Engage others as whole persons;
Never deconstruct any person to a behavior or sin
What has always challenged, changed, and inspired me about the ministry of Jesus is the way in which he never ignored sin, but rarely ever focused on it when engaging people. Jesus had a greater perspective and a clearer vision of who people were regardless of consistent behavior. He never loses sight of someone’s value and never changes his mind about their destiny and purpose.
In regards to homosexuality, we seem to be obsessed with same sex behavior. I often meet Christians that, during conversation with their LGBT loved one, struggle to get the picture of two men or two women being together out of their heads. The person’s being is somehow swallowed up by who they are sexually and romantically attracted to. I find it a little humorous (and maybe even a little sad) that we have tried to convince LGBT people that they are more than a label, feeling, attraction, or behavior when we have often failed to truly see them that way as well.
As a counselor, I’ve noticed over and over again how human beings take on the identity of the very thing they have been shamed or rejected for the most. Sexual sin seems to be one of, if not the most, powerful forces to shame and affect identity because sexuality is part of what makes us uniquely human and is at the core of who we are. The women who commits adultery becomes “the adulteress”, the man who betrays his people & collects taxes for Rome becomes “the tax collector”, and the one who is in a gay relationship becomes “That gay guy”. I’m not trying to compare these 3 things, but rather making the point that people become known as the very thing society rejects them for – as if the broken places within us are of a different substance than those that are within them. Maybe the problem is that in order to continue the “us & them” paradigm, it’s necessary to see people as inherently different. Rather than engaging others from a “platform” mentality, I find it more effective to engage from a place where the ground is level.
Remember how Jesus engaged people? He looked past people’s present behavior (sexual and otherwise) and engaged them as the valuable people that God had created in His image. He doesn’t lose sight of any of us but continually calls out to the beautiful image that has been marred, hidden, and forgotten. He looks past our sin to see our need for Him, calling forth what was lost and loving us out of our shame and into his kindness.
This blog is one in a series of 30+ tips for relational effectiveness with LGBT people. Find the condensed list HERE. These relational tips are from a handout acquired from “Lead Them Home”, a Boston based ministry that equips the church on LGBT issues. These blogs have been expounded upon with permission.
These tips, along with numerous other insights, are found in an excellent resource called “Guiding Families” available HERE.