Reach Out

Part 2 of 4

Today’s post is a quick, eleven point summary.

It is extremely important to remember that each person is an individual (with his or her own unique history, perspective and needs). Use spiritual discernment and tact when considering how to best respond to each person or situation.

  1. If the person is adamantly involved in political or social activism, defend your beliefs and rights without attacking him. Model God’s love through your actions and words.
  1. If the individual just wants to live his or her life, model God’s love through your actions and words. Like most people in modern America, they tend to have a “live and let live” approach to life. Be willing to listen and engage in civil discussion. Build a basis for friendship and sharing with both of you expressing your points of view and being heard.

  1. If the person is concerned about unwanted homosexual attractions and/or behaviors, walk along side him and share his burdens. Encourage and support him. Model God’s love through your actions and words.

“Modeling God’s love” could mean anything from an act of service to a word of encouragement. From non-judgmental listening and understanding to an ongoing investment of relationship, time or money. Get creative. Be refreshingly simple. Notice and care when no one else does. Be intentional. Find common ground with people. Let your life help them to turn their eyes toward the Savior.

With that in mind . . .

  1. Assuming he is not already a Christian, how would you approach any person you know who needs Christ? See and acknowledge the person, not your preconceived view of a gay person. They are looking for love, acceptance and affirmation as a unique individual just like anyone else. Jesus is the answer for those needs.
  1. Don’t make homosexuality the focal point of your relationship. While you should not be afraid to talk about this issue, remember that there are many other areas of your friend’s life you can discuss. Let them see Christ as the answer to all their difficulties and challenges.
  1. Jesus is real person, not a life philosophy. Be sure to present a Savior, not a code of ethics. Don’t be so concerned about one particular sin. God wants to redeem the whole person, not just his or her sexuality. Homosexual behavior, attractions and fantasy are only parts.
  1. Know what you are offering. You are not offering heterosexuality. When a person makes his or her commitment to Christ, he or she must come into agreement with the Lord regarding different aspects of his or her life. Feelings and desires are not going to change overnight. Changes may (or may not) come over time.
  1. Share your life. Obviously this covers many things. By sharing your experiences, you will be helping them put their lives in perspective. Remember the words of the apostle Paul:

“I am not anyone’s slave. But I have become a slave to everyone, so that I can win as many people as possible. When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can. I do all this for the good news, because I want to share in its blessings. – 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23 (Contemporary English Version)

As Christians we may be called upon to risk our reputations, move from our comfort zone and relate to (and serve) people where they are in life. This will call for an investment of time, energy, resources, etc. for the sake of the Gospel and other people.

  1. Don’t be afraid to say, “I love you.” Don’t be afraid to hug, touch and hold hands in prayer. We all need that physical affirmation of love and concern from one another. Touching is not always sexual. Although there may be times when a few individuals may need help learning to place affection outside the context of sexual involvement, they won’t rape you. If your intentions are misunderstood, explain yourself.
  1. Love them where they are. Sometimes words can be so empty. Demonstrate your love by listening, by calling, by confronting when necessary, by sitting together, sharing a meal, etc. Be real and keep it real. Most people do not live in a sheltered and sanitized world. Don’t be afraid to hear some “gory” details about the realities of their lives (yet at the same time, it would be wise to establish some boundaries). And not every person you will meet will always use proper language and the appropriate terms. Listen with love. Be proactive. Use spiritual discernment and respond as Jesus would.
  1. What about those with a Christian and/or church background (but adhere to a pro-gay theology)? My abbreviated response is consistent demonstration of grace, truth and humility. Entire books have been written about the scope of this aspect of outreach, engagement and theology.The Gay Gospel?: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible” (by Joe Dallas) and Love Is An Orientation: Elevating The Conversation With The Gay Community” (by Andrew Marin) are good beginner resources to check out.

A Special Plea For My Readers . . .

Please, do not (in your attitude or actions) stereotype all LGBT people as militant, political activists or sexually promiscuous drug addicts. The politics, ideology, behavior or motivation of a few cannot (and should not) be generalized to an entire group or to individuals. Christians should acknowledge the legitimate needs and real hardships faced by LGBT people. We must offer real-life solutions. And it is okay for Christians to take a stand against the mistreatment of LGBT people.

Question: Looking back on your life experiences, what did it (or what would it) mean for someone to model God’s love towards you? How did (do) you need to be loved? How would you describe it?

Your comments are welcomed below.

Next post: We Must Acknowledge and Understand LGBT Culture and History


© Darrell Martin and, 2012.

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