I have an openly gay family member. My wife and I think when he visits it is only appropriate that he comes alone. We have asked that his partner not accompany him on visits. We believe this is better for our children as it must be confusing for them. Needless to say this decision has caused much controversy within the family and we have been attacked by many family members. Should Christians have limitations with their homosexual family members?
I am no expert on your problem. What I suggest is rather broad and, hopefully, drawn from scriptural principles.
1. First off, recognize that, while homosexual behavior is sinful and the result of God’s curse (Rom. 1:18ff.), it is on one level no different than any other sin, such as adulterous marriage, drunkenness, the use of the Lord’s name in vain. If your family member were practicing any of those other sins you would surely have a right to expect those sins to be controlled by the sinner. You would also have the right to explain your position to them. Therefore,
2. You should have “the talk” with this member, setting the ground rules for their presence in your home. But it is the how that makes all the difference, i.e., how you explain it and in what context. That is what I want to focus on.
It is entirely possible to set up rules with a proud, arrogant and even hateful attitude: You are a homosexual and I don’t want your kind in our home where our children will get to know you and your “friend.” What you communicate with this is that the person is a sinner who is hated by your God and has no hope of pardon or change. I hope this is not how you see it or have behaved. Our society thinks that all Christians hate homosexuals and that is one reason they give for not giving the Gospel a hearing. If that is your attitude, then repent and ask your pastor to counsel you as to what that repentance looks like.
On the other hand, it is mandatory in Christ that you love this person. No, not love their sin or approve of it, but love as Christ loved Jerusalem and wept over her just before he died, knowing they were going to sin against him by executing their Messiah. In your case this starts with studying the Gospel until you are gripped by Christ’s love for sinners and his desire that they come to him for eternal life. He came into the world to seek and to save the lost, and you are one means by which he does that today. Your goal needs to be the salvation of your loved one’s soul and that of his partner. Everything you say should have this goal as its purpose (Eph. 4:29–32).
You mentioned concern for your children. Perhaps you could explain to them that this family member is a lost sinner who needs Jesus and that when he is in the house with his partner they may act differently but they are welcome to come. Teach them what the Bible says about the lifestyle and how it is the result of God’s curse. Teach them to love and pray for them, and pray with them often about these two men that Christ will save them.
I hasten to add that you must make it clear to your family member that he is not welcome to show his affection to his partner in your home. Make it clear that you love them both and want to be welcoming but your convictions won’t allow you to let them behave in a way that is offensive to you and to God. Promise to be kind in every other way.
I close by acknowledging that your situation is extremely difficult, but Christ is a Master of difficult situations. If your explanations cannot make a dent, if your family member is militant about his sin, then, sadly tell him he is not welcome in the home. I hope that is not the result of all of this. Pray with determination that Christ will use you for the salvation of both men’s souls.
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