Highlight: Do's and don'ts

Loving one another can be messy, especially when issues of sexual identity arise. When a loved one comes out about their sexual identity, it matters how we respond. How can we respond in a way that truly loves and cares for others without sacrificing our biblical convictions?

Caleb Kaltenbach shares a few do’s and don’ts to consider as you respond.

Don’t unleash your emotions.

“When somebody comes out to you, try to control your emotions in that moment. I understand that we can’t always, but try to control emotion your facial expressions.”

Don’t get mad.

Pastor Kaltenbach reminds us that the person who is sharing their heart with us, is trusting us and letting us into a very personal part of their life. Although we may not agree with their decision, we still need to extend grace. Anger doesn’t change minds and hearts but grace and empathy builds bridges.

“I don’t know what comes from people getting mad; I don’t know if that helps anything. You’re not going to change their mind, it’s not a moment to get mad, it’s a moment to empathize and try to seek understanding of where that person is coming.”

Don’t throw out Bible verses.

In that moment to listen and allow the Spirit to lead the conversation.

“That’s what we want to do, we want to throw out the Big 5: Leviticus 18:22, etc. We want to say this and that…but there is a time and a place for difficult conversations, but it’s not in that moment. They already know what you believe.”

Don’t compare sins.

“Don’t say, ‘well I think your sin is really no different than theft or murder,’ and they’re thinking, ‘well, thanks a lot; you just compared me to Gordon Gekko and Hannibal Lecter, that’s great, that’s not the way I see it.’”

Don’t suggest counseling services.

“Don’t immediately try to get them counseling saying, ‘we’ll get to see somebody.’ I think we all need counseling, but that is not the time to do that.”

Do reaffirm God’s love and grace.

“We should reaffirm our relationship with them and say things like, ‘My love for you is not based on your sexuality, it’s based on you. This changes nothing about our relationship. God loves you no matter what and so do I.’

Do say thank you. 

“I also think that we need to thank people, we need to say, ‘Thank you for sharing this part of your life with me, thank you for telling me more about you, thank you for including me and making me a part of this.’

“It’s something that they trust you enough to include you and we can do so much damage in that initial time, we need to be careful of that.”

As Christians, we are called to live in the tension of loving others for who they are, while remaining true to our biblical convictions. Jesus lived in that same tension and we can follow His example in every situation or conversation that comes our way.

Caleb Kaltenbach is lead pastor at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California. The author of , Caleb speaks widely on faith, reconciliation, and sexual diversity to people on all sides of the LGBT issue.

Ways to respond in grace and truth