The following categories are suggested by L. R. Holben in What Christians Think about Homosexuality: Six Representative Viewpoints. They give a common vocabulary as we describe ourselves in conversations on this issue.

The Christian church contains a wide spectrum of beliefs on homosexuality.

1. Condemnation - Scripture makes no distinction between same-sex acts and same-sex orientation; both are condemned.

2. Promise of Healing - Through inner healing, gays and lesbians can move into a heterosexual orientation, though a struggle with homosexual temptations may continue.

3. Call to Costly Discipleship - Complete healing may not be possible for all gays and lesbians; faithful Christians who continue with a same-sex orientation will commit to lifelong celibacy.

4. Pastoral Accommodation - Committed monogamous same-sex partnerships can be tolerated (not commended or idealized) as a lesser evil (for instance, better than the chaos of promiscuity).

5. Affirmation - Gay and lesbian relationships can be affirmed as a positive good; not only heterosexual relations but also same-sex ones can achieve a self-transcending exchange of love.

6. Liberation - Justice insists that the heterosexual majority in the church not dictate to gays and lesbians what they can and cannot do with their sexuality.

For further description of these six viewpoints, here is an excerpt from Dennis P. Hollinger's chapter "The Challenge of Homosexuality" in The meaning of sex: Christian ethics and the moral life (Baker Academic, 2009), pages 175-179.

Ethical Viewpoints on Homosexuality

There is often a tendency in public discourse to see just two moral stances on homosexuality: acceptance or rejection. However, the debate is far more complex, especially when we begin to factor in the kinds of distinctions made above. There have been various typologies set forth to demonstrate this,6 but one of the best is L. R. Holben's What Christians Think about Homosexuality: Six Representative Viewpoints. As we explore his six viewpoints, we should remember that typological categories are not mutually exclusive, and no one movement or person fits perfectly into a given type.

     The first ethical stance in Holben's analysis is condemnation. In this perspective "there is only one viewpoint on the matter of homosexuality worthy of the name 'Christian'-an absolute condemnation which is held to be the 'clear teaching of Scripture."' Any attempt to teach otherwise "can only be termed demonic."7 Scripture is the only source for our understandings about homosexuality, and thus any psychological or sociological perspectives are rejected as promoting non-Christian worldviews.
     In this approach there is no distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts. Greg Bahnsen reflects this perspective when he insists <p.175 | p.176> that if "it were crucial to our moral judgments that we distinguish between innocent inversion and culpable homosexual acts, then certainly God would be aware of that distinction and bring it to light in his inspired Word." But instead, "In forthright language Paul holds men and women morally responsible and under God's wrath for burning with homosexual desires."8 Holben sees condemnation reflected in traditional (not current) Roman Catholicism, fundamentalism, and the protestant religious right.

     A Promise of Healing
     A second viewpoint on homosexuality, according to Holben, is a promise of healing. It shares a number of convictions with the first view, but "differs from it ... in its more pastoral tone and in its confident proclamation of hope for the homosexual through a psychological and spiritual process of recovery by which the gay man or lesbian is promised healing of homosexual brokenness."9 This healing occurs through a combination of prayer for inner healing, discipling fellowship, and certain forms of therapy.
     Advocates of this approach differ as to the reality of homosexual orientation. Leanne Payne, for example, believes that there is no such thing as a homosexual person, only people needing healing from old rejections and deprivations, and false senses of self-love.10 In contrast Elizabeth Moberly believes that while one is not born with homosexual tendencies, an orientation can develop through psychodynamic factors related to one's same-sex parent. Despite variations over the issue of orientation, advocates of this view agree that healing is possible. Many concur with Andy Comiskey when he contends that though God's healing power is real, gays will continue to struggle with homosexual temptations on this earth.11

     A Call to Costly Discipleship
     "This viewpoint is determined to be at once steadfast in its commitment to revealed truth and compassionate in ministering that challenging truth to the homosexual person." Advocates argue that the ethic of homosexual acts is not a scientific question, though the reality of a homosexual orientation without personal choice is a scientific matter. "The result of such a reevaluation would most likely be a judgment that a homosexual orientation is not, in and of itself, culpable. It is important to emphasize that such a shift does not represent a change in moral principles. It is merely a differing application of those unchanging principles to a more accurate set of facts."12
     This perspective is more cautious than the previous approach regarding complete healing for gays at the constitutional level. This "does not mean <p.176 | p.177> ... that God's grace cannot work to effect substantive growth in self-control, victory over temptation and ability to transform the limitations imposed by a homosexual orientation into positive good." Thus, "For the vast majority of homosexuals ... faithful discipleship most likely means a commitment to lifelong celibacy."13
     This perspective is held by the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, conservative Anglicanism, official statements of several mainline Protestant denominations, and a growing number of evangelical individuals and groups. On public policy, advocates typically affirm basic rights for gays but do not endorse special rights or gay marriage. "Laws abridging homosexuals' access to housing or employment ... would be viewed as unjust and deserving of Christians' opposition. Similarly, the criminalization of private, consensual homosexual acts would be rejected--on the principle that similar acts between unmarried heterosexuals, while sinful, are not matters with which the law concerns itself."14

     Pastoral Accommodation
     In this view, according to Holben, "Homosexual acts are viewed not so much as intrinsically evil as essentially imperfect, albeit profoundly so, which raises the consequent possibility that in certain very specific and narrowly limited contexts, there might be such a thing as morally acceptable (though never 'idealized' or 'sanctioned') homosexual expression."15 Proponents note that humans make moral decisions and act within a context of ambiguity. Sometimes judgments involve the lesser of two evils. As Roman Catholic ethicist Charles Curran put it in his dissent from the official Catholic position, "In the theory of compromise, the particular action [eg. the same-sex partnership] in one sense is not ... wrong because in the presence of sin it remains the only viable alternative for the individual. However, in another sense the action is wrong and manifests the power of sin." One ought to attempt to overcome the sin, "But the Christian knows that the struggle against sin is never totally successful in this world."16
     Other notable advocates of this position beyond Curran include the German theologian Helmut Theilicke and evangelical ethicist Lewis Smedes. Most proponents do not advocate legislating gay marriages, but at a personal level contend that at times Christian faithfulness and its ethical ideal is simply too difficult to attain. Thus as Smedes puts it, this is not "to accept homosexual practices as morally commendable. It is, however, to recognize that the optimum moral life within a deplorable situation is preferable to a life of sexual chaos."17 When healing or celibacy are impossible for a gay person, a homosexual monogamous relationship that demonstrates fidelity should be morally tolerated, according to this perspective. <p.177 | p.178>

     According to Holben this fifth viewpoint on homosexuality takes a significant leap beyond the previous position of qualified acceptance. "It does not merely tolerate gay and lesbian relationships, it affirms them as positively good. Committed homosexual relationships are seen as holding all the same potential for a self-transcending exchange of love as heterosexual relationships."18 When it comes to interpreting the biblical texts, proponents contend that we must examine what the author was intending to say, and in most cases the text was not primarily about same-sex relations. Moreover, the biblical authors were people of their own time and culture and did not have the full understandings that we have today.
     Peter Gomes, the chaplain of Harvard University, reflects this position and the sentiments of many who adhere to it: "Given the appeal to the Bible in the case against homosexuality, one would assume that the Bible has much to say on the subject. It has not. The subject of homosexuality is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, nor in the summary of the Law. No prophet discourses on the subject. Jesus himself makes no mention of it."19
     Moreover, argue proponents of this view, sex is primarily self-giving love to another, growth in relational intimacy, and the development of mature selfhood. Homosexual relations can achieve this equally as well as heterosexual ones.
     Advocates include the United Church of Christ, gay caucuses within a number of denominations, and various academicians. They contend for full membership of practicing gays and lesbians in the church, including affirmation of ordination. Most fully support changing laws that would recognize not only gay civil unions, but homosexual marriages as well.

     This final perspective builds its ethic of homosexuality from the fundamental principle of justice and the affirmation of "the scandalous good news that no one is outside the universal embrace of the Creator's love." Moreover, "It is not for the heterosexual majority in the church to dictate to gays and lesbians what they can and cannot do with their sexuality. The relevant moral issue for Christians lies elsewhere: in a biblically based call to struggle against all forms of oppression and domination, including homophobia."20 <p.178 | p.179>
     Advocates call for church and society to move beyond the specific biblical injunctions about homosexuality to the broader themes of justice and liberation. The ultimate authority is Jesus, who some describe as "queer." As one writer put it, "Jesus the queer Christ symbolizes God's solidarity with the sexually oppressed ... in the midst of their resistance, conflict, and the struggle for justice."21 Christian ethicist Marvin Ellison believes that some biblical texts serve patriarchal and homophobic sentiments. He argues that all reading of Scripture is political and "either supports or challenges unjust power structures." Thus, "A hermeneutics of suspicion is necessary to discern the racist, sexist, and heterosexist character of sexual injustice,"22 which, he believes, we sometimes find in the Bible itself.
     Advocates include Ellison, Robert Goss, Sally Gearhart, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. They set forth a full embrace of inclusion in society for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer persons.

6. See, for example, William Stacy Johnson, A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 40. He sets forth seven positions based on theological ways of looking at homosexual relationships: prohibition, toleration, accommodation, legitimation, celebration, liberation, and consecration.
7. H. L. Holben, What Christians Think about Homosexuality: Six Representative Viewpoints (North Richland, TX: Bibal, 1999), 29.
8. Greg Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1978), 66, 68.
9. Holben, Homosexuality, 53.
10. Leanne Payne, The Broken Image: Restoring Personal Wholeness through Healing Prayer (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1981); and Payne's more recent work, Healing Homosexuality (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996).
11. See Andrew Comiskey, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness: How Jesus Heals the Homosexual (Lake Man, FL: Creation House, 1989); and Strength in Weakness: Overcoming Sexual and Relational Brokenness (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003). For Elizabeth Moberly, see her Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic (Cambridge, UK: James Clarke, 1983); and Psychogenesis: The Early Development of Gender Identity (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983).
12. Holben, Homosexuality, 95, 97.
13. Ibid.. 103, 104.
14. Ibid., 107.
15. Ibid., 123.
16. Charles Curran, "Homosexuality and Moral Theology: Methodological and Substantive Consideration," The Thomist 35, no. 3 (July 1971): 478.
17. Lewis Smedes, Sex for Christians: The Limits and Liberties of Sexual Living, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 58.
18. Holben, Homosexuality, 153.
19. Peter Gomes, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (New York: William Morrow, 1996), 147.
20. Holben, Homosexuality, 199.
21. Quoted in ibid., 201.
22. Marvin Ellison, Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 70, 73. See also Ellison's more recent Same-Sex Marriage? A Christian Ethical Analysis (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2004).