Engaging LGBTQ Friends With The Gospel
How do we share Christ with those who identify as LGBTQ? Well, we know that we must have a firm grasp of what it means as humans to be made in the image of God. Start there (Genesis 1:26-28), and be fully convinced that what God has made is good (start at 38:06 for image of God discussion)! But, we must proclaim God’s truth—because the truth sets us free! And what is God’s truth regarding LGBTQ issues? It is sin. Scripture, our only authority, provides the answer.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, the apostle Paul writes, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes, we only focus on the middle of this list and say, “LGBTQ people won’t inherit the kingdom of God,” while ignoring the other sins. However, if we look at all the sins listed, none of us should inherit the kingdom of God!
We praise the Lord that Paul didn’t stop there. He goes on to say, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctiﬁed, you were justiﬁed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
That’s not only good news, that’s amazing news! You can be washed, you can be sanctiﬁed, you can be justiﬁed in the name of Jesus.
Our message has to be redemptive. We cannot simply tell people they’re sinners and not tell them about the Savior who saves sinners! Their “biggest sin” isn’t being in a same-sex relationship.The biggest sin is unbelief and rebellion against a holy God.
A Helpful Comparison
Here’s a helpful comparison that Christopher Yuan provides in his book, “Holy Sexuality And The Gospel”:
“Sharing the gospel in the Middle East requires a lot of creativity and patience. Without rushing into theological differences, we must first be sensitive and respectful, particularly in light of their negative perception of Christians. Unfortunately, many Muslims perceive that Christians have deep animosity toward them. Although I personally don’t know any born-again believers who hate Muslims, perception is reality. In light of this, we begin by patiently building relationships, and we don’t rush to point out how they’re wrong or living in sin. Avoid an us-versus-them attitude. If our hope is to lead Muslims to Christ, we must establish trust before we broach controversial topics…
I’ve always thought we should model how we minister to [LGBTQ people] after how we minister to Muslims. At the surface level, the two groups are very different. However, both share something in common—how they perceive Christians. Like Muslims, the perception of many [LGBTQ people] is that we have deep animosity toward them. Therefore, ministry to the [LGBTQ] community also requires a lot of creativity and patience. Without rushing into theological differences, we must be sensitive and respectful. With our [LGBTQ] friends, we begin by patiently building relationships, and we don’t rush to point out how they’re wrong or living in sin. If our hope is to lead our [LGBTQ] friends to Christ, we must establish trust before we broach controversial topics.” ( p. 166-176)
Some Ideas of What Not to Say:
In conversation, do not compare homosexuality with an addiction or pedophilia. It’s not a good way to win people to Christ.
Do not use these two words: “lifestyle” or “choice.” They have a wrong identity and disordered desires. Those are words that often are loaded with baggage that don’t help. In their minds, this is who they are, not just what they do.
Do not say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Do it, but don’t say it. You can tell the person that you love them! Because you do. If you don’t, confess, repent, and love.
Do not feel you must debate with people or answer every question. Jesus didn’t. Instead, He would answer in ways that pointed to the kingdom of God. When an unbeliever asks us, “Is being gay a sin?” we can cause the conversation to go deeper by asking one of two questions: “How do you define sin?” or “What does it mean to be gay?” This will lead to a broader discussion about morality or identity. If someone asks, “Do you think gays are going to hell?” I’d ask this: “What’s your understanding of who deserves God’s judgment?” Then you can have a great conversation about the character of God and the sinfulness of humanity. And this can easily segue into the necessity of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Knowing how to reply with good questions is probably one of the most effective forms of evangelism and apologetics.
Some Ideas of What to Do:
Pray and fast. Do battle for people who are unable to intercede for themselves.
Be quick to listen, not quick to speak. If you want others to listen to you, you should listen to them ﬁrst. As you listen to your [LGBTQ] friends’ stories about their partners, how might you respond? “I’m so happy for you” wouldn’t be right. Instead, you can simply acknowledge his experience, saying, “I see that this person means a lot to you.” Remember, acknowledging someone’s feelings doesn’t mean agreeing with her actions. The apostle Paul reminds us that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Be intentional. Invite a LGBTQ neighbor over for dinner. No, this isn’t condoning sin. We shouldn’t be afraid to eat with sinners—Jesus wasn’t! (Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:16).
Be patient and persistent. Christopher Yuan’s (aforementioned author) parents prayed for eight years—and other people had been praying for decades. And, if God patiently pursued you, shouldn’t we do the same for others?
Be transparent. What’s the best way to share the gospel? Share how the gospel has impacted your own personal life! Be transparent about what God has taught you and brought you through lately! Be transparent and share what God has done in your life. Briefly share your testimony. Also, tell about something God has done in your life this past year.
Look for open doors to speak of Christ. As Christians, we have been saved from our sin, and it is glorious. We can't help but speak of what He has done. As we meditate on, and delight in the God of our salvation, we will overflow with joy in Him! Afterall, we are "A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)
“This is my point: we must show the beauty of the gospel lived out in our daily lives and let that be the foundation from which we proclaim the good news to the lost. No matter what people cling to, of all the fool’s gold in the world—money, fame, career, power, happiness, or even a relationship—nothing comes close to the joy and satisfaction of a life fully surrendered to God. Our job as followers of Christ is to live in a way that makes it unmistakable to a dying world that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer.” - Yuan, Christopher. Holy Sexuality and the Gospel (p. 176).
(“Holy Sexuality And The Gospel”, Christopher Yuan. This article draws on much excellent content from chapter 18 of Christopher Yuan’s book, "Outreach", pgs. 167-176.)