If someone who is in a same-sex marriage becomes a Christian, should the new believer leave that marriage? Author and speaker Rachel Gilson, who recently dealt with some controversy related to this question, tackled the topic on “The Confronting Christianity Podcast.”
“By definition, a same-sex marriage is not a marriage in God’s eyes, even though it’s a legal contract that does exist in our society right now,” said Gilson during the conversation. “And so that means some principles about divorce that we might normally bring in when we’re talking about marriage can feel confusing when we bring them to a same-sex marriage. Because legally, we’re using the language of marriage, but it’s not actually marriage in God’s eyes.”
Rachel Gilson on Gay Marriage and Divorce
Rachel Gilson serves on the leadership team for Theological Development and Culture at Cru and is the author of “Born Again This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next.” On May 18, a clip circulated on Twitter of her speaking to an audience, addressing the question of whether a person should leave a same-sex marriage if he or she becomes a Christian. “These are some very tender things,” Gilson emphasized. She encouraged the audience to be cautious in how they approach a couple in this situation, and she noted that discipleship is a “process.”
Gilson said that the marriage is not necessarily the first issue to address in this situation because discipleship involves the entire person, not simply one aspect of someone’s life. She emphasized loving and supporting new believers as they learn what the Bible says about sexuality. It is common, said Gilson, for people to realize as they progress on their journey following Jesus that Scripture does not support gay marriage.
Neither the first clip of Gilson nor a longer one that gives more context shows her stating that new believers should stay in a same-sex marriage—or that they should leave it. She tells the audience that she has known couples who choose to stay in such a marriage while remaining celibate, and she has known of other situations where the new Christian wishes to remain celibate and the other partner leaves the marriage. And sometimes people have to get a divorce, which “God hates,” said Gilson, despite the fact God allows it in certain circumstances in a broken world.
Several Christian influencers perceived Gilson to be endorsing Christians remaining in gay marriages, and some subsequently called for her to be removed as a speaker from the upcoming Pastors’ Wives/Women’s Conference at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
The same day the controversy erupted, Gilson posted a statement in which she said that same-sex marriages are “sinful” and that any believer who is in one should get out of it. She said that this has always been her position.
Gilson appeared on the May 23 episode of “The Confronting Christianity Podcast,” where she joined host Dr. Rebecca McLaughlin and fellow guest Dr. J.D. Greear to discuss the question, “Should Someone in a Same-Sex Marriage Who Becomes a Christian Get Divorced?” Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and the author of several books, including, “Essential Christianity: The Heart of the Gospel in Ten Words.”
Gilson indirectly addressed the Twitter controversy by saying that she had recently been thinking about one of the first times she answered the question at hand in public, which she did at a student ministry over five years ago. “I’d just given this long seminar explaining why the Bible says no to same-sex marriage, same-sex sexual relationships,” she said.