Recently a friend of mine told me that he is gay. He didn’t say that he struggles with being gay. He didn’t say that he was trying to fight it. He told me that he has a boyfriend and that he hadn’t told anyone that he had these feelings, until recently.
Up to that point, the issue was black and white for me. The Bible seemed straightforward enough:
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral … nor practicing homosexuals” 1 Corinthians 6:9 (TNIV).
The issue became more complex because my friend is a Christian. When I say Christian, I don’t mean he had explored following Christ. I mean, he’s a pastor’s son, he’s attended Bible studies that I have lead, and he’s prayed for me during mission trips that I’ve taken.
Is My Friend Going to Hell for His Decision?
If you expect me to answer that question, then read no further. You will be disappointed. I have no answers. And, I don’t think that any human can answer it with complete certainty. God knows far more than we do.
For me, this is an issue that I thought I had figured out, until I was in this situation. I’m sure it’s like that for most people in life. We can imagine the many situations that could cause us to reconsider the way we think about certain issues. Maybe there’s a girl who has been pro-life, and now she is unexpectedly pregnant; maybe someone’s parents who have been married for years are now getting a divorce; or you find out that one of your Christian friends is gay. In these, and other situations, one begins to see more gray than black and white.
The most pressing concern I had, at first, was how I was supposed to react to this situation. Many of my friends have asked for my guidance concerning our friend’s recent confession. But what does one say?
Looking For Answers
To try to give a thoughtful answer I researched the topic:
I was amazed at both extremes of the debate. It appeared that both sides twisted Scripture at times. Some people view homosexuality as a sin that is above all other sins, as if it is a disease that could take over the nation and lead to the extermination of our entire country. I found that others fully embrace Christian homosexuality. They have twisted the biblical culture, maintaining that there are several gay characters in the Bible. So that step didn’t help me much, it just educated me as to the different views are out there.
As I examined the Bible, I didn’t find anyone in my same situation. Jesus does not talk about homosexuality. But then again, he doesn’t talk about cocaine, overeating or how far one can physically go in a pre-marital relationship. But I did notice that in the Bible there is a continual theme, and that is that God knows more than we do.
When Job is having a discussion with Bildad, he remarks that God’s light rises on both evil and good people. Job is angry with the godless people. He stands before God as a man full of despair. In Job 38, God speaks to Job. He basically lectures Job for four chapters. He asks him questions like, “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like Him? Do you send lightening bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?” Job 39:1, 40:9, 38:35.
Another way of saying this would be: God wants Job to know that He knows more than him. So let God do what He has insight to do and Job should do what he has insight to do.
Jesus quoted the original discussion between Bildad and Job in Matthew 5:45. This is a rabbinical technique where a rabbi quotes one verse. For a Jew, this would arouse the entire thought of that book. Since most first century Jews had large portions of the Hebrew Testament memorized, they would have understood what Jesus was doing.
Jesus uses this technique while talking about loving one’s enemy. In essence He’s saying: God knows more than you. Let God deal with sin. He knows the whole situation. Instead, you just love your enemy.
My third step in my own discovery was to compare my situation with how I treat others that knowingly follow a path different from God’s way. When I have a friend who comes out of the closet as a person who routinely eats more than he should, what do I do? Do I abandon them? Of course not. What about friends who live together before marriage and are open about their sexual relationship? Do I stop inviting them over for dinner? Then why would it be any different for how I react to a friend that is gay?
How did Jesus react?
Jesus ate with prostitutes, tax collectors and drunks. He hung out with them. He met on their terms. In the same way, I have decided to do the same with my friend. If I am wrong, I would rather stand before God and be in trouble for loving too much, rather than for judging too much. God knows much more than I do. Therefore, I will focus on what I know. That is love. Jesus had friendships with people who were struggling. His love and acceptance was so fulfilling, that most people left the lifestyles they were living and found greater fulfillment in life with Him. Therefore, I will continue to love my friends without shame, whether they are gay, overeaters or living with their partner out of wedlock.