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How should a Christian act toward a friend who comes out of the closet (as gay or trans)?

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As Christians living in today’s culture, it is increasingly likely that we will have some friends come out of the closet as “gay” or “trans,” and we need to respond appropriately.

We must realize certain facts about God and the human sin nature so that we will have a proper perspective toward others, including friends who come out of the closet. As Christians, we recognize that all people need love and grace, including friends who come out of the closet. And, as Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Through Christ, we have a relationship with the living God. We have the hope of eternal life, and we can share the offer of eternal life with others.

Our response to a friend who comes out of the closet as gay or trans differs depending on whether the friend claims to be a Christian. First, we’ll consider what the Bible would have us do when an unbelieving friend comes out:

We should not cut ties with unsaved friends who come out of the closet as gay. Jesus freely associated with sinners, including prostitutes and the pariahs of His society (see Luke 5:30; 7:34). So, Jesus’ response to (as yet) unrepentant sinners was to reach out to them and share the love of God with them. Following our Lord’s example, we should reach out to friends who come out. We should talk about their experiences, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. We should listen even as we point to Christ. We should avoid making assumptions. Our unsaved friends who come out as gay should know beyond a doubt that we love them.

Of course, love is not synonymous with approval of wrong actions. Friends who come out of the closet as gay should understand that we share the Bible’s position on homosexuality, viz., that homosexual behavior is sinful (see Romans 1:26–27). In all our conversations, we should follow Peter’s command: “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (1 Peter 3:15–16). So, we are to present the truth about God, sin, and salvation, and we make the presentation with “gentleness and respect.” Above all, we honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, He modeled godliness in His method, His manner, and His message (John 4:1–42). The Samaritan woman Jesus addressed was not homosexual, but she was guilty of another sexual sin: she had married five husbands and was currently living with a man to whom she was not married. Jesus entered into dialogue with her, connecting with her “at the level of their shared humanity” (, accessed 1/24/24), asking her for a drink (verse 7). He goes on to discuss her situation, pointing out her need for living water and a relationship with the Messiah. As a result of their conversation, an entire Samaritan village was evangelized, and many came to faith in Christ (verses 39–42).

Like Jesus, we should strive for godliness in method, manner, and message. When an unbelieving friend comes out as gay, we should use our relationship with that friend as a basis to show true care and concern. We should remember that he or she is a person, not a project. As we preserve the relationship, we can build trust. In the Holy Spirit’s own time, the door will be open for deeper conversations.

Those deeper conversations with friends who come out of the closet may involve a discussion of the difference between gay attraction, gay identification, and gay behavior. Gay attraction (homosexual feelings) may not be a choice but rather a temptation causing a struggle. Gay identification (making peace with the feelings) and gay behavior (engaging in homosexual sex), on the other hand, are choices one makes. Our friends struggling in this area should know that feelings do not have to lead to either identification or behavior.

Second, we’ll consider what the Bible would have us do when a friend who is a professed believer comes out:

In the case of a person who claims to be a Christian coming out of the closet, the New Testament gives this guideline: “You must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11). John Piper calls this “holy ostracism” and comments further: “This [verse] is describing a person who, without any sense that his Christianity is being imperiled, or his soul, is acting out homosexual desire in sexually active ways” (, accessed 1/24/24).

So, when a person claiming to be a Christian chooses to live one of several specific sinful lifestyles—Paul lists six sins—the rest of the church is to withhold fellowship from that person. It does not suggest rudeness, discourtesy, or incivility. “Holy ostracism” communicates that the level of fellowship has changed. Believers are to avoid doing anything that would imply that they regard the sinning person as a Christian brother or sister. As long as the friend claims to be both a practicing Christian and a practicing gay person, there’s no hanging out together. Spending free time with each other is a thing of the past. The reason for the “holy ostracism” should be clearly and lovingly communicated to the friend. The goal is to bring about repentance and reconciliation.

In any case, when a friend comes out of the closet, we should pray earnestly, consistently, and in faith. Pray “in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). Be filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. “Revere Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15). And take care that your “conversation [is] always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).

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How should a Christian act toward a friend who comes out of the closet (as gay or trans)?
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This page last updated: January 26, 2024