Insights into the Spiritual Profile of Homosexuals

Sam Rainer

June 28, 2009

The Barna Group recently interviewed over 8,500 heterosexual adults and 280 homosexual adults. The point of the research was to compare the spirituality of both groups. Barna’s findings included some results that would be expected, but also some surprising insights. You can read the full report here. I’ve listed below some highlights.

In any given week the research discovered that heterosexuals are the more likely of the two groups to attend a church service, attend a Sunday school class, pray to God, or read the Bible. Gay adults are 50% more likely than straight adults to be unchurched (42% versus 28%). Overall, heterosexuals are twice as likely as homosexuals to attend a church service, read the Bible and pray to God during a typical week (31% vs. 15%).

Although most adults affirm the importance of faith in their life, regardless of their sexual orientation, straight adults (72%) were more likely than gay adults (60%) to describe their faith as “very important” in their life. And even though most Americans consider themselves to be Christian, there is a noticeable gap between heterosexuals who self-identify that way (85%) compared to homosexuals (70%). Another gap was then noted among those who say they are Christian: about six out of ten heterosexuals say they are absolutely committed to the Christian faith, compared to about four out of ten among homosexuals.

One of the most basic beliefs has to do with one’s understanding of God. This proved to be one of the biggest differences noted in the study. While seven out of every ten heterosexuals (71%) have an orthodox, biblical perception of God, just 43% of homosexuals do.

George Barna commented on the data:

The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians. Gay adults clearly have a different way of interpreting the Bible on a number of central theological matters, such as perspectives about God. Homosexuals appreciate their faith but they do not prioritize it, and they tend to consider faith to be individual and private rather than communal.

It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles – but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles. Although there are clearly some substantial differences in the religious beliefs and practices of the straight and gay populations, there may be less of a spiritual gap between straights and gays than many Americans would assume.

As expected, most within this community are just as confused about a true relationship with Christ as any other unchurched group. While the data does not reveal what type of church, a small minority from the gay community is at least attending a local assembly. And many are not totally turned off by faith or talk of spiritual things. Like everyone else, however, they don’t have true spiritual life unless they know Jesus.

So how should the church interact with the gay community? Unfortunately, some within the church community have treated them as enemies. Jesus calls His Kingdom servants to love all people, even a segment of the population many Christians have an inclination to dislike (or hate). Sin (ours or theirs) should never be condoned, but we must love those outside our circle. As Jesus states in Matthew 5:46-47, it’s one thing to love people who are just like you; it’s another thing to love people quite different from you.

I’ve had a few opportunities to reach out to gay individuals. I enjoyed my conversations with them. As with many groups, it’s a tough balance between serving with the love of Christ and also sharing a message of repentance and faith. Barna reports that this community comprises about 3% of the U.S. adult population. It’s small, but significant. Do any of you have success stories in sharing the gospel and serving the gay community? How can Barna’s research help in reaching outward to this community?

14 comments on “Insights into the Spiritual Profile of Homosexuals”

  1. When I was a Youth Pastor I had a few students who were gay, or later “came out”. It was interesting that they came to my Church at the time. A few of the elders didn’t like the fact they were there. However, my Youth Group comprised of most of the rejected kids from the other larger churches. It was in a small town and all of the churches were in the same area. I just loved them and taught them biblical truth like I did any other kid. They could talk to me and I would encourage them to follow Christ in all aspects of their lives. Many “Christians” or more like Churchians forget that they are just as broken and sinful as they are and need Jesus just like they do. Homosexuality is not knew, it has been around probably almost as long as humanity has been here. “Throwing stones” or holding up signs that say “God Hates F&^s” is the totally wrong way to go about it. What’s next “God Hates Fat People”, because then a lot of Baptist Churches would be in trouble. 😛 Including myself!!!

  2. john r says:

    its simple………… do as the nuns of mother teresa’s order……………. stop talking christ and instead be christ.

  3. john r says:

    so elliot……………..did you tell them the biblical truth, that celebrating, affirming, and supporting homosexuality, in the same way we do heterosexuality, is christ, is of the spirit of christ and of the new covenant of christ?

    or was it that we are sinners………………which has nothing to do with homosexuality.

    1. Johnny R. – I did say Biblical truth. Why? Do you do that? As far as I know God destroyed two cities where homosexuality was rampant. I don’t think God would want us to celebrate homosexuality. Do you believe He wants us to, or am I misreading your question?

  4. john r says:

    first all scripture never said homsexuality was a sin. and if you can, you will be the first. from 1tim and 1cor “defiling themselves with mankind” to romans where because they worshipped and served powers and principalities(creATED) and therefore they were given over to the spirit that served them….shameful lust. homosexuals having never had(women) and therefore could not abandon what they never had……………..not from their first sexual memory, to genesis which was about gang rape, to lev where not all prohibitions of themselves were sins.

    but you know this doesnt matter because we no longer have a relationship to god thru regulation as in deut 28. you know that in romans that we are led and serve of the spirit and are no longer under the law. that all new covenant law is summed up in the 2nd commandment(love your neighbor………….)

    therefore if homosexuality is a sin it has to come against the essence of new covenant law………….. the 2nd commandment? but it doesnt…………….

    and you also know that jesus said “you will kmow them by their fruit …………..fruit of the spirit, the fruit of the holy spirit being different from the spirit of powers and principalities.

    a good tree not being able to produce bad fruit.

    homosexuals bonding out of mutual love, devotion, affection, trust, and respect for a shared committed life together………….the same as with heterosexuals.

    and homosexuals never being found lacking in any sector of society compared to heterosexuals. not being less a friend , father ,counselor attorney, pastor, teacher, neighbor, brother etc.

  5. Hey Johnny R.,

    It’s kind of interesting how angry you are man. Nobody here ever said you were any less of a person…that you were socially lacking? I was the one who said I loved every one of my Youth Group kids the same. Whether or not you believe homosexuality is a sin or not wasn’t even brought up on this page. All have sin in their lives and need Jesus. I find it interesting you went through this whole explanation out of nowhere to try to convince me that homosexuality isn’t a sin. It seems more like you are trying to convince yourself it isn’t a sin so you can participate in it. But guess what…Jesus is gonna love you the same even if you do believe it’s a sin. Because sexual perversion is a sin, whether it is homosexual based or heterosexual based. He came to die for that. Fight it man! He wants you to! And no I don’t love ya less either man! If I met ya on the street I’d treat you with love and respect just like I would treat anybody else. I guess I don’t understand why ya lashed out. 🙂

  6. john r says:

    frustrated more than angry, because you appear to speak not from scripture but from your belief system. about the issue of homosexuality your comments indicate that you use scripture to vaidate your belief system, the parts that dont, dont exist for have not addressed one point.

    yes we are all sinners…………..does that give you license for to you to tell someone they are a sinner, without any witness as to the fruit of the spirit of the essence of being homosexual. or is that you believe that the fruit of the spirit of powers and principalities is the same as that of the holy spirit.

    by speaking to them thru your belief system you are attempting to put them under and instructing them to be led by the law……….in other words have reationship to god thru regulation as in deut28. paul in romans says that we are no longer under the law and are LED BY AND SERVE OF THE SPIRIT.

    JESUS SAID we would recognize them by their fruit………..fruit of the spirit. but, this would not apply to you if again your belief system says that all fruit of the spirit is the same…………your belief system trumping scripture.

  7. BJ Foust says:

    1 Corn 6:9-11 NIV
    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved: Neither the sexual immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    And that is what some of you were.But you were washed ,you were sanctified,you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    In this context Paul identifies three kinds of sexually immoral persons: adulterers, male prostitutes and males who practice homosexuality. In Romans 1:26 he adds the catagory of females who practice homosexuality. People who engage in such practices ,as well as the other offenders listed in vv9-10 are explicitly excluded from God’s kingdom.
    But see 1 Corn 6 :11
    It says that people who were engaged in these activities and turned from thier sinful lifestyle were washed ,sanctified and justified by thier Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our Lord.
    The key is to leave the sin behind and live your life to follow the Word of God and be saved by Jesus Christ.
    This does not mean that we as Christians do not love you .It means that we live by the Word of God and live by his teachings. We do not hate you for you are given free will to live the life you choose to live. This also is a gift from God because he promised not to destroy our world again as he did in the times of Noah.But we as individuals are given free will to live our lives following the Word of God and leaving our sinful lives to be as Christ or to go on as a person of the sinful nature rebuking God’s will for us to live as he wants us to live.
    No one hates you . You are free to live as you choose and we are free to live sharing the Gospel of Christ to those who want to listen.
    I pray that you are happy living the lifestyle you choose as I am living the life for Christ as I have chosen to live. We may be different in our choices but I will respect your choice and I pray you respect mine.

  8. john r says:

    both of you frustrate me. this is why. you quote your interpretation of the law using all kinds of legalities about this word means this and that word means that………..none of your law leading is supported by scripture. paul says our leading is by the spirit, that we serve of.

    you have no 1john1 witness(that which we heard, which we have looked at, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have touched) about the spirit essence of being homosexual.

    you both are totally given to this law or that law(because your immersion into the law validates your belief systems) yet when i ask you to show how homosexuality comes against the 2nd commandment which is the summation of all new covenant law……….. new covenant law, the law that is of christ, you cannot or will not answer.

    and elliot, yes im angry, people went to you in seeking christ and you sold them something that didnt even resemble christ.


    “and turned from their sinful lifestyle.”

    if believers can do anything to save themselves then the crucifixion has no value. if works were required to be washed sanctified,and justified, then the crucifixion has no value.

    we are saved by grace thru faith, this is not of ourselves, it is a gift of god, and it is not by works lest any man should boast.eph

    1tim and 1cor

    the transposition of the word “homosexual” took place in victorian england(no seperation between church and state…the queen was head of the church) the victorian era is credited with a number of sexually repressive attitudes.(wikipedia) the word “homosexual” was transposed for the phrase”defiling themselves with mankind” without ANY WRITTEN EXPLANATION. at the time the transposition took place, a king henry enacted law had been on the books for 400 hundred years that punished homosexual sex with hanging. king henry another head of the church.

    english settlers coming to this country upon arriving made laws about this same issue with different punishnments. the transposition and cultural stigma are what kept homosexuality illegal in this country until the 1990’s.

    you attempt to make regulation out of paul’s teaching when he said that we are no longer UNDER the law in romans and ephesians, “Everything is permissiable but not everything is beneficial”, “we are LED by the spirit, which we serve of” none of paul’s teachings were thru the law, even when a man took his father’s wife.

    both of you instead seek to be led by you interpretation of the law because it validates your belief system. you still see belivers having a relationship to god thru regulation as in deut 28, instead(torn curtain) directly to the one who lives in each believer.

  9. “both of you instead seek to be led by you interpretation of the law because it validates your belief system.”

    You’re doing the same thing bub, but with horrible hermeneutics. You don’t even realize how you are lashing out. You’ve accused us of not even being God’s children…just so you can split hairs. Yes, I believe Christ is the fulfillment of the Law…He even said that not one jot or tittle would be erased from it…and that He came not to erase it but to fulfill it. Yes, there is a difference between law and grace. We are under grace. But that has nothing to do with homosexuality not being a sin. It is a sin, and no matter how hard you try to twist God’s Word to make it not a sin that won’t matter. God does bless those that are faithful and try to love Him and love others in Christ with a special closeness you can’t get when you are purposely committing sin. The more you write the more I realize how angry you are. You are showing your true colors just by attacking me…who in the first place said he loved everybody in his Youth Group and lovingly taught them about Jesus. You are never going to convince me that homosexuality isn’t a sin…and definitely that it should be celebrated. That is totally heretical. Wow, you made me use a word I’ve never had to use before…thanks.

  10. john r says:

    You’re doing the same thing bub,

    no im not. i gave an objectived reason basis for homosexuality not being a sin, but you have not addresed one point, nor do you appear to intend to.

    that means your understanding is based on your belief system which is handed down generationally. belief systems are the antithesis of reason.

  11. feetxxxl says:

    Romans 12
    Living Sacrifices
    1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

  12. feetxxxl says:

    1thess5:21 test everything keep the good.

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