How do we respond to the LGBTQ+ community?
There are right ways and wrong ways to respond to the LGBTQ+ community inside and outside of the Church. For people outside of the Church, we really cannot expect people to follow Christ and turn away from their sin. Outside of Christ, we never would have given up our sin either. Inside the Church, we cannot fully accept the LGBTQ+ community. It is sin, Biblically, and we need to treat it as such. However we should never fully reject LGBTQ+ people from our chuerches either. We should be thankful that they're coming to the Church, welcome them, and allow them to hear the Word and be loved on by people. We reject sin but we love sinners. We pray for them, talk to them, preach the Gospel to them, and hope for them to repent.
Author's Note: This article was written to come out as an article during pride month, on June 24th 2022, but our article on abortion went out instead due to the Dobbs v Jacksons decision happening that day. We hope you find our 1 day after pride month article helpful as a resource for how to respond to the LGBTQ+ community year round as a Christian.
There are so many things in our culture that are said about the LGBTQ+ community, especially during pride month. It seems that as time goes on, our society gets more and more divided and even more and more things get thrown into the dialogue. People get put into their own echo chambers, only hearing the narrative of the side they agree with, and other people are caught in the middle, with a bunch of noise all around. How do you discern the fact from the fiction, and how do we, as followers of Jesus, respond to all of this? How do we respond correctly so that we can engage in meaningful dialogue in a way that brings glory to God?
The issue with engaging in dialogue about the question of homosexuality being a sin is that there is a difference in worldview. As evangelicals, we view Scripture as the “inerrant word of God.” Meaning, it is written by God (men wrote, guided by the Holy Spirit [2 Pet. 1:21]) and without error. While it was directly written by man, the whole process was guided by God. This belief means that we do not believe Scripture to have been written by man on a whim and made up to fit their society, but to have been inspired by God to contain truths that transcend the boundaries of time, cultures, and society. Because of this, we read so-called “clobber verses” (verses that speak on homosexuality, historically used to “clobber” the LGBTQ+ community) differently than those who deny the truths we claim they have.
That is why I am not going to try and argue the meaning of these Scriptures here, and I don’t suggest arguing the meanings of the Scripture either. If you’re arguing with someone who disagrees, the disagreement is not actually about the meaning of Scripture but rather about how the Bible should be read, truths about who God is, and other things that go way deeper than just what a verse means. So for sure defend your position adequately, but don’t try to win the argument, because you’ll just continue in a circle until one of you gets too mad at the other to continue in conversation. Another time, maybe we could explore a defense of these verses, but for the purposes of this article I will consider it sufficient to say that if you hold to the evangelical worldview and way of reading Scripture, you will arrive at evangelical beliefs.
What I want to explore here is not whether or not homosexuality is a sin, but how we should respond to the LGBTQ+ community as Christians.
Let the world be the world
First of all, if someone is not a professing believer, there is nothing we can do but pray for them. They will not acknowledge their sin to be sin, and if they do then they’ll say they do not care if it’s sin or not because they love their sin. Before you knew Christ, if someone told you to stop being selfish, greedy, or lustful you would shrug them off and continue to do it anyways, because you loved it.
Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” We are not any better by our own merit than anyone else who is currently living in sin outside of Christ, and we will do good to remember what we were once like before Christ.
I’m not saying that suddenly sin is okay and excusable just because you’re outside of Christ but we should not be surprised when the world acts like the world. We cannot expect people in the world to behave any differently than that. So our response to the LGBTQ+ community outside of the Church should be simply this; love them. Pray for them. Share the Gospel with them. Expect them to carry on with what they’re doing, hoping that God will change their ways. Once they profess Christ, the discussion can shift to homosexuality as a sin and helping them deal with it, but before then it is just a matter of hoping they are renewed in their spirit and come to Christ.
The Full Acceptance Response
Now, there are really two ways that Christians and people claiming the name have responded to the LGBTQ+ community, both of them opposites but equally as damaging to people and to the Church. The first way some respond is by fully accepting the LGBTQ+ community, its doctrine, and its way of life. This is a tricky one because it’s certainly the easiest way of doing it. You can even acknowledge its a sin but still say something like “Yeah I believe it’s a sin, but that’s just how they live their life” or “Well Christ’s blood covers all sin” but that’s not a helpful way to respond. It can even seem like the most loving response at times, but it’s actually the least loving thing you could do because it is accepting sin and allowing a person to stumble around lost in the darkness of their sinful hearts.
Culture wants us to respond this way, though, and will try to pressure the Church to give up ground until we fully accept the LGBTQ+ community. However, Scripture is clear in its teachings on culture pressuring us. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Meaning, rather than looking to the culture and the world around us for what is good and acceptable and perfect, we look to God and God alone to tell us what is good and acceptable and perfect, allowing His truths to shape the way we think.
Romans 6:1-2 says “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” All those in Christ need to acknowledge their sin for what it is, no matter what it is, and move on to living in the new life they have been given. So fully accepting the sin of any Christian is not helpful, homosexuality and the other sins of the LGBTQ+ community being no exception.
The Full Rejection Response
On the opposite side of the spectrum and equally bad is to fully reject the LGBTQ+ community. We should fully reject the sin but we should not fully reject the sinner. More on this later. The Bible has been used to justify so many atrocities historically, and none of them have been actually biblical. When you look at Scripture it is very clear that none of these historical atrocities have any actual biblical basis. This is no different. The things that have been said and done to the LGBTQ+ community by professing Christians is so disheartening and does not represent Christ well.
There are many members of the LGBTQ+ community that may be sitting in a pew on Sundays still if they were not forced out of church. Some churches have even banned LGBTQ+ people from attending services. This is so far from what we are to do. Nowhere in the Gospel do we see a situation where you have to clean yourself up before you accept Christ. That is actually the complete OPPOSITE of the Gospel. Christ died because we cannot do it. We cannot clean ourselves up and we cannot come before God on our own merit. Only by the perfect and precious blood of Jesus Christ can we come anywhere near God. We come to Christ broken, messy, wicked, and terrible and He cleans us up. Practicing LGBTQ+ people should be in church pews hearing the Word of God preached to them should they wish to hear it. Anyone who is willing to walk through those church doors and hear the Word should be allowed to.
If we set the precedent of forcing the LGBTQ+ community out of chuch, we have to apply it to all sin. If LGBTQ+ members cannot come anywhere near the church then neither can anyone who’s told a lie (even a small one), looked at the opposite gender with lust, or even thought something negative towards another human being. That is the standard God has and it is a beautiful wonder that we do not have to enforce this standard to come to church. Jesus Christ went to eat with prostitutes and tax collectors and taught them the better way. He came near to a woman caught in adultery and rather than joining in on the stoning, He put a stop to it and said “Go and sin no more.”
Love the sinner, hate the sin
So what do we do then? If we don’t accept the sins of the LGBTQ+ community but we don’t reject the LGBTQ+ community, where is the middle ground that we walk in? It is in the cliche and often hated, but yet true statement of “Love the sinner, and hate the sin.” The reason it is hated is because oftentimes the sinner identifies with the sin and says they are inseparable from their sin.
Sadly, those outside of Christ who identify with their sin are identified by their sin. However, in Christ you are free from your sin, so we have the privilege of being able to say the individual’s identity can be fully detached from it. Someone who is in Christ should find their identity in Christ alone.
John 1:12 says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” and 1 Corinthians 6:17 adds “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” What wonderful things we can call ourselves and find our identity in. We should hope that those whose identities are their queerness can find their identities elsewhere, ideally in Christ. So we can hate what they do, but love who God made them to be and hope they will know and love their creator.
In light of this, our goal should be to pray for sinners; to love them and care for them and hope that they lay aside their sin and join the Church of Christ. Those who are in the Church and practicing sin, we approach Biblically and try to help them move on from their sin, and hope they repent. This is how we deal with the LGBTQ+ community, during pride month and in every month.
To summarize; humble yourself and remember who you were before Christ and let the world be the world. Do not accept sin but do not reject the sinner. Pray for their repentance and show them love.