10 Ways to Love Same-Sex Attracted Neighbors

Image of Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change
by Denny Burk, Heath Lambert
P&R Publishing 2015
Kindle Edition 138

In their 2015 book Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change, Denny Burk and Heath Lambert present “ten exhortations on how we might love our same-sex–attracted neighbors better than we have.”1

1. Be a friend

And by that, we mean be a real friend. Don’t make changing your same-sex–attracted neighbor a condition of your friendship. A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. (Prov. 17:17 NASB)

2. Listen

Your same-sex–attracted neighbor may have a story to tell, and you need to hear it. Not just for his sake, but for yours. There is nothing better to wipe away erroneous caricatures than to listen to someone else’s story. Listening does not equal approving an unbiblical ideology. It just means that you care and are open to learning. He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. (Prov. 18:13 NASB)

3. Feel compassion

Understand that your same-sex–attracted neighbors often feel distress over unwanted same-sex attraction. They can feel a real sense of alienation from their own sexual desires. For some, the experience is quite agonizing. How would you feel if you had to walk a mile in their shoes? We all experience some measure of brokenness due to the fallenness of creation. So we too know what it means to groan (Rom. 8:23). If this is true, it ought to summon forth a compassionate response to our same-sex–attracted neighbors. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col. 3:12 NASB)

4. Share the gospel

The gospel is good news for sinners. It is the true story about a Creator God who loves sinners and who has made a way to reconcile them to himself through the death and resurrection of his own Son. It’s the best news in the world. How could we possibly withhold that from any friend? Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18–19 NASB)

5. Speak the truth

We are called not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead to “expose them” (Eph. 5:11). That means we must always “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 5:18). We must realize that real love never evades the truth but always “rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). So loving our neighbors means telling them the truth, even when that truth brings an unpleasant confrontation. You don’t have to be mean, angry, or haughty to speak truthfully. You can do it in a way that is winsome and that shows concern but does not disdain. In short, you can speak the truth in love. But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Eph. 4:15 NASB)

6. Be candid about differences

This is a necessary corollary to speaking the truth. A true friend will always find a way to communicate differences that matter. A friendship that glosses over such things can degenerate into flattery and superficiality. Sometimes the truth about God’s Word brings a confrontation, no matter how nice and compassionate you try to be in delivering it. But don’t let the fear of confrontation keep you from being candid. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Prov. 27:6 NASB) That means that an enemy will tell you what you want to hear, but a real friend will tell you what you need to hear. Sometimes saying the right thing is hard, but we won’t shrink back from the confrontation if we really love our neighbor.

7. Oppose bullying

Christians must lead the charge to condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against our same-sex–attracted neighbors. Take your stand with the oppressed. Speak up for them. Do it even if it costs you social capital or risks subjecting yourself to the same bullying. This is the kind of sacrificial love that bears witness to the way Christ has loved us. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause.” … … … … … … … … … My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil And they hasten to shed blood. (Prov. 1:10–11; 15–16 NASB)

8. Receive your brothers and sisters

We should befriend our same-sex–attracted neighbors even if they are not Christians. Some of them will repent of their sin, trust Christ, and become Christians. When they do, be prepared to rejoice and to receive them with open arms as brothers and sisters in Christ. Make sure they know that they are received as full members into the body of Christ even if they have ongoing struggles with same-sex attraction. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13 NASB)

9. Strengthen your brothers and sisters

Some new converts may experience a complete deliverance from same-sex attraction. Others may continue to struggle. Be prepared to walk with the strugglers and to strengthen them for what may be a very difficult obedience. God has given them everything that they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and a part of God’s provision for them is your friendship and encouragement. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13 NASB)

10. Pray

The Devil wants to destroy. Jesus wants to save (John 10:10). Pray for your same-sex–attracted neighbor that Jesus might have his way. In his own prayer for wayward Peter, Jesus modeled how we might intercede: Behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31–32 NASB)

Notes

1 Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2015), 108-112.

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There are 4 Comments

G. N. Barkman's picture

Thanks, Tyler.  This is well thought out and helpful.  We all will be dealing with this situation increasingly in the days to come.  We need to be prepared to interact in a truly Christ-like way.

G. N. Barkman

Mark_Smith's picture

They are convinced they are blessed by God in their relationship and claim to be Christians. They have a daughter that was born a few years ago just after they moved in.

Further down the block there is a Baptist church youth pastor who has a microbrewery in his basement. We obviously live in a very chic neighborhood. Who knew?

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

They are convinced they are blessed by God in their relationship and claim to be Christians. They have a daughter that was born a few years ago just after they moved in.

Further down the block there is a Baptist church youth pastor who has a microbrewery in his basement. We obviously live in a very chic neighborhood. Who knew?

It strikes me that one of these situations is clearly condemned by Scripture, and the other--at least as long as those who enjoy that microbrewery don't go to excess--is not.  To the point of the article, it strikes me that, while I grant that Christians may reasonably decide they do not want to partake in every liberty we enjoy in Christ, we do ourselves no favors when we confuse our personal stands with Biblical stands.

This is especially the case when we consider that the Biblical case against homosexuality (and really other sexual sins) does involve the difficulties we have with interpreting how we are to understand the Mosaic law in the life of the believer.  If we love the homosexual, we need to not only be clear about what is a Biblical command vs. what is a personal choice, but we also need to "up our game" beyond prooftexts.  This article--and Mark's response--is greatly appreciated.  I also have had homosexual friends who dearly needed someone to be patient enough to help them understand the difference between Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 19:27, and why we carry forward the former, but not the latter.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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