Prominent evangelical pastor Reverend Steve Chalke declares support for monogamous same sex relationships

Decision which will send shockwaves through Britain’s evangelical community

A prominent evangelical pastor has taken the highly unusual step of publicly declaring his support for monogamous same sex relationships in a decision which will send shockwaves through Britain’s evangelical community.

Reverend Steve Chalke, head of the Oasis Church in Waterloo, made the public declaration in a lengthy article on his charity’s own website explaining his theological reasoning for abandoning opposition to gay relationships.

His decision comes at a time of small but growing acceptance of homosexuality among some evangelicals. Earlier this month The Independent reported how a handful of evangelical pastors and churches were beginning to welcome gay followers with open arms but largely in secret for fear of the backlash it might create. 

In a deeply personal and heartfelt plea, Rev Chalke criticises Christianity’s traditional rejection of “faithful gay relationships” saying it has left far too many people feeling “vulnerable and isolated.”

“When we refuse to make room for gay people to live in loving, stable relationships, we consign them to lives of loneness, secrecy and fear,” the Baptist minister writes. “It's one thing to be critical of a promiscuous lifestyle - but shouldn't the Church consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships?”

He recognises many fellow evangelicals will be incensed by his stance. “Some will think that I have strayed from scripture - that I am no longer an evangelical,” he notes. “I have formed my view, however, not out of any disregard for the Bible's authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously.”

Much of his article – the extended version of which runs to 5,000 words – centres around the theological and scriptural justifications for accepting loving homosexual relationships – something which is deeply important to evangelical communities who place enormous importance on Biblical purity.

Rev Chalke argues that through scriptural reinterpretation, those who claim the Bible condemns all forms of homosexuality will eventually become the minority view in the same way that those who advocated Biblical justifications for slavery and a secondary role for women have also become minorities.

And in a damning critique of his own community he even blames Christian stigmatisation of homosexuals as something which has caused genuine physical harm.

“People’s lives are at stake,” he says. “Numerous studies show that suicide rates among gay people, especially young people, are comparatively high. Church leaders sometimes use this data to argue that homosexuality is unhealthy when tragically it's anti-gay stigma, propped up by Church attitudes, which, all too often, drives these statistics.”

Fellow evangelicals who support a more tolerant approach towards homosexuality have described Rev Chalke’s public declaration as a potential “game changer”.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, commented: “Chalke's position cuts across the standard stereotype within both the media and many sections of the church: namely that sexuality is a straightforward liberal-versus-conservative theological issue. Instead, his theological plea to the churches is solidly biblical in its assumptions and focused on the person of Christ, but the outcomes he reaches on this basis are relational and inclusive.”

Meanwhile the prominent t American evangelical pastor Tony Campolo, said: “Steve’s public declaration in support of Civil Partnerships will cause reverberations far and wide. His statement represents the first time that a major evangelist and leader in the Evangelical community has come out in support of same-sex relationships.”

Campolo retains what he describes as a “conservative” position on homosexuality but he has long been willing to dialogue with those – including his wife and fellow preacher Peggy Campolo – who take a more open view to loving same sex relationships. Alongside fellow American pastors Jay Bakker and Brian McClaren, they have argued for a much greater willingness among evangelicals to be more tolerant of homosexuality. Chalke’s addition is the first time a prominent evangelical pastor with an active church congregation in Britain has come out publicly along similar lines.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all