In a post at J.D. Greear’s website, pastor Brad Hambrick offers seven points about preaching to people who claim same-sex attraction (SSA). Here are three of them:
“The greatest impact of any sermon is not in the one-hour service with God’s people gathered, but in conversations and applications during the other 167 hours of the week when God’s people scatter. This plays heavily in the recommendations below. It is God’s Word that changes hearts, but especially on sensitive subjects, God’s Word is often most effective in relationships of trust. With that said, here are some points to consider if you are preaching or teaching on homosexuality.
Become friends with someone who experiences SSA first. We should be wary of preaching on a subject if we don’t have a friend who has that experience. If you find that you don’t have a friend who identifies as gay or struggles with SSA, be sure to express additional humility, thoughtfulness and love as you teach.
Your sermon likely will be different if you’ve cried with, or at least been deeply burdened for (Rom. 12:15), a friend who experiences SSA. Having conversations that wrestle with the implications of unwanted SSA, hearing your friend struggle to reconcile his or her faith with this attractions, and helping your friend find a place of authentic connection with his or her church will impact the tone and texture of your sermon.
View your message as something that will open conversations. The best thing your sermon on homosexuality will do is start personal conversations either directly between church members or indirectly as a church member invites someone to listen to your sermon and share their thoughts.
If you assume your sermon will start a conversation with someone who experiences SSA, you are less likely to use strong us-them language, creating a sense of alienation. When your goal is to start a conversation, you will be less prone to speak in a way that implies your message is the final word on the subject and more intentional about raising questions that cultivate a good starting place for relationships to begin.
Be intentional and consistent with language. In Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk, I advocate for using language that differentiates same-sex attraction, gay identity, and homosexual behavior. These differences have been developed by Mark Yarhouse and are helpful in at least two ways: (a) they distinguish the involuntary-unchosen aspects of same sex-attraction from the volitional aspects of embracing a gay identity or engaging in homosexual behaviors, which (b) helps the person who experiences unwanted SSA see that God offers comfort and strength for the journey, as well as forgiveness for sin.
If God is felt to only offer pardon for sin and not comfort for hardship, He is experienced as only Judge and not as Father.” (Read the full article and Brad’s other four points here.)