Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ask Pastor Matt: Should I Invite My Gay Friend?

Pastor Matt, 

I have a good friend at work who is a professing homosexual. Since our relationship as friends and coworkers is growing, I have considered inviting her to important events in our lives (weddings, the birth of children, baptisms etc.). I don't want to promote a sinful lifestyle, but I do want to be a good witness of the love of Christ. Where should a Christian draw the line on these matters? I'm looking for ways to share my faith in Christ with her, but I'm not sure how. Can you help? 

--Anonymous 

What a great question! And one that no doubt many believers are asking, especially as our society grows more and more accepting of the so-called alternative lifestyles. 

Although some Christians may disagree with me on this, I do believe that you should invite this woman who is struggling with her sexual identity to come to witness your family together in important events like weddings, the birth of a child, Christian baptisms, and other great life moments.

I see no reason why not to invite her, as your friendship with her seems to be blooming anyway. If anything, I believe it would be a positive witness to her of the beauty and glory of a Christian marriage, conception within marriage, the miracle of live birth, and the discipleship of child rearing--all for the glory of Jesus. We want people in alternative lifestyles to see up-close and personal the stability and beauty of married life, don't we? We especially want them to see Christian households that live together in peace within the covenant of grace. 

As a matter of fact, I love preaching at weddings and funerals--not to mention baptisms--because these are some of the important Christian life markers that unbelievers still feel some compunction to attend and participate in. Preaching at these events is a great joy for me because I know there will be those who are unbelievers present. I want them to see what we do. Hear what we believe. Even long for what we have in Christ. 

We want LGBT people to be able to see us as Christians in our "real element" with our families and our churches, standing alongside our spouses, loving and raising our children together in the faith. Too often LGBT people  have mental conceptions of Christians holding up signs at street rallies and shouting out our beliefs in megaphones. You know and I know that Christians are loving people, even if we do have many flaws that our Savior did not have. But they have often been fed an 'image' of Christianity that is no more than an angry caricature. 

Part of our problem as believers today is we lack the necessary "street credibility" with the LGBT community who only view us as condescending, hypocritical, and judgmental. The only way to refute and break down that stereotype is to engage in real relationships and honest friendships. This will take time and cannot be done overnight. 

If we are going to be a witness to people in the LGBT community, we are going to have to develop authentic relationships with them. We will need to invite them into our homes and dine with them. Serve them meals and love them through their own struggles and trials. Handing them tracts on a street-corner won't likely be enough for them to listen intently to the message we proclaim. They have been trained to shut it out. If we are going to share authentic relationships with LGBT people, that will require us to invite them into deeper moments of our lives beyond professionalism and mere neighborliness (although it often starts there). We will have to go deeper.
Wait longer. Love more compassionately. We have a huge up-hill climb to go. 

The moment will come when you can talk to her about your faith in Christ. Pray for that to come in God's timing. Ask God for His wisdom in discerning when that moment will be. It may not be "the big conversation" but many little conversations over many weeks and months. Or it may all pour out over a very long extended coffee one day at Starbucks. (Pay the bill and give a generous tip too--act like a Christian!).

By all means, include this women in the meaningful moments of your life and show her the love of Christ who Himself met with drunks, liars, thieves, religious hypocrites, adulterers--and loved them all. At the same time, Jesus masterfully defended the law of the Old Testament and gave no ground on moral issues. Neither should we. When the moment comes for you to share your faith--and possibly even defend the line in the sand you draw about human sexuality--you will have earned the right to speak truth into her life rather than assuming it.  

Hope that helps. 

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. 

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