1. Confess the sins of the Church
You don’t have to apologize for (or abandon) a historic sexual ethic, but we should confess the ways Christians were complicit in hate crimes and propagated ex-gay theology that led millions of LGBT+ people to lose their life or faith.
2. Offer clarity as charity
Obfuscating your theological beliefs hurts LGBT+ people when they learn you’re more conservative/liberal than expected, leading to feelings of betrayal. Instead, speak clearly and publicly about your community’s convictions.
3. Take practical steps now
It is not enough to teach a historic sexual ethic: churches must embody it in ways that lead to good and beautiful thriving for gay people. Seek training so leaders can provide better pastoral care, commit to sharing with every kid about God’s love and wisdom before puberty to prevent the wounds of the closet, and cultivate intentional Christian community in your church where singles can find permanent lived-in family.
4. Raise the bar for straight sexuality
Make sure straight Christians genuinely discern vocational singleness, Christian marriages are faithfully open to the kingdom work of raising children, and married couples take seriously the Bible’s teachings about unbiblical divorce and remarriage. These steps will eliminate discriminatory application of God’s inconvenient wisdom and prevent a victim mentality among LGBT+ people.
5. Help faithful gay Christians thrive
Before doing outreach, make sure gay Christians in your community committed to a historic sexual ethic experience good fruit. Mourn the wounds of the closet with them, offer theological clarity, provide better pastoral care, and help them build permanent lived-in family.
Why would an LGBT+ person ever want to go to a church that affirms a historic sexual ethic? What’s the best way to love gay Christians convinced of a revisionist sexual ethic?
We must offer something compelling: family in the Body of Christ and an opportunity to serve their community better than gay people can find anywhere else. We can apply this question more generally: Why would anyone want to be a part of a church that calls him or her to inconvenient stewardship of any kind? Your church must offer something so compelling and so beautiful that individuals will want to continue to be a part of your church despite other aspects they strongly disagree with.
We must invite them to be a part of a community of believers that is more satisfying than can be found anywhere else and invite them to come on mission with us to redeem the world. We must have a posture of trusting and being patient with the Holy Spirit to reveal what is true to all of us according to His timing. We can continue to nurture a meaningful relationship with people and support them in seeking greater goodness where they’ve asked for help.
In the meantime, we can get busy helping our church offer something truly better! To be frank, if your church isn’t offering anything better to LGBT+ people yet, why would that person ever want to steward his or her sexuality differently? Start by calling straight Christians to meaningful, life-giving, and often inconvenient sexual stewardship and making your church a place where celibate Christians (gay or straight) can find meaningful community.