We must be extremely, purposefully, and intentionally sensitive, cautious, loving, and merciful as we deal with homosexuality. But we must also speak the truth without reservation. Although Paul was speaking directly to believers, I believe his instruction in Ephesians 4:15 is invaluable in this situation—”speak the truth in love.” Speak the truth—yes. But do so tastefully; don’t be cruel, rude, or a jerk about it. And more so, genuinely love the individual; seek their repentance and let that desire affect the way you converse with them.
This point is so important in our culture and at this point in our nation’s history. Eventually, once “gay rights” legislation passes and the history books are being written, they will write about the “gay rights movement.” And my personal belief is that these sections in our future textbooks will look a lot like the sections currently written on the civil rights movement. What’s my point? What I’m saying is that “homosexual intolerance” will be viewed at par with racism. But more so, I believe many people already view “homosexual intolerance” as equivalent to a sexual orientation version of racism. In other words, this matter demands absolute care and precision in our choice of words and actions.
Part of “being tasteful” is knowing who you’re talking to. As Kevin DeYoung says,
There are various groups that may be listening when we speak about homosexuality, and the group we think we are addressing usually dictates how we speak.
- If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
- If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
- If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
- If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
- If we are speaking to liberal Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
- If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
- If we are speaking to beligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.[3. Kevin DeYoung, “The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments” on The Gospel Coaltion Website: DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog, on May 30th, 2012 http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/05/30/the-church-and-homosexuality-ten-commitments/%5D
Don’t Jest about Homosexuality
As a part of being tasteful, we ought not to jest about the sin of homosexuality. Making “gay jokes” or even just throwing the word “gay” around is simply rude and unhelpful. It’s unnecessarily offensive to homosexuals and can be a large hindrance and distraction in trying to share the Gospel with them. It also does not bread a love for homosexuals, but on the contrary, can cause one to become calloused towards homosexuals and develop a self-righteous defense of that attitude as well.
More so, this sort of behavior does not take sin seriously. Sin is not something one should joke about. Paul says, “it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). If we viewed sin as God does by taking a scriptural look at His wrath against it, it might change the way we talk about sin. God takes sin seriously and so should we.
Condemn the Mistreatment of Homosexuals
Without a doubt, many homosexuals are being mistreated. They can often be bullied, discriminated, and rejected for being homosexuals. Now, unfortunately, and I am embarrassed to say this, I have actually heard Christians say things in support of this sort of behavior. How horrific! If this is you, Christian, you need a hard kick in the “spiritual pants.”
On the contrary we must be active and deliberate in condemning all mistreatment of homosexuals. Not only will this help clarify our position on homosexuality to the public, but it’s just the right thing to do. How can we condemn the sin of homosexuality and bypass the sin of those who mistreat homosexuals?