How Do I Love My Gay Friend?

This is the fourth of a five-part blog series on same-sex attraction. Be sure to read part 1 (“Why we have such a problem talking about same-sex attraction in the church”), part 2 (“Is same-sex attraction wrong? If so, why?”) and part 3 (“What do I do if I’m attracted to people of the same sex?”) … and our conclusion in part 5 (“Concluding Thoughts”).

There’s an old saying: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” And it’s probably the most helpful way to answer this question. How do you love your gay friend? By remembering how lost you were when Jesus found you. You start by remembering that you are a sinner and they are sinners.

Beyond that, I see three ways we can practically love our gay friends and neighbors:

1. Don’t judge them.

“Don’t judge.” This is probably the non-Christian’s favorite Bible verse. It’s quoted as a way of saying that we shouldn’t ever tell people that what they’re up to is wrong. But as I’ve explained before, it can’t mean that. Jesus spent his entire life correcting error, and he commands us to do the same.

But here’s the catch: Even though Jesus was clear about what was right and wrong, he didn’t judge the world (John 3:17). How? By telling us the truth and then bringing us close. He made us—sinners—his friends. You judge someone not when you assess their position, but when you dismiss them as a person.

It’s not telling someone the truth that is judging them; it’s what you do after you tell them the truth. Judging, you see, assumes that you are righteous and they are guilty. Keep guilty them away from righteous you! But that’s not the gospel.

What this means for us practically is that even when someone disagrees with us, we don’t push them away. We draw them close. No, we don’t abandon our convictions. But our relationships with people can’t be contingent on their agreeing with us. We have to love our gay neighbor more than we love our position on sexual morality.

I’ll confess, the Christian community has failed miserably in this regard. We have not often followed up our truth-telling with a Christ-like embrace. We haven’t defended the LGBT community from abuse as we should have. And to those of you who have suffered abuse in the name of Jesus, I want to be clear: That was not Jesus. That was Satan dressed up in Jesus’ clothes.

Sinners were always safe exposing their hearts to Jesus. We want the church to be a safe place for people with same-sex attraction to come as well.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.