Author Greg Koukl
Published on 06/12/2023
Sexuality and Gender

Can Believers Befriend Non-Believers without Condoning Sin?

Greg and Amy give an important reminder that, as with other non-believers who sin in other ways, being friends with those who identify as LGBTQ+ doesn’t imply you agree with their views on sexual morality.


Question: Any advice for befriending a lesbian couple without appearing to condone their lifestyle?

Greg: Well, I would suggest reading Rosaria Butterfield. She was a lesbian and deeply embedded in that lifestyle and was won to Christ over a period of time through the hospitality of a Christian pastor.

I think that Christians who are deeply conscientious about this issue are afraid that friendship itself is condoning, and I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think that you have to weigh in against lesbianism or homosexuality in general in order to qualify the relationship. “You’re really nice, and we’ll hang out a little bit. You just need to know that I think the way you live is sinful. Just so you got that. Okay? Because I don’t want you to misunderstand.” No. I don’t think we have to do that. I think we have to live with grace, and when opportunities in conversation come up, then you can take those opportunities to express your views.

I think of when I wasn’t even 24-hours-old in Christ, my brother was with me, and we had gone to the beach for body surfing, and then we came back, and we were having a barbecue with some friends. This gal pulled out this Chick tract that she had been given at the beach, and she is speaking disparagingly of it—really disparaging—and I just said, “Well, I believe that.” I just weighed in, that’s all. I wasn’t looking to get into an argument. Now, it did not end well, or at least that’s the way it seemed to me. But there was a ricochet evangelism kind of story that, four years down the road, came to roost, and God rescued one of those people, who became a Christian.

I had no sense of it at the time, but how that got initiated is I was friends with them, but when this issue came up and the disparagement, I just identified myself with the view that was being disparaged, and that gave opportunity for conversation. Now, if something like that might happen, and you befriend somebody, you hang with them, you’re nice to them, sweet, hospitable to them, you’re not judgmental of their behaviors. Everybody needs Christ, regardless of what their peculiar sins happen to be. So, build that relationship, and then if something came up, and they said, “Oh, those Christians,” and you said, “Well, I’m a Christian,” you identify yourself, then that’s going to be an opportunity for conversation. “Well, all right, but you don’t believe that.” “Well, I do believe that, because that’s what Jesus believed in.” “Well, you never seem to act that way.” “Well, good.” You can just see how a conversation might go, but, of course, this could be—at that point of revelation—the end of the relationship because the other people will end it, oftentimes, but I’m just describing a potential way to maneuver in that. I’m especially answering the question “Will this friendship potentially compromise my own view?” And my answer is no. No, it won’t.

Amy: What Alan Shlemon always says is you treat them the same way you treat any of your lost friends. If you had friends who were living together, you wouldn’t feel the need to say, “Just so you know, I’m against you living together.” For some reason, we feel like we have to make ourselves clear on this topic, but just treat them the way you would anyone else—any other lost person that you’re befriending and that you’re close to. So, if you have any questions about this, start thinking about those other friends, and see how you would treat them, and that’s a good clue at how to treat any friends who are gay or lesbian.

Greg: By the way, it doesn’t mean that you can never bring it up. The question really is, will this be compromising in some ways? And it’s not. But, as your relationship builds, part of what friends do—faithful are the wounds of a friend—is sometimes they speak the truth to other people. So, if you have a couple that’s living together, there may be an opportunity to say, “You know what? If you guys really love each other, why don’t you get married?” To the man, especially. “Make an honest”—well, the phraseology that we used to use is not going to be acceptable now—”make an honest woman out of her.” But the idea is to protect the girl. The guy’s getting what he wants for free. The gal’s putting out, and she’s getting something, too, but she’s the one vulnerable. The woman is the most vulnerable here. A guy can just get up and go. A woman can get pregnant. She can become dependent on a guy.

So, there’s an element of human flourishing that has to do with sexual behavior, and there may be a place in conversation with a friend to be talking about the behaviors, and not necessarily as if God’s mad at them. You could engage these things, when there’s a good opportunity, for the benefit of the couple in question here. It’s for their good, especially if they claim to be Christians or they’re new Christians. That’s when this conversation, I think, is appropriate.

Amy: That would be a much sooner conversation, I think, but thank you for clarifying that, because I don’t want anyone to take my words as saying that you should never say anything about it, but when you’re starting out and you’re befriending someone, you don’t lead with that. It’s not something people do. But thank you for saying that, because I do think, the closer you get, the more likely these things will be discussed, and hopefully the relationship will survive that, as it did with Rosaria.