This past Tuesday was National Coming Out Day of which many celebrated their individuality and chose to come out to friends and family. Maybe you experienced this first hand or maybe not? Regardless, how should the Church respond in this scenario? What’s helpful and what isn’t? Last year, I wrote on 5 Don’ts When Someone Comes Out to You. Today I wanted to share more..
- DO have dialogue
If a friend unexpectedly comes out to you and you’re not prepared, you probably won’t know what to say. That is understandable, but this is one of the worst things that can happen. Silence actually communicates so much to a person and allows the enemy room to lie and condemn a person. Let’s cast off all fear and be willing to have further conversation when this happens.
Every person is unique so no two scenarios will be the same; remember that there isn’t a formula for this. Giving the person room to speak as much as they want is helpful. Receive them as they are in the moment because they may experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Realize that there are two general categories of people that would be coming out to you: a non-Christian who is already in the LGBT Community verses a Christian who is struggling with their sexuality.
If it is a non-Christian, don’t judge them. Thanking them for sharing and asking questions to hear their story is a good thing. You can ask questions like, “When did you come to realize this?,” “How have others responded to you coming out?,” and “What do you think God thinks about this?”. This will help build trust and could open doors for future conversations later on between you two. This will also give you insight and compassion for another that you can carry in prayer.
If it is a Christian that you’re talking to, don’t go into fix-it mode and don’t go quoting scripture. Remember to listen. Clarifying with them about what it means to be gay is helpful as well. Because culture says that being gay is a label and identity, along with a lifestyle that you must accept. But as Christians, we are not of this world and we live according to truth. Our identity is in Christ no matter what desires or our attractions we experience. An older post where I explain some nuances of this can be found here: Who am I?
- DO be vulnerable and honest
You don’t have to know all the right things to say or have all the answers. But do be honest in communicating that and let the person know that you are there for them. It’s not easy for someone to share something like this which is very personal to them; it’s scary! Be real and maybe even reciprocate the gesture by revealing your own struggles and/or something personal. This will build trust and the relationship in a greater way instead of causing someone’s walls to go up. It can also be good to ask if they’ve shared this when anyone else. Because you don’t want to share this information with others if your friend requests you not to.
- DO ask God what your role is
Don’t take this matter lightly but I encourage you to seek the Lord to see what He might be setting up divinely. He just may want to use you in a major way in this friend’s life. Maybe He wants you to help bring truth, understanding, and love in a real way to your friend. Will you walk this journey out with them? But remember that there is a difference between a person that wants help and a person who doesn’t…you approach each very differently.
At the end of the day, after someone has come out to you, it’s good to make an extra effort to comfort the person and thank them for sharing. Be sure to treat them the same so they see and know that them sharing hasn’t changed in a negative way their friendship with you.
LEAVE A COMMENT – SHARE YOUR STORY
Has anyone recently come out to you? How did you respond? If you’ve come out to someone, how did they respond?