The Gospel for a Gay Friend
Josh had always known he was different. From his earliest memories, he looked at some boys as more than just peers. His parents knew he was “special,” but they loved him for it. He learned to wear a mask and play the part of a “normal” kid until he graduated from high school.
In college, Josh decided it was time to be who he really was. He made friends with other gay people and set out on sexual explorations. Josh found a refuge in his gay community and developed bonds that ran much deeper than sexual flings. Though his parents distanced themselves and old friends turned a cold shoulder, Josh felt that he was finally free in his new identity as a gay man.
Josh is no caricature. His experiences and story are true, and they are common.
What if Josh were your neighbor or your co-worker or your son? How would you give the gospel to him? How would you tell him about the forgiveness of sins, the community of believers, and true identity in Jesus?
In one sense, there is no difference in the way we’d share the good news with Josh compared to any other person. Just because Josh is sexually attracted to people of the same gender doesn’t make him foundationally different from anyone else.
For many of my Christian friends who love Jesus and struggle with same-sex attraction, the beauty of the gospel is that it addresses every area of their life, not just one expression of the fall. All of us who are believers know this. Whether we were once atheists, liars, Muslims, or self-righteous church attenders, there is no magical gospel just for “our sin.” At the foot of the cross we are all equally in need of God’s amazing grace.
At the same time, Josh has very real questions that need to be answered. In the same way an atheist, Muslim, or self-righteous person would need the gospel to address him or her personally, so does Josh. He has real questions that he struggles with, and we should seek to help him find those answers.
Ideas to Keep in Mind
To share the gospel with Josh, or anyone who might have questions like his, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
1. Hope in Jesus’s Power to Help You
Hope in Jesus’s power to help you. It can be intimidating for people who have never struggled with same-sex attraction to share the gospel with a gay man or woman. As with anyone we share the gospel with, we fear how they may perceive us, and we may be tempted to think they would never listen. The fear of man is a snare (Prov. 29:25). So rather than getting hung up on it, we must hope in Jesus’s strength in us, not in our adequacy to bring the message (John 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:5). We must drink deeply of the gospel as we share it, because there we find the power we need to be Jesus’s witnesses (Acts 1:8). Hope in Jesus’s power to help you.
2. Hold out Jesus as Supreme
Hold out Jesus as supreme. Friends like Josh will often want to bring the question of sexuality to the foreground in your conversation. At the same time, we want to keep Jesus and his gospel central.
To help with this, I encourage you to ask your friend to share their story with you. Ask them to help you understand how being gay became a central part of their identity. Or, if that’s not their experience, ask them about where they do find their identity. Ask them if there have been any hard times with their journey. Part of loving people is getting to know them.
As you do this, ask them if you can tell them why you view your identity in Christ as supreme. In the end, our primary goal isn’t to make people straight, it’s to help people repent of their sin and trust in Christ. We never want to minimize sins that keep people from God, but at the same time we want to magnify who brings us to God. Jesus came for sinners of all kinds, and we must keep that message central.
It is also good to keep in mind that all people are sexual sinners—some in small ways, some in greater ways. This helps us to reframe the conversation from being “You’re sexually broken, you need to be like us” to “We’re all sexual sinners who need Jesus.” Jesus is the hope for all of us, no matter how the fall shows itself in our lives.
3. Have Jesus-Like Compassion and Conviction
Have Jesus-like compassion and conviction. Christians have sinned in at least two major ways when it comes to reaching those in the gay community. On the one hand, some have laid aside God’s clear teaching that homosexuality is a sin in an attempt to show the love of God. Love that is stripped of truth is not love but deceit. This is a grave sin against both God and man.
Have Jesus-like conviction and speak the truth in love. Share what the Bible teaches about homosexual activity (Mark 7:21; Rom. 1:24–27; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; 1 Tim. 1:10). Share that there is a terrible judgment for those who reject Christ (Rev. 20:11–15). Share that there is a great cost in following Christ and also a great hope of forgiveness and freedom for those who do (Mark 10:28–30). Speak the truth in love.
On the other hand, some have neglected compassion and have harbored a condescending attitude toward people who practice homosexual sin. Love that is stripped of compassion is not love but hypocrisy. This too is a grave sin because it is unlike Christ’s love toward us.
Jesus, the God-man, was unlike the world of sinners who surrounded him, yet he had compassion on them (Matt. 9:36). As we reach out to those in the gay community, we must strive to do so with a similar heart. What could be more heartbreaking than for a person made in God’s image to be lost in their sin and forever separated from the love of God? Ask God to help you to see those in the gay community as he does so you can minister with conviction and compassion.
4. Have Jesus’s Church Be Central
Have Jesus’s church be central. As it was for Josh, the gay community is a refuge from the rejection and inner turmoil that many gay people experience. Because of this, they find a place where they are accepted in their sin and embraced for who they are.
One of the great antidotes for this powerful tool of the evil one is the community of the church. This may seem odd in light of the way many demonize the church because of its “bigotry,” but I trust that, as we build relationships with gay friends and invite them into our homes and into our lives, they will see the true community of which they have only dreamed.
To become such a community, we as the church must grow in giving grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with same-sex attraction. One of the most instructive times I’ve had in the past decade was when a new believer was being baptized and he shared openly about coming out of a gay lifestyle. In his testimony he described how the church had not only shared the gospel compassionately, but also was helping him now to live as a man with the struggles of his old desires. He said that, in the church, he found a refuge that challenged him not to embrace his sin, but to embrace the Savior.
Jesus said that all people will know we are his disciples by our love (John 13:34–35). As you build relationships with gay friends, invite them into your life so that they may hear the gospel, but also see it portrayed through the life of your local church.
5. Help Answer Their Questions
Help answer their questions. There are always objections to the gospel and few of us ever feel “fully ready” to answer those objections. But God calls us to make a defense for our hope in Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15). This means we should help people wrestle with very real questions. Here are a few Josh has asked.
- Why do you believe some verses in the Old Testament and ignore others?
- Why did God make me gay if he condemns it as a sin?
- Why is it wrong for two loving people to be in a committed relationship?
- Do I have to become straight to become a Christian?
- Why didn’t Jesus say anything about homosexuality?
- What if I become a gay Christian?
Part of our calling as Jesus’s ambassadors is to help people work through questions like these and see that God’s Word does have answers. If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to say, “That’s a really important question, can we find the answer together?”
6. Have Patience
Have patience with them. Take the long view in evangelism. It is rare that you share the gospel with someone and they repent in the moment. That can happen, but normally the process is much longer.
Enter into evangelistic relationships for the long haul. We are an impatient people, which can tempt us to give up quickly when we don’t see results. People are people, not projects. Often, we won’t see what God is doing in their lives. View yourself as part of God’s means to help them see and hear the gospel of Jesus. Love is patient. Show them love by being in it for the long haul.
7. Hope in Jesus’s Power to Save
Hope in Jesus’s power to save them. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16–17). That means that the gospel for a gay man or woman is the same gospel for a straight man or woman. Homosexuality isn’t the chief sin, unbelief is. Jesus died for all types of sins and for all types of sinners.
So do not doubt the power of Christ but pray fervently for soft hearts, open doors, and lasting fruit. Trust in God’s wisdom and God’s power, not in your own. Remember that every Christian is a living miracle. If Jesus can save you, he can save anyone, including Josh.