The Church is called to be a prophetic voice for God in the world. The Church’s voice should ring with both clarity and with charity. It should be both truthful and loving.
When it comes to engaging people who practice a homosexual lifestyle there are a few things that the Bible teaches that we should keep in mind.
1. We should be willing to call a spade a spade and a sin a sin. Homosexual behavior is a sin against God (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; Gen. 19, cf. 2 Pet. 2:6-10). There is a lot of pressure on Christians today to shy away from describing homosexuality as a sin. The social pressure to capitulate here will probably only increase with time. But Christians have to be anchored on the Word of God as their authority on this issue. Even if it means being considered “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 4:10).
2. When it comes to relationships with actual flesh and blood people, we should generally try to avoid an an “us vs. them” mentality in our conversations. Certainly the Bible diagnoses homosexuality as a sin and as a sypmtom of unbelief. And yet, the ability to persuade involves an attempt to identify with others in appropriate ways. Christians can do this. In fact, we should be able to do this better than anyone else. We who are redeemed sinners ourselves can certainly relate to the sinful tendencies of our fellow man. After all, “such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11). It would be great, then, to hear more Christians say,
“I love homosexuals and wish we had more of them attending our church on Sunday morning. At the same time, I trust you will appreciate me being lovingly candid with you regarding the truth of God’s Word regarding homosexuality….”
How, then, should we go about engaging homosexuals with the gospel? Here are some notes that I took from David Powlison which I have found helpful and edited a bit for posting here.
- Know the people you are talking to on a personal level as much as you can. What are their questions? What do they care about most deeply? What do they feel most strongly about?
- Enter their story. Get on their ground. Use their language. Enter the world of their experience. The message of the gospel is going to make their world mean something different than it currently means to them. If you know the meaning and interpretation that they currently give to their life you will be in a better position to show how the gospel of Jesus connects to it.
- Retell their story. The gospel has a change agenda that we should always be alert to. Tell the story of their life with their words, their authorities, their experience but look for inner contradictions, unanswered questions, etc. There is inevitably a certain dissonance right in their lived experience which the gospel can speak to. Retell their story “on their turf.” Bring out stuff from their life that has been neglected or ignored or never seen.
- Tell our story afresh. If I know my audience, if I have entered their world and if I have retold their story, the gospel, the revelatory truth of God is not going to be boilerplate. It is going to be tailored afresh to the needs, urgencies, of that moment and of that person. The eternal gospel is going to appear amazingly relevant and personal.
- Call to re-orientation. The Bible uses the term repentance which means a complete change of mind and life direction. Urge the person to redirect their mind and life in light of God’s truth.
The gospel is the greatest news the world has ever heard. May God bless his message as you share it.