For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,who choose what pleases meand hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its wallsa memorial and a namebetter than sons and daughters;I will give them an everlasting namethat will endure forever (Isaiah 56:4-5)."
So, Philip believed that even though most of his Bible condemned eunuchs as sexually and spiritually unclean, there was hope in the prophet's words that he might emrace this person of a different race, nationality, language, and gender identity. He could not just embrace them, but he could welcome them in the faith as an equal.
I'm sure that you already have an opinion about the theology surrouding the LGBTQIA+ issue. So, instead of getting into that, let me simply remind you that these dear folks are not issues to be debated, but people to be loved and respected as God's children. Treat them as Philip would--love them as Jesus does.
So, what can Christians do when a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, inersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA) person comes out to you?
Here's What Not to Do:
Don't quote Scripture to them. They've undoubtably had people do that to them before, and probably know these "clobber passages" better than you do. They're coming out to you because they're hoping you're a safe person, and they don't need a lecture right now.
Don't tell them it's a sin or that you'll pray for their soul. If this is what you believe, that's fine. But now is not the time to tell them that. Right now, they need to feel embraced. They need you to give them the same grace God has given you.
Don't shut them down, or stop them from telling you everything. They've spent a long time trying to muster the courage to tell you this. Please let them get it all out, in their own words and their own way. Even if they tell you things that you don't want to know, please let them do so, for their sake.
Don't ask invasive questions. It's none of your business to ask about the specifics of what people do in the bedroom, or what type of surgeries people will have, or have had. If you want to learn more, do some research of your own--otherwise, wait until they volunteer information. Asking invasive questions just makes people feel uncomfortable.
Don't "out" them to other people, after they've come out to you. This is their story to tell, not yours. Even if you're dying to share this news with someone, please respect their privacy. They trusted you to keep their confidence.
- Listen to them. James 1:26 says, "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." When a person comes out, it's their moment--not yours. Don't make it all about you, how you feel, or about your opinions. If you have an interest in this person at all, then try to understand their perspective before you form your own.
- Remember that God hasn't called you to judge--God has called you to love. Yes, I know you know what the Bible says. But you are not the Holy Spirit who either convicts people of sin or leads them in righteousness. You are the person this person needs right now, to simply love them and accept them as they are. If there's sin in their life, God will deal with it. That's not your job.
- If you've been supporting them financially, continue to do so. Maybe they're a college student that you've been helping, or they own a business you support with your purchases, or they're a service provider you've been utilizing. You may be tempted to stop your support, thinking that if they receive money from you then you must be condoning their behavior/identity. But what you'll really be communicating is that you hope they starve or get evicted or withdraw from school or just cease to exist. Your money doesn't mean you agree--it means you respect that person as a fellow human being who's worthy of existence. If you disagree with them on this, that's okay. You can still affirm the person financially--your dollars don't mean you confirm your agreement. Remember, 1 Samuel 13:20 says that the Israelites took their garden tools to the Philistines to be sharpened--this doesn't mean they condoned something they didn't believe in. It does mean that they didn't believe in boycotting everybody who was different from them.
- Call them by the name/pronoun they want you to use. Transgender people call their old name their "dead name," because they feel like the old person they used to be has died, and a new person is born. Please--don't call the person by their dead name or call them by their old gender. This is simply following the Golden Rule, and doing to them what you'd want done to you. Sarai was glad when they started calling her Sarah, and people respected Abram's transition to Abraham. But imagine how Destiny feels when you keep calling her Sam! Calling a person by their preferred name/pronoun shows that you respect them. Even if you don't understand the new pronoun (they, them / sie, zie / hir, zir / hirs, zirs), try to respect them enough to learn it and use it.
- Tell them you're proud of them. You don't have to agree with everything that another person does, in order to be proud of them. Focus on the things that you do admire about that person, the areas where you can see God working in their life. This dear person's whole life isn't encapsulated by their gender identity or sexual orientation--there is so much more to them that you aren't seeing, if all you can focus on is this one thing.