Are you prepared to minister to a homosexual? Can God use you to help someone committed to a homosexual lifestyle repent and change? Many pastors, missionaries, students, and others in the church confess how hard it is to love and minister to a homosexual. They grieve the reality and depth of the struggle to serve homosexuals well. There is good news for you and them. There are five significant passages to help you prepare to provide hope for change in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for any person living in a same-sex relationship. The key to your preparation is you — your heart, mind, and attitude.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITY — You are the guardian of the soul.
The author of Hebrews exhorts saved people to be submissive to those who rule over them. Why? Because the pastors in the church watch out for their souls and must give an account for how they minister to them (Hebrews 13:17). As we prepare to help the same-sex couple, we initially recognize that whatever we do with and for this couple matters to God. God will hold us responsible for how we shepherd these souls. We cannot afford to allow our own opinions, prejudice, or past experience to distract us from the ministry at hand. God cares what we do in this moment of ministry.
YOUR PERSPECTIVE — This is a sin common to mankind.
Paul describes the situations within which we often sin as common to mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13). Paul helps us develop a biblical perspective when he describes all pressure-filled circumstances as typical to mankind. For those of us who are heterosexual and monogamous, this helps us as we prepare to minister to the homosexual, since it is easy to think of the sin and the sinner practicing homosexuality as so different than us. Paul corrects our thinking and provides the proper perspective: these two people are committing sins which, like our own, are common to mankind.
YOUR HOPE — Change only happens through the Gospel.
Paul also provides us with our hope both for conversational ministry to this couple and for the couple’s situation. While writing to Christians in Corinth, he declares that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). He then provides the good news, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” There were former homosexuals in the church. However, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ had changed them and placed them on the path of sanctification. As we prepare to minister to the one enslaved to homosexuality, our hope — and their hope — is the Gospel. The Gospel for salvation is the starting point. Because we love people and desire for them to be saved, we share the Gospel. If they are saved, we share the Gospel in love for sanctification. In either case, the hope for change is the Gospel.
YOUR PATHWAY — Change begins in conversational ministry.
Paul reminds Timothy that the servant of God in conversational ministry must, in humility, be gentle to all, able to teach, and patient (2 Timothy 2:23-26). In our ministry to the homosexual, this is no different. Paul connects our attitudes and behaviors to God’s work of drawing the sinner to repentance. We engage these people with hope of them hearing truth and escaping the devil’s snare. As such, our words must reflect a genuine humility that manifests itself in Christ-honoring gentility, patience, and diligence. We seek to understand the person in this situation in relationship with God. We listen for what has captured this person’s heart. What functionally drives the heart? What is attractive about this sin? As we ask honest questions and humbly seek to interpret what we hear, we work hard to speak the truth clearly and lovingly in hope of repentance and change.
YOUR AGENDA — The goal is regeneration or restoration.
As we prepare to minister to the homosexual, Paul’s words reverberate deep into our hearts: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). If this person is not saved, we minister in hope of salvation. We want to see this person accept Christ and become usable in God’s kingdom. If this person is saved, we minister in hope of restoration, which means to bring someone back to a place of usefulness. We serve with an agenda of regeneration and restoration, although we sadly realize church discipline is necessary at times. Admittedly, this is hard. We love our church, our church people, our families, and Jesus Christ. We desire purity. However, we must love Christ’s agenda more — we pursue regeneration or restoration.
CAN GOD USE YOU? WILL YOU LET GOD USE YOU?
We began with a question: Can God use you to help someone committed to a homosexual lifestyle repent and change? That depends. God certainly wants to use you. People enslaved to homosexuality certainly need God to use you. Your community needs God to use you. However, it depends upon your preparation. The ultimate answer lies with you. Prepare now and prepare well so perhaps God will use you to see others changed for His glory.
This blog first appeared as “Afterwords: Before You Talk to a Same-Sex Couple…“ in the Baptist Bible Tribune October 2015 issue (Vol 66 No 2 pg 30).