The next four blogs will be addressing the LGBTQ+ conversation. This is a difficult topic for many, but I believe it is important to approach the topic with openness in truth and grace. I encourage you to join the conversation with love. Please read and study the Biblical verses offered as well as the references and resources at the end of each blog. I pray this helps us move our relationships forward in love for God’s glory.
When I was in college many years ago, I discovered my roommate had same-sex attraction and it would turn out he wanted to live a homosexual lifestyle. This was new territory for me to navigate in the early 1990s. I did not know anyone with this struggle (or desire). It caused tremendous awkwardness in our relationship. I didn’t know how to respond with truth and grace. He was involved in our church and ministries on our college campus, and we had many mutual friends. I had seen my roommate follow after Jesus, lead worship, and help younger students come to know and follow Jesus.
Then a year later I moved into a house with some other guys. My roommate in the house shared he was gay and would live this lifestyle in the years ahead. This was difficult to hear. These relationships were starting to build up, so I needed to figure out how to respond in love.
Both of these college friends would move out of state and marry another man. I tried to maintain a relationship with them, but I always felt stuck in between the truth and grace continuum. I made plenty of mistakes tossing biblical verses at them without love while trying to change them and was probably too soft in sharing the truth at other times in our friendships. It has been messy.
When it comes to responding to the LGBTQ+ conversation for those who believe the Bible teaches against these sexual behaviors, there is always tension. How do we stand for the Truth of God’s Word and express grace at the same time?
In addition, to talk about LGBTQ+ seems like a no-win situation. To write a series of blogs seems the same. On one hand, if we lean towards truth without kindness believing what the Bible teaches, we are mean and might be called names. On the other hand, if we lean towards kindness without truth, we have no convictions and nothing to live for. So, the tension is to be biblical holding both together in the messy middle.
This is an important issue we need to address particularly as it relates to loving the Next Generation in our ever-changing culture. Understanding what’s at stake, we need to be proactive with this conversation using both truth and grace. So let’s start with this question.
What does the Bible have to say about holding truth and grace in tension?
JESUS CAME IN GRACE AND TRUTH
First, let’s look at who Jesus is and who he became for us when he came to earth on a rescue mission for our souls. Jesus came in grace and truth. He embodied them perfectly. Take a look at what one of Jesus’ closest disciple, John, said about Jesus’ entry into the world. Jesus is the Word who became human for us.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ | John 1:14-17
Throughout the course of Jesus’ ministry on earth he was gracious when some thought he should be firm. Sometimes, Jesus was firm when expected to show grace. Jesus came as a King ushering in a new kind of Kingdom, and he invited us to participate.
OUR STRUGGLE WITH GRACE AND TRUTH
While Jesus is our perfect example of grace and truth, we humans struggle. This is especially true when it comes to LGBTQ+ conversations and interactions with other people on this issue. Have you felt the tension between grace and truth?
It’s difficult when someone we love makes choices that are opposed to what God says. It breaks our hearts, and we often feel stuck in the relationship with them. We wonder what to say, how to respond, how to act, and even, what to pray.
Let me share another example – what if a friend or family member has a lifestyle of lying. It is difficult to confront them when they lie and cover up the truth consistently. How do we love our friend or family member with truth and grace when they are hurting others and themselves? It is ore complicated when lying is a sin against God. This is the messy middle of relationships.
Each of us seem to naturally lean toward either the grace side or truth side of the spectrum, but the tension draws all to the messy middle of relationships. On one hand we have what God teaches in the Bible about homosexuality and on the other, his extravagant grace. We need to learn to manage the tension between these two realities. Embracing the tension shows that we love God and love people (Matthew 22:33-39). Truth plus grace equals love from a biblical perspective.
BIBLICAL THEOLOGY INCLUDES EMBRACING TENSION
Embracing tension, including how we love both truth and grace is not new for those who follow Jesus. Our biblical theology is tension-filled (the Trinity, sovereignty of God, free will, what heaven or hell are like, denominational differences, the faith/science tension, the creation timeline), so should not our love and treatment of others have tension? All relationships are messy, but navigating relationships with those who are in the LGBTQ+ community seems particularly challenging.
One suggestion is to follow the example of Jesus and spend time with individuals that the Pharisees, those religious leaders of old, never would. Do you have a friend or family member who is in the LGBTQ+ community or struggles with same sex attraction? Take them out for coffee. Ask questions. Begin to understand their background, upbringing, opinions of Christians and the church. See their soul. Create a safe and loving space for them. Jesus spent time with sinners, but he never compromised His beliefs or behavior. When it comes to talking about and caring about people who are involved with the LGBTQ+ community and lifestyle, may we model what Jesus did by staying in the messy middle of truth and grace.
In the next blog, I will talk about what the Bible teaches on this important topic in a longer blog covering the most significant verses.
Questions to Contemplate
1. Where have you found difficulty holding the tension of truth and grace in relationships?
2. What do you think is the best way to express love toward those in the LGBTQ+ community?
3. What role can you play in the LGBTQ+ conversation?
4. How can you pray and pursue a friend, family member or co-worker who is part of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle?
5. With humility, how can we engage in this conversation pursuing holiness?
REFERENCES + RESOURCES
✍️ Credit :: Jeff Baxter
Next Gen Pastor
🎨 Credit :: Matt Rhodes
Creative Associate Director