Editor’s note: This article is the first of a five-part series. Part two is available here, part three here, part four here and part five here.

All over the world LGBTQ+ people hunger and thirst for the change of mind and heart required for them to be fully accepted, welcomed and loved in family, religion and society.

These articles will detail 10 steps in the journey toward my own change of mind and heart – not because it is everybody’s story, but because maybe it will be helpful, especially for those whose journey begins in some kind of conservative religious space.

I will start at the end: My current belief is that LGBTQ+ people collectively constitute a gender and sexual orientation minority scattered among the human family – despite every cultural (including religious) effort to suppress them out of existence or change them to fit traditional norms, including surging hostility and even persecution in the U.S. today.

I now believe their situation is, in many ways, parallel to that of other minorities who have suffered oppression at the hands of existing power structures in church and society – which includes the power to name and frame reality.

In Christian circles, of course, this power to name and frame reality is associated with longstanding interpretations of the Bible as propounded by leaders in our faith traditions.

I believe the moral call of God to Christians in this kairos moment is to include LGBTQ+ persons on the same terms as any other person or group.

I believe that this is not fundamentally about changing our Christian sexual ethic — because the heart of my sexual ethic, at least, remains unchanged and traditional — the framework is covenantal-marital and the norm lifetime covenant fidelity.

So, the issue for me is not sexual ethics per se, but about widening the circle of who is included in a sexual ethic that hasn’t changed. And prior to that, it is the crucial question of who is fully included in Christian community and the reach of the gospel of God’s love for humanity in Jesus Christ. The issue is about the nature of the gospel and the church far more than it is about sexual ethics.

I now believe that all halfway measures such as “welcoming but not affirming” or the earlier “love the sinner, hate the sin” are transitional – and thin veils for further harm. They ultimately fail to include LGBTQ+ people in the Christian community on equal terms with everyone else, which I believe violates the meaning of the gospel.

The fact that this half-hearted, quasi-acceptance also does continued spiritual, psychological, familial and ecclesial harm is a major factor to consider. But we only know about this harm if we listen to the voices of LGBTQ+ believers.

I do recognize that individual LGBTQ+ persons who are committed Christians find themselves at various points in their own journeys of self-acceptance, or of integrating their sexuality, gender and faith. In my own teaching and pastoral ministry, I seek to offer a safe space for people on that journey, wherever they might be.

People very often ask me how my mind and heart changed. How did I move from being a fairly traditional evangelical ethics professor to someone who came out as a full-throated ally and who called for theological revision to enable full inclusion?

Sometimes, I have trouble identifying for myself every step on the journey in the precise order in which they happened. I think God was involved, and there is mystery when God acts.

Still, the articles to follow in the days ahead are my effort to identify my top 10 reasons why I changed my mind to arrive at this conclusion. With each reason, I will offer a biblical text that, in my view speaks, directly to how and why my thinking changed.

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