Interview: More from Tony Campolo

A Baptist minister talks about gays in church and about the apocalyptic 'Left Behind' series.

Editor's note, December 2004: In July 2004, sociologist and evangelical leader Tony Campolo spoke with Beliefnet about his views on the 2004 election, women in the ministry, evangelical attitudes towards gays, and more. The material below was edited from the original interview transcript for space reasons. However, due to overwhelming interest in the interview, we are now making it available.

What position do you wish American evangelicals would take on homosexuality?


Continuing from earlier transcript

: As an evangelical who takes the Bible very seriously, I come to the first chapter of Romans and feel there is sufficient evidence there to say that same-gender eroticism is not a Christian lifestyle. That's my position. ....what we as Church people have a responsibility to give {homosexual people} is loving affirmation as they are. That does not mean that we support same-gender eroticism.] The overwhelming proportion of gay people in the church are celibate.

Is that statistic really out there?

I think I can come to that deduction from the following. According to the most recent study on sexuality done by the University of Chicago, approximately one percent of the male population are engaged in homosexual, erotic behavior, but about five percent of the population claim to have homosexual feelings.


Now, if those statistics are to be believed in, and I think that they are--I think that is the most solid study made to date on sexual behavior--then we would have to say that four out of every five gay people are not engaged in erotic behavior and that is the reason why I'm saying that. But beyond that, on the anecdotal level, I constantly meet gay people in churches who are faithful Christians who are not engaged in any erotic behavior and who resent being told by the Church that they can change if they just get sincere about the whole task.

Your book mentions a celibate, gay "covenant" between two men who have agreed to live together celibately. You seem to put that forward as a possible "solution."

I get a lot of criticism on this one because the truth is what I'm really doing is reporting. As a sociologist, I interviewed many, many gay people when I was doing a study as part of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania some 20 years ago. I met several gay men who said that they were in relationships that were nonsexual in the sense that there was no erotic behavior going on between them, and I simply said, "If two men who are lonely are living together and are in fact, not engaging in some kind of erotic exchange, I have a hard time condemning that." I don't see how that's unbiblical or un-Christian.

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