How Do I Treat Gay Friends?
I understand the Bible doesn't approve of homosexuality, but how do I treat my gay and lesbian friends? What do I tell them? How do I explain to non–Christians that I believe this is wrong without being a jerk?
Christians have difficult decisions to make in friendships because we are called to do two things: 1) love people and 2) stand for what the Bible says. What do we do about people who don't live in the way God wants us to?
In a way, it's simple: Show them the same love and respect that Christ would show them. Jesus is down on sin, but not down on sinners. All people have sin in their lives, but that doesn't mean they have less worth to God. So no matter what sin people are involved in, they're still worth God's love. I would treat your gay and lesbian friends the same way you would treat heterosexual friends who are sexually active. You can show love to someone without approving of what they do.
My friend Bill is a practicing gay man. Shortly after Bill confided in me about his lifestyle, I invited him to lunch. Even though I disagreed with his lifestyle choice, I wanted to communicate that we could still hang out together. When Bill asked me about my beliefs on homosexuality, I shared that I believe the Bible is God's Word and has 17 references to sexual sin. I made sure to point out to Bill that just three of these references are about homosexuality. That doesn't mean God isn't concerned about homosexuality, but just that homosexuality isn't worse than other sexual sin. It's all sin.
What was fascinating was that Bill asked me to find those references (Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11) so he could look them up. After he read them, he wanted to talk more about it. Bill hasn't changed his lifestyle, but he knows that I value our friendship. He knows where I stand, but he is willing to have these conversations because he knows I care about him.
As you are showing friendship and God's love to a gay or lesbian friend, be sure to also talk about it with a trusted Christian adult to 1) make sure you're handling it in a mature and loving way and 2) see if there's anything else you can do. For example, I always suggest that people who are confused about sexual identity talk with a trusted Christian counselor. Sometimes, friends who think they might be homosexual really may just be very confused about their sexuality. I find that many people who are sexually abused or come from families with an abusive or absent father figure sometimes confuse thoughts of homosexuality with other issues in their lives.
Maybe you won't feel comfortable trying to help your friends right away. And that's OK. The best thing you can do is to be their friend while still being honest about what you believe. And this principle should apply to any friendship we have with a non–Christian.
Jim is an author, speaker and longtime youth worker. He's also the founder of HomeWord (homeword.com), a group seeking to honor God by building strong families.
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Campus Life magazine.
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