Second, because of how woven into the fabric of our media and youth culture homosexuality is, it no longer suffices to say; “it’s wrong and that’s that…” and then to brand every homosexual as a pervert or emotionally mangled person.  For the church to respond like Jesus we must respond fully with Grace and fully with Truth.  IMO I think fear, misunderstandings about homosexuality, misunderstandings about the bible and a persons pride have made this difficult for the average Christian to know how to respond or to choose any other response than judgment.

    That said I would baptize anyone who has given their life over to the authority of Christ, meaning if someone was willing to go from where they are to where they need to be in discipleship, it is a yes from me.  But if someone insists that God accept this sinfulness in such a way as it remains in their life, I would not baptize them.  This is not about the sin but the heart.

  • Posted by

    CS –

    [Your comment shows Here, these people have used a child as a means of legitimizing their relationship which God would not otherwise sanction or approve.]

    Your comment shows how little you understand what it is to be lost completely, to have no practical understanding of who God is, let alone what He does and does not approve of.  Worse yet, it shows that you have no interest in understanding lost and broken people, you just want to judge their sinfulness and wag your finger.

    In this case, you are assigning motives onto this couple which you have no way of knowing.  How can you assume their thoughts and reasons for bringing a child into their relationship?  For all you know, they are simply two people who love one another and want to be a family with children.  They already believed that their relationship was legitimate, having no framework for thinking otherwise.  Now, it seems, that the Holy Spirit has begun to work in their hearts and they are seeking guidance about how to find their way out of their complicated lives their lostness allowed them to create.

    “These people” as you call them, are our mission field.  We cannot reach people who we find disgusting, which I believe the tone of your comment implies. 

    Since you apparently see this as a simple situation, how would you advise them (assuming the child isn’t an infant)?  They split up?  Who raises the child?  One of them?  Foster care or adoption?  Does one or both of them remain in this child’s life?  If so, as who; mom or dad, or do they now become aunt or uncle or neighbor? 

    We live in a fallen world and the consequences of this bondage is often far to complicated to be fixed by making one or two decisions.  We are all part of creating the complications, as we have a part in creating and sustaining the social structures in which sin thrives (our own included). 

    Again, I appreciate Pastor Jones for his courage, for resisting pat answers and allowing the HS to continue working.


  • Posted by

    Warning: Off-topic comment

    Daniel.  Oh, Daniel.  Did you really just say that to be baptized a military officer should leave the military?  That one can’t be in the military and be a Christian?  That hurts!  I’m 48 and I spent half my life in the military, and I may be a minority opinion but I consider myself a Christian.  There are a lot of very dedicated Christian Chaplains in the military that would disagree with you.  

  • Posted by

    daniel i do not understand about the miltary, do you think a person in the military could not be saved? we can not stand by and let our country be taken over by whoever will.thank god for our military.

  • Posted by slw

    John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, is that exactly what baptism in Christ is? The Ethiopian eunuch only faced the prerequisite of believing on Christ, without an examination of his past temptations, inclinations or failures. Not withstanding those musings, the gospel message is “repent and believe the good news.” How can anyone be said to actually have done that if they are defending and continuing in a lifestyle they know the Word declares sinful? It seems to me, the Romans 6 symbology for baptism would exclude baptizing anyone who wasn’t determined in mind and action to turning away from what they knew was sin. I guess I’m with CS.

  • Posted by

    i agree with cs, and i also agree with slw, if god is drawing us our lifestyle has nothing to do with our salvation,we do not sit down and discuss our lifestyle unless you really do not know if it is sin or not, then when it is explained , then we have a choice to accept gods calling/drawing or reject it. but surly invite them to church, because the gospel will finally bring them to a decision , it may not be the god decision, but they will clearly understand what way they want to go. i pray that it will be gods way.

  • Posted by Joe Louthan

    I was worse than these homosexual men.  I worked in pornography.

    But it wasn’t the judging other others that made me change, it was God and God alone.

    We would like to think that our convictions would be enough to change other people.

    God told us not to judge.  God told us to love exactly like He does.

    You are struggling with something?  Fine, I still love you.  God still loves you.  We ain’t going anywhere. 

    All He wants for you to do is for you to give your life over to Him and depend on Him for everything.

    Then you will know how truly great our God is.

  • Posted by


    “Your comment shows how little you understand what it is to be lost completely, to have no practical understanding of who God is, let alone what He does and does not approve of.  Worse yet, it shows that you have no interest in understanding lost and broken people, you just want to judge their sinfulness and wag your finger.”

    Actually, I was one of these lost people once upon a time.  And when I realized the gravity of my sin, and the Holy Spirit convicted me, I wanted to stop what I was doing and immediately follow after Christ, forsaking my lustful desires.  Kind of like how it says in Luke 9:62, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Or like in Luke 14:26-27, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

    And I also care about the purity of the church.  Baptizing anyone who is unrepentant and continues in any lifestyle of sin can damage the purity of the church. 


  • Posted by Randy Ehle

    I cannot condemn Brian’s response; he replied gracefully and acted out of his conviction.  I think I would have to handle it differently, though.

    We Baptists are fond of saying that baptism is just a symbol, an outward sign of an inward change.  I don’t believe it is more than that (i.e., regenerative in itself, required for salvation, etc.), but I think we can’t lightly dismiss the object of the symbolism; i.e., the “inward change”.  Baptism must certainly be more than just the conductor’s hole-punch on an already-purchased train ticket. 

    So perhaps the question is not whether to baptize an openly - and apparently unrepentant - homosexual.  Perhaps we need to back up further with this individual and explore his relationship with Christ.  John came preaching a baptism of repentance; Jesus carried on that proclamation.  Recognizing that “we all sin in many ways” and that one who teaches “will be judged more severely”, I would want to take some time to explore with this individual (and his partner?) just what and who it is that he has professed faith in, and whether he is repentant and desirous of living out what Jesus taught.  One of the most profound examples of Jesus walking this tightrope was when he was faced with the woman caught in adultery; his balanced response was, “neither do I condemn you...” (grace), “...now go, and sin no more” (a call to repentant living). 

    I would want to present the same call to this man: “In response to the grace of God, I accept you as you are, as does Jesus; in response to both the love and the holiness of God, Jesus says, ‘now go and sin no more’.  But I recognize that transformation is a lifelong process, and I want to walk with you through the difficult steps that will require, especially in the early days of this commitment.  I want to help you and your partner understand and deal the ramifications of the commitment you have made to Jesus - and they are many.  If you can accept this, then I will joyfully baptize you as the first step.  If you’re not sure whether you can accept this, then let’s explore together what the Bible has to say about it.”

  • Posted by

    Lots of good pros and cons.
    And I find it interesting to read the “finger wagger” accuser “finger wagging.”

    And the question was:::Should An Openly Homosexual Person Be Baptized?

    And Peter said, “Repent and be....”

    In spite of all the wonderful reasonings for baptizing an “OPENLY” Homosexual person, I will go along with the Apostle Peter’s direction.

  • Posted by

    Isn’t this an argument for baptizing babies?

    Greed—the fact that our nation worships the almighty dollar through our embracing of dog-eat-dog capitalism—is scripturally more contrary to the teachings of Jesus than homosexuality.  Yet openly greedy people are baptized all the time.  How many people repent of their greed and thirst for money?

    And good point about the military.  How can killing innocent women and children in the US be a capital offense but just a simple consequence of war in another country? Do we think that Jesus would draw that distinction?

    When we start ranking sins, and basing baptism on our ranking of those sins, we play God.

  • Posted by

    That is why I will stick with Peter. “Repent..., and I believe it is not a stretch to assume Peter meant “repent” of whatever sin it is the individual is in need of repenting of. Peter did not qualify his instruction by saying this sin or that sin, but the inference is of any sin.

    It does seem to me that you are coming close to doing what you claim others to do: “When we start ranking sins...”, and yet you stated:::::"Greed—the fact that our nation worships the almighty dollar through our embracing of dog-eat-dog capitalism—is scripturally more contrary to the teachings of Jesus than homosexuality.” ------Sounds like you are ranking sin my friend.

  • Posted by Jermayn Parker

    The Pastors response was amazing, very mature and in touch with God. Its Gods job to convict them of their sin, not ours. Our job it to create a place with prayer, worship etc for God to move.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm


    Paul seems to me to have maybe ranked some sins, to be honest. And Greed seems to be at the top of the list, as it is equated with idolatry.

    A. Sinner has a VERY good point, imho.

  • Posted by Daniel

    The heart of the question is of course what it means to baptized an ‘openly homosexual’ person. Many ‘openly homosexual’ Christians are also celibate. So I say, baptize ‘em! If ‘openly homosexual’ on the other hand means “I’m a practicing gay and I ain’t budgin’"… then there’s at least a problem.

    My two cents,

    [DanielR, I do not mean to imply that one cannot be a Christian and be in the military. A number of my family members are knee deep in this contry’s war-making machine. My point was simply that military service is inconsistent with Jesus’ requirements of discipleship--a fact the Church recognized until Constantine. But of course inconsistency is something many Christians learn to live with (I am, no doubt, not an exception to this rule). I don’t want to rehash the debate over violence here, save to say the joy and fervor with which U.S. Christians fight in politicians’ wars, and kill other Christians around the world for U.S. national interests, is nothing short of appalling to me. But I’m an Anabaptist, so I’m the minority here, not you. I know that.

  • Posted by

    I would go a step further, and say, I do believe that the Bible ranks [for lose of a better word] sins. Jesus seems to indicate that a sin against a child is worse than...’ (Matt. 18:6).

    I may be branded a heretic, but I believe that an unrepentant pedophile will suffer at the hands of God more than the unrepentant gossip.

    So much more to say, but will not carry on.

  • Posted by

    This whole question amazes me… This is a cheapening of the gospel.  We absolutely should love everyone. And our churches should be open to those searching for Christ, regardless of their sins. But to baptize someone is to publicly recognize their commitment to following Christ. The same Christ who told his followers to leave everything behind. The same Christ who told the rich man to sell everything and give to the poor. No, we shouldn’t judge the world, but yes we need to hold up standards for Christians. Otherwise we’ll have hordes of people with no relationship with Christ convinced that they’re headed for heaven because they’ve “said the prayer” and been baptized. If pastors don’t call people to repentance and insist on discipleship, how can the Church claim to be Christian???

  • Posted by

    For most of my military career I served under the well known motto, “Peace is our Profession.” The same motto that law enforcement officers and policeman use as they serve the common good of “keeping the peace” in our communities.  Law breakers either at the community level or the worldwide level require restraint.  A few good men at the local level serve a community well.  World-wide restraint of evil doers requires a national military force.  We serve our nation well and the cause of freedom when we sacrifice our lives in military service.  It is truly a service of love and we are happy to use our Spiritual gifts in that way.

  • Posted by

    Two thoughts: First, I don’t get the military thing either and second, let’s stop dancing around the elephant in the room, shall we? Do you all really think that gay couples have sex like rabitts all the time? Please. Sadly, like most people, ( I am a married, heterosexual female--just FYI) we may go for too LOOONG a time without engaging in relations. Do ya’ll really think that gay couples are gettin’ their groove on every night? Good Lord in heaven, what is this, “immoral, lifestyle” that keeps being quoted?

    I also know of three gay couples who live together, claim to be celibate, have seperate rooms and raise their children together for financial reasons. Gay, but no lifestyle.

    Yesterday, I sat with a woman while she tearfully recounted how her fine, elder in the church, pillar of the community-HETEROSEXUAL- daddy had been raping her and her younger siblings for years before he died.

    Who in the eyes of God caused heartache to the least of these? I sincerly doubt that it would be the gay couple providing a stable loving home. No, the pillar of the community, hetersexual daddy who spent years raping his daughter and left her with a pysche & soul which is now scarred and battered. That is the soul for whom the Master weeps.

    Maybe we should stop debating the woulda, coulda, shouldas and start talking about real people who are hurting. And ask ourselves, if the Master was presented this soul to tend, how would he minister to them? And how are we called to minister in His stead?

    Just my 2 cents--for free

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