In considering whether a Christian should have gay friends, we need to ask ourselves whether Jesus would have gay friends. The New Testament nowhere identifies any specific individuals as homosexuals. So, there are no records of Jesus interacting with a homosexual. We know from the gospels, however, that Jesus loved everyone He encountered. He did not consider one group of people less deserving of the gospel than any other. In fact, He went out of His way to deliver a demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1–20) and bring hope to an immoral woman from a despised ethnic background (John 4). He healed lepers (Luke 17:10–19), pardoned an adulteress (John 8:1–11), and ate with tax collectors (Mark 2:16)—all of whom were considered unfit for the company of righteous people. We can assume Jesus would have spent time with homosexuals as well.
Homosexuality was a sin in Jesus’ day, and it is a sin now. God’s standards of human sexuality have not changed. However, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). We learn from the gentle way He dealt with sinful people that He would have offered homosexuals the same compassion and opportunity to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). If possible, Jesus would have included homosexuals when He ate at the homes of “notorious sinners” (Luke 15:1, NLT).
It is critical to note that Jesus’ choice to mingle with sinners was for a single purpose. He had come to bring light into their darkness (John 1:9; 12:46). He wanted to be with sinners so that He could explain to them God’s love and forgiveness. He did not choose their company because He approved of their sin. He did not in any way participate in or enable sin. He came to lift people out of sin, if they would only believe in Him (Luke 7:36–50).
Also, when we wonder whether a Christian should have gay friends, we need to define friends. We associate with people on many different levels, from brief acquaintances to intimate soul mates. Friendship is built upon shared interests, values, and experiences. A Christian intent on following Jesus will not have much in common with a person following an aberrant lifestyle. There will be a limit to how close the friendship can be (2 Corinthians 6:14–16).
In our increasingly deviant world, all forms of twisted sexuality are being applauded as good. From a biblical perspective, many confused people are trapped in the sin of homosexuality and need to be delivered. They need to know that God created them for more. He created them for Himself. They cannot free themselves from sin; they need a deliverer.
Jesus is the Deliverer (Psalm 18:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11), and we are called to broadcast that message. We are peacemakers, having been entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Following Christ’s example, we can extend friendship to gay people, demonstrate His love for them, pray for them, and celebrate as much common ground as we can find. In our interactions with gay friends, we must be careful not to give the impression that we are validating their sin. We cannot allow our love for a gay person to cause us to compromise God’s Word.
Should a Christian have gay friends? Yes, in the same way and for the same reasons that Jesus would have had gay friends. He saw every person as someone created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). He saw the person He had created them to be. He saw their fear, their confusion, their heartaches, and their future without Him. He offered everyone the same pardon and transformation when they were willing to make Him Lord of their lives. A Christian is simply a sinner who has accepted the gospel and now represents Christ to everyone, including our gay friends, with grace and truth (John 1:14).