Activists leading a "Gay Christian? Yes!" campaign with a billboard in Grand Rapids, Mich., are hoping to promote the idea that active homosexuals can "walk freely in the love of Christ." However, the campaign has been strongly rebuked as promoting a "generic love" that is not in line with scripture and core Christian teachings.
The billboard, which has sat on northbound U.S. 131 near Burton Street since April 3, has a black background contrasted with its white lettering, which reads "Gay Christian? Yes!" accompanied by the campaign's website, gaychristianyes.org.
According to its website's mission statement, the purpose of the campaign is to "proclaim the good news that God's love in Christ extends to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We challenge the Christian community to join the journey to fully embrace gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians."
The large majority of Christians, however, believe that homosexuality is a sin and therefore should not be normalized by society or celebrated in such a way within the Church. Steve Demers, senior pastor at Lighthouse Community Church in Allendale Township has said the campaign promotes a "generic love" which is not in line with core Christian teachings.
According to Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, homosexuality is a sin and "normalizing sin cannot lead to human happiness."
"We cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality," Mohler has previously told The Christian Post.
The "Gay Christian? Yes!" campaign, headed by Theresa McClellan, has been spearheaded by gay activist group Gays in Faith Together (GIFT).
According to GIFT's website, the purpose of the "Gay Christian? Yes!" campaign is two-fold. The first part of the campaign is to push the argument that one can be gay and Christian, while the second part is to "affirm the presence of LGBT people in the Christian community."
"We applaud all the ways that the Christian community is already welcoming and affirming LGBT people, and we invite -- we challenge -- the Christian community to continue on the journey toward fully embracing LGBT Christians," the GIFT website adds.
However, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, has argued that all humans are born with sin, but just because one has sin, does not mean that sin should be accepted by the Church. Daly affirms that sins can be relinquished if one turns to God and asks for repentance; ergo, one must relinquish their homosexuality if they choose to be Christian.
"Each of us can be set free – from homosexuality, or heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or pornography, or greed, or gossip, or any other human shortcoming – to be the men and women God intended us to be," Daly wrote in his blog, as previously reported by The Christian Post.
Despite criticism of the campaign, McClellan plans to engage the city of Grand Rapids in a discussion regarding Christianity and homosexuality in the upcoming months.
She told local publication Michigan Live that GIFT plans to host community discussions regarding the acceptance of gays in worship by West Michigan congregations.
"We are just opening so many doors, and that's what's so cool, especially during this time of year, when people who are gay Christians feel like they can't step into their churches," McClellan told The Blaze the week leading up to Easter.
However, Steve Demers, senior pastor at Lighthouse Community Church in Allendale Township, has told The Blaze that the message communicated by the "Gay Christian? Yes!" campaign offers a generic love which is not in line with core Christian teachings.
"We're about forgiveness. And we want to offer people God's forgiveness. We want to offer them God's love," the pastor told The Blaze. "We just believe that there is a deception that homosexuality is not sin and God calls us to help people and to call them to repentance. There is a generic love being offered that does not hold us accountable to each other and the scripture doesn't really know that kind of Christianity."