The Rapidian

Ethics and Religion talk - Welcoming LGBTQ I

Linda B. asks...What about these churches saying all are welcoming/open and affirming yet preach against LGBTQ?

What is Ethics and Religion Talk?

“Ethics and Religion Talk,” answers questions of ethics or religion from a multi-faith perspective. Each post contains three or four responses to a reader question from a panel of nine diverse clergy from different religious perspectives, all based in the Grand Rapids area. It is the only column of its kind. No other news site, religious or otherwise, publishes a similar column.

The first five years of columns, published in the Grand Rapids Press and MLive, are archived at More recent columns can be found on by searching for the tag “ethics and religion talk.”

We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up on the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].

/The Rapidian

Along the same line, Carol H. asks...I was a member of the UMC. In the same "rulebook" it states both that all people are of sacred worth and the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with scripture. Is that saying a person can be gay as long as they keep it a secret?

Note from Rabbi Krishef: I am giving the first set of responses to this question from panelists representing religious institutions who profess to be open to all, but nonetheless maintain that their scriptures forbid same-sex relationships. The second set will be from those who search for or embrace an alternative position.

Father Michael Nasser, who writes from an Eastern Christian perspective and is Pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Church, responds:

“Orthodox Christianity, by its very definition, welcomes all who wish to seek life in Jesus Christ, by doing what He said those who want to follow Him must do: deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. As I heard a priest say recently, ‘We are a come-as-you-are church, but not a stay-as-you-are church.’ All of us are called to repent of the actions which lead us away from God. We don't see our sinful passions and temptations as defining us, but as redefining us. The most authentic version of ourselves is when we are holy, like Christ is holy. All of us are called to live lives of joyful repentance, finding freedom from our passions by voluntarily submitting to the way of Christ. Those with homosexual tendencies are welcome to struggle alongside those with heterosexual lust, along with all the variations of our sinful passions. Together we pray, fast and work toward loving all, striving to avoid the temptation of anything that leads us off that path.”

Father Kevin Niehoff, O.P., a Dominican priest who serves as Adjutant Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Grand Rapids, responds:

“No, please reflect on the words of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document, Ministry to persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care, November 2016.

“ ‘The pervasive influence of contemporary culture creates, at times, significant difficulties for the reception of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. In this context, there is need of a special effort to help persons with a homosexual inclination understand Church teaching. At the same time, it is important that Church ministers listen to the experiences, needs, and hopes of the persons with a homosexual inclination to whom and with whom they minister. Dialogue provides an exchange of information, and also communicates a respect for the innate dignity of other persons and a respect for their consciences. Authentic dialogue, therefore, is aimed above all at the rebirth of individuals through interior conversion and repentance, but always with profound respect for consciences and with patience and at the step-by-step pace indispensable for modern conditions. Such dialogue facilitates an ongoing, interior conversion for all parties truly engaged in the exchange.

“ ‘We extend a word of thanks to our brothers and sisters who have labored so patiently and faithfully in pastoral ministry and outreach to persons with a homosexual inclination. They have done so at times under adverse and difficult conditions. They have set an example for this important service to the Church.’ ”

Dr Sahibzada, the Director of Islamic Center and Imam of the Mosque of Grand Rapids, responds:

“All believers are welcome in the Masjid regardless of their factional variances and sinful life within their Faith.

“Violation of firm rules results in dire consequences. E.g.. murderers must face punishment under constitution to protect lives. 

“Similarly, God has given guidance for betterment of humankind. If someone goes against that law, then one must be dealt with legal procedure instructed by God without any distortion and misrepresentation. God has already declared major sins and one of them is sodomy. The living example in human history is, destruction of people of Lot, due to their invention of this evil action which did not exist among earlier revealed Books to the Prophets. They were destroyed in such a way that there are no traces of their history except Dead Sea.

“The whole approach to this issue is under a firm belief in God given guidance and there is no grey area. There is nothing marked on the face of any individual to which category he or she belongs. If someone is a believer, then there is no need to declare sins. It is not a matter of keeping a secret, but that person must repent and seek forgiveness instead of speaking publicly about a sinful life. In such situations, a person must face consequences. Pulpits are preaching the guidance of God about any issue. No one can disobey or play with the law of God. Governments’ agencies take extreme measures whoever dare to go against man-made Law.”


This column answers questions of Ethics and Religion by submitting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders in the Grand Rapids area. We’d love to hear about the ordinary ethical questions that come up in the course of your day as well as any questions of religion that you’ve wondered about. Tell us how you resolved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].


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