Monday’s announcement by Jason Collins that he is gay is the latest example of the homosexual “issue” being elevated into the secular marketplace. The new normal is for homosexuals to announce their sexual identity, and then receive affirmation for their bravery, boldness, and honesty from their co-workers and clients (or, in the case of Collins, journalists).
This puts Christians with secular jobs in a predicament. Most believers understand perfectly well the concept of hate the sin and love the sinner. But that concept is more and more being seen as inadequate simply because homosexuals often perceive their sexual orientation as their identity, thus rendering any attempt to love the sinner while hating the sin as contradictory.
The difficulty is compounded for believers who work with, for, or around those who are openly homosexual. How should Christians respond to those in the work place who are homosexual? If you manage a company with homosexual employees, or if you have homosexual co-workers, how do you find the balance between hating the sin and loving the sinner? Here are six suggestions:
1) Remember the gospel, which is another way of saying the over-riding issue is that homosexuality is a sin, and that all sin is against God. Yet God is also eager to forgive any sin that is confessed in faith, and repented of. The reason this issue is difficult is because the Christian has the desire to see his friends and co-workers come to faith, and we know that salvation is really impossible if a person refuses to recognize their sin.
2) Don’t approve of homosexuality. There is no positive aspect of homosexuality in the Bible. Every mention of homosexuality in scripture is negative, and it is both an act and a lifestyle condemned by God. In all your interactions with homosexuals, remember that their identity is rooted in a practice that God calls sin, and that (like all sin) leads to destruction. This issue is complicated because unlike many other sins, the homosexual is often in search of approval for his/her actions, which is something that the believer simply cannot give.
In our culture it is not even the sin itself that is the issue, as much as it is the push for affirmation of the sin (Romans 1:32). The goal is to have others give their acceptance of their sin ( “the opinion of America is changing”), and that is the one thing that you cannot do. I can’t think of another group that has strived to justify their sin as much as this group, and to a large part they have been successful. As you strive to find the balance of loving the sinner and hating the sin, remember that there is a red-line you cannot cross; you cannot do anything that would give the impression of approval for a homosexual lifestyle.
3) Have compassion on homosexuals because Satan is a hater and a destroyer. A person shackled to a gay lifestyle is a person who experiences profound pain, rejection, and isolation to an extent that most people don’t understand. It’s hard to imagine the damage that is caused to someone when they question their own sexual identity. It strikes at the very core of their being. That pain and insecurity is masked by coming out, but it is not taken away. Instead, it leads to a perpetual search for acceptance, and ultimately it is a life that leads to misery. Remember, Satan hates people, and those who are ensnared in sin should be the object of Christian compassion.
4) Demonstrate love to homosexuals—the same love that God showed us when we were separated from Him. Develop relationships with co-workers who are homosexual. Get to know them, pray for them, and don’t shrink back from sharing the gospel with them. Refuse to say anything negative about them, and show them a loyalty and friendship from a heart that is filled with concern for them. Remember that at the end of the day, we “don’t owe anybody anything except love” (Romans 13:8).
5) Don’t tolerate any divisive or hate speech. If you manage a secular company, and you have employees that can’t work alongside someone who is gay without being divisive or unprofessional, you have to deal with that divisive and unprofessional employee. Your employees need to work together, and ensuring that this is the case is not tantamount to showing acceptance for homosexuality, but rather is a mark of professionalism, and a sign of Christian maturity.
6) Be honest with a homosexual co-worker by letting him know that you have the desire to love and care for him, without in any way giving him the impression that you approve of his sinful actions. Tell him that this is the same tension you have with all non-Christians, but that it is even more pronounced with him, and ask for help in trying to find that balance. Explain that it is your desire to see him come to faith, and in the meantime it is your desire to get to know him and pray for him, but that you don’t want him confused about your understanding of sin.
Are these suggestions helpful? What would you add?