One of my friends came out to me this summer. I knew it was coming, but her unexpected question broke my heart: “Do you still want to be friends with me?”
As she spilled out her uncertainties about my beliefs and my reaction, I quickly leaned across the table.
“I absolutely want to still be friends with you. I will always be your friend. I love you!”
Apparently, this is not the normal reaction. Our Christian world, rather than being known for foundational relationships that result in the growth of disciples of Christ, is more driven to shatter the very individuals we are called to reach. We do this by idolizing the attempts to destroy sins we don’t struggle with rather than loving the person right in front of us.
Love doesn’t mean that you think the person is right. Christ didn’t say our actions were right when He died on the cross. Instead, He performed the ultimate act of love: dying for those “who know not what they do.”
God didn’t put parameters on love. He didn’t say to only love your Christian neighbors, those who know that they are wrong and change their minds or those who share your political ideologies. God says love your neighbor as yourself. That means looking at your neighbor’s faults and realizing you have faults too. Matthew 7:4-5 says, “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
What other sin in the Bible receives as much rage from Christians as homosexuality? Greed? Lust? You realize anger is a sin too, right? Colossians 3:8 says, “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.”
When did anger ever solve anything? Do you ever accept someone’s beliefs after they’ve been angry with you? Action and loving through our actions will always be stronger than anger.
You can’t start a relationship based on anger. No real, lasting relationship starts with hate. Jesus ate with sinners, healed them, blessed their children and built relationships with them. Did He point out what people were doing wrong? Absolutely, but that didn’t stop Him from loving them. Jesus died for Pharisees too.
If we shouldn’t be angry, then what should our response be?
We’re supposed to change their lives, to get them to live according to Scripture. God didn’t ask us to change them. He changes people and, at the same time, gives the incredible gift of free will. He asks us to show everyone who He is through our love.
No one can truly change sin. If we could, we’d all be perfect. We would have fully restored relationships with Christ through our own merit. Jesus is the only one who can fix the sin problem for all of us and for every sin. Our lives should point to Him. Our relationships, not our arguments, should be opportunities to speak the truth in love.
People within the LGBTQ+ community are our neighbors. They are our classmates, our coworkers, and, if given the chance, our friends. One of the most radical things about Jesus was that He was friends with those whom the religious authorities utterly despised. Isn’t it time we started molding ourselves to be like our Lord, delving into the messy, awkward situations to show love that no one expects?
Let’s make love the norm.