When I wrote my blog at the beginning of December regarding my previous sin of homosexuality, and my many year’s long cover-up, I did so in order to begin a process of healing and honesty between myself, and those I am close to. For years I had been less than truthful, and I wanted that to change. I knew that this would be an emotional rollercoaster for me, so by putting it in writing I could work though the emotions and tell my story, while still getting it out to the people who I had not told the truth to. I had stood before several churches in order to give my testimony (including as I was being voted for as a deacon of my church) and had not told the full truth. I had also been through an interview process at a church where I held back on my story. I believed (and still do) that a public lie, required a public truth.
I could never have imagined what would happen with my story. The day before my post, my total readership was just a handful, and by sharing it on Facebook I could share my story with everyone I knew, and move on. I thought some people might talk about it, but outside of my very small bubble, nobody would really care. If anything I might be able to minister more effectively in my local church context, but nothing beyond that. God had other plans.
My story has spread far wider than I could have possibly imagined. People all around the world have read my story and many have contacted me to offer prayer and encouragement. Others though have come from a different position. One of pain.
They have contacted me because they are hurting due to a previous sin in their lives, and are looking for direction, or simply someone to finally talk to about their hidden sin. Others have a family member, or friend, who has come out as gay and are wanting advice on how to reach that person, and a few others have contacted me just to let me know they hate me for one reason or another.
I have been touched by people’s trust of me, and their willingness to show their deepest secrets to me. It is an honor to pray with someone who is desperately seeking the Face of God. I never could have imagined being used by God in this way, but it is an honor for God to use me in order to help others hurting from a pain I know all too well. I am always willing to talk, or listen, or weep alongside those who need it.
Most of these questions are deeply personal, and require a one to one response. There is one, though, that has shown up many times, which I have found many in the church struggle with. It is the question of how to share the Gospel with their homosexual friend/son/daughter/cousin/parent etc.
Although I understand why this question is asked, I believe it is a fundamentally flawed question. The people searching for the answer do so out of love for a loved one (or even for those whom they do not know, yet love), but they are missing a proper understanding on what is going on.
What if we instead asked, “How should I reach a liar with the Gospel?” Or “My friend is a Gossip and I want to get the Gospel to her. How would I do that?”
These scenarios are silly, but they are the same as the question of the homosexual. It comes down to a fundamental understanding that all sin is sin. That all sinners stand equal before the Throne of God, and that the only way to have a restored relationship with God is through the Gospel message.
The way you reach the homosexual does not change simply because the manifestation of sin in their life looks different.
With all of that being said, here are a few tips I have picked up over the years that may be helpful in these situations.
First, see past the self-labeled identity of ‘homosexual’. See this person as a friend, family member, coworker, or whatever relationship they are to you. See them for their hopes and dreams. Seem them for their kindness and pain. See them for all that they are, and do not let what they do in the bedroom become the box in which you place them.
Second, be open to listening to them as a friend. Be the ear that they can talk to. So many people in the community have been deeply hurt in their encounters with “Christians”. For them, they have no idea if you really are like Fred Phelps or not. Show them through your willingness to talk, and listen, that you are not like those who are setting out to harm. Letting them see through your love for them that there should be no fear that you carry a “God hates fags” poster board in your trunk.
Although you may not be able to relate to the one facet of their life, you might be surprised to find out that you can relate deeply on many other issues and struggles.
Next, remember that few have been argued out of homosexuality. Even if they could, that is not your goal. You are to point them to Christ. You are to share the Gospel with them. As they saying goes, introduce them to Christ, not heterosexuality. Healing only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Once the discussion turns to homosexuality (which it usually will) there is no need to try to become the expert on the subject. If you know the answer, and can say it with love and grace, give the answer. If you do not know the answer, tell them so and offer to get the answer (then actually get it). Perhaps offer to do a Bible study together where the two of you study and see what God has to say. Don’t just focus on studying one sin, though, study John (or another book) together. Dig in and let the Word of God lead the conversation.
Mostly, though, simply show love and grace in your conversation, and life. Treat them like you would want to be treated. Be a reflection of the love of God on your friend’s life, and be patient. Christ’s love was so unconditional that it was revolutionary. He dined with people, and spoke with people, and touched people, which no religious leaders at the time would even draw close to. Show that kind of love.
The key lies in the question. When asking how to reach one with the Gospel, we need to remember that it is all about the Gospel. Whatever sin is in a person’s life, it is secondary to the Gospel message. If a man came into the emergency following a nasty car crash, and was bleeding profusely, yelling about whose fault the crash was, would the dr. stop and argue about the crash? Of course not. The crash is a secondary issue to the life of the person. Once the life has been saved, the secondary issues can be looked at. This is in no way different. Whatever the sin in a person’s life is, it is secondary to the eternal value of the soul of the person. We first give attention to the soul, and if the soul is healed, only then do we begin to worry about the flesh.