Thank you so much for asking this question. It is an important one.
First, you should be encouraged in how you have engaged with your friends. I think that focusing on God’s love is a great way of embodying Christ’s character.
To your question about how you might find common ground with the LGBTQ community in your area, here are a few thoughts:
When interacting or responding to questions from the LGBTQ community, remind yourself to think of how the gospel speaks to any community. What God offers the LGBTQ community is what he offers us all. He extends his love, peace, grace, forgiveness, and a personal relationship to everyone, irrespective of our sexual orientation or how we identify ourselves sexually. One of the challenges I face is that when someone says, ‘But what would God say to me, a gay person?’, I often feel as though I need to look in the Bible to see what God would say to a gay person. The good news is that Christianity has profoundly good news for the LGBTQ person and that is because it carries good news for every person.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Christian God is that he takes us as we are. I have had many conversations with friends who do not feel they can become a Christian because they will have to change the way they live.(in some cases, they have referred to their sex life.) But God does not invite us into a relationship once we finally get ourselves cleaned up. If that were the case, we would never enter into relationship with God. God takes us and he shapes us, molds us into his likeness as we engage with him in relationship. We become more like him within a committed relationship to him.
My colleague Sam Allberry has written a helpful book entitled Is God anti-gay? I would encourage you to get it, if you have not already read it. In the short book, he discusses verses from 1 Corinthians 6. In verse 11, Paul writes, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I like what Sam writes after citing this verse:
“These forms of behavior are not appropriate for the Corinthian Christians precisely because it is not who they are anymore. Some of them clearly had been active homosexuals. They did once Iive in these ways. _But no more. They have been washed, sanctified and justified; forgiven, cleansed from their sins, and set apart for God. They have a new standing and identity before him.”
I think this is so powerful and also genuinely helpful news for all of us who at times face questions about who we are. When we are in Christ, we have been washed and made new. This is really good news, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for everyone!
Thinking of your question from a 30,000 feet level, I think the big point that needs to be conveyed to your friends is that they are accepted by God. They are accepted and they are invited into a relationship with God. But like marriage-which our relationship with God is often likened to in Scripture- our relationship with God requires cost, commitment, and sacrifice. But the cost, commitment, and sacrifice make complete sense when we capture a glimpse of who God is and all he has done for us. However, if we have not understood something of the wonder and amazement of the Christian God-full of grace and truth- commitment, cost, and sacrifice will be drudgery. But when someone truly captures the goodness, truth, love, and beauty of Christ, one cannot help but worship.
Maybe a good starting point from here would be to pray for the Lord to give you wisdom as to how you can continue to embody his character so that your friends would continue to ask you about what Christianity has to say to them. The four points I mentioned above are more content-driven, but I think the starting point must be prayer. We really need the help of God’s Spirit to breathe life into these conversations. I would also encourage you to meet with your Christian friends (perhaps at your church) and pray about these conversations of faith you are having.
I hope this helps.
Again, great question. Thank you for asking.