Chapter 13 How should Christians love and reach out to gays and the transgendered?

 

“If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John 4:11 

This chapter is based  61   on verses in  31 passages of Scripture

Note: All Scriptures in parenthesis appear in my book, Revealing God’s Design with Love, or can be looked up in any Bible.

The following six attributes of God’s love, when woven together and put into practice by Christians, should help those in the LGBT community find healing, peace, and lasting joy. Some of the following attributes overlap one another, but each has its separate application. There is no particular order to these attributes of His love; the first is not greater nor more important than the last.

Attribute 1: God’s love is available to help all who come to Him.

Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

God has invited all to come to Him for help and healing, regardless of the sin, offense, or wrongdoing. He doesn’t care how many times or when we last committed a particular sin. God has said over and over in His Word that He welcomes us AS IS, and then goes about making us well and whole when we put our faith in Him. After His work is completed at the end of our lives, or at each stage of our lives, comes the rest we need, a rest we never thought possible.

God wants to examine and work in us to see what He needs to do to cure us of the ills and hurts that result from sin. For some salvation is needed, which requires repentance of sin and belief in Christ. Without this, there is not a lot God will do from that point on until we make this decision. Members of the LGBT Community need to seek God’s forgiveness for what they are doing and put their faith in Christ if they want to find the lasting peace only God can give.  Because what they are doing is very much condemned in Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments. (See Leviticus 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5, and I Corinthians 6:9-11 quoted and referenced below)

God is available and willing to help anyone seeking Him. Collectively as a church, we should also be available and open to others who enter our places of worship, especially those of the LGBT persuasion. Hopefully, as they come to our churches, they will find love, acceptance, friendship, the truth about God, and the truth about what they are doing from His perspective. Should they respond to Him with faith and repentance, then they will need from us all of the forgiveness, discipleship, and inclusion we can give.

Attribute 2: God’s love sacrifices and endures any hurt for the sake of others.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

God has done everything to save His human creation, even those consumed with many sins and gross offenses. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to atone for these sins, no matter what they are, is evidence of this. God made such a sacrifice because He loved humanity so much that He wanted everyone to spend eternity with Him. Not even Hollywood’s so-called unconditional love, which is just permissiveness, can compare to this kind of love.

Christians should, therefore, continue to minister to those in the LGBT community even if it causes them great personal sacrifice or humiliation to do so. The verbal and physical abuse Jesus endured was not enough to stop Him, nor should it stop us who have His presence and the power of the Spirit. Like Christ, we are to love the LGBT community no matter what is done to us in return, either from them directly or from those who support their lifestyle.

Attribute 3: God’s love grants complete and irreversible forgiveness to those who seek it.

When we were dead in our sins, God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, nailing them all to the cross. Colossians 2:13 [RBK]

God’s forgiveness is complete and irreversible and includes sins committed in the past, present, and future. After we are forgiven, God gives us a full measure of His Spirit, to guide, protect, and help us fight off sin the rest of our lives. Amazingly, the Spirit promises never to leave us no matter how many times we repeat a sin or fail. (I John 1:9; I Corinthians 6:19; Hebrews 13:5)

How should Christians apply this measure of forgiveness to members of the LGBT Community seeking help? The first thing is to stay in a relationship with them until they choose to accept the Lord’s forgiveness. All we may be able to do during this time is to be their friend and share with them about God’s forgiveness as it is laid out in Scriptures. Once they’ve responded, then give them the same 100% forgiveness that God gives you.

Too often Christians don’t forgive others as they should, thinking that another’s sin is worse than theirs. The sins of homosexual and transgender people may seem more detestable or different, but their sins are no less forgivable than any other sins. After they’ve believed, treat them with respect, as co-equals in the kingdom of God. Should they relapse into old ways, then come alongside and give them the help and encouragement they need, the same kind you would want if you fell back into one of your old sins.

Maybe, just maybe, the kind of forgiveness we model will be a great draw to others we are trying to reach for the kingdom. There is nothing like a good example to impact and influence others.

forgive each other….just as the Lord forgave you… Colossians 3:13

Attribute 4: God’s love embraces both grace and discipline.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…but if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Ephesians 2:8 & Hebrews 12:8

God’s love combines both grace and discipline, like two sides of the same coin. The grace side of God’s love is forgiveness and mercy. Upon belief and repentance, His grace is ours and can never be lost or removed. We may fail at times with God, maybe many times, or even most of the time, but He will never remove His grace from our lives. (John 10:28)

Additionally, His grace erases all judgments that would have come to us had our faith not been put into play. The short of this is that when we die, and we will, we will skip the judgment others will have to go through because they did not take God’s offer of salvation. (John 3:16-18)

The other side of the coin is God’s discipline, which comprises a variety of caring and corrective measures to help us abandon and stay clear of sinful ways. Ways that will stunt our spiritual growth as Christians or worse yet, keep us out of God’s kingdom if accompanied by disbelief in Him and an unrepentant heart.

God’s discipline for homosexual and transgender people who refuse to believe Him and repent is to do very little. Instead, God lets them reap the consequences of their own actions by allowing each to experience different measures of guilt, shame, unhappiness, hopelessness, regret, lack of fulfillment, loss of self-esteem, damaged ties with family and friends, sickness, and even death. The hope is that in their misery and dissatisfaction, they will turn to Him. If they do, then they will receive a limitless measure of His grace. And from that grace can come incredible joy, peace, and satisfaction. If they don’t respond but continue in their homosexuality or gender change, then the negative effects listed above will only worsen over time.

Christians, who revert to old sinful habits like homosexuality and gender change, continue in His grace and do not lose their salvation or His presence. However, these wayward believers will be called into account by God through their conscience, consequences, and what other Christians urge them to do.

According to the guidelines of Scripture, Christians are called upon to help one another abandon new and reoccurring sins. They do this by praying, being a good example themselves, and re-teaching what is true and not true from God’s Word. If this works and a wayward believer recuperates from a sin, then there is nothing further to be done. If it doesn’t work, then more exacting rebukes, reproofs, and reprimands are in order from fellow believers.

Should all of these measures fail, then these fallen believers may need to be separated from the church for a while until repentance is realized. The goal of the separation is not to hurt them, but to get them back to trusting God for this part of their lives. For this sin, like every other sin, can ruin a Christian walk if not addressed with remorse and forgiveness. (II Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 12:5-8; Matthew 18:15-18; I Timothy 5:20; Galatian 5:1; I Corinthians 5:9-11,13; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14,15; Proverbs 9:7-8)

Once their restoration has been accomplished, then the whole church is to rejoice and begin to treat these repaired and reinstated believers as if they had never sinned. To not forgive them, after God has, is a sin that we should avoid. The Lord’s Prayer and many other portions of Scripture say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others

The whole point of this attribute is to apply both grace and discipline according to each situation, not one over the other. Only the Scriptures and other more mature and seasoned believers can help you with this.

Attribute 5: God doesn’t force His love but does everything possible to help us understand and receive it.

God’s love gives everyone the freedom to accept or reject His love. He forces no one to love Him in return, accept His plan of salvation, believe His Scriptures, or receive His forgiveness of sin. To help sway us toward His love, God has shown each of us what He is like within our hearts, as well as what He inspired to be written in the Scriptures. From the beginning, God reveals to everyone a sense of His presence through our conscience, feelings, and intelligence. If there are any exceptions beyond this, God’s grace or judgment will abound. (Romans 2:14-16)

To the day that we die, God will continue to do everything possible to reach and save each of us, but He won’t take away our free will in the process. God does this because He has an incredible love for humanity. If we refuse His love to the end of our lives, then His love ends for us at that point and judgment begins.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. II Peter 3:9

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

We might say, “Well, that doesn’t sound like unconditional love at all!” In a way, God’s love isn’t unconditional because He will not just take anyone into heaven unless they’ve demonstrated faith and repentance. If God did permit the unrepentant and unfaithful, then heaven would be no more than another version of this world, distorted by sin, selfishness, and unbelief. Therefore, God’s unconditional love is tied up in doing everything possible to get us free from sin and into His kingdom and heaven.

As Christians, how do we apply God’s love for the LGBT Community? We start by asking ourselves if we are doing everything possible to bring them into the kingdom of God. Yet, while trying, whether it is through prayer, the building of a stronger relationship, presenting the Gospel at opportune times, and even sharing the truth about what they are doing to themselves and others, we must realize we can’t force God’s love on them. It is always for them to decide. Sometimes, they choose wisely and sometimes not.

So, be as diligent as you can in your ministry with the gay and transgender person, but at the same time, relax, for it is up to them to respond to the Lord.

Attribute 6: God’s love sometimes chooses one love over another

When the Son of Man comes, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then He said to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, for the kingdom, is prepared for you.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed.” Matthew 25:31-34, 41 (RBK)

Just as God decides who will go to heaven and who won’t, similarly Christians may have to choose one love over another. If we have tried without success to win over those in the LGBT Community, then it may be time to move onto others who also need God. By doing this, we end up choosing a latter love over a former one. Jesus’ parable of the sower supports a move like this, for He told His disciples when throwing out the seeds of the Gospel to look for those who respond, whom He called good ground. (Matthew 13:18-23) In another instance, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10 to go into a village with the Gospel, and if the people responded then stay. If they didn’t respond, then the disciples were to move on.

In another application of choosing one love over another, there may be gays we have come to know and love that might influence or threaten the well-being of others we love. We don’t abandon our gay friends or family members because we dislike them, but for the sake of the others we love who are at risk. For instance, our children may have schoolmates or neighbor friends who are gay or have changed their gender. In the midst of this, we should be trying to teach our children how to reach those schoolmates and neighbor friends for the Gospel. But by doing this, we put our kids at risk, exposing them to some pretty carnal, sinful, and questionable behaviors. So, what do we do?

Let me share what I did with my children’s neighborhood friends who were definitely not Christians and a bit worldly-minded. First of all, I taught my kids how to share a very simple Gospel and how to love their neighborhood friends by just being their friend. However, my wife and I did not let our children be alone with them at any time. If they wanted to play together as kids love to do, then it had to be done at our home, or where Myrna and I were in the vicinity. That way, we were able to monitor and correct anything that was being said or done.

The point to all of this is that sometimes our love for gay or transgender friends, co-workers, neighbors, or relatives, may have to take a back seat to others we love who are either more responsive to God’s truth, or in need of protection from those living an LGBT style of life.

Last Thoughts 

If I were to weave these six attributes of God’s love together to reach gay and transgender people, here is how it would look for me. I would try and be available to them in any way possible, be their friend, and be willing to suffer humiliation should it result. Then I would focus on Christ’s message of salvation and grace, but also talk with them about their sexual sins. If they were unbelievers and did accept Christ and His forgiveness, then I would make every effort to be just as forgiving and forgetful of their sins, as He is. If they are Christians that fell back into homosexuality or gender change, or any derivatives of these sins, then I would apply more of the discipline mentioned in the Scriptures to get them to stop their relapse. In the midst of all of this, I would never try and force God’s love on them, whether Christian or not. True and lasting love never has to be forced. Finally, if my love for them had no results after a long time of trying, or I found they were damaging others with their influence, then I would suspend my relationship with them for a while until things changed.

Scriptural References for Homosexuality and Gender Change

Leviticus 20:13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. [Forerunner to gender change]

I Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Or 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 effeminate [a forerunner to gender change], nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Romans 1:25-28 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.