Homosexuality: Know the Truth and Speak It with Compassion
- Tuesday, August 04, 2009
A friend of mine made great friendships with two gay men he worked with, even though he was outspoken about his Christian convictions. He never tried to change them, confront their behavior, or hammer them about their lifestyle. Instead, he treated them like his other friends and waited patiently for an opportunity.
One day his gay friends approached him. "You're different from other Christians we know. Most harass us about being gay, but you treat us like your other friends. We appreciate that." From that point on, his relationship with them turned a corner. There was a new level of honesty in their conversation that allowed my friend to share the truth about this faith with them.
Second, don't expect homosexuals to change their lifestyle before they come to church. Several years ago, two gay men showed up to a church. They walked in, holding hands, and sat down. People next to them went ballistic. "That's disgusting," they snickered. I realize it's difficult for some believers to tolerate homosexual affection, but they should be grateful those men even came to church. Besides, gay men and women don't need to come to church after they're gay, but because they're gay. We're all guilty; we all need transformation and forgiveness. Gays and lesbians are no less welcome than gossipers and gluttons.
By treating homosexuals like anyone else, you create opportunities to speak the truth. This first principle can be put another way: When it comes to homosexuals, our desire for them is not heterosexuality, but holiness. We're not trying to make gays straight. We're trying to lead them straight to Jesus, just as we would anyone else. Once they trust Him, He transforms their life from the inside out. So to know the truth isn't merely about the truth of homosexuality—whether it's right or wrong—but the truth of Jesus and His power to transform men and women.
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Don't Make the Gospel More Difficult Than It Is
"The gospel is offensive enough," Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason says. "Don't add any more offense to it." The basic gospel message is the bad news of sin and judgment before the good news of grace. We all need a pardon. That message doesn't initially give people a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, it's offensive to most people. That's a big reason so many reject Jesus. We should never remove the offense that's inherent to the gospel, but there's no need to make it more difficult than it already is.
Here are a few ways we can apply this principle. First, let's stop saying we're "antihomosexual." The Bible isn't antihomosexual; it's antihomosexual behavior. This is a critical difference. When asked, "Are you antihomosexual?" it's better to be precise. Answer that you have nothing against homosexuals—your concern is their behavior. Christians are not antidrunks. We're against drunkenness. We're not antiliars. We think lying is wrong. We're not against the person who sins. Rather, we oppose the sinful behavior. Following Jesus' example, we love and care for people regardless of their shortcomings. Saying we're antihomosexual confuses the issue and compounds an already difficult situation.
Second, let's avoid offensive ways of presenting our arguments. A common tactic to respond to the "since homosexuality is natural it must be moral" argument is to offer a counterexample. "Well, pedophilia is natural to some people, but that doesn't make it moral." Though this response might be technically sound, it is unnecessarily harsh and often misunderstood. People erroneously infer that you mean homosexuals are pedophiles. An alternative and less crass response might be to ask, "If lying to keep yourself out of trouble were natural, would that make it right?" This counterexample makes the same point without the offensive content.
Third, don't treat homosexual behavior as the most detestable crime against God. When we make it the supreme evil, we add unnecessary offense. Gays will conclude that we think all sin is bad, but their sin is the worst. And if their sin is the worst, they'll conclude they are the worst. But the Bible doesn't teach that homosexuality is the greatest evil. In fact, it's listed right alongside stealing, coveting, getting drunk, and lying.
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