This does not need to be about choosing between God and your friend.
When it comes to the gay issue, the simplest way to think about the church's attitude is to consider three views:
- "The world thinks gay relationships are OK, so the church should too."
- "Being gay is a sin therefore Christians should condemn gay people."
- "The Bible teaches that gay relationships are sinful. However, people who identify themselves as gay are very much loved by God and should be encouraged to get to know Him better - just like anyone else."
These three views are discussed further below:
View 1: "The world thinks gay relationships are OK, so the church should too."
Many Christians are beginning it take this view.
TfT does not think this view reflects what the Bible teaches. What the world does is down to the world and the main job of the Church is to present the Gospel to the world and to pray that they will turn to Christ (Matthew 28:19). A Christian who makes Jesus Lord of his/her life should follow the teaching in the Bible (James 1:22) and understand that God regards gay lifestyles and relationships as sinful.
View 2: "Being gay is a sin therefore Christians should condemn gay people."
Many gay people think this is what all Christians think. They are wrong. Some Christians have thought this in the past, and some still do, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Even Jesus, himself sexually pure, refused to condemn the woman who was found to be sexually immoral (John 8:11). Many of these Christians are at last realising this view is wrong and not Christ-like at all and are moving to View 1 or View 3.
View 3: "The Bible teaches that gay relationships are sinful. However, people who identify themselves as gay are very much loved by God and should be encouraged to get to know Him better - just like anyone else."
Little is known about why gay feelings develop in people (despite a wide variety of claims). But just because we feel something, or are attracted to someone, does not mean that we are compelled to put that into action. We have choices and we have responsibilities to ourselves and to others. All of us, in many ways, and at many times, restrain our feelings and make good choices about what we do with our feelings and impulses.
Many people who feel same-sex attractions decide to adopt "gay" as their identity. It may not feel like they are choosing, but in reality they are making a choice to publically declare they "are gay" and to live a lifestyle that reflects that. However, there are many people (especially many Christians) who choose to identify as "in Christ" (2 Cor 5:17), and give their identity as a Christian a higher priority than any sexual attractions they may feel. They choose to follow God's Word rather than sexual feelings. This is not easy, but Jesus never said the Christian life would be easy. In fact He said, "if anyone would follow me he must deny himself and take up his cross" (Mark 8:34). If we believe that gay relationships are sinful, no matter what we feel, or whatever the cost, we should not participate in them.
At TfT, we hold to View 3, which has a biblical balance between truth and love (Ephesians 4:15).
How to respond
You have choices about how you decide to respond to your friend as a Christian. Your friend also has choices how about he/she wants to live her life and to identify him/herself. You may not agree with your friend's choices and he/she may not agree with yours. If there is genuine love and respect between you, there is no reason for that disagreement to end your friendship. You can continue to honour God and keep your friend.
However, true friendship does not mean an unquestioning affirmation of all your friend's choices. Jesus showed that he could be the best of friends while being unafraid to challenge lovingly those closest to him when appropriate (eg Matthew 16:23, Mark 14:37-41, Luke 18:15-16).
Others may judge you for associating with "sinners", but then you would be following the example of Jesus (eg Matthew 11:19), the "friend of sinners".
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