San Francisco evangelical church removes celibacy requirement for LGBT members

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City Church, part of the Reformed Church of America, will no longer require LGBT members to be celibate.

While the church had always welcomed LGBT members, it had required them to practice lifelong celibacy. The senior pastor, Fred Harrell, sent an email to all members of the church on Friday, informing them of the change in policy.

He said: “Our pastoral conversations and social science research indicate skyrocketing rates of depression, suicide, and addiction among those who identify as LGBT.The generally unintended consequence has been to leave many people feeling deeply damaged, distorted, unlovable, unacceptable, and perverted.

“Imagine feeling this from your family or religious community: “If you stay, you must accept celibacy with no hope that you too might one day enjoy the fullness of intellectual, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical companionship. If you pursue a lifelong partnership, you are rejected.” This is simply not working and people are being hurt. We must listen and respond.”

The church elders reportedly spend nine months considering the change. Two members of the board resigned in protest.

The church, which has 1000 members, joins evangelical churches from Nashville and Seattle who have also stopped requiring celibacy.

Laura Turner, City Church’s communications coordinator, said “Churches are slowly coming to recognize that if God is bringing people to them who are LGBT they have to meet them where they are and not demand that they change. Telling LGBT people they have to change before they can become Christians is leading to depression, suicide and addiction and we won’t do that anymore.”

In February last year, a major US evangelical church announced its support for same-sex marriage.