Has anyone ever asked you how you feel about homosexuality? Eventually you’ll likely be forced to address the issue or even defend your position on it. Like many of us, perhaps you’ve already had to do so. This might leave you with a surplus of difficult and emotionally-charged questions but a shortage of answers. Together, let’s examine some of your most common questions regarding homosexuality.
Q: A few of the students in my classes are gay or lesbian, as is one of my managers at work. How should I interact with them on a regular basis?
As a teen in the Church of God, you are called now—but this is not the case for everyone. God has not yet blessed everyone with the understanding of His expectations for them as explained in Scripture. The result is that many people are blind to the wrongness of their actions and can’t see any need to change (2 Corinthians 4:4), but we are thankful their eyes will be opened when Jesus returns (Micah 4:1-2).
You probably already interact with a fair number of people who unknowingly break a variety of God’s laws. They might go to church on Sunday, eat unclean meats, celebrate Christmas and Easter, or do other things that we understand are unbiblical. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 the apostle Paul says: “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (emphasis added). Christ’s remarks in John 17:14-19 place us squarely in “this world.” We have to live in a society that is contrary to God and interact on a daily basis with those who do not live by God’s standards. Still, we must stand out and be a “light” by following His Word (Matthew 5:14-16).
We can apply this instruction by not condemning people who do not yet understand all that God requires of us. However, the Bible is also clear in saying that we should not become too close and comfortable with sin, or with those who live in an ungodly manner (Psalm 1:1). In living by God’s Word ourselves we have a unique opportunity to be a godly example in the life of someone who otherwise may never have contact with God’s Church again in this lifetime. We recommend interacting with gay and lesbian individuals with the same discretion and concern for your own purity as you do with anyone else whom God has not yet called to salvation.
Q: One of my closest friends from school came out as gay a few days ago. How should I respond to him? Can we still be friends?
If this person is very close to you, he probably already knows your beliefs regarding homosexual lifestyles. If not, it’s possible that your friendship is not as close as you may have thought. In any case, now that he has chosen a new lifestyle your differing beliefs and standards will become more obvious. While loving the person as a friend, you cannot approve of his actions.
Depending on the situation, in the normal, daily routine of school, you may or may not have to treat him any differently now than you did before. You will still have the opportunity to be friends and have a positive influence—but make sure that it does not pull you toward such lifestyles too. Many people are engaged in all kinds of sinful activities, and we pray you have not let yourself become involved in any of them.
As a result of your friend coming out, you may find that your friendship will decline regardless of what you do. This is because of your differing value systems. In many cases, once a person chooses an active gay lifestyle he or she becomes intolerant of those who will not accept that lifestyle as valid, and your friend may choose to spend time with people who share those standards rather than your own.
Q: I don’t know what to say when people ask me about homosexuality. I want to share my beliefs and answer their question, but I also don’t want to offend or hurt them. What’s the best way to do this?
Let’s see how God advises us to discuss our beliefs with those whom God has not yet called to salvation. You might be familiar with 1 Peter 3:15 which reminds us to respond to others “with meekness and fear.” “Meekness” means that we should answer with humility, not arrogance or condescension. “Fear” refers to the fact that we need to show respect and concern for those we answer. While we should answer without attacking them, we may still explain that the Bible does not support their beliefs. Further, we should strive to “become all things to all men” by accurately communicating at a level others can easily understand (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Read and carefully consider Paul’s response to the Athenians’ inquiries in Acts 17:16-34. He completely nails all three of these guidelines and provides an example we can all emulate.
You might start by explaining that you believe in God’s clear teaching on a wide range of matters, and that the Bible does not allow for much of what is commonly acceptable today—including extramarital and premarital sex, homosexuality, getting drunk, doing drugs, envy and extortion (common examples as listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Make it clear that while you may disagree with people’s choices, you strive to treat everyone with fairness, respect and compassion (Luke 6:31, 1 Peter 2:17). Finally, be sure to pray about these conversations. Ask God to give you conviction along with wisdom and the best words to say to cause others to have open, understanding ears.
Q: At lunch recently week some of my classmates asked me about gay marriage, so I shared my beliefs. They made fun of me and haven’t talked to me since then. What do I do next?
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). God tells us we need to pursue peace with everyone, which personal experience shows is very hard to do. If your classmates are making fun of you, you can’t do so back to them. If your coworkers are lying about you, it means you can’t lie about them. Rely on God to help you through this challenge. The key is to remember to do everything in your power. You can’t control their actions, but you can influence them by always being open to peace. There’s a great chance that they’ll start talking to you again once they see that you are really a great person with whom they just happen to disagree. Remember, Jesus promised blessings for those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10).
To conclude, let’s consider Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Don’t let cruel, negative people get to you, but pray to God and strive to be your best. The obstacles may seem insurmountable at the time, but when you see it through to the end, you will be more rooted in your faith and have stronger character than ever before.