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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Testing Manager

£30000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

£17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Consultant - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ope...

Recruitment Genius: Pricing & Purchasing Analyst

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest independent ...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash