When Someone Says, I’m Homosexual
Rev. Thomas H. Trapp
To witness to the truth, we must love unconditionally while we share God’s Word.
How do you respond to a close friend or family member who is struggling with homosexuality? Or how do you answer a militant homosexual who calls you “homophobic” and a “bigot”?
Reply the same way you would reply to anyone who is struggling with any sin or defending it. Tell the truth – God’s truth.
Tell the Truth
First tell yourself the truth. You are not spiritually superior if your past sins have not included homosexual desires or behavior. There is no room for arrogance. One sin makes us guilty of breaking all of God’s commands. “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye,” Jesus teaches us in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:5).
If your friend or family member knows that homosexuality is against God’s will and he or she is struggling with such temptation, then let that person know you also struggle with temptations. Our temptations may be different – bitterness, pride, worry, lust, unbelief – but our battle against sin and Satan is the same. Tell the truth about yourself and tell it to yourself.
Finally, tell God’s truth to your friends, even if it hurts their feelings. An ex-gay I know said his relatives warned him that he was in danger of God’s judgment if he did not change his homosexual ways, which he knew from the Bible were wrong. He, in turn, told his relatives to go to the place they warned him about. Sometime later, by God’s grace, he repented and returned to Jesus.
The ex-gay gave me this advice, “Always tell the truth to your friends or enemies. Always speak God’s Word. Those words of warning changed my life.”
He continued, “I was angry at my relatives at the time for telling me God’s truth. But the Holy Spirit used those words – along with words of Jesus love – to turn me away from sin and back to him.”
Truth is vital. So is love. Treat all people “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15,16) – even the militant gay who calls you evil names. Jesus died for him too. Actively love the person with whom you are sharing God’s Word. Words can be empty. Demonstrate your love in Christ by carefully listening and even using an appropriate physical gestures – hugs, arm around a shoulder. “Homosexuals need to learn the place of [physical] affection outside the context of sexual involvement.
. . . If your intentions are misunderstood, explain yourself, but don’t back away,” says Robbi Kenney in Coming Out of Homosexuality, a video and booklet by the Family Research Council (1-800-225-4008).
In the same video, William Devlin, the Director of the Philadelphia Family Policy Council, says his council has engaged the homosexual community on social and public policy for several years. He claims to mix love and compassion with public policy. Some question his “love” since Devlin’s council opposes domestic partners legislation, the homosexualization of education, and same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania.
At a debate with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (G/L/B/T) Alliance, Devlin was asked: “What would you do if your 15-year-old daughter came to you and said, ‘Dad, I’m in love with a woman’? What would you say?”
To a crowd of 150 students and faculty members at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Penn., Devlin responded, “I’d hug my daughter, kiss her, embrace her, and say to her, ‘I love you as a father. I always will love you as a father. You’re my daughter. That relationship will never be broken. But the relationship you’re now involved in is wrong and you must leave it.’ ”
The debater who represented the G/L/B/T Alliance had one minute to rebut. His only response: “I wish Mr. Devlin had been my father.”
Point to a Loving Father
The good news is that everybody has a loving Father because of Jesus. As we read in the parable of the prodigal son, God the Father waits for us daily to come home. When our sins bother us, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29). Jesus says the same to guilt-filled homosexuals.
The ultimate goal is not to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals, but to turn them into repentant sinners, who trust in Christ. Only the cleansing life of Jesus, experienced through God’s Word and sacraments, can save their souls eternally and change their lives morally. Accept unconditionally And when God changes them, accept them unconditionally, as Christ accepts us – sins and all.
The church, however, does not always do a good job accepting ex-homosexuals. Bob Van Domelen, leader of an ex-gay ministry in Wisconsin, wrote about the difficulty ex-gays and ex-lesbians have trying to join a Christian community: “Well intentioned church-goers often turn away from [former homosexuals] in confusion. We need churches willing to reach out, to become informed and loving in that process [of accepting them into God’s family] . . . not only to the homosexual but to all who struggle.”
“Jesus sinners does receive” we sing in church. We also are to “receive” all kinds of sinners and offer hope, the same hope we have – hope for change. In a world that says “you can’t change,” God’s Word says we can.
From bitterness or rebellion or cynicism or sarcasm or sexual immorality or worry, we can all change. “And that is what some of you were . . .” the apostle Paul wrote. Note the past tense: “were.” That is why many converted homosexuals call themselves “ex-homosexual.” In fact, all who have faith in Jesus can call themselves “ex-sinner.” While we will always be struggling sinners on earth, the Bible also says all who believe in Jesus are washed, sanctified, and justified in his name (1 Corinthians 6:11).
That’s the truth. That’s hope. That’s life in Christ. Tell your friends – and foes.
In our culture, people sometimes question if singles are gay or lesbian just because they are single. Some men are mockingly called “gay” because they have a high pitched voice or are not muscular. Satan uses these evil comments to make people doubt their gender.
We need to affirm each other’s gender by what we say and do. One ex-gay told me, “When some men from my church took me hunting, they made me feel like I was a male and accepted by males.” I’ve counseled young men who were rejected by their fathers. These men were simply looking for male acceptance, not sex. I’ve known young women who were abused by their fathers and thus saw themselves as dirty and non-female. Affirm the way God made us, male and female. Make men feel like men and women feel like women. “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them” (Genesis 5:1,2).
Pastor Trapp is a full-time campus pastor for Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel & Student Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison