How to Share Your Faith When the Subject of Homosexuality Comes Up
What was your reaction when you heard the recent news that J.K. Rowling had just outed Albus Dumbledore? Upset? Tolerant? Uncomfortable? Intrigued? Indifferent? Responses to the author's announcement that Harry Potter's headmaster and mentor was gay, covered the gamut of emotions - and all this for a fictional character! But if you are part of the generation of teens who grew up with Harry Potter (whether you read the series or just listened to your friends obsess about each new book), the news about Dumbledore no doubt swept through your conversations like a quidditch player on a Firebolt.
After the initial shock and buzz have receded, learning a fictional character is gay may register as a minor blip on your radar screen. But how do you respond as a Christian in real life when a non-believing friend or acquaintance comes out of the closet? Quoting Bible verses at them and telling them their sexual orientation is 'wrong,' will likely have the effect of pushing them away. Yet silently condoning a lifestyle choice that is inconsistent with Biblical teaching (see Lev. 18:22; Romans 1:24-27), is uncomfortable as well.
The story of the Samaritan woman provides a window for us into Jesus' response to someone living a lifestyle that falls outside God's design for human sexuality. The Samaritan woman had five previous husbands and at the time of her conversation with Jesus, she was living with a man who was not her husband. While her sexual sin was heterosexual in nature rather than homosexual, Jesus' compassion and concern for her as an individual can serve as an example for us. For the full story, read John 4, and then consider the following principles when you have the opportunity to engage with others regarding the gay or lesbian lifestyle:
- Jesus cared about her and reached out across the social boundaries that would normally discourage interaction with someone of her gender, social class and lifestyle choices.
- Jesus launched into God-talk, without any initial reference to her particular sexual sin.
- Jesus recognized that her real thirst was for the 'Living Water' he could provide, and that her efforts to fill that empty God-space inside her with multiple sexual partners would never satisfy her.
- Jesus participated in a give and take conversation, asking and responding to questions, speaking God's truth and grace into the conversation.
So whether you find yourself in a conversation about Albus Dumbledore's sexual orientation or in a conversation with a real-world friend who is gay or lesbian, seek to turn the conversation toward God. See your friends as more than their sexual identity and balance God's grace and truth in the midst of your relationship. Here are some questions you might consider discussing when the subject of homosexuality comes up in the conversation:
- Ask your friends what their reaction was to J.K. Rowling's announcement that Dumbledore is gay.
- Ask your friends if they believe homosexuality is just another lifestyle choice. Listen and then share with kindness, patience and compassion what you believe based on what the Bible has to say on the topic. If you need help understanding or explaining this, check out the Soul Fuel article Harry Potter and the Secrets of Dumbledore.
- How would you react if a friend told you they were actively engaged in a homosexual relationship? Would you respond differently than if a friend were pursuing heterosexual sex outside of marriage?
- Why or why not?
- In any case, be respectful of the person, regardless of their sexual identity or their views on the subject of homosexuality. God's amazing grace is extended to everyone, to cover all sorts of sin. Remember that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Micah 7:19 promises, "And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean." God is in the business of transforming lives (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)! Regardless of the nature of our sins, God extends his compassion when we seek him, whether the sin involves homosexual or heterosexual activity that falls outside of God's design. That's the real news to share with a hurting world. News that's much more important than the recent newsflash that Dumbledore is gay!