David Bennett, once a gay activist at the University of Technology Sydney, now lives a celibate Christian life and is studying at Oxford University. He is uniquely placed to help Christians extend good will to our LGBTQI friends, neighbours and family members.
Often as the church, we are focused on vindicating our own doctrinal views on the gospel. But, really, when it comes to our obsession with gay marriage and homosexuality, that’s from our own insecurity regarding the sexual sanctity of the church.
Like Jesus with the Samaritan woman, our job is to love the person, identifying with their brokenness and offering them the water of the Holy Spirit, whilst standing in God’s truth.
We need to return to the figure of Jesus and reach out in love to the LGBTQI community, radically identifying with their struggle, showing them our brokenness, and letting go of the moral high ground we have been tempted to take because of “being Christian’,” “heterosexual” and, generally, middle class. Like Jesus with the Samaritan woman, our job is to love the person, identifying with their brokenness and offering them the water of the Holy Spirit, whilst standing in God’s truth.
Here are seven tips to help you love gay people this Christmas season:
1. Support us
Have a discussion group for LGBTQI/other people to explore this subject, before God, in our churches and to organically build understanding. Stop putting heads in the sand about the experience of same-sex attracted, gay or transgendered people – but don’t give in to the cultural narrative of progress which presents a false gospel of hope.
Stand with people who are genuinely committed to discipleship.
2. Speak out
In preaching or bringing these topics up in church, we have to be very wise, but it’s important to allow people to share their testimony without negative backlash. Stand with people who are genuinely committed to discipleship; don’t talk down to them. Stories are definitely better than just preaching or seeing it as a “tick the box” church issue. Let go of your fear and get behind those people, like myself, who stand out there for holiness in our celibate state or otherwise.
There needs to be a community solution with alternative church families of single people living together.
Be incarnational. There needs to be a community solution with alternative church families of single people living together. If we are going to maintain what Scripture says, we must live like it shows us in Acts 2. We have to sell everything and give, live together and stop sectioning off the church into private family groups. We need to break the idolatry of marriage; the family of God is much wider and more diverse.
Get behind already existing groups such as Living Out and Spiritual Friendship, which are becoming much wider theologically and, also, in terms of the people getting involved. Welcome them into the intellectual and spiritual life of the church.
…be aware of [God’s] heart for LGBTQI people.
Have a working group of interested people in the church, reading different kinds of material, so Christian communities are aware of the wider conversation and don’t just remain in old wineskins.
God is on the move – be aware of his heart for LGBTQI people; don’t be exasperated by the media or other pressures. Keep your eyes on each individual. Pastoral approaches can be developed through doctrine and learning from the experience of LGBTQI people who have come to Christ but still walk with it until the final day.
True love never compromises what is true, but it always offers the grace to receive the truth we all need to be free.
Each person who has walked through this has a piece of the puzzle. Patience with each person is vitally important; don’t avoid it because it’s too heavy or hard. Develop a theology that is close to the experience of LGBTQI people but is consistent, with holiness as the goal by grace.
Learn to understand about the particular suffering that LGBTQI people have gone through.
The church has no excuse to reject or not accept the LGBTQI community. Our starting points must be: all LGBTQI people are made in the image of God; they are sinners just like all of us and in need of Jesus’ salvation, grace, truth and love; the walk of LQBTQI people is unique and the cross we carry is also unique.
Learn to understand about the particular suffering that LGBTQI people have gone through, as they have had to come to terms with sexual orientation, or personal difficulties with gender dysmorphia.
Don’t dismiss this as “easy.” Let us lay down our lives in love for our “cultural” enemies and show them Jesus really does love them. True love never compromises what is true, but it always offers the grace to receive the truth we all need to be free.
Some prayer points to help
Pray that we would be excellent listeners to those who have different experiences to us, and teach us how to show grace in every situation.