Glenn Stanton’s new book, “Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth,” is an important read. I was honored to write the foreword to the book, which I want to share with you today. -JD
Not long ago, Glenn Stanton invited Jonathan Rauch, a noted author, journalist and gay rights advocate, to address members of our team at Focus on the Family. Glenn and Jonathan have been friends for some time despite representing opposite ends of the spectrum in the national debate over homosexuality. You can read more about their friendship—and Jonathan’s unique visit to Focus headquarters—in the pages of this book.
Something struck me in the days leading up to Mr. Rauch’s visit. On the one hand, you had an outspoken gay journalist who had agreed to travel alone to the unfamiliar environs of Focus on the Family and evangelical Christianity. And on the other hand, you had some of our team who seemed a bit uncertain how to respond to this man’s presence among us.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. At Focus on the Family we’re 100 percent committed to the biblical view of human sexuality. We believe that sex is given by God as an expression of love to be shared and enjoyed between a husband and a wife. And we believe that the Bible is clear in its teaching on homosexual practice as sinful, as with all sexual activity outside of marriage. Christians cannot change or challenge this as self-appointed editors of the Bible.
So, the question wasn’t, “What do we believe?” Rather, it was, “How do we honor those beliefs when interacting and engaging with someone who does not share a Christian worldview—who does not accept the Bible as an authority on any issue?” It’s an important question.
And it’s the same question being asked by Christians everywhere as homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” continue to gain widespread acceptance. There’s a good chance you already know someone who identifies as gay—perhaps a family member, a friend, or a coworker. Maybe you’ve found yourself challenged on your biblical beliefs on this subject, even on a regular basis.
So the question remains, how do we stay faithful to the teaching of Scripture and yet live in the real world with men and women who identify as lesbian and gay? Why is it that Christianity holds that homosexual practice is not God’s will for us, and how do we stand for what we believe in a solid and unwavering commitment to both truth and love? What do you say when a gay coworker invites you to his “wedding”? How do you respond when your daughter asks to bring her lesbian partner home for Thanksgiving dinner? What happens in the business world where values and commerce collide?
These are the types of questions that aren’t so easily answered, even when your allegiance to the biblical model of human sexuality is rock-solid. But these are the types of questions that you and your children are likely to face in the coming years, if you haven’t already.
That’s why Glenn’s book is both timely and helpful. It reminds us that there are some things on which we can’t compromise—namely, the teaching of Scripture and the historical position of the Church. But at the same time, there are areas of this debate in which nuance is critical to our Christian witness. It’s possible that through prayer, wise counsel, personal conviction, and the nature of our relationships with the individuals in question, equally committed believers might take different approaches when it comes to engaging with their LGBT family members, friends and neighbors. What are those times? And which situations have no room for nuance?
Above all, how do we truly honor Christ as we engage with this issue? As you’ll read in the pages ahead, the answer is that we must consistently present Jesus as John describes Him in Scripture, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Grace. Truth. These are the essential principles that will pave the way forward as we interact with homosexual family members, friends, and colleagues, and we must be equally faithful to both. Glenn helps us do this through his insight and years of experience engaging on this issue.
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