In Romans 14:1–15:13, Paul presents a model of Christlike acceptance for early believers to practice in cases where there are legitimate disputes over issues not essential to the gospel. To this same end, my paper examines Paul’s exhortation with a special focus on Christians who reach differing conclusions about Scripture’s teaching on sexuality and gender, and live their lives accordingly. It advocates for a theology of Christlike acceptance that can help the church serve others better in Jesus’s name and to God’s glory, without our needing to agree a priori on the affirming vs non-affirming debate. This could make us a better witness to the polarized, watching world around us, and empower us to minister more effectively to LGBTQ people who want to follow Jesus, yet experience evangelical Christians as a deterrent to doing so.
I. Romans 14:1–15:13 in Its Broader New Testament Context
a. Circumcision and the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15)
b. Food Offered to Idols (1 Corinthians 8–10)
c. Dietary Laws, Circumcision, and Holy Days (Galatians 1–2)
II. Romans 14:1–15:13 in the Context of the Book As a Whole
III. Four Statements about Christlike Acceptance in Romans 14:1–15:13
a. What are the moral, behavioral issues in dispute?
b. Who are the weak and strong in faith and how should they act?
c. What is meant by quarreling, despising, and passing judgment?
d. What is Christlike acceptance that glorifies God?
IV. Common Concerns about Accepting Affirming LGBTQ Christians
a. Can those choosing gay marriage or gender transitioning really be considered Christians?
b. Should gay marriage and gender identity be considered disputable matters for Christians?
c. Is Christlike acceptance the same as affirming one’s behavior?
V. Acceptance of Affirming LGBTQ CHRISTIANS in Practice
a. Acceptance on an individual basis
b. Acceptance in Christian organizations