Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What To Do About My Homosexual Friends

We received the following email from Barbara:

"I have friends who I met during high school who are now homo/bi sexual. Ironically, all of them were 'straight' when I met them. At any rate, I have shared the Gospel with them. I was previously told to just stop talking to them all together. But how then do I show God's love by just leaving their life all together? I want to do right by God so I'm confused as to whether or not I remain in their lives, show Christ's love, continue to preach the Gospel, or do I at some point give up and walk away (yet pray for them privately)?"

First, Barbara, I would like to apologize for taking so long to answer your question. We get a lot of questions (for which we are thankful), and we would like to quickly answer all of them. But it's a challenge to accomplish that. Again, we're very thankful for the opportunity. Be that as it may, there is an obvious sense of urgency and deep emotion in your question. So, again, I apologize for the delay.

Barbara, I disagree with the counsel you have been given--the counsel to stop talking to your unsaved friends and just walk away from relationships you have had since high school. In this regard, your homosexual friends are no different than any of your other unsaved friends, whether they be liars, thieves, adulterers, fornicators, or blasphemers. While certainly different sins have different consequences in this life (a liar will likely not suffer the same earthly consequences as a murderer), all sin is a violation of God's holy moral standard, and is detestable in His sight. Why, then, would you walk away from your homosexual friends and not walk away from your other unsaved friends who may lie, lust, and blaspheme?

Some Christians will read the above and, in opposition, may cite 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. But this passage does not present a prohibition of having friends that are unbelievers. Rather, it presents a prohibition of entering into spiritual enterprise with unbelievers (i.e. a believer entering into a marriage with an unbeliever, or Christians joining with members of other religions for ecumenical prayer and worship).

Other Christians may cite James 4:4, for the same reason. But again, this verse is not a prohibition of having friends that are unbelievers. Rather it is a warning to avoid being captivated by worldly systems that oppose the authority of God, and to avoid desiring anything the world has to offer over the lordship of Christ in one's life.

But listen to the counsel of the apostle Paul:
"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. 'Purge the evil person from among you'" (2 Corinthians 5:9-13).
The only reason to separate yourself from your friends who are unbelievers is if those relationships, in any way, come between you and your worship of and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Barring that, let Matthew 22:36-40 serve as your barometer for how you should treat and interact with your unsaved friends.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Love your unsaved friends as you love yourself.

But whether or not you should continue to proclaim the gospel to them is another matter. Your unsaved friends love their sin (Job 15:16), no matter what their particular pet sin is, and they hate God (Romans 1:30).

If your unsaved friends are willing to talk to you about spiritual matters, and if they can do so without mocking your Lord and Savior or your faith in Him, then continue to share the gospel with them, when you believe it is appropriate to do so. However, if your unsaved friends are hostile to Jesus Christ and His gospel, if they mock your Lord and Savior and your faith in Him, then I believe Jesus' admonition in Matthew 7:6 applies. Jesus said, "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."

Pastor John MacArthur explains the verse well. He wrote:
"Dogs and swine represent those who, because of their great perversity and ungodliness, refuse to have anything to do with the holy and precious things of God except to trample them under their feet, and turn and tear God's people to pieces.

"There will be times when the gospel we present is absolutely rejected and ridiculed and we make the judgment to turn away and speak no more, deciding that we should 'shake off the dust of [our] feet' (Matt. 10:14) and begin ministering somewhere else. There will be times when those to whom we witness will resist the gospel and blaspheme God, and we speak words of judgment. Like Paul, we must then say, in effect, 'Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6). When people not only reject the gospel, but insist on mocking and reviling it, we are not to waste God's holy Word and the precious pearls of His truth in a futile and frustrating attempt to win them. We are to leave them to the Lord, trusting that somehow His Spirit can penetrate their hearts--as He apparently did with some of those who first rejected the preaching of Paul and the other apostles--or leaving them to the just judgment of God" (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary--Matthew 1-7, p. 438-39).
If you ever reach or have reached the point where continuing to share the gospel with your unsaved friends is futile, then, yes, pray for them (1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:16-20). And continue to love them, seeking every opportunity to serve them and to let your light shine before them (Matthew 5:14-16; Matthew 5:43-47; Romans 12:20). Maybe God will answer your prayers and use your love for them as an instrument to soften their hearts of stone--preparing them to not only hear and understand the gospel, but to repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

And remember, Barbara, through it all God is sovereign and salvation is of the Lord (Psalm 37:39).  He will show mercy on whom He chooses to show mercy (Romans 9:14-16).  Stay faithful.  Stay prayerful.  And stay watchful.  God, by His sovereign grace and mercy, continues to allow your unsaved friends to steal His air with every breath they take.  Maybe He will save them yet.

I hope this helps, Barbara.