A guide for relating to friends and congregation members who experience same-sex
society and its view of sexuality has rapidly
changed in the past 50 years. We live in a country
that is struggling to determine the legal definition
of marriage. Parents are wondering how to explain
to their children why a playmate has two mommies
or two daddies. Prime-time television shows feature
homosexual characters. God’s plan for sexuality
is no longer the prevailing world view. The church
is being challenged and pastors are being called
to answer questions. Pastors cannot escape the
question of how to deal with homosexuality within
frequently asked question is: How should Christians
and those in pastoral ministry relate to those
who experience same-sex attraction? The most basic
answer to this question is: “They should
relate the same way they relate to people in general”.
However, this is not always easy to do.
we look at Scripture we see that our God is a
Father who has great mercy and love for all
of his children: “The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm
145:9) In the Gospels, Jesus often looked at crowds
and at individual people and “had compassion
on them” (Matthew 20:34). Many other verses
in the New Testament tell us that we are to love
others. For example, we read “Finally, all
of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic,
love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (1
Peter 3:8). We are all sinful people. God asks
that we exhibit his kindness and love to all people,
all of whom are sinners.
also know that all sin is equal before God’s
eyes. Sexual sin, whether it is an affair, lust,
or homosexuality, is condemned by God. However,
sexual sin is not the “worst” sin there
is. God equally condemns white lies, cheating,
hatred, and jealousy.
how are we as Christians and pastors to view
those struggling with same-sex attraction? One
suggested way is to see people as though “every
person is of infinite worth and value and therefore
deserves to be treated with respect.” What
exactly does this mean? Let’s examine this
statement in further detail:
Regardless of actions, age, beliefs, citizenship,
education, gender, health, mental ability, occupation,
physical ability or appearance, political affiliation,
power, race, religion, sexual orientation, social-economic
class, usefulness to society, vocation, wealth
or anything else
of infinite worth and value”
1. God created us in His image. He blessed us and
said we are “very good”
2. We continue to be His image – the effects
of the fall of man and our sinfulness cannot completely
wipe this out.
3. God loves us unconditionally without requiring
us to change first, whether or not we are in relationship
with Him (Romans 5:8)
4. God’s love goes to the “extreme” of
giving His only son (and thus Himself) for us,
so that we can return to relationship with Him.
5. God calls us His children.
We who follow and serve this God strive in every
way to treat others in accordance with the infinite
worth and value they have, taking the Lord Jesus
Christ and His teachings as our ultimate model.
deserves to be treated with respect”
Because everyone has great worth in God’s
eyes, we all deserve to be treated with respect.
It doesn’t matter if you like certain people
or dislike them, know them well or just a little,
agree or disagree with their beliefs and actions
and sexual choices. Christians need to follow the
model of Jesus, who cared for those who were outcasts,
spent time with those who were marginalized by
society, and who was called “friend of sinners.”
important aspect of relating to those who have
same-sex attraction is to not focus on
a person’s sexuality. First and foremost,
a person practicing homosexuality is a person.
He or she is a human being with feelings, intelligence,
hopes and fears, abilities, strengths and weaknesses,
just like you. And, more importantly, this individual
was created by God and is dearly loved by Him.
The way you interact with him or her should reflect
that love in all its grace and mercy. Don’t
let what you know about his or her sexuality supersede
the many other things you know about him or her.
See your friend or congregation member as God sees
him or her. If you have recently learned of an
individual’s same-sex attraction, remember
that you still have all the good things that your
relationship had before you found out about this.
Now you know something else, something more personal
and perhaps more difficult to share. This is often
a sign that you are trusted as a friend or pastor,
and you need to honor that trust by respecting
this confidence. As well, where your friend is
at in their relationship with God is far more important
than sexual orientation. We do not get into heaven
by being straight; we get into heaven by saying
yes to God who gave His only Son for our redemption.
It is also important to learn more about same-sex
attraction. Listening to your friend will teach
you a lot, as will reading books and articles that
give a variety of perspectives on the topic. Christian
bookstores, websites, youth organizations are all
possible sources for materials. Three very helpful
a. Someone I Love is Gay by Anita Worthen & Bob
b. You Don’t have to be Gay by Jeff Konrad
c. Desires in Conflict by Joe Dallas
As a pastor some things you might do to help parishioners
struggling with same-sex attraction are:
a) Make an appointment and allow them to share
their struggle privately
b) If you don’t have the expertise to counsel
them yourself, recommend a ministry or support
c) Regularly encourage them, and let them know
you’re praying for them. Continue to include
them in activities and groups. The expression “A
person doesn’t really care how much you know
until they know how much you care” is so
d) Share God’s unconditional love, mercy
and compassion with them. “But you, O Lord,
are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger,
abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm
final thought is that the opposite of homosexuality
is not heterosexuality. Rather, the opposite of
homosexuality is holiness. Only God can change
a heart, but by being a good friend and pastor
and by using Christian principles of mercy and
love, you can play an important role in helping
to change a life.
Wilson, a former homosexual, was on staff with Focus on the Family Canada at the time of publication.
© 2007 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.