And you will be hated by all for my name's sake

This week a friend shared how she has been told by a friend of 20+ years that they can no longer be friends because of her Christian beliefs on homosexual behaviour.  To get it clear, my friend has simply responded to a request from her friend to send verses from the Bible which said that homosexual behaviour is sinful.  Having shared those verses (as requested) she now finds herself ostracised, despite her clarifying that she wasn’t judging and that all sin is between the individual and God.  She simply did what was asked of her!

What saddens me, as much as the loss of a wonderful friendship, is the selective manner in which many are now wanting to know what God says about homosexuality, but have no desire to know what he says about other sins; greed, anger, blasphemy, deceit or even adultery.  It seems that homosexuality is now the marker by which people determine whether they want a relationship with God or not.  Put simply, if God doesn’t say yes to this then why bother about everything else?  Sadly they miss the point, but isn’t that because many don’t really want to know God?  They want a God of their own making, a God who says everything they do is great and they don’t have to change.  A God who ticks their boxes, rather than them switching their lives around to tick his boxes!

But what this also underlines for me is how we, as Christians, need to be as shrewd as snakes and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  How we respond to these types of requests is important.  Let’s not step head first into the trap laid for us.  As soon as we are asked to justify God’s word on any issue, let’s take a pause.  What is happening here?  Why do they want to know this? Is this genuinely something they want to know, or is this an excuse for attack?  Is this a request that comes from a heart to know God, or from a place of blindness fuelled by the deception of the devil?

How can we best deal with these types of situations?

In the first instance I would thank them for their interest in my faith, and ask them if they would like to know more about it.  Explain that the Bible is a book that has to be absorbed in its entirety and within context.  Whilst you could send some verses it would be more beneficial to meet up and talk over coffee.  What point is there sharing some random verses when there’s a whole book that speaks of God’s overwhelming love for us.  Let’s aspire to share about relationship and what God really wants for us.  We know from God’s word itself that the non-believer has a veiled understanding of God’s truth, how are they going to comprehend the bigger picture if we only share selectively?

I would also suggest trying to ascertain the reason for their particular focus on homosexuality.  Is this a personal thing (family member just come out for example) or is it more culturally driven?  What is causing them to ask specific questions on this, are they interested in understanding the much larger concept of sin?, because as the Bible reminds us – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  If we know what drives them we can respond in a more helpful way.  Fear of a family member being condemned by Christians should be met with reassurance of the love we have for all.  Concerns for a specific community being ostracised from church can be met with reassurance that all of us are broken and church is a place for us all to find the love of Jesus, no matter our history.  And if they genuinely want to understand the wider concept of sin, opportunities open up for discussions over the much wider issue of how sin came into the world and changed our relationship with our creator God.

Pray for wisdom and discernment before you meet or chat, ask God to give you the words you need to explain your faith.  Prepare yourself, think about what God says about sexual immorality as a whole, why does sexual immorality matter to God? (Mark 7:21-22 / Romans 13:12-14 / 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 / Ephesians 5:2-4 / 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).  When you meet try and widen the conversation to sexual immorality generally, explain that homosexual behaviour is just one area of sexual behaviour that God talks about, there are so many more.  Do they recognise God’s word as being pertinent to other sexual behaviours (adultery, sex before marriage, masturbation, watching porn for example). If not then you are clearly on different pages and may have to agree to disagree.
Ultimately remember it is not your job to convict. Simply present the gospel as given to us by God and answer questions lovingly by referring back to your understanding of God’s word, his perfect design for humankind and how we as humans have muddied the waters along the way.  Some will respect you, others will reject you.

God warns us of this too.  Matthew 10:22 - And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  Matthew 5:10 - “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.





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