The Age - Gay Christians hope for church acceptance

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Youth Coordinator
Joined in 2008
June 30, 2012, 11:45

Gay Christians hope for church acceptance

by Georgia Wilkins, The Age, June 29, 2012

LIKE four in ten same-sex couples, James Nevein, 49, and David Witte, 50, identify themselves as Christians.

They are part of a statistic that strikes at the heart of the debate around same-sex marriage, and one that many hope will validate them in the eyes of the church.

At the 2011 census, Christianity was the number one religion among gay and lesbian couples – with 40 per cent of couples practising the faith compared to 60 per cent of opposite-sex couples.

Forty-eight per cent declared no religion, compared to 20 per cent of opposite-sex couples. Buddhism was the second most common among same-sex couples, at 4 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent of opposite-sex couples.

The census data was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday as part of a report into the lives of people living in gay and lesbian relationships.

Mr Nevein, who is on the board of Freedom2b, a support group for gay people from Christian backgrounds, said it was evidence that he and members of the same-sex Christian community were not in a minority. ''In every church, from the Pentecostal to the Quakers, there are gay and lesbian people there,'' he said. ''Churches are going to have to consider this issue.''

He said churches needed to acknowledge their existence in order to prevent same-sex couples from feeling alienated.

''Why would you identify with an organisation that, for most of the last 2000 years has hated you, either openly or silently, unless you had a very deep sense of belonging?

''The church has a lot to answer for, but there is also a lot of hope.''

Across Australia, 1338 of 33,714 same-sex couples reported their relationship as being of husband or wife. In Victoria, there were 403 married same-sex couples and 8319 couples who reported their relationship as de facto.

Reverend Carolyn Francis, who preaches at Collins Street Baptist Church, said churches needed to consider the size of the same-sex Christian community in the debate over gay marriage. ''The reality is that people don't lose any of their yearning for spirituality when they grapple with their sexuality. In fact, probably the opposite is true,'' she said.

''The census figures are a stark representation and a reminder to us all that when we are discussing issues like gay marriage, we are talking about people's lives.''

Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich said the census data made the exclusion of gays and lesbians from marriage look increasingly outdated.

''The number of self-reporting same-sex couples is increasing as more couples feel able to be open about their relationship. We are also participating more in community and family life with … a growing proportion of us reporting that we are people of faith.''

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Chapter Leader
Joined in 2008
July 3, 2012, 22:58

Great to have positive articles like this in the daily press. And a big thanks to James and David for boldly stepping forward and allowing their story to be told.

Joined in 2012
July 9, 2012, 07:07

I hope there is a day when churches are accepting of all people. I think there have been some good improvements (heck, I didn't even know there was ANY support for gay Christians until July of this year when I found this amazing forum by fluke), but I do hope and wish for a major change in my lifetime!

Now my grandfather is really well known in the Christian community, and he has created and preached in MANY churches. He had a stroke a while back though, so he does not preach anymore. I do not know my future, but maybe my calling is to take those churches that he set up, further, by preaching to them acceptance and love of one another.

By the way HillsBen, I hope you can forgive me, and I am sorry I didn't ask you at the time, but when I came out to my parents on the 4th of July this month, I used a few of your paragraphs in your coming out letter in my 8 page coming out letter, as they were PERFECTLY described as to how I felt for so long, and thought it was only appropriate to include them in my letter, but I did not ask you 🙁 I hope that was ok.

God bless,


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