10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Their LGBT Neighbors By Glenn Stanton
The church, in its 2,000-year+ history, has never been here before. What do we do with gay, lesbian and trangender folks who come to our churches? What about all the talk to be “welcoming and affirming”? The coming generations will be looking to us as to how we responded to this emerging challenge. It is something we can’t ignore or just wish would go away.
So what to do?
Here are 10 truths all Christians must keep in mind as we interact with these neighbors. The overarching truth that we must always keep in mind, especially for Christians, is this: They are really no different than you or me. Beyond this foundation, we must both practice and teach our congregations these 10 things.
1. We are all loved by God.
Christ didn’t hang on the cross for “these” people and not for “those” people. He didn’t do so for some more than others—or for those who really need it. We all really need it, and His love for all is why He died for all. No exceptions.
Your LGBT neighbor is no less worthy of God’s love than you are.
2. We are all stricken by a terminal illness.
Sin has devastated each one of us and to equal degrees, separating each of us in our rebellion eternally from God beyond any of our reach. No exceptions. It is not the case that some of us are more separated than others because of our particular struggles and sins.
3. We are all in need of repentance.
Christ’s death and resurrection is the only means of bridging the hellish gap that exists between us and God. It’s not our nationality, our family name, our socio-economic status, our sexual orientation, what church we attend or even our own righteousness that is able to bridge it.
It is only by repenting over our own sin and casting ourselves upon the abundant and limitless grace of Christ that we can be brought back into right relationship with God. This is needed by all and available to all, regardless of sexual preference.
4. Winking at anyone’s sin is not loving.
God takes all of our sin seriously. If not, there would have been no need for Him to sacrifice His own Son on that horrid cross. Therefore, looking the other way at our own sin and the sin of those who come to us in search of salvation is unloving.
Ignoring someone’s sin or treating it as acceptable actually keeps the remedy for their terminal illness from them. This is true of each of us. We are called to extend grace, but not at the expense of truth—the truth that all sin is an offense to God requiring our honest repentance. Is this not the center of the Gospel? Our gay and lesbian neighbors deserve its hope and transformation as well.
As a lesbian friend told me, “If you guys give me a pass on my sin, I must do the same for you. If that’s how it’s gonna be, why bother with your Christianity?” Indeed.
5. We all need to be welcomed into the church.
The lost—of all stripes—are not only welcome into our churches, but should be deeply desired there. I’ve never seen a bouncer at the door of any church patting people down before they can enter in search of any concealed sin they might be trying to smuggle in.
Would we welcome the Apostle Paul into our pews, even though he referred to himself as the chief of all sinners? Similarly, if our LGBT neighbors don’t belong in church, where do they belong? And why should we belong there if they don’t?
6. We must teach and preach the fullness of scripture to everyone.
We need not emphasize some parts of scripture to those who struggle with certain sins, just as we should not avoid some parts of scripture because they make us feel uncomfortable. Our churches should faithfully preach the fullness of God’s Word in grace and truth—those parts that encourage and make us feel good as well as those parts that tell us of our brokenness and sin.
7. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.
As we welcome all people into our churches where we are faithfully preaching and teaching the fullness of God’s Word, we must trust the Holy Spirit to convict each of our own sin. That is His job, not ours, and He will do it in His timing.
8. No one has a right to re-write God’s word.
There are a growing number of people seeking to convince the church that scripture does not actually prohibit same-sex sexual relationships. They do this through various crafty theological sleights-of-hand, one popular one being “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality,” as if silence on a subject means approval. He never said anything about stiffing your waitress on her tip either, but we know He’s not keen on the idea. However, Jesus did speak to this issue in Matthew 19:4-5 and Mark 10:6-8, which is the sexual ethic He calls all of us to. Any honest reading of this text makes this clear.
But there are many in our pews, including myself, who use similar tricks to justify sins like divorce, covetousness, arrogance, gossip and deception. No one has the right to rewrite what God has written to “fit the times” or make us feel justified.
9. We are all seeking God’s love.
We fill our lives with plenty of things that are displeasing to God, but we often do so because we are seeking that which we were truly made for. Sadly, we’re just seeking it in all the wrong places. We each seek God’s love whether we realize it or not. We are created for it. Ironically, the things we chase to try to fill that God-shaped hole within each of us are often the things that separate us from the remedy. This should fill us with both sadness and compassion, but drive us to the only One that can fill that hole.
10. Same-sex attraction is not a sin.
And this is coming from a guy who works for a conservative pro-family ministry. But it doesn’t mean what you think it means. There are those who live with same-sex attraction, but do so as all Christians should with their own temptations—by bringing these struggles under the Lordship of and obedience to Christ. They deny themselves.
This is called Christian discipleship, the central substance of the Christian life. It’s what each of us are called to do in different ways. We must come alongside our same-sex attracted brothers and sisters who are pursuing holiness in their lives, living with and encouraging them in their trials as we seek to do the same in ours. In this, we are all the same.
It is not only our church leadership that must know and live by these truths, but our entire congregations. This is where the power and brilliance of the Gospel will shine through to a watching world. Let us be the leaders that the coming generations can look to as examples, providing them with genuinely Christian guidance and encouragement. We are the ones that God has seen fit to put on the stage of history at this unique time, and like Paul said of David, we must serve the purpose of God in our own unique generation.