This article was originally published by The Mennonite

LGBTQ are created in the image of God

One of the least controversial things you could say is that lesbians and gays are created in the image of God.

image-of-godBisexuals, transgender, cisgender, heterosexual, celibate, queer-identifying, single and married persons are all images of God.

It’s even true that I, despite much evidence to the contrary, have the divine image within me.

You could not by good conscience or theology say otherwise.

Theology, doctrine, creed and faith statements from pre-Constantine to post-Bush-era, from North to South, East to West all assert this fundamental truth. Abandoning such ordinary orthodoxy would leave us in narrow and unwelcome company.

Conservative evangelicals, such as leading theologian Carl F. Henry, have affirmed as much:

“The Bible answers the question of the nature of man by pointing to the imago dei. That man by creation uniquely bears the image of God is a fundamental biblical doctrine” (article on “Image of God,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology).

The majority opinion of my own tribe enthusiastically agrees.

“We believe that God has created human beings in the divine image … We believe that human beings were created good, in the image of God.” (Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective).

So, say this non-political, unquestioned, non-controversial Christian truth out loud with me, “Orthodox Christianity has always affirmed that lesbians and gays are created in the image of God.”

Now that we’ve placed ourselves fully inside the orthodox box, let’s admit that good theology is pretty refreshing.

It can even generate spiritual renewal.

Jesus suggested that nations like our own could connect more deeply with God himself by affirming Jesus’ presence in the poor, migrants, prisoners, and sick among us (Matthew 25). Even our enemies deserve our love, prayers, and blessing in Jesus worldview (Crazy, I know! But undeniable nonetheless).

Notice what we haven’t said. To this point we’ve said nothing, absolutely nothing about ethics, morality, or action in one biased direction or another. We’ve simply stated what most Christians in most places at most times in our history have held to be true.

We’ve made a clear Christian statement that, if you are a believer, I’m certain you accept.

Besides being refreshing, good theology also births good behavior. This is also completely ordinary. When we see differently, we behave differently.

Peter behaved differently in the debate about Gentile inclusion because he had seen a different truth (Acts 10). Dorothy Day behaved differently because she saw God in the poor. Rosa Parks behaved differently because she refused to see a line where God had made no line.

Likewise, affirming the beauty that lesbians and gays are created in the image of God births faithful behavior in Jesus’ followers.
  1. For starters, good theology means there can be no more “us and them,” only “us and we,” for we are all made to reflect God.
  2. Good theology empowers us to say what is so for us while remaining engaged with people we disagree with.
  3. Good theology means that we have much to learn one from another.
  4. Good theology means the end goal of progressives can’t be equal rights and the dismantling of oppressive structures when the sexuality of queer folk is as complicated and fragile as the sexuality of straight folk.
  5. Good theology means the pastoral methods of conservatives can’t be predicated on confession of sin for some and not for all.
  6. Good theology means that all of us need to be self-aware enough to fully name and claim the actual reasons for why we think what we think. Scripture, experience, personal relationship, science, tradition, ick-factor, reputation, fear of family fall out, extreme need to hide your own confused sexuality—these are all viable reasons to think what you think.

How many families have shunned their gay children? How many church members have disappeared from worship attendance when talk of sexuality finally entered the lexicon of their leaders? How many denominations are being ripped apart by differing ways of relating to LGBTQ?

And yet, in the midst of all the pain, one thing remains … God created us in the image of God. In the image of God we were created. And we are very good.

Personally, I support full inclusion of LGBTQ at every level of relational and congregational life. You can read why here.

And if you find yourself a participant in difficult conversations about sexuality, here’s a post on how to show up emotionally healthy in difficult conversations.

But never, don’t ever, loose sight of the beautiful truth that God lives in lesbians and is reflected in gay men.

Stand firm in good theology—stand firm in this good theology—and faithful living will follow.

Marty Troyer is a pastor at Houston Mennonite Church and a blogger for This originally appeared here.

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