What is a Christian response to a friend who comes out of the closet (as gay)?

As Christians, we should expect to have friends, family, and acquaintances from numerous different walks of life. When one of them comes out of the closet as gay, it can be hard to know how to respond, but we need to be ready to respond appropriately. In short, we need to respond with love and respect for our friend. There is no need to cut ties with someone who comes out of the closet. This doesn't mean we agree with homosexuality; it means we love our friend.

First things first, the Bible makes it clear that all of us have a sin nature. When we start an interaction with this commonality in mind, we have a more well-rounded perspective. We start from viewing a situation or a person through the lens of understanding that all of us have sinned and need grace. God is the one who gives grace and justifies all of us: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:23–26).

When we start with this understanding, it takes away our tendency to be self-righteous, confident in our own goodness. As believers, we are to represent Christ. What do we see Jesus doing?

Jesus spent time with people from all walks of life, but He did not partake in their sinful ways (see Luke 5:30; 7:34). He didn't spend time with them for the purpose of guilt tripping them about whatever sin they were involved in. Neither did He affirm or celebrate their sin. As God incarnate, Jesus inherently brought gentle conviction and a way for people to be free. When He went to the tax collector Zacchaeus' house for dinner, Zacchaeus proactively made a decision that he was going to repay all the people he had swindled out of money by fourfold. Jesus didn't ask him to do that, but Zacchaeus was compelled to after being in Jesus' presence (Luke 19:1–10). It is the love of God that propels transformations.

In Romans 1:26–27, we see that homosexual behavior is sinful and a result of disobeying God. Having homosexual desires without acting on them is not inherently sinful. Think of another example. You might have an urge to steal something, but if you do not actually steal it you have not sinned. However, as we grow in our faith, we are to continue submitting our own sinful desires to Christ, so that we will not be overcome by them but rather we can overcome them and shift them in the direction of Christ and His ways by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

God is fully righteous and fully loving (Exodus 34:6–7). There is no moment in time where He condones sin, and there is no moment in time when He loves us less because we have sinned. Loving someone does not mean you agree with everything they are choosing to do.

Homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible, but it is not any worse than other sexual sins. We have all sinned and must repent. When a friend comes out, our conversations with them need to be filled with grace. Sometimes people will cut you out of their life if you do not choose to blatantly affirm their lifestyle choices, but that is their decision. It's becoming more and more challenging in this day and age, but it is completely possible to be filled with gentleness and respect while firmly maintaining our biblical convictions that are different from those of our friend who has come out of the closet (1 Peter 3:15–16).

In any situation where a friend is living in sin, we should pray in the hope that "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:25). We are not the just judge of other people—that is God's responsibility. As ambassadors of Christ, it is not our job to convict others of their sin, however, the Holy Spirit at work within us may. We should study the Bible and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit to ensure that our "speech [is] always gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6).

Related Truth:

What does it mean to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)?

Is 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' biblical?

How should Christian parents respond if one of their children comes out as gay?

How can a Christian stand up for faith when the world seems so anti-Christian?

Do not judge - Is that biblical? What does the Bible mean when it says we are not to judge others?

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