Gay Nazarenes

By Dr. Peter Jones

We are now obliged to hallow an entire month of Gay Pride celebrations of homosexual practice. Nude men and drag queens parade through our cities, while children look on. Children attending parades used to climb on the fire engines or walk next to a police officer. Now the police are obliged to march in step with the agenda, while military representatives wear a “pride patch” on their uniforms.

How and why has our culture come to accept such perverted sexuality as a ho-hum reality? No doubt the new DEI social justice theory of “oppressed and oppressor” has identified minority sexual identities as one of the oppressed communities. In this “pride” month I discovered a 469-page book with the intriguing title, Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming by Thomas Jay Oord and Lexa Oord (SacraSage, 2023). The authors are a pastor and wife couple, members of the Nazarene church. They found some 90 key church members and leaders to write short chapters encouraging the Nazarene church to accept LBGTQ+ practitioners as members and elders of the church, and to adopt the full practice of same-sex marriage.

The Church of the Nazarene: Beginnings and Current Beliefs

The Church of the Nazarene is an evangelical Christian denomination that emerged in North American Methodism and the 19th century Holiness Movement/Revival. The name was born of a genuine desire to emulate Jesus’ compassion for the poor, as well as to follow the passion for the poor exhibited in the life of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The “Articles of Faith” in the Manual of Church of the Nazarene, states:

We believe in one God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

  • That the Old and New Testament scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.
  • That man is born with a fallen nature and is, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.
  • That the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.
  • That the atonement through Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
  • That believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • That the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth and also the entire sanctification of believers.
  • That our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place.[1]

It is a major loss for Christian orthodoxy to lose such a powerful denomination. Alas, the mother-church of orthodox Methodism, namely United Methodism, is collapsing. United Methodism’s governing General Conference, from April 23 to May 3, 2024, deleted (!) the “denomination’s specific disapproval of adultery, premarital/extramarital sex, and homosexual behavior from its Book of Discipline.” Nearly two million conservative African Methodists have resolved to exit United Methodism.[2]

How to Read Scripture

Those favoring the normalization of homosexuality have a strange way of interpreting the Scriptures, since they consider them to be divinely inspired. Their reasoning is this: Methodism found a way of interpreting Paul’s teaching on the ordination of women, and there are now women pastors throughout Methodist churches. Methodism must now find a way of interpreting not only Paul’s teaching on sexuality, but explicit texts in Old Testament passages such as Leviticus 18:20–23, which includes homosexuality with incest, child sacrifice, and bestiality as examples of Canaanite (pagan) abominations:

And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her.

You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. (Lev 18:20–23)

Since this text is concerned with the holiness of God (and thus Israel’s holiness) it also includes reminders to Israel in symbolic practice in everyday things. Thus we read in Leviticus19:19: “You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.” Nazarene interpreters use these symbolic laws to relativize what is required in Leviticus 18. They argue that if it is not sinful now to wear clothes made up of two kinds of material, we can also find that it is not sinful now to accept gay practice. Thus, they fail to see that not every law in Scripture has the same force. Not using two cloths in a garment is indeed a symbol that respects distinctions. There are many such symbols in the Old Testament, but many of the Levitical and ceremonial laws drop away in the explosive power of Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus sent his apostles, including the last apostle, Paul, to bring good news not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Paul’s writings are abundantly clear about sexual issues. It is a careless use of Scripture to seek an excuse to override the New Testament reiteration of Leviticus 18. 

The Nazarenes jump from Old Testament laws to their own plumbline: “love.” Here is their argument:

Each ethical law has to be evaluated in the light of God’s love. There are good reasons today for saying that God’s love for the other compels us to love…and affirm those with non-traditional sexual orientation.[3]

The Nazarenes reject the Levitical texts because, according to them, such texts fail to show the love of God. Instead, they come from “ancient cultural biases.”[4]

Major Arguments in “Why the Church

The authors of “Why the Church” base their subjective argumentation on the power of love. God’s love must be shown to practicing homosexuals; to determine that their sexual practice is against the law of God is to show them hatred rather than love:  

The core of our holiness message is love. Love does not mean we accept any behavior or belief whatsoever. It means we want the well-being of others…some LGBTQ+ behavior—including same-sex marriage can promote wellbeing. It is good and healthy…it represents the values of the Kingdom of God.[5]

I say “subjective” because the Nazarenes use their own imagination to determine what a loving God should do, although God, in His inspired Scriptures, clearly states that gay practice is an offense against Him. Yes, God loves sinners, but, No, God does not approve their sin. Alas, the Nazarene teachers dismiss all the texts that deny the validity of homosexual sex. They are seen as ambiguous at best, and as “clobber texts” at worst. There are, according to them, seven such biblical “clobber texts”: Genesis 1–2, Genesis 19:1–38; Leviticus 18:22; and 20:13; Romans 1:25–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and Jude 6-7, all of which clearly denounce homosexuality as offensive to God.[6]  (One might think that God is rather insistent, to be ignored at our peril!) 

Nazarene Hope

Says one church leader: “I want to see this denomination flourish and grow by allowing the Holy Spirit to continue to work through LGBTQ people of faith…”[7] One of these people of faith states: “God wrought all of this work (of counselling) through me while I was in a [sic] illicit homosexual relationship. The God who creates, created us all straight and gay alike…”[8] In fact, God created us as distinct sexual beings, male and female, just as he created the cosmos with distinctions—day and night, land and sea, and human beings made in his image, yet distinct from the Creator.

The Apostle Paul establishes a theological reason behind homosexual activity. In Romans 1:25, he lays down a rational principle of life in general: We human beings either recognize and worship God, or we worship creation. “They exchanged the truth about God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed Forever! Amen” In the very next verse, Paul says: “For this reason” (namely the content of the previous verse, namely the rejection of God as Creator. Those who reject God are free to engage in homosexuality.

“For this reason” shows the rational connection between verses 25 and 27. In other words homosexual behavior, sexual sameness (homo means “same”) is unnatural, since it is a way of not honoring the image of God as Creator. On the other hand, heterosexuality (hetero means “different”) recognizes the difference between the Creator and the creature as this is clearly stated in verse 25. In our sexuality, we human beings honor the otherness of God and thus human nobility. It is crucial to maintain the doctrine of creation. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, argues that “American political life will wither and die if it is severed from our Creator.” [9]

The author of Why the Church finally shows how his theory of God’s love is false. He denies being a “classical universalist” (God loves and saves everyone), but he does believe “the possibility that God’s love will ultimately redeem all creatures through loving persuasion.”[10] Thus we must love all practicing homosexuals.

To speak effectively about homosexuality, Christians must find a discourse that avoids \moralism, hatred, or bigotry, while still reaching to the heart of the issue. As we deal with “gay” sexuality, we need to remember that we may never hold contempt for gay persons. A homosexual person deserves respect and love. He or she is a unique and complex fellow human being, made in God’s image. We do not dare dismiss anyone, for each individual is made in God’s image. We are all affected by the Fall. “There is none righteous, no, not one!” Yet the gospel is the power of salvation to those who believe. If, as Paul puts it, God is rich in “kindness, forbearance and patience…that lead to repentance” (Romans 2:4), then we too must reflect those characteristics in our own lives. We are God’s people. We must love our homosexual friends not only by kindness, but also by explaining the entire Gospel, which deals both with human sin and with God’s gracious forgiveness for all who repent and turn to Him, in the work of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that the whole Nazarene denomination will not be overtaken by the message of this book.


[2] Mark Tooley, “Another Half Million Reportedly Exit United Methodism,” Juicy Ecumenism (June 13, 2024).

[3] Thomas Jay Oord and Lexa Oord, Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming, 328.

[4] Why the Church…, 329.

[5] Why the Church, 465.

[6] Colby Martin, UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality, Westminster John Knox Press (September 28, 2016).

[7] Why the Church…,53.

[8] Why the Church, 54.

[9] Delano Squires, The Heritage Foundation, Oct 5, 2022.

[10] Why the Church, 459.

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