A Note from Elisa Pulliam
Founder of More to Be
As a writing team at More to Be, we’re committed to tackling the tough topics we face as women seeking to live a Christ-centered life. Our writing process is bathed in prayer, as we seek the Lord for the content He wants us to share with you.
We are also very aware that sometimes our thoughts may open up another topic for discussion. That is exactly what happened with Jennifer Dyer’s post, “How am I supposed to act toward people who are different from me?” While her intent was never to single out a particular group of people, her thoughts raised a topic with one of our readers in regards to how to love those in the LGBTQ community. In response to this comment, we’ve decided the best approach would be in the form of a thorough post that you’ll find below.
As the founder of More to Be, and leader of our writing team, I must commend Jennifer for taking the time to research, pray, and seek counsel before penning these words. She is one of the most thoughtful, humble, and sincere followers of Christ you would ever have the privilege of knowing. I am honored to serve alongside of her and grateful that she is willing to devote her time to such a sensitive topic of how to love our neighbor, especially those who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community.
I am also aware that for our community of readers, it’s important to make clear our position on Scripture in all matters. In that regard, our statement of faith is a great starting point. In light of this topic, our viewpoint is this: We believe that God made us in His image, both male and female (Genesis 1:27). Yes, we believe He ordains our gender. We also believe that marriage is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesian 5:21-33). We also believe that God makes clear to us in Scripture what is and isn’t a sin, and that conviction comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9, 18, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Timothy 1:10). We also believe that God is gracious and forgiving when we seek Him with a humble and repentant heart (Matthew 26:28, Luke 5:32, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Ephesians 1:7).
These Scripture truths are core to our beliefs. We also believe that expressing love and compassion towards those who do not share our beliefs is indeed possible and required of us by God. That is why we strive to honor every person as we are all made in the image of God.
By His Grace,
Thanks so much for stopping by More to Be, and thank you for your thoughtful comments. We appreciate you!
Your question (italicize below) is something many of us struggle to understand and to unravel.
Hi there! I thoroughly read your post and I agree 100% with what you said in regards to showing love and care towards those who are different from us. However, there’s a catch here: how do you share Christ’s love with someone who expects others to condone his willful disobedience? For example, the LGBT agenda has twisted the concept of love in a staggering way and out of fear of repercussions and being labelled as ” intolerant” and “bigot” many professing Christians have compromised the truth. The propaganda is actually using Christ’s love as an excuse for this. I’m not a legalist or one who casts the first stone, but I honestly believe that there should be an equal interest in holiness too. Without it, no one will see the Lord. How are we to respond to an ever changing culture which slowly, but surely chips away at our freedoms? Thank you for your article and God bless!
I’ve heard questions similar to this repeatedly. It’s complicated and there might not be a simple or easy answer. My attempt at a response will not be brief because I hope to thoroughly address numerous aspects of this question, but what I sincerely hope comes across is my desire to be thorough and come at this from a loving and respectful place. (My bolded words and bullet points are not attempts to shout or overly emphasize a point, but instead to make the answer easier to read.)
I wholeheartedly agree with you that holiness is important. God’s holiness is an unchanging aspect of his character. We are called to be holy as Christ is holy (1 Peter 1:13-20). So true, but lest we forget, “All have fallen short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). So, we’re all sinners. Every single one of us. And in that sinful state, it is so easy to cast judgement on a person and be slow to love them. Sin seeps its way into our hearts in sneaky ways like pride, anger, gluttony, greed, selfishness, and more. God doesn’t mince words.
Sin is sin. Whether we’re gay or straight, we’re sinners. And Jesus still reaches out to all of us in love.
I feel like it should be said that there are many differing Christian views on homosexuality. But just because a person has LGBTQ leanings or inclinations does NOT make them a bad person or less of a person or less loved by God. Furthermore, just because a person doesn’t believe in God or agree with what we believe God says, doesn’t make them less loved by God.
Everyone has value. Everyone is valued by God. Jesus’s death and offer of salvation applies to all people.
In further seeking to thoroughly answer this question, I reached out to the More to Be contributing team along with a few other Christian writer, blogger, and pastor friends. I’m going to attempt to put what they’ve shared into this answer. Many of the writers made similar statements, so here is a summation of what they had to say:
- There is no exception clause in our call to love others. In saying that, I must point out that we can and should put up boundaries and be careful about whom we trust (I’m referring to our dealings with all sorts of people), but there is no exception to love your neighbor. In the words of one of the M2B contributors, “There’s no catch in Christ’s love, plain and simple. He never required others to be holy in order to receive it”
- We are all God’s children. Regardless of someone’s sexual orientation, we are all a beautiful creation of God’s. I might not always see eye to eye with my sister or always understand where she is coming from, but she is my sister and I love her. I am called to love her.
- Focusing on the fact that we are all God’s creation helps us to humanize people. Sometimes it’s easy to put different types of people into an “othering” category (for ex: “The _______”.) But this kind of language can lead to dehumanizing and separation. Many people feel that terms like “LGBTQ agenda” are a misnomer and dehumanizing. It can make it seem like the people who identify that way are a distant thing and less like persons. Yes, there are politically active people from all walks of life, but most of us humans are people just trying to live life. A friend suggested that perhaps “LGBTQ people,” “individuals,” or “community” are alternatives that are more honoring to the people we are trying to show love to.
- A M2B contributor said we should seek to love others the way Christ has loved us. God loves us thoroughly. Using labels and “othering” starts arguments and leads to discord. The Bible warns us against getting into such arguments (2 Timothy 2:22-25). She says, “We can (and should) both pursue holiness and love those who choose not to. I think at the end of the day being a Christian often means being misunderstood and maligned and I’m OK with that.”
- The Woman at the Well. One friend gave some insights using the well-known account of Jesus’s interaction with a Samaritan woman from John 4. In the scripture passage, we see Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman who had lived with numerous men to whom she was not married. But that wasn’t what Jesus first pointed out. In his interaction with her, he asks her for water, which was huge because Jews did not speak to Samaritans. After their initial interaction, Jesus still did not point out her sinfulness. Instead, he talked to her about what was going on deep inside her heart—her need to be filled by something she still hadn’t found. He shared the Gospel (himself) with her, telling her that was what she needed to be filled. Then, after he had shown her that he cared for her, he mentioned how she was living, i.e. “Go call your husband.” At first glance, it seems that he might have been pointing out her sinfulness to tell her to change the way she was living. But as my friend pointed out, maybe (at least in part) Jesus was communicating, I know all about you. I know everything about you, even your sins, and here I still am reaching out to you in love.
- Loving someone who sees things differently is not compromising the truth. And just because we love them doesn’t mean we must immediately (or ever, in many cases) point out their sin. The Holy Spirit is the one who is in charge of convicting. One writer friend said, “The Holy Spirit and the Bible are more than enough to convict without our input.” Another M2B contributor said, “I feel it is important to discern not only what to say, but IF to say anything at all. And whoever we are engaging in conversation is a person to love however best we can, not a problem to solve.”A pastor friend stated the Holy Spirit is also “gentle and convicts [us] of new things and layers over time. That’s called lifelong transformation.” Does that mean our churches should not preach what the Bible says? No, but it should be done from a place of love, never mixed with hate or mockery, and never with a spirit of “othering.”In the words of another writer, “There should be an equal interest in our own holiness, so we can reflect Christ better. I would say that for some believers, trying to see after the holiness of others has become their own agenda and propaganda.”
- A youth pastor friend pointed out that Jesus also lived in a culture (the Roman Empire) where homosexuality was acceptable. “We see [Jesus] eat with [the people] and share his heart with them – and through THAT he was able to introduce them to the Father.” (Emphasis theirs.) Jesus is all about relationships. Once we are in a relationship with Him, he lovingly deals with us at the heart level over time. Furthermore, my youth pastor friend says, “Now as to the people who didn’t want to follow and disagreed…[Jesus] just let them go their own way and shook the dust off his feet.”
- We must take care how we approach people. One friend said this, “We as humans are a lot better at preaching holiness (or ensuring it’s somehow said) than simply being love with skin on.” She went on to further illustrate it: “We’re like a girl telling her friend – just so you know my dad really loves you. But you also need to know he thinks your attitude and hairstyle and life choices are disgusting and unacceptable. But he loves you! Do you want to come hang out at our house and hear him talk about how much he loves you?”Painful. But it happens. For so many of us, hurting others is NOT our intention, but sometimes our approach can cause pain. Similar to what Francis Chan said in the link below, my youth pastor friend suggested we focus on why all of us are so lost. “We (gay or straight) aren’t necessarily lost due to our behavior – most of us are lost due to wounds and dysfunction and broken lives.”
- Dealing with the log in our eyes first… According to my pastor friend, about 77% of Christian men admit to regularly viewing porn. People in and out of churches cheat on their spouses. People eat far more than they should. Some cheat on our taxes. Many evangelicals don’t give money to the church. Some churches shelter abusive husbands. There are pedophiles in our churches. We gossip, get angry, hate, lie… The list could go on. We’re all sinners, but thankfully we live in age of grace. Unfortunately, we sometimes have a tendency to pick and choose which sins to put on the top of the list. This should not be so. If we are given grace then we should extend that same grace to others and let Jesus be the one to deal with the heart.
This is not an exhaustive discussion of this topic and I am not an expert. What I hope is that this opens up more conversations and leads us all into more understanding and how to love our neighbors as ourselves.
When dealing with topics such as this, we should err on the side of grace. We should treat people with the same kind of dignity that we’d want.
For additional thoughts on this topic, consider this list of resources.
This clip of Francis Chan discussing homosexuality had some great insights and I’d highly recommend it.