I had the privilege—and was humbled by the opportunity—to preach to a congregation of 3,000 believers at Calvary Chapel Chino Valley this past Sunday morning on “Homosexuality: Truth and Compassion.” One of the points I made during my message was that Scripture doesn’t teach that we have to cut ties with family, friends, and co-workers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). In fact, I argued, we should make our relationships with them a high priority.
Notice, I didn’t say we should make them the “highest” priority. Our relationship with God comes first, followed by our relationships with our spouse and/or children if we have them. My point, though, was that relationships are the bridge by which we can show love, share truth, or explain the Gospel to those who identify as LGBT. We should do what we can to nurture them.
Someone asked me after my sermon how my point applies in light of Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to “not be yoked together with unbelievers.” She wanted to know if there are instances where we don’t want our relationship with those who identify as LGBT to be too close. I thought that was a great question.
In the passage, Paul paints a picture of two oxen that are yoked together with a wooden harness to enable them to pull a load together. If one ox steers to the right, though, it can pull the other ox in the same direction. Paul warns believers not to be bound—yoked—with unbelievers because of the possibility they might be pulled in an unbiblical direction.
My colleague Greg Koukl gives a few examples of such relationships: “I think certainly marriage would be an example of that. Certain types of business deals and partnerships would be examples of that. Wherever you’re in a circumstance where you’re tied together so much that their way of life, their values, and their worldview will function to pull you off the straight and narrow either in your beliefs, convictions, or in your behaviors.”
It’s also important to remember that Paul gives us freedom to maintain a type of relationship with unbelievers, to “associate” with them (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). His concern, though, is that we don’t become yoked with them.
The question is, could a close relationship with a friend, family member, or co-worker who identifies as LGBT qualify as being unequally yoked? Yes. Would every relationship qualify? No.
You have to determine if your relationship is one where you are yoked—strongly connected—together with them. One question you can ask yourself is, Am I moving towards the other person’s position, views, or behaviors? If you don’t find yourself pulled towards values and behaviors, then it’s possible you’re not yoked with them and your relationship isn’t a problem. If you find yourself changing to be more like them (not necessarily in acting out homosexual behavior, but in adopting their values, beliefs, and convictions), then being yoked with them is a problem. You should probably back off or build some healthy boundaries.
This, though, is not a special rule only for your relationships with those who identify as LGBT. This applies to any relationship, including those with heterosexuals. As Greg suggests, even a relationship with a business partner could be a problem. If their unbiblical practices are steering you away from conducting your business ethically, you should reconsider your partnership.
Determining which relationships are a problem might be clear in some cases but not in others. When it’s not clear, I would ask for input from those who know you well and can give you an objective assessment of your relationships. Also, pray and ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), and seek counsel from trusted friends (Proverbs 12:15, 15:22) or wise leaders in the church.