Author Alan Shlemon
Published on 12/24/2019
Sexuality and Gender

Reaching Your LGBT Friends with Truth and Compassion

Alan helps Christians know which common phrases to avoid when talking to a friend or family member who identifies as gay. 


We also need to kill clichés that are harming our relationships with people, okay? Now, what do I mean by clichés that kill? Clichés that kill are cute little statements that we think are clever, that we Christians like to say to our friends who identify as LGBT, but really end up doing more harm than good.

Let me give you three quick examples. Number one is this: Homosexuality is a choice, or refer to it as a “homosexual lifestyle,” okay? As I’ve shown to you, I do not believe that homosexual attraction is just something people choose. Yes, they choose their behavior, but if you use the word “choice” in your description of who they are, you will alienate them from you, because in their mind, they’ll think, “You think I chose this? You think I chose to be gay? You are completely out of touch with who I am. You have no idea what I’m experiencing.” So this will just simply create a roadblock, an obstacle in your relationship with them. So avoid the language of choice.

Number two, I hear people say this: “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I don’t know why we keep saying this as Christians, but let me just tell you, we gotta stop, okay? Because the only way I’ve ever heard my friends and family who identify as gay and lesbian interpret this is as an insult.

If you want them to believe that God made them to function in a heterosexual way, then just explain that from Scripture or from basic biology 101, all right? Don’t resort to a corny cliché like this as this simply offends people and creates more distance in your relationship with them.

Here’s another one: “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” Now I know this one’s gonna be tough because this sounds biblically consistent. It might even sound compassionate. But let me just tell you when people who identify as LGBT hear this, they think in their mind—well, let me ask a question, actually. Do you know what’s the only word they hear in this sentence? Hate. Exactly. They hear, “God hates me, and guess what, you hate them too.” Because in their mind, being gay’s not just what they do, it’s who they are. And so if God hates me and you hate me too, then how is this a compassionate answer? This actually has the opposite effect that you intend.

So here’s my suggestion: If you want them to believe that you love them or that God loves them despite what they’re doing, here’s what you should do. Don’t say something. Rather, do something; and that is, love them, right? You say God loves them; why don’t you show it by how you treat them? Spend time with them, go to the movies with them. The next Avengers movie comes out, go see it with them. Play tennis with them. Whatever you do with your other friends, do it with them. And because you’re a Christian, and you might be the only Bible they ever get to know, they’ll interpret that as love from you, and because you’re a Christian, you represent God, that will teach them that God loves them as well.