Christian Answers on LGBTQ Questions (pt. 2)
“My homosexual friend invited me to their wedding. What do I do?” “How do I befriend homosexuals without getting into arguments?” “Should I watch entertainment with homosexual behaviour?” Dozens of questions fill our minds when it comes to how the church behaves around the LGBTQ community. Without a doubt, showing genuine love is the most important, but there are definitely some practical questions that stump us. This is our second week in airing a 2-part Q&A series called “Human Sexuality.” At a recent event we held (Sexual Identity) we had a live panel that gave Christian answers on LGBTQ questions from the audience. The panel consisted of a popular Bible teacher, a Christian apologist, and a pastor. The answers are biblical and genuine and will be sure to help you in your mind.
Want to watch the entire event? Check it out here!
Dr. John Neufeld is the Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible Canada.
Also, Steve Kim (the Christian Apologist) works at Apologetics Canada.
*Below is an edited transcription of the audio conversation.
A Friend or Family Member With Sex-Change
Next question: I have a daughter who has gone through a sex change. How do I relate to her when she says, “I will know that you love me if you call me by ‘he,’ ‘him’ or ‘son’? Should I? It feels wrong. What would that mean if I do? That I accept it?
That’s a tough one. Sometimes these scenarios go through my mind because I have two children. I have a three-year-old daughter and an eleven-month-old, this beast of a son who at seven months was 25 pounds. I was like, “I can’t carry you around for much longer! You need to start walking soon!”
But what if my daughter goes through that and she says, “Call me ‘he’ and call me some other name like ‘Michael.’” What do I do? Call it a compromise, but I would use the pronoun or the name that she wants to be called by. If I don’t do it, you know, if this relationship is going to break, then I will use that pronoun in the interest of maintaining this relationship. Because, if there is no relationship, how am I going to share Jesus with her, right?
There is this phrase in Asia when it comes to martial arts and sword fighting and things like that. This phrase goes: you give the flesh and take the bone. So if somebody is trying to stab you, you give the flesh (let that person stab you in a non-critical way), but you take the bone of that person (you strike them in a critical manner). That’s sort of where I fall on this. Yes, I will use that name. I will use the pronouns and the names in the interest of maintaining the relationship.
Some people would say that’s condoning it. So if you say you are going to do that to maintain that relationship, where does it end? Where does the barrier end in regards to that?
I guess it depends. It’s a case-by-case sort of thing. But at some point I will probably draw the line. But in terms of using the name and the pronouns, I would still stick with that.
It depends, at some point if I am actually asked to really, seriously participate in what she’s doing, then I probably will have to say no. And if she thinks because of that that I don’t love her, it is- the ownness isn’t on me, right? It is how she feels about it and I can’t change that.
Just really quick. I think I will do anything and everything to help a person come to Christ short of sin. The moment that it leads to sin. So if I’m encouraging that person in their sin, then of course not! And that may seem a bit radical, but just about anything short of sin. Like, we won’t sin.
So the question becomes: is using that pronoun a sin? And I would say, I don’t think it would be. But I think I would make it clear that, “Hey, listen, I don’t- it grieves me that you did this, but because I love you so much, you’re still my child. I want a relationship with you.” Right? “I don’t want to encourage you to, I guess, go further in this, but I mean, I still want to maintain a relationship with you.” That’s my perspective.
And then there are different, I mean, when we talk about this, are we talking about already gender reconstructive surgery? Because a lot of that stuff gets to be a one-way trip. We need to understand that.
And, you know, here’s the question: what do you do with someone who has gone through a complete gender orientation and everything else, and then they come to Christ, mourn deeply in what they’ve done, recognize that God has created them male or female and have put design within them, now realize it, but surgery’s been done?
That’s the next question.
Okay, let’s talk about it. I mean, it’s pretty clear that that’s where we actually end up going as a culture and as a society. So we need to ask ourselves, when the Scripture tells us to accept a person in whatever state they are found in. I think from my limited advantage, and someone may correct me, and again, I’m not sure I know, but my sense around that is, if I’ve won someone to Jesus [yet] they’ve gone through a complete sex change, I would help them to understand the brokenness in this, but I’d help them to learn to be faithful in that situation. I don’t think I’d ask them to go through that surgery all over again.
So, you know, maybe we’ve all got to learn something down here. But I think a gentleness and love does tend to rule the day, even while we tend to know- we do know specifically from Scripture what God has attached to our gender.
Yeah, I saw a video online of exactly that. A guy became a woman and then came to faith. But, I mean, the power of that testimony – it brought me to tears because here’s this guy who tells his testimony and how precious Jesus has become to Him. That testimony was powerful.
There is perhaps, I mean, I’m just looking for some parallels within Christian history, and there might be one. And that is, what happens when missionaries win people to Christ who are, you know, one man with maybe four or five, six, seven wives even – what do you actually do? And it is true that if you take that family and you break it apart, the ruin that happens to that family is much greater. So you leave them in that situation they’re in, whereas you wait for the next generation and you teach them what faithfulness to Christ looks like.
If you don’t do any evangelism ever, you don’t have to make this decision. If you do, then it’s going to get really messy. So you want to continue to hold forth God’s ideal for all, you never let that go. But at the same time you recognize that you win people in some very strange situations.
Being a Part of An Unloving Church
[Next question is:] I feel like the leaders in my church are sort of negative or have this “Homosexuality’s a sin” sort of mentality. What should I do about it? Should I leave my church because of this? Or should I talk to the leaders about that?
Ask that again?
In the sense that, I feel like the leaders in my church have a wrong view in regards to homosexuality in the sense that they aren’t being accepting or anything like that.
It’s unloving, is that the question?
Yes, so do I leave the church? Or do I, you know, approach them and talk to them about it?
Me, having come from a very Confucian kind of culture, I have a lot of respect for the authority – church authority. So, often it comes down to this: if the church leadership is doing something that I disagree with, as long as I am a member of that church, I will follow them. I will obey them. But if I were to start a church on my own, like do a new church plant, then it would be a different story.
Now, I think Confucius taught something [good here], and I think there is something to learn from it, not that his views are all right, but I think there are some things we can learn from them. What he said is: if your king decides to do something that you abject to, then you make the abjection known three times, and if your sovereign still decides to do that, then follow it with tears. And if you really, in your good conscious, can’t do that, then you’ll probably have to remove yourself from office.
But that’s what I would do. I would approach the church leadership and raise my voice and concern. I’ll see how it is received, and if it’s not received very well I would possibly consider moving to another church, because, I guess, I just don’t want Christians to be isolated from church environments. Like, I want to make sure that we’re being fed in a church, right? That would be my take on that. I don’t know if you have any different thoughts in it.
I always think that we ought to be slow to change churches.
I mean, there are principle issues [and] we need to identity what they would be. And we’d talk long and hard about it. I don’t want to get into that right now. The question really is, if it’s an attitudinal thing (not a doctrinal thing), I think that’s what you’re saying. And the attitude is: I think from my vantage point they’re not being loving. Perhaps they would say different, but if that were the case I would simply say, “Listen, get to know them. Share your concerns. Let them share concerns back. Listen to one another.”
I would be very slow about the leaving thing.
I really agree, but, if a leadership team is not hungry to see the lost saved, that’s a really concerning thing. I don’t want to follow that person. But I agree with you, I think people leave church way to quick.
That’s good. This one’s specifically for pastor Dave, so I’m going to put you on the spot here! In the workplace I understand that we must treat homosexuals like any others. But my confusion is regarding why I must befriend them. If we are becoming friends and develop trust and talk about their orientation, won’t it just [lead to] arguments? Family is the exception of course.
I don’t think it has to lead to an argument. I mean, at least in my experience. I think the way you go about that friendship really matters. Again, if you are able to build trust, be kind, honour that person, and then if the Holy Spirit so leads for you to ask some questions- I think sometimes, actually, in retrospect, I used to work at IHop. I was a server at iHop – the worst days of my life. Just hungover, grumpy people all the time, no tips, just the worst. But there was a guy there who I became very good friends with, and we had some heated conversations, but like, I always said to him, “I care about you! You’re my friend!” Right? And so, my love for him- we had some contentious and heated moments, but that did not mean that our friendship stopped, from my experience.
Engaging Homosexual Media/Entertainment
If your friend makes you watch, or asks you to watch homosexual media (so it could be a sitcom with homosexual characters or whatever, we all know that), do you turn away or do you watch? Do you maybe just watch it to talk about it after? How do you approach that? Or is it more of a situational thing?
So I’m the old guy on this stage, so you know, listen, here’s the deal: I lived through the sexual revolution. And I recall that, when I was in [a secular] grade school I remember we had a teacher ask us this question, it went like this, he said: would you marry a girl who’s had sexual relations with someone else? We all said: “No!” See? That was the cultural norm when I was a kid! Then all of a sudden we had this revolution and everything changed. So, how many movies did we watch in which it was okay to have sexual relationships? So now we all became desensitized to it and said: “It’s no big deal.”
So, here’s what I’m going to say to you: you’re not going to have to wait for a non-Christian friend to ask you to watch a movie where homosexuality is treated as normative, it’s already happening everywhere you go. The real question that we should be asking ourselves is: do we entertain ourselves in which we constantly, constantly allow ourselves to be bombarded with a form of entertainment which is fundamentally broken and condemned sexuality? Should we do that? That’s the real question.
The one time with a friend, you know, that’s not really the issue. The real issue is: what are we actually doing in our own homes?
And I think part of it too is (just to add on to that), and you kind of touched on this already, but consistency is a key thing I think. Because you can’t just say, “I won’t watch this homosexual movie with you,” but then you go home and you watch, you know, 50 Shades of Gray, or something like that, right? And you entertain yourself with that. I mean that, ladies and gentlemen, is called hypocrisy. And we seem to be so good at that sometimes.
So it has to, I think, come from a place of, “I want to grow in holiness and because of that it’s not just a particular type of movie. It’s any type of move that has this kind of entertainment in it, I will have to refrain from that.”
I think we have to be careful about “us” and “them,” in the sense that like, there have been times where I’m with Christian guys and all of a sudden we’re watching a movie and we’re like “Guys, we need to not watch this.” You know what I mean? And, I think it’s like, more just being conscious about what you’re taking in, right?
We’ve been called to be consecrated, right? And so, there’ll be times when you’re with non-Christians who aren’t gay where you got to go, “You know, can we watch something else? Like HGTV?” (Which, by the way, I don’t know if you noticed this, but like, every other couple is a gay couple on HGTV. And I love HGTV! Like, Island Life? Anyways, I’m not going to get into it.)
I think it has more to do with your consecration. If the program is sinful and leading you to sin, you shouldn’t be watching that.
Attending a Same-sex Wedding
That’s good. Two questions, and I think both of these are very relevant. They’re the last ones we’ll do. The [first] one: How should we approach a wedding invitation to a LGBTQ wedding of a friend or a family member?
I want to talk descriptively again, rather than prescriptively, because I don’t know if I can talk to everybody.
I would not go. I’ll tell you why, and that is, there are a lot of things I don’t attend. And there are some things that I do [go to]. Would I go to, like, for instance, when we lived in California we had neighbors [who] had constant homosexual parties, [and] they invited me over? Yes. I did. I had opportunities to share the gospel all over the place all the time. If they had asked me to go to one of their weddings, probably not. And here’s why: simply because I believe that marriage at some point in time, I need to make that statement, and I would want to make sure that at the same time that I’d be praying for [them], and I may make other statements as well. You may disagree with me on that, but that’s fine.
I would tend to agree with that. I would not go. But I guess, if I know this person well enough, hopefully we will have established that, you know, it’s not because of the person that I’m not going, it is the institution. With my presence there, I’m celebrating. It’s my presence there that already means I’m celebrating it.
So, just like the bakery couple down in Oregon whose business got shut down. Two gay men I believe came to them and asked them to bake them a wedding cake for their same-sex wedding with some congratulatory messages on it. And they said, “We can’t do that in good conscious.” Now, what they did say as I understand it is, “If you were to come to me with anything else, like you had a birthday party or, you know, I don’t know if they do cakes for funeral, but if you had a funeral we’ll do that for you. Anything else!”
They do that in Korea, do they?
That’s a good question. Do we? I don’t know, I’ve been away for like 20-something years. But you know, I’ll tell you something. A bit of a culture shock moment. I’ve been living here more than half of my life. I remember when my wife and I got engaged and I proposed to her and she said yes, and I was like “Hooray!” And now we’re calling people. And I called my brother and at this point they had only met my wife Sherina once while we were still dating, so I called him up and said “Hey Peter, just wanted to let you know that we got engaged.” And he said, “With who?” “Oh, remember that girl that you met once before?” And then he paused like two seconds, and then he said, “Yeah, but with who?” I’m like, “What do you mean with who!?”
But it turns out what he was expecting was this Korean style of engagement where you- because in Korea, marriage is not just a union of individuals, it’s a union of households. So the expectation was that if you want to get engaged, then you bring the whole families together and you make the announcement, and then you have this whole thing.
So he thought that I did this without him there. Anyways, it’s just, totally… I had to explain that to him really quick. “No, this is what happened.”
To go back to that, so this couple (from Oregon) said, “Well, we’ll bake a cake for any other occasion,” which meant that, you know, it’s not because that couple was gay that they didn’t bake the cake. It was that, by baking this cake they were endorsing this institution of same-sex marriage. And that’s what they didn’t want to do. They weren’t discriminating against the people.
And so in the same way, if my presence at this wedding means that I’m actually celebrating this institution, I can’t in good conscious do that. And hopefully if I know this person well enough I will have established that already, so that is doesn’t come to this person that it’s a surprise that I won’t be going.
I don’t really know. Like, when my sister gets married to her partner, I just, I don’t really have an answer. Like a real clear cut answer there. My hope is that I, obviously, because my sister trusts me, if I, I just need to seek the Lord on that, you know what I mean?
It might be different for family.
Well I think it has to be unique, like we have the Holy Spirit, right? So if I feel very convicted by the Holy Spirit, like, I need to listen to Him.
Teaching our Children About Sexuality
Yeah, that’s good. Let’s move on to the last question here: how can we approach this subject with our children as they encounter this topic in their lives with their friends or as they may struggle even personally? So, elementary school, high school, and so on and so forth. How do we engage this [topic] with our children?
I was just going to say, it’s so important that we’re proactive rather than reactive.
As a local church becomes more and more proactive in this regard, I think it’s a really, really healthy thing. And I think even if the local church would step up and even have some sort of [class], you know, in grade 5 or grade 3, I don’t know when exactly.
I mean, I have kids who are like three and 6-months-old, and I actually foster a son who’s nineteen years old as well. But as my biological children grow older, like, this is now a concern of mine, and I want to be proactive. I want them to learn about sexuality from myself and my wife before they hear things.
Because in my case I grew up and that wasn’t the case. You know what I mean? I think it was in grade nine when my dad like, drew a diagram. I was like, “Dad! Grade nine is way too late! I’ve seen more than diagram dad!” Yeah, so, be proactive.
I think it has to be a part of a wider teaching and we need to teach a couple of things that seem important to me.
One of the things that’s lost in our culture, whether you’ve noticed it, is the value of marriage.
Here’s the deal: I was 22 when I got married, my wife was 21, and nowadays when I say that to people they look at me and say, “Oh my goodness! You were kids!” Right? And my second daughter, when she got married, she was in university, and she came to school sporting a wedding ring and her prof stopped her and said, “You’re way too young to get married.” You know, that’s really interesting to me. I dare him (the prof) to stop a couple that, say a homosexual couple, and say, “You shouldn’t be living together.” He’d never say that.
So what we have to do is counter that by-
I think we need to develop in our children this expectation of how lovely and important marriage is.
That doesn’t mean we don’t tell them at the same time that there is also a calling on God to be single. That might be God’s calling on your life. But if He doesn’t call you to that, you need to begin to pray about this at this point in your life – the spouse that you will marry. And you do that early. And you help them through that process so that they see that as a precious step in their lives and I think in that you will also teach them what gender actually then means and the role they ought to fulfill.
Just to add to that too. As we teach them this healthy view of marriage, and I think, that’s really critical because, you know, even more than same-sex marriage,
…what’s been really detrimental to our view of marriage has been no-fault divorce.
Because when that happened marriage wasn’t about children anymore. Now it was about two consenting adults. And so then the divorce rate sores and I would say, probably, my guess is that about half the people here or maybe more than that have all been directly or indirectly affected by divorce in your family. I certainly come from a broken family like that. So I think, you see, I was born and raised Catholic, and for Roman Catholics this whole thing of sexuality, it goes hand-in-hand with procreation and family and that forms their view of marriage and things like that. And so then down the road, you know, birth control, abortion, and things like that. So, everything is kind of summed up together in the idea of procreation and raising children and family and things like that.
And I think, I mean, I’m not a practicing Roman Catholic (I kind of hopped the reformation fence so to speak), but I think there’s a great deal that we can learn from our Catholic friends in terms of their view of sexuality and how they link it so closely to family.
And secondly, just quickly to add to that,
I think we also need to teach our children a healthy view of sin.
Because when we don’t do that we end up kind of pointing out instances of sin and we just condemn that, and when you do that you can only pick at a select number of sins and you kind of harp on them all the time, right? But if they understand that we have this inclination in us and that [it] manifests itself in all kinds of ways, hopefully our children will grow up to appreciate that a sin is a sin is a sin, in a sense. Right? So that when they come across friends who are gays and lesbians they won’t look at them with any sort of moral superiority, but this sense of solidarity.
“You know what, welcome to the sin club! Now let’s hang out, maybe play video games together or something, or eat a cupcake.”
Again, thank you guys so much.