How can I better love my LGBTQ brothers and sisters without being perceived as a “Christian bigot?”

Hi Sam,

I would like to say I really enjoy your perspective on many difficult topics surrounding homosexuality, gender, and sexuality in general. The following question is a personal one. Thanks for your time in addressing it!

My sister is a practicing lesbian and a non-believer. We have a very good relationship, however, it recently became strained when she questioned me very directly in areas of my faith. She asked, “how can you say you truly love me without accepting me for who I am at my core? I don’t believe how I am living is a sin.” I tried explaining that my love and disagreement of her lifestyle are mutually exclusive. I can love her and disagree with her, just as I can love an atheist, yet also disagree with his/her spiritual viewpoint. This, to her, wasn’t an acceptable response as atheism (to her) is a choice, while her sexual orientation is “who she is.” How do you address a non-believing homosexual in this situation or a similar situation? How can I adequately communicate that I am able to love yet disagree with those who are practicing homosexuality? How can I better love my LGBTQ brothers and sisters without being perceived as a “Christian bigot?”

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Dear Anthony,

Thank you so much for being part of RZIM Connect and for sharing this situation with us. Many believers are finding themselves in similar conversations with close friends and family members.

The problem behind all this is the way that our culture typically identifies someone’s sexual attractions as being “who they are,” and then conflates being loving with being accepting of everything that lifestyle involves.

As Christians, we know that our sexual feelings, as with all our affections, have become disordered because of the Fall. This is not something limited to those whose attractions are for those of the same sex; it is true of all of us. So we will be very cautious about wanting to base our identity on our fallen and often confused sexual feelings. These are not a sign of how God made us, but of how sin has distorted us.

As these conversations continue with your sister, I would suggest the following:

  1. Show her that according to the teaching of Jesus, we are all in the same boat. You are not looking down on her or condemning her. The same sexual standards of Jesus by which you cannot agree with her are the same ones you know you have fallen short of yourself as well. All of us are in this together. In one sense, she is no worse a sinner than you. All alike have fallen short of the glory of God. So make sure she knows that the teaching of Jesus on sexual ethics is every bit as convicting and humbling for you as for her.

  2. It would be interesting to know how she would respond were you to make the same demand of her that she has made of you. She says that to love her you have to accept her, including who she believes herself to be at her core and who she chooses to love. So the question is, in order to love you, should she have to accept you on the same basis, as a Christian believer whose relationship with Jesus is who you are at your core? If you have to accept who she loves, is she willing to accept the Christ whom you love? Does she have to agree with your Christianity in order to love you any less than she insists you have to agree with her lesbianism? If she insists you must not object to her having a relationship with another woman, we she not object to you having a relationship with Jesus who teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman? Not knowing your sister, or the dynamic you have with her, I am not necessarily suggesting you should pose this to her, but it is an interesting way to respond.

  3. Ultimately, your real love for your sister is going to have to be demonstrated over time, rather than being expressed through some superficial notion of acceptance in the short term. Being a devoted, consistent, interested, loving brother who doesn’t let her lesbianism stop you from being these things to her — this is what will gradually show her that you really do love her, even if you don’t agree with her. You will have to show her that disagreement doesn’t mean being unloving. Be there for her, whether she wants to be there for you or not. Always be thoughtful and kind to her, whether or not she is to you. Never reject her or push her away, even if she gives signals that she doesn’t value you as much. This, over time (and we’re playing a long game here) will really show what it means not to be a bigot.

May the Lord bless you, and through you, bless her. Thanks again for engaging with this.
Sam

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