When it comes to discussing matters of faith with our gay-identified friends and family, things can go south in a hurry. From my own experience, things either grow heated or become circular. One of the contributing factors to these types of responses is a well-established belief among the gay community that “all Christians are biased, intolerant, and bigoted.” That was my mentality as an out-loud, proud lesbian. In addition, for both the gay Christian and gay individual, truth is most often trumped by feelings, leaving an invisible dividing line between them and people who embrace a Biblical worldview about sexuality, gender, and marriage.
Many folks avoid the elephant in the room when it comes to faith and sexuality – on both sides of the issue. Some are concerned that they will offend their gay friends and family members and lose their relationship with them. Gay identified people feel conflicted by the message that God created them and is disgusted by their sexual or gender identity. They feel rejected by God for condemning them to hell. Both groups can easily feel the other does not understand their perspective and the emotional divide grows wider.
So how do we bridge the gap on matters of faith and sexuality? Start by finding the things we agree on in our beliefs. Make the focal point Jesus. It’s a simple suggestion, but more often than not, an overlooked one. Sometimes there is an unspoken assumption that people who embrace a sexual or gender identity other than the Biblical worldview don’t care about a personal relationship with Jesus. From personal experience, I know that is not so.
When I gave my life to Christ, I told God that sexuality was not on the table for discussion, because, after all, He created me gay. Fortunately, those who were walking with me through life had the infinite wisdom to keep pointing me to Jesus and cultivating my relationship with Him. They also encouraged me to read the Bible for myself and see if what they were saying about faith and sexuality aligned. I do believe they spent many hours praying for God to reveal His intended purpose and design for sexuality, gender, and marriage to me. So often, we want people to have an instantaneous response to the gospel – an expectation that they will immediately embrace the whole of God’s word and be changed overnight. For those seeking to resolve their faith and sexuality, this is an unfolding process rather than a one-time event.
Unlike other sin patterns and expressions of brokenness, those who openly embrace their sexual/gender identity see it as the most defining part of their personhood. By and large, they don’t see it as a sin issue. In addition, their sin pattern is expressed through sexual and relational brokenness. I have written about how I dealt with these subjects here, here, and here .
As the conversation progresses, I believe it is important to engage in thoughtful discourse in the following three key areas. Each area is a standalone conversation and I would suggest that we allow the Holy Spirit the time and space to work on our loved one’s heart. In between meetings, pray John 16:8 and John 16:13 over your conversation. Remember that God wants the person you care about to resolve their faith and sexuality or gender identity more than you do. It’s our job to speak the truth in a way that they will be drawn to God and to continue building a relationship with them.
Some key questions to ask in all three of these subjects are:
How did you arrive at this conclusion?
Why is this topic important to God?
Why is it important to you?
What do you think God’s point of view is on this subject?
What do you think God’s response is to your point of view?
What is Truth?
We must first ask, is truth absolute and unchanging? Does it apply to all people or is it fluid and apply to individuals as they see fit?
Is the Bible absolute truth and unchanging?
Does the Bible have the right to evaluate, inform and guide our lives?
How do we define and deal with sin?
How does the Bible define sin?
What should our response be to sin as fully devoted followers of Jesus?
How does your friend or relative define sin?
What is their response to sin and how to deal with it?
What is God’s intended design for marriage, sexuality, and gender?
How do we, as fully devoted followers of Christ, define marriage, sexuality and gender?
How does your friend or family member define them?
What does your loved one think about the Biblical worldview of marriage, sexuality and gender?
Did God make a mistake when He laid down the boundaries and guidelines for marriage, sexuality and gender?
How do you view yourself in light of God’s intended purpose for sexuality and gender?
We tend to avoid hard dialogues with people we disagree with. Whether the person you are talking with is a non-believer or a “gay-Christian,” this is a necessary discussion to have with them. It is an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to go to work within that person, for the spoken and written word of God to sink deep into their hearts and minds and draw them towards Jesus. Because the person is in your life, you have a responsibility to understand the issues surrounding sexuality, gender and marriage from a Biblical perspective. The message of the gospel must be central to what we share – we must embrace the message of the gospel, live it out, and share it in a way that our friends and family see Jesus in us and turn to Him.
Pray with me: Lord, I ask that you give all my readers who have friends or family who are gay-identified wisdom as they talk about their faith with them. Holy Spirit, draw our loved ones who listen to their message to Jesus. Empower them with “simplicity, urgency and sincerity” (David Guzik) to share their stories of grace and redemption and the Good News of the gospel. I ask that they would not fret about their loved ones’ responses, but entrust them to you and allow you to convince and convict them. Equip my friends with understanding of your intended design and purpose for marriage, sexuality and gender.
Thanks for following my journey.