Church Leaders Answer Your Questions From The LGBTQ+ And The Church Seminar
Why do people support LGBTQ+?
Is it wrong to NOT support the LGBTQ+ community?
People support the LGBTQ+ community for a variety of reasons. Many people support the community because they personally know someone in that community. Others offer support for ideological reasons. For example, libertarians would say that you should allow people to make their own choices and not meddle in the individual freedoms of others. Still others choose to support these communities for moral reasons. They think that the Christian perspective is cruel and wicked.
But I think there is a reason that people often don’t recognize: “God designed us to support one another. He made us for community. The Biblical letter to the Thessalonians gives believers this challenge:
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
The Biblical book of James talks about our responsibility to the disenfranchised, saying:
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
God has called believers to himself in order to minister to the needs of others, both inside and outside the church. Jesus calls greatness in the kingdom of God, “…being a servant”. In other words, God put support in His people’s bones. Supporting others is something God has called us to do.
Often times, people see how the LGBTQ+ community has been mistreated in society and their heart leads them to applaud and defend the lifestyle. That’s where we go wrong as Christians. You must be careful not to offer support to someone without first asking the question, “What does support really look like according to God?”
The answer to that question is formative. You see, there are times when people attend a gay wedding in support of a friend, or offer encouragement to a transitioning person because it feels right. But the feeling is often in opposition to what God says support looks like. God’s word says that sin broke the world. That sin separates us from God. We learn from Jesus that sin breaks bodies, and corrupts the image of God in us. This is true of all people. Not just the LGBTQ+ community.
Which brings us to the second question… Is it wrong to NOT support the LGBTQ+ community? Yes, it is wrong. Christians are called to support people by ministering to their needs and sharing the Good News of Jesus. But what does it mean to support people in the LGBTQ+ community? The best support we can offer is to love people in Christ, and to make it our goal to introduce them to Jesus.
We sin against the Lord when we decide that the LGBTQ+ community is beyond God’s love or help. But we sin against those in the LGBTQ+ community when we support a lifestyle that keeps them from acknowledging the sin that separates each of us from having fellowship with God. My prayer is that every Christian would make it their goal to share the Good News of Jesus, in word and deed, with their family and friends who identify with the LGBTQ+ community.
What are some specific ways I can speak the truth in love in my daily interactions with people who are living the gay lifestyle?
How do I tell someone my beliefs without offending them personally?
A few years ago, I sat with a woman who had been in a long-term relationship with her partner. Their relationship was on the ropes, and it led her to church. There was a temptation in me to point out her sin. I could imagine myself saying, “Same sex relationships are outside of God’s design.” Or perhaps saying, “God designed romance to be between a man and woman in the union of marriage.”
I knew how that would go. Almost any conversation where you point out sin leads people to put their guard up. That’s understandable. So, I did the opposite. I talked about the joy that comes from living in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11). And I talked about how we can have a relationship with God through repentance and belief in the work of Jesus on the cross.
I shared the Gospel and asked her, “What is keeping you from having a right relationship with God?” Do you know what she said? She said, “I know that in God’s eyes my relationship is sinful.”
I thanked her for her courageous honesty. And I told her that I had never regretted putting my faith in Christ. I had never regretted allowing him to lead my life. And that she too could have a real relationship with the living God once she was ready to put her trust in him.
That’s always the model for evangelism (sharing the Gospel). You see, we don’t convict people of sin. We don’t change people’s hearts and minds. The apostle Paul says that for all his efforts in sharing the Gospel “it was God who made it (faith) grow“.
When it comes to sharing the truth in love you must first understand that God’s truth is far larger than our sinfulness. You can give away the truth in love freely when you are giving away hope. That’s what this Bible verse encourages,
“15 And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
1 Peter 3:15
Notice that when you have hope – people will ask you about it. And as soon as someone asks, you give it away. Our hope is in knowing Christ and His goodness. But notice that when people don’t receive the words of the Gospel, we give away hope by living a life that does good. What does doing good have to do with hope? Because we are people of hope we can do good when others attack, insult, and hurt us. We can do good when we are suffering and struggling. We can do good when people misrepresent us. We can do good when we are persecuted for having an unpopular opinion. Why? Because we aren’t slaves to this moment. We know that “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
You aren’t disagreeable when you are giving away hope. And even when people receive the Gospel message and “speak against you” there is no fear. You have a clear conscience before God. You gave away something better than a same sex relationship. You gave away a relationship with the God of hope.
Here are some specific examples of how you can give away hope:
- Receive more from the Lord. Make it your goal to receive his truth, his grace, and his love. You can only give away what you received. Too often Christians have no hope to share because they leave God out of their ordinary moments.
- Tell people about what God is teaching you. Don’t share what you are learning at church. Speak to people about your relationship with Jesus the Rabbi (Teacher).
- Admit your sins to non-believers. When you sin against non-Christians at work, in your family, or friends tell them you are sorry. Share with them how the Holy Spirit convicted you of how you hurt them.
- Talk about how God is answering your prayers. Talk about the questions God is answering. Talk about the ways God is providing for you. Talk about the ways God is working to meet the needs of our community through his church.
How can I minister to people who are gay/lesbian?
Ministry is the work of meeting people’s needs in the love of Christ. The first step in meeting the needs of people living a gay or lesbian lifestyle is to identify the needs that feel most pressing. Too often we look at people’s lives and decide what they need. Instead, we should spend time getting to know people. We should cultivate relationships in which people will freely share a felt need when asked.
So, the first thing you can do with a gay friend or a family member living in a same sex relationship is to share your life with them. Share meals together, have conversations with them, invite them to your kid’s birthday parties, and ask God to cultivate trust.
Once you identify the need – the fun part starts. You get to work on meeting the need in love. What you will find is that people have different types of needs. You can put them into one of three categories:
You go about meeting them in different ways. You use different tools for different projects and the same is true for ministering to people.
Physical needs usually have physical solutions. These are the needs you give your time, talent, and treasure towards. Years ago, we had a fence building ministry. When neighbors’ fences broke our church would buy supplies, recruit members to do the work, and leverage the expertise of builders in the community. We can meet physical needs like this in the LGBTQ+ community.
Relational needs usually have a relational solution. These are the needs you meet with compassion, empathy, and quality time. If someone feels lonely and uncared for you schedule time to sit and listen. If someone is in conflict with their significant other, you engage with compassion and Godly advice. I discovered a friend had been thinking about transitioning from male to female and they felt super disconnected from the church in the process of sorting through things. I met their relational need by inviting them to hang out over a mutual interest.
Spiritual needs usually have Biblical solutions. These are needs that you meet with God’s revelation of himself in scripture. People will say to you, “I feel far from God.” Or they will confess, “If God is real, I sure have never met him.” Or perhaps they might say, “I feel so guilty about what I’ve done.” These are spiritual needs that are met in the person of Jesus. And we step into those needs by sharing Christ through engaging people with the scripture and prayer.
I often encounter people who talk about feeling ashamed every time they go to church because of their sexual identification. They say, “every time I go to church I feel guilty and judged.” And I often open the scripture in Romans that says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). From there I can ask them the question, “What does it mean to be in Christ?” There have been some incredible God encounters that have come from moments like these.
With that said, it is always the goal to be ministers of the reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). That is what the Gospel does for us. It reconciles us to God. It restores our relationship with Him. Whenever you minster to the needs of the lost know that you are doing that work of reconciling people to God in Christ.
How do you treat your best friend’s son, who is supposedly gay?
I love how the Gospel of John introduces us to Jesus. It says…
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
God’s strategy for engaging people living apart from him is to be our neighbor. His strategy is to share His life with us. That’s the incredible news of the Gospel. Jesus steps into our sinfulness so that we might be made right with God.
Every time we lovingly step into the lives of non-believers we have an opportunity to do the same. Continue in your friendship with your best friend and his son. But notice the tone of Christ’s relationship with sinners. Just like the scripture above says, He makes his dwelling among us “full of grace and truth.”
In other words, Jesus doesn’t withhold any part of the truth from us. He shares the full truth about our situation with us. He is honest with us. But he does it with the fullest measure of grace. And we honor God when we do the same.