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When A Loved One Says, "I'm Gay"
By Bob Davies
When Dianne met Rob at her church youth group, she was immediately attracted to his shy smile and sincere love for Christ. Soon they were sharing rides to church events and spending time together dining out and attending Christian concerts.
Over the next year, Dianne and Rob developed a close friendship. Then came an unexpected shock. One Friday night Rob confided in Dianne about a serious struggle in his life. Looking down at his hands, Rob dropped his bombshell: My problem is.Im struggling with homosexuality.
The silence hung heavy between them. What do I say now? Dianne wondered.
There are few confessions as shocking as the revelation that a friend or family member is dealing with homosexuality. Parents are especially traumatized. Where did we go wrong? they wonder. Shock can quickly give way to fear. Families are terrified that others in their church will find out. Some families react by withdrawing from friends and even dropping out of church altogether.
Ways to help
During my past 18 years of involvement in redemptive ministry to homosexuals, I have talked to hundreds of family members and friends. Here are some principles I give them:
Build a bridge
In the case of gay neighbors and coworkers, we must first earn the right to speak into this intimate and sensitive part of their lives by building trust.
When Tim heard from other neighbors that the two women living in an upstairs apartment were gay, he felt burdened for their salvation. Id love to share Christ with them, he thought. But where do I start?
Reaching the homosexual acquaintance for Christ begins with bridging the gap between you and him or her. Neighbors usually become friends through common interests: sharing recipes across the back fence, exchanging gardening tips, sharing a game of tennis or racquetball. Inexpensive gifts are another bridge-builder like homegrown vegetables in the summer or a plate of cookies at Christmas. A friendly attitude can be communicated anytime by a warm smile and cheery greeting.
Show unconditional acceptance.
People dealing with homosexuality have often struggled with feelings of self-hatred and rejection for years. Its vital to show acceptance toward them as people, even though we dont approve of their sexual behavior. Unfortunately, some Christians can only quote Scripture verses which condemn homosexuality, without also expressing love and concern for the individual.
One mother waited over a decade for her son to leave homosexuality. Our job is to love our children, she tells other parents. Gods job is to change them.
Some Christians worry that, in showing acceptance to the individual, they will mistakenly display approval for a sinful lifestyle. We need to clearly state, I dont approve of your behavior, but I care about you and nothing will ever change that. Then we need to back up our words with continued friendship and thoughtful concern.
This is the essence of the gospel: God loved us before we accepted Him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV).
Give hope for change.
Gods Word is plain that homosexual behavior is sin (Romans 1:26, 27). However, just like any other sin, it can be forgiven. And its effects can be overcome.
This is good news. Most gay people know the Bible condemns their behavior; few know that God can change their sexual desires.
There is biblical proof that homosexuals can change. In 1st Cornithians 6:9, the apostle Paul warns that various sinful lifestyles including homosexual behavior will prevent individuals from entering Gods kingdom. Then he adds: And that is what some of you were (v.11).
Paul knew Christians in Corinth who had been involved in homosexuality. But they had been washed and declared righteous when they repented of their sexual sin. This hope for change is the most important message you can give to a homosexual friend or neighbor.
I spoke with a man who left the gay lifestyle more than a year earlier. At one time he was a leader in the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination made up largely by homosexuals. I loved Jesus with all my heart, he told me. But in that church nobody ever told me I had a choice to change.
Sometimes were puzzled about how to pray for the homosexual. Remember, sin has negative consequences which eventually motivate a person to seek change. God promises that a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7).
Homosexuality is a lifestyle which seems to promise a lot, but delivers very little. For example, most gay relationships are short-lived, leaving behind loneliness, depression and guilt. The gay lifestyle is geared to youth; as these men and women approach middle age, they experience increasing rejection. Keep praying that God will open your relative or friends eyes to the truth about this lifestyle.
Jeff, a married man with two children, was once deeply involved in the gay lifestyle. He lived with another man for five years, but his parents never stopped praying for his deliverance. When Jeff became a Christian more than a decade ago, he felt convicted about his homosexual activities and soon abandoned them. I know its because of my parents prayers that Im where I am today, he says.
Friends can be an effective encouragement even when they dont know much about homosexuality. Dianne is a good example. Despite her initial shock to Robs confession, she reacted with love. Dianne encouraged Rob to seek counseling. Although they stopped dating, Rob got the help he needed to resolve his homosexuality. Today, he is happily married and involved in ministry.
Friends can powerfully impact the life of someone struggling with homosexual sin. I know, because the story of Rob is actually my own story. Dianne was my friend, and Ill always be grateful that she helped me find freedom from homosexuality.
GUIDELINES FOR BEING A FRIEND TO A HOMOSEXUAL
Give God time to work in your friends life.
Be sure you are motivated by Gods love and not your own anger.
Pray. Intercession will help you live out Gods love.
Let the Holy Spirit do His job (John 16:8,9). You cannot save your friend.
Dont treat homosexuality as if it is worse than any other sin.
Be careful that your friendship is not misinterpreted as tacit approval of a homosexual lifestyle.
Dont try to make every conversation center on your reaction to his / her sin.
Be prepared for the time you may have to end your friendship, if your friend professes to be a Christian. You must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoralWith such a man do not even eat (1st Corinthians 5:11 NIV).