The most common question I’m asked during a Q&A session on sexuality goes something like this: My friend is transgender (or bisexual, gay, etc.), and I want to know what I can tell her to make her reconsider. I’m sympathetic to this question, and I understand why they are asking. The backstory is usually some variation of the following. When they’ve spoken up to their friend in the past, they’ve been vigorously rebuked for judging other people. To never say anything, however, feels like they’re holding back and not sharing their convictions with someone who is close to them. They don’t know what to do.
There are two faulty assumptions with this question. The first is that this question presumes that the relevant topic to discuss with your transgender friend is their sexuality. Sure, that subject is important, and I’m not saying to avoid it when the subject comes up. I just don’t think that’s always the most pertinent topic to raise.
The second problem with this question is that it presumes that a person without a Christian worldview or biblical anthropology will be able to make sense of the reasons to jettison an LGBT identity. It’s going to be difficult to help the non-believer see the value of following biblical sexual ethics when they don’t consider the Bible an authority.
That’s why I encourage people to make Jesus and the gospel their priority in their relationships. It’s certainly good news to me that they feel compelled to share their convictions with their friends. So, share the good news—the gospel. After all, that’s what ultimately matters. Here’s why.
Telling your friend about Jesus and the gospel message solves both problems. First, even if you convinced your friend to quit identifying as LGBT, their eternal destiny would still be in jeopardy. That’s because modifying your behavior or abstaining from something sinful doesn’t save you. Every person on the planet (that includes you, me, your pastor, the Pope, and LGBT people) is guilty of committing crimes against God. Abstaining from a certain set of those crimes doesn’t absolve you from the guilt of all you’ve done. Getting pardoned by God does. That’s why the most important message you can share with your friends is the gospel, which is the only way anyone can be pardoned.
Sharing the gospel also solves the second problem. If your friend accepts the gospel and turns over their life to Christ, then the Holy Spirit indwells them and transforms them from the inside out. It will make more sense at that point to live consistently with biblical principles. The Holy Spirit will convict them of sin, and they’ll be motivated to follow Jesus and live according to his precepts.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to dissuade your friends from making harmful decisions. Of course you should speak up whenever you can, even if you haven’t brought up the gospel. That’s what a loving friend would do.
I’m simply pointing out that our hope is not to try to manage a non-Christian’s behavior. Rather, we recognize that what ultimately matters is for them to experience the loving grace of the gospel that will forgive their wrongs and make them right with their Creator. Once that happens, Jesus can transform every part of their life.