A Note on Language and Terminology
Sexual Minority Fellowship respects that people are at different places in the process of reconciling their experience of sexual orientation or gender with their beliefs about Scripture and God's plan for marriage, sex, and gender. In SMF, you are welcome to use the language that makes sense to you when describing yourself and your experience of sexual orientation or gender identity. One member might say she is same-sex attracted, and another might say he is gay. One member might say she experiences gender dysphoria, and another might say they are transgender. In SMF, we do not allow language or terminology to become a barrier against community, and our members strive to exercise charity and grace when they disagree on these matters.
For an explanation of our group’s name—and what we mean by “sexual minority”—please check out Our Name.
What We Believe
A Temporary Statement Regarding Sexual Orientation:
SMF is a part of FirstLight Ministries here in St. Louis (www.firstlightstlouis.org). We believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, the only rule to direct us how we may enjoy and glorify Him. We believe the Bible defines marriage as the emotional, spiritual, and physical union of one man and one woman as a God-given institution which belongs to the whole human race and is ordered to both the intimate union of the couple (the unitive purpose) and the procreation of children (the procreative purpose); and further, we believe that all sexual behavior outside this social context is sinful. We believe this is God’s good design for human flourishing. While we believe that God has created sexual intimacy only for male/female coupling in marriage, we also believe that--by God’s good design--love, intimacy, and community are vital for all people if they are to flourish, and for believers if they are to grow and become more like Christ. We seek to promote the sanctification and flourishing of sexual orientation minority believers within the context of this historic Christian sexual ethic.
We reject approaches to pastoral care that imply that those who experience an ongoing presence of same-sex sexual attraction must be living with unconfessed sin in their life. But we also affirm that humans are responsible before God for the decisions they make in response to those attractions.
We believe that sin has distorted the desires of every human being except Jesus of Nazareth, and that therefore, on this side of Eden, all believers continue to have “the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them,” including in their sexuality. This means that the best impulses and the “best works” of love that flow from those impulses—whether in same-sex-attracted or opposite-sex-attracted believers— “are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q78). We believe that this hard truth, clearly taught by the Word of God, is not intended to ruin us in depression, despair, or self-hatred, but is to lead us to Christ. When all is said and done, we are to lay at the foot of the cross of Christ every moment of our existence, and seek forgiveness for all that has been morally and spiritually bent in them. Then in joy and in trust and by conscious decision, we lay hold of the righteousness of Christ which has become, by our union with him, our deepest identity.
While theories abound regarding how anyone’s sexual orientation comes to be what it is, we affirm that the Word of God does not commit us to any one theory. Yet we do not believe there is compelling evidence for the theory that one’s sexual orientation is simply a matter of personal choice.
We do gladly acknowledge that there are credible testimonies of sexual minorities who have experienced radical change in their attractions, and we believe that such brothers and sisters in Christ should be appreciated and encouraged on the path they walk. Nevertheless, we do not believe it is demonstrable that such change will be the predominant experience of serious believers determined to walk with the Lord, neither do we believe such such change is clearly promised by God in his Word to anyone in this life. While we recognize the power and ability of the Holy Spirit to work in miraculous ways, we reject models of pastoral care for sexual minorities that are designed with the express purpose of bringing about change in sexual orientation with an eye towards opposite-sex marriage for all. We recognize that such approaches have done much harm in the lives of sexual minorities in the past, especially children. We call the Church to corporate repentance--and we join in such repentance--for the ways that Christians have caused significant harm and distress to LGBT+ persons whom God has called us to love.
A Temporary Statement Regarding Gender Identity:
We believe that God created all humans as male and female, and therefore, male and female sexual and gender identity are part of God’s good creational design. However, we also believe that as a result of our first parents’ fall from innocence into sin, all human beings are “bent” (albeit in different ways), and thus some do not always experience their gender identity in a way that reflects God's original design. This gender conflict has been a source of great pain for many. We believe that rather than laying on such brothers and sisters the burden of simplistic and culturally-relative stereotypes, we should stress that living as men and women before the Lord must be approached with both humble submission to God’s unchanging norms clearly revealed in Holy Scripture, and with a discerning, critical eye toward changing cultural norms. We believe that this can only be done well in the setting of the community that the life of Christ’s Church is called to be.
Here too, while we reject as unfounded the theory that inner conflict over one’s gender is generally a matter of choice, we do believe that individuals are responsible for the personal choices they make in light of their experience of gender conflict, and should strive to live according to God's design to the best of their ability--with the love, compassion, humility, and support of the Church helping them bear this burden.
LGBT+ and Ministry:
We affirm and celebrate the many gifts that LGBT+ persons have been given by God, and we recognize and celebrate that all sexual minorities who are in Christ have been called by God into ministry--whether ministry in the context of their daily lives or specifically vocational ministry. We aim to help participants in SMF identify and recognize their own gifts that God has given them, as well as to discern what specific call God has placed on their lives.
You are welcome
This is a basic summary of what SMF believes. If you have questions or would like to discuss our beliefs further, please feel free to contact us. You might not believe the same things we do at this point...and that's okay.
We welcome you to be a part of our community.