Your friend just told you, 'I'm Gay!' Now what?
by Tim Wilkins
Such a confession can precipitate an avalanche of emotions for a Christian. Your responses will accomplish one of two things - push your friend away or draw the friend toward you.
As a young man I wrestled with homosexuality and then experienced the freedom found in Jesus Christ. I know that Christians can either be a part of the problem or the solution.
So if you are a Christian and ever hear a friend say those difficult words, here are five suggestions:
1. Express grief, not anger, toward your friend.
"Be angry, and do not sin," Ephesians 4:26 says. When a Christian finds out that a friend is a homosexual, grief and anger are natural reactions. Where we often need help is knowing when to express each. Grief is typically expressed alone, while anger is often expressed directly at the gay friend. I suggest you switch these.
Grieve with your friend. "Mourn with those who mourn," Romans 12:15 counsels. Let your friend know you hurt with him, not because of him. Express anger toward the deception in homosexuality. Remember, in most cases your friend has been involved in a lonely battle with homosexuality long before you found out about it.
2. Show encouragement, not embarrassment.
Embarrassment frustrates the healing process. A preoccupation with "What will people say?" should be immaterial. If it is difficult to discuss the issue, then remember Richard Lovelace's advice in his book, Homosexuality and the Church: "Persons who are compulsively uneasy, fearful, or filled with hatred when relating to persons involved in sexual sin, need a releasing work of the Holy Spirit, freeing their own sexual natures, building in them a sense of security which will permit them to express Christian love while standing firm against impurity."
Jesus was not embarrassed with the woman at the well, or the woman who was "taken in adultery," or the "immoral" woman who anointed him (John 4:7ff.;8:3ff.;Luke7:36ff.). Instead, Jesus spoke tenderly to each one in a face-to-face manner.
Too often, when they discover a friend is a homosexual, Christians prefer to write a long letter or send a message through another person. That is not the example that Jesus gave us.
3. Communicate love verbally and physically.
When a friend confesses something as burdensome as homosexuality, recoiling from him only exacerbates the problem. Why? A component of homosexuality is an inability to develop appropriate same-sex friendships. Place a firm hand on your friend's shoulder; give him or her a bear hug.
As I travel the country and encourage Christians about ministering to homosexuals, I have said repeatedly, "When I see Christ face-to-face, I am not going to extend my hand in businesslike fashion and say, "Pleased to meet you." My greeting will be enthusiastic and affectionate!"
4. Cultivate an open-door policy, not a case-closed mentality.
If you communicate, "I refuse to discuss this matter any further," you are essentially saying, "I don't want to hear about your pain and confusion."
Talk with your friend, but resist lecturing. Your friendship is a two-way street. Create an atmosphere where your friend can tell you anything and you never blink an eye - unless it is a time when you and your friend are weeping together.
5. Emphasize becoming Christ's disciple, instead of 'how not to be gay.'
Refuse the temptation to try and convert your homosexual friend heterosexuality. "All you need to do is marry, settle down and everything will work out" is disastrous advice. Heterosexuality is not the goal - becoming more like Jesus is! As discipleship occurs, the same-sex attractions diminish and in many cases, but not all, opposite-sex attractions emerge.