I was speaking to a man this past week about the topic of homosexuality. He owns a foster-care agency that specializes in hard-to-place foster children. These are usually teenagers with criminal records, some are pregnant, and some have declared themselves to be “gay.” The man I am talking to is not a Christian, but he impresses me as being very kind and sensitive toward others. He has been attending mid-week Bible study for a number of years and his comments during previous classes have always evidenced his concern for others and a desire to help those who are hurting or disadvantaged in life.
Our conversation was a good one and it ultimately ended with a question of how a Christians should respond to the following scenario. Imagine a young boy or girl who has been abused their entire childhood. The child is then taken by Child Protective Servicesand is now very confused about life, questioning whether they have any value or purpose in this life. These teens are also constantly moving from court hearing to court hearing, foster home to foster home, school to school. Sadly, the suicide rate is very high among this population of teenagers. While having conversations with “gay” teens the man I was conversing with said he wants to give them a message of hope. He told me he wants to tell these teens that God loves them “the way they are,” and that in spite of the horrible circumstances they’ve experienced in this life God has prepared a place in heaven for them. I could see in his face the desire to be sensitive toward these hurting teens and not say anything to further devalue them or in any way push them back into suicidal thoughts. He then asked if I thought God would receive practicing homosexuals into heaven if they turned out to be otherwise “good people.”
As you can see, there are several subjects to unpack here and space limits us from hitting every point, but I want to focus on two things. First, the New Testament clearly teaches us that God loves all people and that Jesus died for the entire world (John 3:16). God’s desire is that all would be saved and that not a single soul would be lost (1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pt 3:9). But a second and very important part of God’s message is that salvation comes through knowing the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4 says God desires all men to be saved “and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32). Our obligation then is to present the truth, not a sugar-coated version of it, not any alteration of it whatsoever (Gal 1:8). And since the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:24-32), we must take the time to consider loving ways of communicating this. We are obligated to love our neighbors in every scenario, even this one. Communicating the truth in a way that shows compassion and a desire to point teens like this to a lifestyle that honors God is also our obligation.
If you are dealing with an obnoxious, in-your-face kind of person on a topic like this, I would say, “Answer not a fool according to his folly” (Prov 26:4). But when you have a hurting individual seeking validation of their worth before God, assure them that the cross is proof that God loves them (1 Cor 6:11). Be sensitive to all they’ve been through in life, and then speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). These are not easy conversations and they require forethought and planning to be effective. The truth can be difficult for some to hear, but when it is spoken with love, we find an effective combination!