Elton John in 2005 | Photo by orchidthief via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1nZfjTK)

Elton John in 2005 | Photo by orchidthief via Flickr (http://bit.ly/1nZfjTK) Photo by orchidthief via Flickr

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It’s a pretty remarkable statement, coming from the man who once said he would “ban religion completely.” But Elton John is now invoking Jesus in the case for gay marriage. The performer told Dermot Murnaghan, a host on the UK’s Sky News:

“The church hierarchy, the traditionalists, might be up in arms about [gay marriage] but times have changed…If Jesus Christ was alive today, I cannot see him, as the Christian person that he was and the great person that he was, saying this could not happen.”

Four years ago, John spoke publicly for the first time about a former lover who had committed suicide, torn between his religious beliefs and his identity as a gay man. The grief behind that incident was, in part, what led to John producing the play “Next Fall,” about a couple whose differing religious beliefs were the source of great strife. In some ways, John’s statements about Jesus are consistent with the “spiritual-but-not-religious” community who would reject organized Christianity of the sort that would label being gay a sin, but would embrace the person of Jesus. “He was all about love and compassion and forgiveness and trying to bring people together,” John said, “and that is what the church should be about.”

There is plenty of debate in the church about the Bible passages that refer to sexual sin. Some argue that the church has misunderstood Biblical passages about same-sex sexuality when it has condemned gay marriage; others hold to the traditional position that the Bible clearly denounces homosexuality. Elton John isn’t necessarily the person who will force the conversation further within the church, but he is one among many who hold Jesus up as a central figure in the case for gay marriage. He’s got company, too–President Obama famously cited his Christian faith as a reason for changing his mind on gay marriage in 2012.

“It’s no good putting up a wall and saying I’m not talking to these people” who oppose gay marriage, John told Murnaghan. “The only way things get solved is by talking to people.”

Categories: Beliefs


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Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura Turner is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. In addition to being a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog, she has also written for publications such as Books & Culture and The Bold Italic. She is interested in the intersection of church and culture.


  1. It’s easy and popular to pull out the Jesus “love and compassion and bringing people together card,” but that is an incomplete picture. Read the Gospels and you will see that those things are true, along with a call to repentance, a holy lifestyle, a mission of making new followers of Jesus, obedience and forsaking sin. Part of the challenge of the Christian life is the balance of both truth and love. You cannot have one without the other. Often the church has swung between these two and correcting mechanisms have come into play, but both are necessary and possible.

    • Elton’s comments are characteristic of those who have never actually read the gospels in their entirety. Nothing new (or significant) to see here.

      • Your comments are characteristic of someone who is delusional enough to think there is only one, unambiguous interpretation of the gospels. Its a common malady of fundamentalists.

        Frankly without the “love and compassion” part of Christianity, it has nothing of socially redeeming value. People who look for excuses for ignoring loving thy neighbor, and calling out the mote in the eyes of brothers, undermine anything of interest for Christianity. Without those, it is just like every other religion with obnoxious fanatical antisocial adherents.

        Keep it up, the more people associate Christianity with being socially reactionary and bigoted, the more sane educated people will leave the faith. Have fun with that.

        • I’m afraid it’s impossible to read the gospels in their entirety and miss what every synoptic records as the central message of Christ’s ministry: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

          And again, it mskes not an iota of difference if a fallen world perceives the gospel as reactionary or anything else. Jesus told us long ago that His message and those who bring it would never be terribly popular because the world naturally loves its own and hates the things of God. So, big fat pfft to your warnings. VERY old news.

          • the definition of what requires repentance varies wildly among Christians. Some consider petty admonishments and arbitrary dilatory judgments are more important than humanity, justice and compassion. Most do not.

            It’s not the text that is reactionary per se, it’s the interpretations and application. You are still laboring under the delusion your view represents the only interpretation possible.

            I was not giving a warning, simply telling you something already happening.

          • Oh, the text is plenty “reactionary” all right. That’s why certain texts invariably bring out the cyber-deer-in-headlights from ignoramuses like Elton who know only a few “Hallmark card” verses (and those likely only second-hand) but have never even begun to examine the gospels in their entirety. There is a reason why people wanted to throw stones at Jesus and push Him off cliffs and the like. It’s because in almost every personal encounter recorded in the gospels He was probing the heart and shining the light on EVERYONE’S essentially sinful natures and need for repentance. Some acknowledged their guilt and reached for the mercy offered. Some (like the Pharisees, and the citizens of Nazareth) did not and turned away from mercy in an insulted huff. Some STILL claim to have no sin…and so, as He said, the sin remains.

            Again, Larry, I’m flattered by the consistency with which you pop up like a reliable jack-in-the-box wherever I make a comment, no matter how small…but I’m very much taken. Thanks anyway.

          • Again is the assumption that your interpretation is the only one possible. That is not even remotely true. The whole accusing someone of reading the Bible “cafeteria style” is complete nonsense. Everyone does that. Doing otherwise gets silly and counterproductive. Even fundamentalists use their own judgment to determine which parts are the most relevant to them and which ones are not. Nobody has a monopoly on what the Bible “really means”.

            You are doing nothing but servicing your own delusions and alleged authority. Fundamentalists do that. They don’t like to consider that they represent only a miniscule part of the entire faith. Everyone else is just “doing it wrong” to them. Its not remotely honest, but it sure gives one the “warm fuzzies”. That God is on their side and for nobody else.

          • Larry, you make a lot of noise about “interpretations” but I have never actually seen you offer an “interpretation” on any biblical subject with a case for why it might be correct. You just drop in with “there are other interpretations” and contribute nothing more. Do you really believe that the scriptures are essentially unknowable, even with history and ancient commentary as a guide? Or is this simply your way of trying to refute positions you don’t like without having to do any homework? And if you are an atheist, why even bother to enter a discussion about the interpretation of scripture at all?

            “Even fundamentalists use their own judgment to determine which parts are the most relevant to them and which ones are not.”

            If you’re talking about the Torah, bible-believing non-Jewish Christians (you use “fundamentalists” a lot but I don’t think you really understand what that means) have never really “used their own judgment” about what is relevant to them. That decision was made within the first few years of the church age by Torah-observant Jewish Christians of the Jerusalem church who decided (doubtlessly guided by the Noahide Laws) what to require of gentile Christians. All of this is laid out quite clearly in Acts 15.

            Some theological issues of course are nuanced and lend themselves to some variance in interpretation…but the main reason why there are so many differing (and unsubstantiated) “interpretations” floating around is because so few people are scripturally and historically literate. Large gaps in knowledge are all too easy to fill in with self-serving opinion and unsupported nonsense.

  2. I agree w/ Phillip. There is plenty of “debate” in the church about whether it is a sin to have sex with someone you are not married to, inflate an insurance claim, leave your spouse for another, or even if Jesus is the only path to salvation. But none of these “debates” are engaged in by people whose only interest is in following Christ and His commands. It is not loving or compassionate to encourage someone to live their life in contradiction to God’s word (Luke 17:2 comes to mind). Sometimes what feels compassionate is not. We have to find a way to speak the truth in love.

  3. Lets be brutally honest, many of you will think Sir Elton is bound for hell no matter what he says. So it’s not like many will care about his views on religion.

  4. Almighty God instituted marriage for the first human couple, man and woman, as follows: “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

    Jesus was the Word or spokesperson for his Heavenly Father while he was on earth. He would therefore view marriage the same as his Father did, the binding of a man and woman, as the only proper arrangement.

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