Tony Campolo Calls for Full Inclusion of LGBT Into the Church

Tony Campolo

The founder of Red Letter Christians and Emergent Church leader Tony Campolo has called for full inclusion of gay and lesbian “Christians” into the church.  Campolo is a “Progressive Christian” (read: liberal) so it comes as no surprise that he would go against the clear teaching of Scripture on the sin of homosexuality.  For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. Campolo and red letter Christianity, listen to Apprising Ministries Ken Silva describe what he believes:

[O]n March 10, 2008 on his PBS show Tavis Smiley asks Tony Campolo, “what is a ‘Red Letter Christian?’” Campolo replies:

Well, he or she is somebody whose beliefs are very traditional in a sense. It’s a person that believes in the Apostles’ Creed, who believes salvation comes from Jesus, who believes that the bible was inspired by God, but whose politics are not aligned with the religious right. (Online source)

Hmm, that doesn’t sound quite right. Let me see if I can fix that:

“Well, he or she is somebody whose beliefs are very ‘traditional’ in an ecumenical sense where most any belief that considers itself Christian is accepted as simply another ‘tradition.’ It’s a person that relishes the brevity and non-specifiity of the Apostles’ Creed, who believes that the Bible becomes inspired by God as a given passage ‘speaks’ to them, but whose politics are not aligned with anyone we broad-brush as being part of some nebulous religious right.”

Now the stage is set for the reading of Campolo’s statement:

As a young man I surrendered my life to Jesus and trusted in Him for my salvation, and I have been a staunch evangelical ever since. I rely on the doctrines of the Apostles Creed. I believe the Bible to have been written by men inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. I place my highest priority on the words of Jesus, emphasizing the 25th chapter of Matthew, where Jesus makes clear that on Judgment Day the defining question will be how each of us responded to those he calls “the least of these”.

From this foundation I have done my best to preach the Gospel, care for the poor and oppressed, and earnestly motivate others to do the same. Because of my open concern for social justice, in recent years I have been asked the same question over and over again: Are you ready to fully accept into the Church those gay Christian couples who have made a lifetime commitment to one another?

While I have always tried to communicate grace and understanding to people on both sides of the issue, my answer to that question has always been somewhat ambiguous. One reason for that ambiguity was that I felt I could do more good for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters by serving as a bridge person, encouraging the rest of the Church to reach out in love and truly get to know them. The other reason was that, like so many other Christians, I was deeply uncertain about what was right.

It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.

For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place? For some Christians, in a tradition that traces back to St. Augustine, the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, which obviously negates the legitimacy of same-sex unions. Others of us, however, recognize a more spiritual dimension of marriage, which is of supreme importance. We believe that God intends married partners to help actualize in each other the “fruits of the spirit,” which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, often citing the Apostle Paul’s comparison of marriage to Christ’s sanctifying relationship with the Church. This doesn’t mean that unmarried people cannot achieve the highest levels of spiritual actualization – our Savior himself was single, after all – but only that the institution of marriage should always be primarily about spiritual growth.

In my own life, my wife Peggy has been easily the greatest encourager of my relationship with Jesus. She has been my prayer partner and, more than anyone else, she has discerned my shortcomings and helped me try to overcome them. Her loving example, constant support, and wise counsel have enabled me to accomplish Kingdom work that I would have not even attempted without her, and I trust she would say the same about my role in her life. Each of us has been God’s gift to the other and our marriage has been a mutually edifying relationship.

One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own. Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families. Furthermore, we should be doing all we can to reach, comfort and include all those precious children of God who have been wrongly led to believe that they are mistakes or just not good enough for God, simply because they are not straight.

As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.

Rest assured that I have already heard – and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.

However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.

I hope what I have written here will help my fellow Christians to lovingly welcome all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters into the Church.



The truth About Tony Campolo and Red Letter Christians by Ken Silva



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29 thoughts on “Tony Campolo Calls for Full Inclusion of LGBT Into the Church

  1. How interesting. On PBS Mr. Campolo describes a Red Letter Christian as a person who believes salvation comes from Jesus, who believes that the bible was inspired by God. But on Facebook the Red Letter Christians relate this story:

    “So we’re getting ready to run our first quarter page ad in a regional newspaper (still a secret which one) and we’re talking to the account rep explaining who we are. We’re the opposite of “The Christian Right,” we told him. “Oh so it’s just the Gospel,” he said, “none of this Leviticus and Revelation stuff.” Pretty much, we said. We like the red words. Haha!”

    So in my research it appears that the red letter Christians believe the bible is inspired by God in the parts they like, the parts they don’t like clearly aren’t inspired by God, because if they were inspired by God then the red letter Christians would like them.

    1. Yes! RLC’s like the words Jesus spoke and pretty much reject the rest of the Bible, which makes no sense if you believe in the Trinity. Most liberals don’t. They have a very low view of God. In fact, they’re in rebellion against God. Because they’re liberals they loathe the Christian Right for obvious reasons.

      According to Got Questions: The group chose the name for a couple of reasons: first, to stress that its political philosophy is based on Jesus’ teachings—a “What Would Jesus Do?” approach to governmental policy. Second, to appear apolitical—the appellation “Red Letter Christians” avoids the political connotations of labels such as “liberal” and “progressive,” and it facilitates the group’s claim that it transcends politics.

      Grace & peace,

  2. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6; 9-11

    These are my brothers and sisters, and those who agree with the above bible verse. If that makes me a “red letter Christian,” great. Call it whatever you want. I am a traditional Christian who knows that only Jesus saves and that the bible is God’s word, and all that good stuff. (I am not a Democrat or a Republican). I know homosexuality and abortion are sins. I will gladly die for my beliefs by signing my loyalty to Jesus in blood. I guess that makes me a ‘red’ letter Christian! Wondering if that is what he means in a way…

  3. Well it looks like the term ‘red letter Christian’ needs to be defined some more because I defined where I am and it does not fit that other description mentioned above. I never looked it up but was just going on what this Campolo guy was saying.

  4. Wow.
    Really. Another case of False Teacher and a Very Wrong Doctrine.
    A very Compromising teaching.
    Beware of WOLVES in Sheep Clothing.

  5. Mr Campolo – you possibly think much too highly of yourself. That decision is simply not yours to make. The Bible Clearly speaks on this topic. You are confusing your popularity with authority. I would encourage you to keep praying until you realign yourself with God’s word. Compassion and love to Homosexual community is not expressed in the compromise of truth.

  6. Mr. Campolo……we’ve heard you for the past 40 years attempting to liberalize the gospel as “you” see it. Just like the “approval suck” that you are……your anchor waivers to and fro along with whatever the “hot pocket” topic is of the day. Your version of the Gospel is “cheap” and changes every decade toward whatever social whims “you” think make sense. Thank God, “God” doesn’t agree with you and has already spoken about a “Gay or Lesbian” lifestyle, and while you “peddle” the LBT agenda “into” the church…….you need to ask yourself….Is the Apostle Paul right on this matter…..or are you??? Read your Bible like it’s not just a suggestion, and you’ll find the “anchor” you so desperately need. I once regarded you as someone who connected “lost” culture to the church…..but when you blatantly push the Homosexual agenda “into” the church……it proves you have no respect “For” God’s truth, nor His People. Feed the sheep Tony…….that’s what Jesus said to do…..and instead….you push “Gay freedom” into the Church, dude….you are clearly lost!!!

  7. So he is right about the song that some sing during invitations to salvation…”Just As I Am” – But the hymn does not say ” Stay just as you are…” NO! That is what sanctification is all about. So if I was to go to his church and say, “well there is nothing the ‘red letters’ that speaks on cocaine, so here I am. I want salvation but I’m going to keep snorting lines of blow” – I wonder how he would respond. I have never heard of this guy until now and am saddened by how many he may lead astray.

  8. Congratulations to Mr Campolo for coming to this position of compassion and acceptance of gay brothers and sisters. He is not wrong, because demonstrating love is never wrong and transcends any ‘principles’ or dogma.

    Oh, and he doesn’t cherry-pick the Bible any more than any other Christian – Give to all who ask? Turn the other cheek? Go the extra mile? Sell all you have? Love your enemy? We don’t see too much of that from Christians these days, specially the ones who like quoting the gay-clobber verses.

    1. gay clobbering, thief clobbering, pride clobbering, fornicator clobbering, adulterer clobbering, even (and especially) legalism clobbering, they’re all Red Letters. If you believe that Jesus is God, the entire bible is printed in Red Letters.

    2. Andy,

      Congrats are not in order for any person who embraces sin; it is NOT loving and compassionate to embrace sinners and not speak of their crimes against a holy God! How is true biblical love demonstrated? By pointing sinners to their sins, then to the Savior. No one who has been born from God will continue in habitual sin, which is why so many need to read 1 John chapter 3. Also, take note of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
      And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

      Take note of verse 11, where it states ‘such WERE some of you’, this is past tense, meaning those mentioned in verses nine and ten are NO LONGER still in bondage to their pet sins. This speaks of the new birth that must take place if one is to enter God’s kingdom. Only those who’ve been born from above by the power of God will flee their sins. Mr. Campolo proves he is void of this new birth by seeking to lower God’s standards and embrace sinners without warning them to repent as the Bible commands. Repentance is not a choice, it is a command by God “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” Acts 17:30

    3. Love is never wrong? I would submit that love is never wrong so long as we love what God loves. And we should in fact hate what God hates. Does it sound as though God loves homosexuality here:

      “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” – Lev 20:13

      Here are some more things that God clearly hates:

      There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
      haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. ~ Proverbs 6:16-19.

  9. Mr Campolo, oh, the “Apostles’ Creed,” eh? Not in the Bible that one; just another man-made thing, as evident by the little line that says, ‘He descended into hell.’
    Stay away from creeds, confessions, coalitions, clubs, cliques and all things false and stick to God’s Word. How difficult is it?

    1. I don’t have a problem with ‘he descended into hell,’ as long as we understand that ‘hell’ is a poor translation of ‘hades’ & ‘sheol’ and simply means the grave or the realm of the dead.

  10. Andy,
    “He is not wrong, because demonstrating love is never wrong and transcends any ‘principles’ or dogma.”
    You have fallen into the trap so cleverly laid for you and all those who think that affirming gays in their abomination is love. Yet by your own admission there are “gay-clobbering verses” but you in your new found delusion of “love” think that it is ok to ignore God’s Word in favor of your lust to disprove those that tell you the truth. Is it compatible with your newly formed version of “love” to lie to a person? Would you tell a murderer that he can continue to murder others yet upon his death be welcomed with open arms into the Kingdom of Heaven? What about those who steal, continue to steal and never repent before they die? They may claim to be “Christian”, but such a claim is meaningless and rendered void by their unrepentant heart. So why do you, in your newly found “wisdom” and “love” try to convince others that there is such a thing as a “gay Christian?” How about a “killer-Christian?” Or a “thieving-Christian?”

    Thankfully, Scripture does “clobber” the gays by saying that if they remain unrepentant that they will indeed suffer the consequences of their rebellion: eternal damnation in hell. Would you have God lie to your gay friends? Would you have Him lie to us? That is precisely what you are doing when you say that a “Christian” can be gay also, because God never condones or accommodates sin of any type. Rather, He demands that righteous judgment be passed upon all sins. Jesus Christ paid for the sins of all those who believe on Him. If one chooses to not believe on Him for forgiveness, mercy, and salvation then he will pay-eternally-for his own sins. This includes the gay-fraud-Christian.

    Campolo is teaching a lie, no matter the smooth words and “loving” logic he uses, it is still a lie and that makes him a lair. Would you insist that there is such a thing as a “lair-Christian?” Those who endorse, encourage, support, and agree with Campolo are in the same boat-they are all liars. Liars because they have tried to replace the eternal and unchanging Word of God with their own convoluted “wisdom”. So Andy, do you want to be numbered with the likes of Liar Campolo or the Righteous Savior? Choose. 1 Cor. 6:9-11. 2 Peter 2:6. Jude 1:7 Rev. 21:8. It is the greatest display of hatred to deceive a person into believing all is well with their soul when the exact opposite is the case. This is the hatred (and they call it “love”) that is displayed by ALL those who say a homosexual can remain in his sins and be in favor with God (Who hates his abomination) at the same time. Today is a good day to turn from this lie.

  11. The bible was made clear for the gentiles, and homosexuality IS fornication:

    Acts 15:22-29 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

    They wrote this letter by them:

    The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

    To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:


    Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.


  12. FORGET Augustine. As far as biblical evidence for proper human functioning within marriage we need look no farther than the 10 Commandments – “Honor your FATHER and you MOTHER.” This was clearly written with two different genders in mind.

    As far as the church being on the wrong side of issues in the past, how have those “wrong sides” played out? Much of the dysfunction we see leading to homosexuality flows from role confusion and an anti authoritarian orientation, both fruits of rampant divorce in our culture. Has granting women positions of authority in the church contributed to role confusion – or justified it?

    Compolo may be RIGHT on this point. There is biblical evidence that being gay is NOT a choice. Romans 1:24 says, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” In other words, there is a point where the fruit of sinful behavior results in slavery to the behavior. Homosexuality is the new SLAVERY. And Compolo supports it!

    Mr. Compolo has long been an ENIGMA among Bible believers. I can only guess that his gifts of compassion outweigh his grasp on the truth. Like Solomon’s wives of old, who led him into error, it seems Mrs. Compolo plays a role in his overly empathic perspective.

    However just as much danger for error resides with those whose harshness outweighs their compassion. Jesus’ compassion for the woman caught in adultery should should give us pause. However his admonition to “go and sin no more” reminds us that God sees extra marital (man and woman) sexual activity as morally wrong.

    The world and Mr. Compolo would have us move beyond calling sin – sin, or even calling sin – sickness. He challenges us to call sin – normal human functioning. In a sense he is right! But just because human’s have a penchant for sin, does not mean it is acceptable in this life or the next.

  13. Tony C…

    Have you lost your marbles? Where is your spine? You canNOT be serious that you want to include and embrace a group that would rather spit on the Bible or worse…

    You must be in the early stages of Dementia…SERIOUSLY! How could you stray for FAR from Biblical Christianity?

    Pray that the Lord jerks the snot out of you and wakes you up to the evil that this courts ruling has/will cause…

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