Christians are often extremely welcoming and inviting toward members of other religions. Yet, why do we so often draw distinctions or conditions with our love towards gay communities? How do we apply the same sensitivities and attitudes in order to meet everyone where they are? In this video, Christopher Yuan explains how we can shift our empathy toward gay communities in the same way that we love others outside of the Church. Yuan provides practical ways in which we can truly be the hands and feet of Christ in the way that we love others. Loving deeply often requires seeking out ways we can make others feel safe and welcome, which is a testament to the love of Christ within us.
- Building Relationships
- Being Patient
- Using Their Terminology
- Listening to Them
How do We Meet People Where They Are?
I love how David Platt has such a burden for unreached people groups, and we’re so creative in the way that we go and reach others who don’t know Christ. We’re patient, we practice the gift of waiting. We don’t press the issue. If I had a Muslim neighbor, I would have no problem with building a relationship with him months, years before even talking about Jesus. And why do we do that? Because we’re culturally sensitive to how Muslims have a tendency to misunderstand Christians.
And I think we need to take that paradigm and use it also in the gay community. But unfortunately, often, people look at the gay community and they think, “Okay, I need to tell them that they’re living in sin. I need to tell them within the first few times that I meet with them that what I think about homosexuality.” And yet we wouldn’t do that with our Muslim friends. We wouldn’t tell our Muslim friends that what they’re doing is sin or what they’re believing is not true. Both are so similar.
So I think that we can learn from how we reach out to the unreached, the Muslims and the Muslim community, and apply that to how we reach out to the gay community. It’s heavy on relationship. It’s heavy on building trust. And it’s heavy on just waiting, waiting for God to step in. I mean, we wait for our Muslim friends to have dreams, and that could take years. And then once they have that, we have this enormous, huge door that opens to be able to share the gospel.
And so when it comes to the gay community, we have to be patient. If you do something too soon, the wall can immediately build up and then you just lost the chance to share the gospel with someone. So I think when it comes to the gay community, we need to be really sensitive about what we say and how we communicate. I think we need to meet people where they’re at.
Finding Middle Ground
If people want to be called gay, I would say that. If you have a transgender friend and it’s a male to female, I would use female pronouns. I would use her name just for the sake of meeting them where they’re at. Because honestly, the pronoun that I use, though important in the larger scope of things, is not more important than them knowing Jesus. And they need to know Jesus first before they can understand anything else.
And the same is with my gay friends. Use terms that are familiar with them. Same sex attraction is kind of a buzzword sometimes for people in the gay community that we’re evangelical Christians or even homosexual now is become this buzzword. They don’t like those terms. They don’t like the term lifestyle choice. And so being careful with those words, just use LGBT, those are just acronyms that make sense to them. And when we use those words, they sense that we’re making that effort to use their language to connect with them. And oftentimes they’ll just appreciate that.
And I would listen. I mean, I think these are just some really practical basic steps. Oftentimes people say, “I have this gay friend. I don’t know what to say to him.” How about, “Hello?” How about, “How was your day?” How about, “Tell me about growing up. What was it like coming out? What was it like coming out to your parents? It must have been hard.” And listen, and I bet that they’re going to tell you some stories that will just break your hearts, and just listen. You don’t have to give their commentary yet, but just listen, because I think listening speaks loud that we care.