Below is my response to an email I received that asked the following question: “I believe church should be for all of God’s children. No exceptions. I am a gay man. My question is, would I be fully accepted with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church?”
I have changed all of the identifying information, but other than that, my response is in full below. I hope that it will be helpful to others facing similar questions.
Welcome home to the beautiful Bluegrass. It is great to hear from you and to hear of your previous connection with Ashland. What a ministry this church has had for almost 100 years.
As to your question, it depends on what you mean by “I am a gay man” and what you mean by “accepted completely with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue.”
If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you struggle with same-sex attraction, recognizing any sexual activity outside of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and that you desire Christian discipleship to walk in line with the Gospel as you struggle with this temptation, then we would rejoice at your honesty and openness and receive you gladly at Ashland. We have faithful and accountable members right now in that very situation attempting to live celibate lives to the glory of Christ.
Of course, this is really no different than a man who struggles with heterosexual sexually immoral desires or any of the myriads of sinful desires we all struggle with as disciples of Christ. Sin is an equal opportunity offender and something that every Christian struggles with in unique ways.
If by “I am a gay man” you mean that you embrace a lifestyle of homosexual activity and you refuse to recognize it as sin no matter what the Scripture says, and you are looking for a church that will affirm homosexual activity and/or same-sex marriage, that would be a different matter entirely. But there is no uniqueness to homosexual sin in regard to this approach. The same would be true if a man came to us and said, “I am a ‘name the sin’ man,” and by that he meant he planned to keep on sinning in that way and embracing it as a lifestyle no matter what the Scripture says. There is a world of difference between struggling with a sin and embracing a sin. God saves us where we are, but loves us too much too leave us where we are. He is at work conforming his people into the image of Christ.
As far as whether or not you would “be accepted completely with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue,” that would depend on what you mean as well. We welcome all to attend our public worship services. Consider this your invitation to worship with us. We would love to have you in attendance. If you mean that you desire help in an accountable community of faith to struggle against sin, then I would say that we are a community of believers whose hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins—not our goodness. We are all struggling sinners attempting to follow our Lord and Savior and encouraging one another to do so.