The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on same-sex marriage. In the days following, many Christians have written various responses. Many are filled with good information regarding the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Other responses have focused on the future implications of the SCOTUS ruling on US churches. Some have aired angry self-righteous opinions while others have appealed to a Christ-like public response.
However, I haven’t heard many Christians address what seems to me like a vital question for this moment in history: How, then, should we speak to our gay friends now? The question is not what should we think about the SCOTUS ruling, or how should the church respond. Rather, what should my conversation on Monday look like with my gay co-worker? How should I speak to my lesbian sister when we get together for pizza on Tuesday night?
In my opinion, we must talk to our gay friends and family about the issue. It is the elephant in the room now and ignoring the issue is not an option. Perhaps it was an optional conversation in the past, but now that the same-sex marriage issue is on the forefront on national conversation, we cannot hide our heads in the sand. To do so implies that our faith in Christ has no answers for relevant questions.
I think there are two vital angles that need to be considered when preparing to speak with gay friends. 1) HOW should we speak to our gay friends, and 2) WHAT should we speak to our gay friends. The first is a question of posture (how), the second is a question of content (what).
Today, I want to address the how. In a later blog post I will address the what.
Here are five biblical concepts that must be reflected in your conversation with gay friends about same-sex marriage:
1. Dignity. God has created humans in His image. In Genesis 1:27, the Bible explains:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
This verse of Scripture is the basis for our belief in the dignity of all human beings. To belittle a person made in God’s image is to belittle God.
This passage is also the first indication of God’s design for marriage being between a man and woman (more on that in the what post). Let me just say that an undignified response (by Christians) to an undignified lifestyle is not dignified!
2. Humility In order for any conversation with any person to be Christ-honoring, it must take place in humility. Christ set the standard for humility in dying for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
Speaking to gay friends in pride and spiritual arrogance is not only offensive to your friends; it betrays the cross of Christ. Jesus spent great amounts of time with sinners shunned by the religious leaders of His day. He always approached them with humility. To my knowledge, the only sinners He treated with contempt were the self-righteous.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Philippians 2:1-3).
3. Speaking the truth in love. The call to speak the truth in love is “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Truth and love are prescribed as a pair in the following verse (Ephesians 4:15) for a purpose. Truth without love can easily give way to hate-speech using the Bible for ammunition. Love without truth can give way to acceptance of sin in the name of Jesus. Neither is Christ-like. We need to genuinely care about our LGBT friends so much that we lovingly tell them the truth.
4. Hope. Our conversations must always communicate the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. No sinner –no matter the sin –is beyond the hope of Christ. If we are to represent Jesus in our conversations, we must share the hope that we have been given acknowledging our own need of a savior (Ephesians 2:12-13).
5. Mission. The mission of God compels us to share Christ with our LGBT friends. Some may say, “Trying to persuade someone automatically removes authenticity from a conversation. You cannot genuinely love someone while trying to persuade them.” However, I find the opposite is true. I love my son; therefore, I try to persuade him to make good decisions. If I did not try to persuade, I would be accused of not loving him. Therefore, if we truly love our LGBT friends, we will not avoid the issue, but instead will treat them with dignity by humbly speaking the truth in love and sharing the hope of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:16-18).