This question came through the Question Box:
“How do I share my faith with a homosexual without sounding like a bigot?”
Before answering this question, it’s important to understand a few things:
- First, it doesn’t matter if someone is homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, or anything else – people are people regardless of their sexual orientation. For some reason, many Christians have this stigma about homosexuals as if they are some different classification of people who are harder to talk to about Jesus. You don’t need to share the gospel any differently with someone based on their sexual orientation.
- Second, you can share the gospel with homosexuals without any preconceived plans of bringing up the issue of homosexuality. People’s sexual orientation isn’t the point of sharing the gospel – Jesus is the point. Would you feel an overwhelming burden to bring up a heterosexual person’s sex life with them when sharing the gospel? Obviously if the issue comes up then you need talk about it without compromising, but there’s no need to feel like it’s the one subject you are going to have to bring up.
- And third, no matter how gentle and loving you are, people are going to accuse you of being a hateful, close-minded bigot (likened to a racist) unless of course you compromise what the bible says about this subject. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). He also said “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” (John 15:18-20). Therefore don’t worry about how to not sound like a bigot – you will be accused of it anyways if you follow Jesus. Rather, focus on presenting the truth of God unashamedly, with a heart full of love.
Now, keep in mind I said that you shouldn’t feel like you have to bring up the subject of homosexuality when you are talking with a homosexual about Jesus, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the subject either. Nine times out of ten they will probably bring it up themselves. I’ve had it happen several times. I would be sharing the gospel with someone, and usually when I tell them about the call to repentance (turning away from their sin towards God), they’ll say something like, “well, what about me? I’m gay.”
To which I would reply with something like, “just because you are homosexual doesn’t mean that God will treat you any differently than anyone else – He is calling every one of us to pick up our cross and follow Him. In other words, we die to ourselves. We die to our own goals, dreams and ambitions, and we follow Him. We die to our own wants, desires and pleasures, and we follow Him. That includes the pleasure of any sexual act that God prohibits – whether it be a homosexual act, or a heterosexual sin. Now when Jesus tells us to abandon everything to follow Him, it’s not because He wants to put a wet blanket on our joy – it’s because He has something better for us.”
Keep in mind – God is after our joy. As Jon Piper says, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” God’s call to leave everything (including our sexual orientation if need be) is so that we would be more full of joy in Him. When we refuse to obey what He has written in His word, then we hinder the full capacity of joy we are able to have. However, it’s not just about our joy on earth; it’s also about our eternal joy (our salvation).
It’s important to understand that the call to follow Jesus is literally a call to abandon everything. “…Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). This call is no easier for heterosexuals than for homosexuals; it is equally difficult, but Jesus is so worth it!
When you reply this way, the conversation can go many different ways, but the two most common objections I deal with are:
- “Who are you to say that homosexuality is wrong? I have a healthier relationship with my partner than most heterosexuals I know.”
- “I’m born Gay. I can’t change who I am”
Before being quick to answer these questions, it’s important to feel the internal struggle behind them. For homosexuals, it’s no easier to say “homosexuality is a sin” than it is to tell heterosexuals to stop being attracted to the opposite sex. It’s natural for them, and they can’t imagine not having that desire for the rest of their lives. It can sound as if we’re calling them to live a life in shame and guilt for feelings and attractions that are natural for them, while putting on a front as if those feelings don’t exist. Many homosexuals have lived in a closet, hiding their internal struggles from the rest of the world. In this closet, they could have felt guilt, shame, disgust, self-hatred, and the list goes on. And then came the day they came out of the closet. The day that they said, “I’m going to be happy with the person I am, and I don’t care who doesn’t like it”. For many, this was a day of freedom from the bondage they felt they were under. A day of liberty to be themselves… Finally, they could be open and transparent, and freed from feelings of guilt and shame. And then, one day, along comes the Christian – the person coming to snuff out the fire of their freedom. And what they feel like we’re telling them to do is to go back into that closet – that bondage that constrained them from being open and real with themselves… and to stay there or else they’re going to hell.
With this in mind, telling a homosexual that “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner” isn’t always comforting. It’s almost like saying “God doesn’t hate you, He just hates who you are”. We have to understand these things before giving a trite, bumper-sticker, right-winged answer. So with this in mind, how can we answer these questions biblically, and with the heart of Jesus? Below are some ways that we can answer these questions.
“Who are you to say that homosexuality is wrong? I have a healthier relationship with my partner than most heterosexuals I know.”
“I don’t doubt that there are many homosexuals who are more committed and faithful in their relationships than many heterosexuals are in theirs. I also believe that heterosexuals have cheapened marriage with no fault divorce, and rampant adultery. Everyone will give an account to God for their lives, and we will all be responsible for our actions. And to answer your question, I am no one to say that homosexuality is wrong. I simply believe the bible, and I just read what God says about it. In Romans 1:24-27, God clearly condemns homosexuality as sexual impurity and a perversion. When I read that, I have to believe it. He says the same thing about adultery, fornication, and any other sexual sin there may be. Homosexuality isn’t singled out.”
If they have a problem with the bible, then the conversation takes a different turn and I deal with that. For a short response on the question, “Can I Trust the Bible”, refer to the post here. For this article, however, I will pretend that the person I’m speaking with has no problem with the bible being the word of God. In most cases, the next question comes:
“I’m born Gay. I can’t change who I am”
“I understand that you may have been born with homosexual attractions. However, Jesus said that ‘no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’. We are all born into sin (Romans 5:12). I may be born with a natural tendency to be violent. Someone else may be born with a natural tendency to have sex with as many people as they possibly can. Another person may be born with a natural tendency to do something else that they shouldn’t do. Just because something is natural for us, doesn’t mean we should act on it. There are a lot of things that are natural for me to do that are sinful – but I know where they come from, and I know what to do with them. They come from my flesh – my sinful nature. We are called to ’put to death… whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature… [Including] sexual immorality…’ (Colossians 3:5).
I agree with you in what you said – that you can’t change who you are. That’s the whole point of grace – not that you don’t have to change, but rather that God is the one who changes you. God will give you a new heart, and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:23). He starts producing fruit of the spirit in your life (Galatians 5:22-24). Your responsibility is to respond to Him. You respond in faith and repentance. Literally turning from sin, and trusting that Jesus will forgive you and cleanse you based on His work on the cross.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to deal with same sex attraction – and that’s okay. It’s not a sin to be attracted to the same sex. That’s called temptation. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was ‘tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin’. Therefore we know for sure that being tempted is not a sin. It is a sin, however, to act on those temptations.
It’s also important to understand that the call to Christ isn’t a call to be heterosexual – it’s a call to be holy. You may never be attracted to the opposite sex. Maybe Jesus is calling you to be unmarried. The Apostle Paul said that it is better to be unmarried, because ‘an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided…’ (Romans 7:32-33). Maybe you are called to undivided devotion to the Lord’s affairs? Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 that ‘there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’” (Eunuchs, in this context, are a typological symbol for someone who remains celibate)
Again, not all people are called to be married, so it’s not important to push a homosexual to become heterosexual, in that they must be attracted to the opposite sex. That doesn’t mean we should compromise the severity of what the bible says about homosexuality. It simply means that we should focus on what God is really after. He’s after their heart, and their devotion. We have to ask all people (not just homosexuals), “are you willing to follow Christ by life or by death, no matter the cost?” Some people may have to fight their sexual urges until the end – but how great their reward will be! They’ll be able to say, along with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Not only must we speak about the enormous cost of following Jesus, we must also speak about the enormous reward. We get Him! He is the greatest treasure we could possibly find. He is infinitely worthy of all of our devotion. He is beautiful, magnificent, glorious, indescribable, incomparable… He paid the ultimate price, with His own sinless blood, so that we could draw near to Him. Isn’t he worth giving up everything for? I say yes! A thousand times over, yes! When we see the immensity of the reward we have in Christ, the sacrifice seems trivial no matter how large it is.
Even though some people may never be attracted to the opposite sex, there are many testimonies of former homosexuals who have come to Christ and have been radically changed and are now happily married, with no more same-sex attraction. God is in the business of changing hearts. My story is similar in that the closer I got to Jesus, the further He drew me from the things I loved which were destroying me. I was a pot smoking, beer drinking, shot taking, party animal with an anger problem. Before I came to Christ, I loved my sin. My identity was found largely in my sin. When I heard the gospel, I hated the fact that I loved my sin, and I wanted a new identity. I told Jesus that I would come to Him wholeheartedly, but He would have to change me because I couldn’t just stop loving those things. I didn’t focus on not sinning. Instead, I focused on getting closer to Him. I prayed every day. I read the bible every day. I went to church and developed relationships with other Christians. I grew in my walk with Jesus, and 6 months went by before I realized that those things I once loved weren’t even a thought to me anymore. I was literally a new person. I was born again. Throughout my Christian life, I have heard testimony after testimony of the same exact thing. “I used to _____________, but Jesus changed me!” That’s what God does.
In summary, when witnessing to a homosexual, don’t think of them as being any different than anyone else. Christ’s call to Himself is the same no matter who you are talking to. When the subject inevitably comes up, it’s important to speak the truth, but to speak it in love, first understanding their struggles. Let your heart break for people, and burn for the lost. Preach the gospel and the beauty of Christ, and let the Lord do the rest.