An Evangelical Case for LGBT Rights

C.S. Pearce, an evangelical turned progressive, has authored a book that “discusses and deconstructs the Bible-based arguments that conservative Christians use against LGBT people, arguments that Pearce calls ‘myths.'” Pearce’s family left the Presbyterian Church because they felt it was too liberal and she grew up in a nondenominational evangelical church. This We Believe: The Christian Case for Gay Civil Rights “demonstrates how traditional Christian beliefs about homosexuality are hurting all of the church, especially its most vulnerable members: young gay people who are convinced that their very essence is sinful.  It summarizes the latest scientific research, current Biblical scholarship, and the teachings of Jesus to show why an ever-growing number of Christian leaders and laypeople now support marriage equality and other civil rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people.”

“The time seemed ripe for making a thoughtful case to conservative Christians to encourage them to at least reexamine and hopefully change their beliefs, and my background enabled me to do it in a way that was more likely to appeal to them. For many years now, I’ve felt like I needed to do something to make up for some of the damage that’s been done.”

From The Advocate:

In the book Pearce discusses and deconstructs the Bible-based arguments that conservative Christians use against LGBT people, arguments that Pearce calls “myths.” She goes on to use the Bible to show that Christianity does not require followers to be antigay, and she examines the harm done to LGBT people in the name of religion…

Pearce, now a progressive Episcopalian, grew up in Southern California in a conservative evangelical Christian family, which was one of the factors that motivated her to write the book. “Because I come from a conservative evangelical background, I am very familiar with their beliefs about LGBT issues — many years ago I used to share those beliefs,” she says in an interview with The Advocate. “Also, I have witnessed some of the very damaging and hurtful things some of my relatives and evangelical friends have done to gay people because of these beliefs.”…

She says many Christians don’t realize the harm their homophobia causes. “In the 1990s one of my relatives ‘consoled’ a mother who had lost her closeted, sweet son to AIDS with words to the effect that it was so tragic that her son had chosen to turn his back on God and was thus reaping the consequences of his actions,” Pearce says. “Another friend and many members of her close-knit extended family completely repudiated her brother when he came out, which sent him into a spiral of depression that affected him for years.”

Therefore, she spends much of the book detailing the damage done by people who think they’re doing God’s work, and she also sets out to give conservative Christians “a strong Biblical case for gay civil rights, since the Bible is very important to them and they usually don’t realize what a strong case can be made,” she says.

What makes her book different from others? “It’s basically a summary of the issues, all in one place, that takes an hour to read and makes what I hope is a very eloquent case from an extremely evangelical-friendly perspective,” Pearce says. “There are a lot of excellent books out there that already make good cases from a variety of viewpoints, but most of them are much longer. I wanted something short and inexpensive so the intended audience would be more likely to pick it up and give it a shot. It’s counterintuitive or perhaps crazy to write a book specifically for people who are skeptical and may not want to actually read it. So I tried to make this as accessible as possible — hopefully they will read it if a friend or relative hands it to them.”

Read the full story in The Advocate.

You may purchase a copy of This We Believe: The Christian Case for Gay Civil Rights at the author’s website. Pearce has written articles in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times about the book.

Learn more at MLP’s Biblical Interpretation resources page.