The church in Redding, California has been sharing about a project called "CHANGED" which is described as a "safe space for Christians seeking an alternative to LGBTQ+ as they follow their faith according to their personal convictions".
The church shared a series of Facebook and Instagram posts on the subject as part of its "Identity" series using the hashtag #oncegay. One asked if a person can leave homosexuality behind, another was a testimony of a man who is no longer homosexual.
Bethel's recent post said "God loves all people, LGBTQ+ and straight. The message of CHANGED has never been "All Must Change".
"God doesn't force people to change, and people - including Christians - shouldn't force others to change, either. We stand against any and all forms of shame, manipulation, force, humiliation, or physical harm in so-called "ministry" or therapy."
It sparked more than 2,300 comments and 550 shares, with many people accusing the church of not displaying a strong enough stance on the topic.
One commented said: "Really? Your message has always been that "All must change." Are you now actually listening to us when we describe our passionate relationship with God? Or are you trying to downplay your true beliefs in public so as to reduce the amount of pressure and criticism you're receiving?"
Another said: "Wow, not good bethel. Not good. Praise God for His love and the love we are able to show others. God loves us so much that He doesn't leave us where He found us and neither should we. Where's the teaching of repentance."
"TOTAL DISAGREEMENT! Read your Bible, you're getting confused. Sin is sin," someone else said.
One person commented: "This sounds weak! I love Bethel Church, but you better watch your theology. God loves you so much that He calls you out of sin."
However, some people have defended Bethel Church saying the church is showing love and maturity.
"Amen! This is a sign of church maturity. It's not compromising yet fully loving with hearts wide open to people... This is my heart as well," one person said.
"For everyone criticizing this statement go back and read what they wrote again and then again! It doesn't say that being LGBTQ isn't a sin - it says we still love you!"
The co-founders of CHANGED, Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning, who were once homosexual, said in a video that the posts have created a lot differing and strong opinions online. However, they feel the project is necessary to provide a "safe space" and support for people who want to leave the "LGBTQ life behind."
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