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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

An Update for 2014: "How can a gay man be a priest?"

[first posted under "My Notes" on Facebook for profile "brojefferywolfe" on May 30, 2011]

It has been a while since I have posted an article.   But with bans on Same-Sex marriages being thrown out as unconstitutional in states all across the country (Indiana being the latest that legalizes Same-Sex Marriage - pending release of a Stay Order), I thought it appropriate to revisit a note I received from a good friend of mine in high school with whom I graduatated.

Here was her note to me and my response (both currently posted on my Profile Page on Facebook (brojefferywolfe)
Recently I received a question from a friend that had noticed my posts on Facebook and deduced that I was gay. The question was essentially "How can a gay man be a priest?". 

This person asked a very valid question of me that required me to carefully think through  answering the question with dignity and respect.  I share this person's question with you here along with my response. It is a question that often comes up whenever the topic of "gay" and "christian" meet.  I do not intend to know all the ways to answer this question. I can only say that my response came from years of myself wrestling with the same question.  If you have read my blog up to this point, then you already know this is not a new question, even for me:


I ask this w/ utmost respect for you and without malice.........I consider us friends.....But doesn't it say in
the Bible that homosexuality is an Abomination and detestable sin?

In First Corinthians 6:9 it states it is "unrighteous and will not inherit God's Kingdom.  Now I am not a real religious person, grew up Southern Baptist....and don't pretend to know the Bible from cover to cover and would not know enough about it to argue w/ anyone... I just don't understand how an openly gay person can become a priest in the church. Can you please explain that to me. As I said I do not mean any harm in this email...I just have a heavy burden on my heart about this and just want some clarification.  [Anonymous to protect privacy]

That is a great question. For centuries individuals have wrestled with this question. If you look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, what was the sin? Today's preacher's would have you believe it is homosexuality. However, if you read the text carefully, one discovers that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, but in-hospitality [and forced sex - i.e. male rape]...

Much can also be said if you look at the Bible from a Sociological point of view (purely academic). Much of the old world in Christ's time and even up through the middle ages was primarily a patriarchal society. Man was dominate and women submissive. However, I doubt today that many of you would agree today that women are subservient to men. As a society we have grown up, so to speak.  Christ himself never spoke about homosexuality directly. In fact, there are two simple rules I try to follow every day. The first is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". The second is the Great Commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself" [see Luke 10:27].  If God does not make mistakes, and everything that God creates is sacred, then I am not a mistake and I am sacred. It has once been said "God don't make no junk". As a follower of Christ it is not for me to judge whose lifestyle is more holy - Straight or Gay. My responsibility as a follower of Christ is to follow the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment.  Judgment is reserved for God - my responsibility is to treat all with dignity and respect [ironically, I had written this long before Pope Francis was elected and shared a similar statement on a long plane ride back to theVatican after one of his trips - good for Pope Francis].   I know this may not provide an appropriate response to the question for some, but if we truly are followers of Christ, it makes no difference whether a person is gay or straight. It only matters if they love God with all their heart, soul, mind and body.
Often Christ uses the lowly and seemingly unjust to be a beacon and light to the world. Christ teaches that those who are rejected by society often become the great defenders of the faith.  Mary Magdalene has often been described as a prostitute and whore. Yet, it was not Peter or Paul, nor James nor John who announced to the other disciples that Christ had Risen. It was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph and a third Mary. [Mary Magdalene was therefore the first evangelist.] When the Pharisees first brought Mary Magdalene to Christ, they asked Christ what should be done with her because according to the Jewish Law, since she slept with a man who was not her husband, she should be stoned to death. They asked Christ what he says about this situation. Christ paused, and then wisely said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7).
[A tactic which Jesus used frequently when asked questions - he would ask a question back, usually to the Pharisees as it was usually they who were asking Jesus questions to try and trip him up.] You see, just because a person is straight, it does not mean they are more holy or without sin. In fact, let me ask with whom would God be more pleased?  A straight man who sleeps with many women who are not his wife, but goes to confession every Sunday? Or a gay man who is celibate or in a monogamous relationship and dedicates his life to serving others as Christ served others? Who does God see as more Christ like? You see, it is easy to create "second class" citizens, because it makes those of us who are not in the "second class" by society's standards "better". But you and I both know the dangers of creating a class of people that are considered lower or beneath others. Hitler did that and look at the holocaust that followed.

I applaud my friend for asking the question. It is not an easy question ask nor is it an easy question to answer. In fact, I today, still wrestle with the same question - but I have faith that there are no coincidences in life and that I'm here to serve a purpose.  If you haven't read my blog on my calling (, take a moment and read it in total [starting from the earliest entry which is at the bottom - the default setting on Blogger]. Then you will maybe see how God can call a gay man to be a priest.  Keep wrestling with these questions. Usually I find that in the quiet of the night, God will speak to me and give me peace about these questions.  "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice thetlog that is in your own eye?" (see Matt 7:3). 
Sometimes all we can do is pray. Keep wrestling with God and these questions. Don't just accept what a church or preacher teaches. Dig into Scripture and learn for yourself.

May God bring you Peace in your search..

bro jeff 

I applaud my friend for having the courage to ask this question.  Sometimes we want simple answers to simple questions.  However, my experience has been, and my faith has taught me, and my journey has led me to believe, that there are no simple answers and there are certainly no simple questions.  I find that if I start worrying about others and the validity of their faith, I usually am not spending enough time exploring my own faith.  

Keep asking questions and keep looking for answers. I leave you all with verse from the Bible (Matt 7:7) and some comparative readings from different versions of the Bible, but verse itself is my prayer for each us...

New International Version (©1984)
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

New Living Translation (©2007)
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

English Standard Version (©2001)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

The above parallel translations come from the following:

Peace until next time...
Bro Jeff

It seemed appropriate to revisit this question and my meager attempt at a response.  I say this because a few years back a freshman undergraduate at Harvard University took two years off from school after completing his freshman year to research the very same topic.He too had heard fellow students state that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. So the young man decided to do something about this.  He would research the topic himself in the Hebrew and Christian Scriputres.  After almost two years of research, Matthew Vines held a lecture in his hometown of Witchita, Kansas at a church and gave a lecture.  The lecture was titled "The Gay Debate:  The Bible and Homosexuality".   It was about a one hour lecture in length.   The material cxam from his almost two years of exegetical work on this topic diving into the heart of every verse from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bibile which referenced homosexuality.  Matthew had a friend video his lecture so that he could post it on After the lecture, he posted the recording on YouTube.

The response to his video lecture on YouTube was phenomenal. It went viral almost immediately. Today it has been viewed by close to 750,000 internet users.    From this response on YouTube, Matthew felt called to continue this work but wanted to make it more widely available and at the same help educate others so they can help train and educate their churches.  Gathering a core group of friends, acquantances and leaders in contemporary Christian theology and pastors, he founded a Not for Profit organization called "The Reformation Project".   The mission of the Reformation Project in an nutshell is to eradicate homophobia from Christian (Protestant and Catholic) churches.  Quite a daunting task by any standard.

From his exegetical work to develop the lecture, to forming and founding the Not for Profit, Matthew felt this information should be written so that could read about his research rather than watching the lecture on Youube (especially reaching those either did not have a computer or were not computer savvy.  So with the help of his core group of friends and acquaintances, Matthew wrote a book based on his lecture and expounded upon the topic of his one hour lecture. 

He also had the idea that if he could train people from across the country on his research, they could then in turn train their local churches on the topic, allowing the message Matthew brought in his lecture to more people than he could do on his own.  In early 2013, The Reformation Project NFP solicted funds so that he could train 50 individuals (ideally one from every state in the US).  He wanted to be able to cover all expenses for the trainees (hotel, airfare, meals, etc.). The Reformation Project  successfully raised almost double the funds they calculcated they would need to do just that.   Then came sending out an annoucnement for applications to be submitted.  He literally was buried in applications (almost 10 times more than the 50 spos he would have for his inaugural training.  This year the training will be held near Washington D.C.  The next training is scheduled for this November (6th - 8th).  The Reformation Project has also posted future training sessions for 2015 (one in March in Kansas City and another in June in Atlanta, Ga).  This is how much people want to attend.  Matthew I am sure is literally overwhelmed at the requests for more training.

With his first book now published, it is called "God and the Gay Christian:  The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Marriage".  Matthew's book was just published on April 22, 2014 and released on May 2, 2014.  It is already a #1 Best Seller in Amazon's "Gender and Sexualtiy in Religious Studies".  He is already been receiving requests for guest appearances and speaking engagements across the country.  You can find out about upcoming Conferences and Speaking Engagements at

Years ago I was a Youth Pastor serving at Lawrence United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana (1986-87) and then at Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas .At the time I served at Custer Road UMC (1987-88), it was one of the fastest growing United Methodist Churches in the country.   During this time I had the privilege of meeting in person Dr. Tony Campolo, PhD. , a Sociologist and Progressive Evangelical who has the unique ability of using his Sociological training as a "lens" through which he can view and read the Bible.  By doing this, Tony Campolo has been able to bring to light topics and insights in the Bible which had yet been discovered.   A brilliant Sociologist and extremely successful Christian youth leader and speaker, I have an affinity for Dr. Campolo since I too am a Sociologist (with my undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Sociology with  a minor in Medical Sociology).

Dr. Campolo says of Matthew's book:                                 
Dr. Tony Campolo, Ph.D.
"For anyone who wants to know why some Evangelicals find that the Bible does not condemn same-gender marriage, Matthew Vines’ book answers the question. Christians who oppose gay marriage should consider what he has to say."
                  Dr Tony Campolo, Ph.D.
Dr. Campolo is an Alumnus and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern Univeristy in St. David's, Pennsylvania.  

Matthew Vines
Matthew's book is insightful, bringing a breath of fresh air on the topic of gender and the Christian Bible.  Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I had a youth leader to whom I looked up and admired.  Her name was Rev. Maggie McNaught.   During a discussion one night after Sunday night youth group meeting, the topic of Gay Christians came up.   One thing that has always stuck with me which Maggie said to me that night when I ask her about being a Christian and being Gay - she said, "Jeff, God don't make no junk".  That message has stuck with me all these years and I use it even today.

I was in high school back in the late 70's when she shared that phrase with me.  If you were to "google" that phrase today, it could could be attributed to many sources.   But for me, at the time, it didn't matter if Maggie came up with the phrase on her own, or if she borrowed it from one of a dozen sources, the message was clear to me - if God doesn't make junk, and God made me, and I am gay, then I am not junk.   And if I am gay and a Christian and I am not junk, then God created me to be exactly, no more and no less, the person I am today. God loves me just as I am because he created me to be just as I am. A topic which goes right along with gender and the Bible is the misconception that being Gay is a choice.  It is not.  It is no more a choice for me than being straight is for my parents.  It is just who they are. But, I digress.

Matthew's book brings that little phrase "God don't make no junk" to the millenial generation with a fresh and firey approach, tackling some of the most quoted "homosexual condemning" verses in the Bible.  And it could not come at a better time.

According to Forty to None, a Not for Profit working with homeless youth, states that there are over 500,000 homeless youth each year.   Up to 40% of those 500,000 homeless youth are LGBT.   These LGBT youth are kicked out of their homes by their parents because they either "came out" to their parents and/or told their parents they were "HIV+", or the leave voluntarily because the emotional abuse is too much to bare being told that being gay is a sin, day after day.   Today many have turned HIV into a moral issue (i.e. if you have HIV, you must be an immoral person doing immoral things).  This is nothing more than Bible thumping church propaganda.  HIV is nothing more than a disease.  We must treat those who have HIV the same as we treat those with cancer.

Jesus never once said it was wrong for two people of the same-sex to fall in love, get married and have family.  Matthew hopes that through his book, his organization "The Reformation Project" and the millenial generation and younger, will help eradicate homophobia from Christians (Protestants and Catholics) one day.
To my friend and the many, many Christians who also have been taught that homosexuality is a sin, I hope that through watching Matthew's video, reading about and even getting involved in The Reformation Project and finally reading Matthew's book, "God and the Gay Christian:  A Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Marriage" that my friend and many like her will begin to open their hearts and realize that Jesus was all about relationships.   He didn't found a religion.  He taught us how to live and love life and how to treat and love the people with whom we interact and with whom we come in contact .  There are no commandments from Jesus against homosexuality.

So what do we need to do in order to get to heaven.  Isn't that what being a Christian is all about?   Finding
Jesus explaining how
to get to heaven
our path to heaven and Jesus teach us to be kind and loving along the way.   When Jesus was asked, "Good Teacher.  What must I do to get to heaven?  Jesus replied with two simple acts.  Really the only commandments in all the New Testament which Jesus insisted upon.  He told the man who asked the question:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and body (The Great Commandment) and to "Love our Neighbor as ourselves" (The Golden Rule).
                                                          Luke 10:27

Jesus said there are only two things are required for one to get to heaven:  Follow the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule (Luke 10:27).  That is at the heart of the message of Jesus.  Be aware of everyone around you - rich, poor, black, white, straight, gay - and build relationships with these people you meet as you walk through life.  Be good to those relationships (even same-sex relationships) and you will find your way to heaven.

So to my high school classmate with whom I graduated high school and to the thousands of other who have been taught incorrectly that being Gay is a sin, please keep an open mind.   Take time (with your mind open) to watch Matthew's video.   Visit The Reformation Project website.   Get Matthew's book and read it.  When it comes down to it, regardless of our sex (gender), we are just people trying to find our way thorugh life and learn along the way what life it about.  So, to answer the questions, "Can a gay man (or woman, gay or straight, married or celiebate) be a Priest?"   Both Matthew and I would say "YES" (emphatically)


Bro Jeffery Wolfe,OSFC/n, is the Executive Director and a member of the Board of Directors for The Kristen Center, a faith-based not-for-profit community based organization dedicated to providing programs and services to those with HIV and those who care for them. Currently The Kristen Center offers targeted, customized HIV Support Groups for: Newly Diagnosed; Long Term Survivors; Family & Caregivers of those with HIV; and, Women with HIV. HIV Prevention programs are an essential core element of the services offered by The Kristen Center. You can learn more about The Kristen Center by going to or by checking out its Facebook Page at or visit their Twitter page at

Bro Jeff is also author of his blog “Following My Calling” (  You can reach Bro Jeff on his Facebook page at, on his Twitter page at or through the “Contact Us” page on St John XXIII Pastoral & Outreach Center website ( or on Skype at “rev_jwolfe”.  You can also

write Bro Jeff at, or at

In addition, Bro Jeffery Wolfe,OSFC/n is the Director and Administrator of St John xxiii Pastoral & Outreach Center - UACC in Indianapolis, IN. It was founded April 4, 2011 in Indianapolis on the East-side in Irvington. Bro Jeff attends seminary as a third year student at Holy Spirit enrolled in the Master of Divinity Program. As the Director of the St. John xxiii Pastoral & Outreach Center - UACC in Indianapolis, Bro Jeff serves Indianapolis by offering a Progressive, Vatican II Independent Catholic parish which offers communion, hospital visitation, shut-in visitation, prayer groups, RCIA, weddings and funerals, and other traditional liturgies associated with Catholicism. St John XXIII Pastoral & Outreach Center - UACC is a parish under the jurisdiction of the United American Catholic Church.

St. John xxiii Parish denies NO ONE for ANY reason from receiving the Holy Eucharist. ALL are welcome at our Mass regardless of status (divorced, single, married, gay, straight, bi-sexual, trans-gendered). As a UACC parish, we believe as Pope John XXIII did that Christ died for all, FOR ALL. 

Consider joining us. Contact Bro Jeff at or go to the "Contact Us" page at You can also visit St John XXIII POC at their Facebook page at or on their twitter page at

Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways [1].
The statistics for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender homeless youth are even more shocking, as this group represents 20-40% of all homeless young people [2]. Considering that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth represent an estimated 3-5% of the total youth population, these numbers are disproportionately high. And while even a single homeless youth on the streets is one too many, the disparity of gay and transgender youth that are homeless is unfathomable.
- See more at:
 Each year, between 500,000 and 1.6 million youth in the U.S. are homeless or runaways - See more at: