A month or so ago I started a series of posts on homosexuality and transgender issues. Now that the holidays are over I want to pick up where I left off. Last year I attended the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference where homosexuality was the main theme. Much of what I’ll share comes from my conference notes. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can.
In the first post, Homosexuality: What set the stage?, I discussed the cultural changes that got us here.
In the second post, Homosexuality: Many Voices, I talked about the various view points on homosexuality and why biblical Christianity and the relevance of God’s Word are at stake.
In this post I want to discuss 10 practical ways we as Christians can love biblically when it comes to our transgender and homosexual friends and family members.
Matthew 22 in the New Living Translation says this:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
We are called to love our spouses, to love our neighbors, and to love our friends and family members. We are even called to love our enemies. While we don’t want to confuse love with acceptance in the area of lifestyle, it doesn’t matter where on that continuum someone is, we are called to love.
One of the most powerful testimonies at the conference was that of Rosaria Butterfield. Rosaria is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. In spite of what she termed a normal childhood and adolescence, she became a feminist and lesbian, even more, a vocal spokesperson for that agenda.
After a rare and unusual friendship developed with a pastor and his family, she began a journey that lasted several years and led to her conversion to Christianity. She is now a full-time mother and pastor’s wife, an author, and a speaker.
You can’t listen to her testimony without seeing Jesus’ words in Matthew 22 lived out in a powerful and practical way.
What if God has placed someone like Rosaria in your life, perhaps in your church or your family? How can you minister the love of Christ without compromising truth?
Homosexuality: 10 Ways to Love Biblically
These were adapted from Professor Denny Burk’s (Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College) message during the pre-conference on transgender issues, but are true for anyone living a sinful lifestyle.
- Be a friend, a real friend, don’t make changing them a condition of your friendship (Prov. 17.17).
First, it is possible to have friends with whom we disagree. And second, as Christians who have come face to face with our own sin and need for a Savior, we must resist the urge to classify homosexual sin as a different category from heterosexual sin or any other sinful lifestyle.
2. Listen. They may have a story to tell and you need to hear it (Prov. 18.13).
We don’t know what someone’s journey has been or what may have led them to their lifestyle or worldview. We need to listen thoughtfully and prayerfully.
3. Feel compassion. Understand he or she may feel distressed. They may have a real sense of alienation and that can be agonizing. Of all people we should be compassionate (Col. 3.12).
4. Share the Gospel. It is the good news for sinners and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5.18).
5. Speak the truth. We should speak the truth in love, but no less than the truth. But we don’t have to be mean or angry. We can be winsome (Eph. 4.15).
We cannot witness and be a catalyst for change if all we do is attack or if we fail to demonstrate Christ’s love in the process.
6. Be candid about differences. This goes with speaking the truth in love. A friendship that glosses over difference leads to shallow relationships (Prov. 27.6).
7. Oppose bullying. We must condemn acts of bullying or violence. Speak up, even if it puts you at risk of being bullied. That’s sacrificial love and it bears witness to who we are (Prov. 1.10-15). It’s important to teach our young people this.
8. Be a friend. Some will repent and become Christians. Make sure they are received in love by others.
9. Strengthen your brothers and sisters (Heb. 3.13).
If a believer is struggling with same sex attraction. Pray for them. Encourage them. Lovingly hold them accountable.
10. Remember the devil wants to destroy (Jn. 10.10). Jesus wants to save. Remember how Jesus spoke to and prayed for Peter, “Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you,” (Lk. 22.31-32).
In the next few posts I’ll talk more about how this issue contradicts God’s good design, how we can minister to the hurting families of those living a homosexual or transgender lifestyle, and discuss the question of whether the attraction is sinful or just the behavior.
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Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield
Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a “train wreck” at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.
Rosaria’s story was unknown until she was featured in a January 2013 Christianity Today article, which has been read by more than 1.7 million people. That same month she was interviewed by WORLD magazine’s Marvin Olasky, and the video went viral.
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