Many people in today’s society have decided to accept all people no matter what they do, say or how they live. People can put heavy pressure on us to conform to that thinking as well. On the surface this seems like a good thing to do; after all, according to the Bible, we are supposed to love everyone, right? But does loving someone mean we accept everything about them? This is where many people get hung up. They cannot seem to separate “loving their neighbor” from “accepting sin.”
When I was a teenager, homosexuals were just beginning to “come out of the closet,” as is said. They were starting to show affection in public and new dance clubs were opening to attract people looking for same-sex relationships. None of us really knew what to say about this way of life. I was not in the church then, but I did believe it was wrong behavior: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22 Leviticus 18:22You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
American King James Version×). It was unfamiliar territory for everyone then. Generally, people were unhappy about it. The only homosexuals we usually saw were in movies and played parts that seemed goofy and over the top.
My first real encounter with homosexuality was with a boy in my high school who asked me to be his girlfriend. I told him we were too good of friends to date. I found out later a couple of other girls told him the same thing. I did not see him that summer, and when we returned to school in the fall he was different. He wore a lapel button with a triangular symbol that represented him being gay, he told me. He also started speaking with a feminine twang and swishing and swaying all over the place. My friend was now unfamiliar to me.
I was not sure how to act around him now. I was confused how he could ask me out one year and be a homosexual the next. I knew it was wrong, but I wanted to stay his friend. A few days later as we walked into town after school I was embarrassed because he was swinging his hips as we walked down the street. I asked him to stop. He said it was who he was. I told him it was not, and that he had never acted that way before. He decided he would “try” while he was with me. The fact that he used the word “try” upset me. I felt how he was acting was not how he naturally was. Being a homosexual did not mean he had to swing his hips and speak more feminine. He had never done it before. It seemed to me he was putting on a public show.
I was trying to remain his friend but my mind was telling me different. One day he asked me to go downtown to meet his friends for lunch. I agreed. He seemed extraordinarily excited and I wondered why? What was he not telling me? We finally arrived at the restaurant where I saw a long table and about 10 men. Some of them were dressed normally. Others were decked out in drag (men dressed like women). I was completely intimidated. The men who were not in drag were like peacocks strutting about, trying to get attention. I tried to look comfortable, but I was far from it.
This is where many people get hung up. They cannot seem to separate “loving their neighbor” from “accepting sin.”
Then someone I knew walked in and saw me. I jumped up and ran over to him and babbled some nonsense trying to explain why I was sitting with the homosexuals. I knew this was not where I should be, and I was embarrassed. My friend and I soon parted ways. His whole life became consumed by being a homosexual, and my godly beliefs even before coming to church would not allow for that. God was working with me even then.
After I was called in my early twenties, I started to recognize why it was wrong. God wants us to love our neighbor, but that does not mean having close, deep relationships with unrepentant sinners. They may not understand it now, but later when Jesus Christ returns they will. As God’s children, we are lights to His way of life. We light a path that can be followed. In the resurrection, these people will remember that we were kind to them, and they will also notice we were firm in our convictions.
Knowing What’s Important
I have two family members who are homosexuals. Knowing I do not believe it is right, I was asked, “How can you say you love them and still believe as you do?” I replied it was no different than if for instance my child did drugs or was an alcoholic. I love my child no matter what, but I would not approve of that behavior. I can love my relatives and still hate the sin they participate in. But family is a more difficult situation to handle than when it is a co-worker or schoolmate.
My husband and I have been very open with our families about our beliefs, but that does not keep us from seeing our homosexual family members. For instance, we had a family reunion at our home. One of our homosexual family members attended and they brought their companion along. We treated them both kindly and did not bring up our dislike for their life choices. Knowing our feelings, they did not engage in any handholding or other couple style behavior. Had they done so we would have asked them to stop. We also did not invite them to spend the night in our home; they stayed in a hotel. At events outside our home where we are together, if affections are displayed between them we simply walk away, removing ourselves from the situation (2 Corinthians 6:14 2 Corinthians 6:14Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?
American King James Version×).
We are told, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×English Standard Version). If we embrace those practicing homosexuality, then we are showing acceptance for their actions. God hates all sin; we must hate all sin too. We just have to do it in a way that allows us to still show kindness and love to the sinner. It can be a challenging task, but with God’s guidance we can learn how to do it. We must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11 Ephesians 6:11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
American King James Version×). Satan loves when the world convinces us not to hate sin, but God tells us we must hate evil. Evil is sin (Proverbs 8:13 Proverbs 8:13The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fraudulent mouth, do I hate.
American King James Version×).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 1 Corinthians 6:9-10  Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
When I interact with anyone homosexual, I am friendly and talk as is necessary, but I do not “hang out” with them. I see them in the workplace, at family functions, or maybe at group functions, and I am always pleasant. Most of us have people in our lives who declare themselves homosexual, transgender or bi-sexual. We are not to judge them, only God can do that (Romans 2:2 Romans 2:2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
American King James Version×). However, we can discern the sin. We can look at sin and acknowledge it is wrong. We must run from sin when we recognize it. “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you…” (Amos 5:14 Amos 5:14Seek good, and not evil, that you may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as you have spoken.
American King James Version×).
Unfortunately, society’s sin can start to seem acceptable to us the longer we are around it. We must be careful not to allow that to happen. This article focuses on homosexuality, but we must also check out interactions with those who sin in other ways. Remember that to God all sin is equal; certain sins are not worse than others. All the things I have stated about interacting with homosexuals would also apply to dealing with those who consistently engage in any sinful behavior, like a man and woman living together or having sexual relations outside of marriage. We cannot have a double standard. God wants us to reflect His way of life, to live like Jesus Christ would. That means we do not condemn, but we also do not accept behaviors that He would not accept.
When I was a teen I tried to fit in with those committing sin. I wanted to look good in their eyes. But I was also trying to follow God’s Word as I understood it, and God’s view of me was more important. Spending time with godly people was important. Yes, we all sin. The difference is that when we recognize it we must stop right away. We are warned to steer clear of sin and those who participate in it (2 Timothy 2:22 2 Timothy 2:22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
American King James Version×). The good news is we know that there is a great and beautiful future ahead of us. We also know these very same people will one day learn that their ways are sinful and will be given the same chance to live differently.
(For further reading, this Teen Bible Study Guide examines what God has to say about the moral aspects of homosexuality: https://www.ucg.org/teen-bible-study/teen-bible-study-volume-7-social-is...)