Mike's Gay Friend
Mike (not his real name) sent me an e-mail recently. Mike is a young guy who is a strong Christian. A fellow Christian friend of his just told Mike that he is gay. Mike wrote me for help. He wants to tell his friend that he is outside of God's will, and at the same time he wants to love him. His friend has been trying to make his feelings go away, but now has accepted that this is just how God made him. I took some time composing a letter to send Mike, and thought it would be beneficial to post here.
You find yourself in a difficult place. You have a friend whom you want to love, but with whom you have a disagreement about a very personal and sensitive issue.
In my opinion, the Church makes three mistakes in dealing with a self-identified homosexual person. The first is to reject that person completely, to condemn them and drive them out. I have never seen this done in my lifetime, but I have certainly heard of it.
The second mistake is to accept and celebrate their lifestyle. This is a mistake because homosexual behavior is utterly condemned by scripture, with no exceptions or wiggle room. This is not a debatable point. Christian theologians who accept homosexual behavior have to, when push comes to shove, either admit that this is true or flat-out lie about what scripture says. As I have heard said, and have repeated myself, "Christian homosexuality is a reality in search of a theology." There just isn't an orthodox Christian theology that supports this behavior.
The third mistake is to tell people to change the way they feel. It is a mistake to tell people that they can be, or should be, free of their homosexual feelings. The reality is that people who have homosexual desires are probably never going to feel otherwise. Is it possible that God would deliver them? Absolutely, "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) He might do a special act of grace. However, as anyone who has ever been around alcoholism (for instance) can tell you, for every one person that God miraculously delivers from the desire to drink there are tens of thousands of recovering alcoholics for whom the desire to drink is a daily struggle. For every one person whom God truly, miraculously delivers from same-sex attraction there are many, many more for whom this is an on-going struggle.
The likelihood is that your friend will always be sexually attracted to people of his own gender. However, this does not mean he has to act on those feelings. I, and you, and most Christians, have strong desires and feelings that we do not act on because we love the Lord and want to walk in his ways. Overcoming his feelings is unlikely. Acting in a Christian manner with his sex life is, by God's grace, up to him. The fact that he has homosexual feelings in no way indicates that those feelings are godly or good, any more than anyone's feelings are necessarily good for them.
Not that you asked, but let's talk about his faith for a moment. Living in unrepentant sin is bad for the spiritual life. Teaching others to live in unrepentant sin (as some leaders in other denominations are now doing) is very dark. That said, it is my belief that "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) I was once involved in a conversation, on a street corner unfortunately, with a gay activist. He told me that I believed he was going to burn in hell because he was gay. I responded, "I don't believe that you are going to burn in hell because you are gay. I believe that you are in danger of hell if you reject Christ." (John 12:44-50)
My advice is to love your friend as you love yourself, to be a compassionate friend to him. Remember that sexuality is an important part of the human person, and it is a very personal thing to talk with someone about. If God gives you an opportunity to talk about your views, then do so. Make your thoughts clear, but remember that you are speaking to someone for whom Christ died. You are not the judge, but you still may be called upon to give a warning (Ezekiel 3:17ff seems apt to me).
May the Lord be with you as you walk out the Gospel.