How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Same-Sex Family and Friends


Nearly all of us know of someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender- whether a co-worker, neighbor, friend or even a family member.  

And If not— chances are, you soon will.

As the LGBT community continues to grow in number and prominence, the question isn’t whether or not we’ll ever meet someone who identifies as such, but rather, as believers, how will we respond to those in same-sex relationships when we do?

Relating to those of the same-sex can cause all sorts of interesting problems. Learn how to improve your relationship with your same-sex family & friends. #samesex #relationships #problems

How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Same-Sex Family and Friends

My sister first “came out” thirteen years ago.

Her initial announcement casually took place over lunch at a local fast food restaurant, after I naively asked about the rainbow patches that generously adorned her jacket.

To say that I was shocked to hear her announce that she was gay is an understatement.

I was both surprised and confused. How could this be?

We both grew up in the same Christian home, attended the same church, read the same bible, and were taught the same Sunday school lessons.

Admittedly, I didn’t know what to say or how to react, and so I merely did what felt the safest- I changed the subject.

Admittedly, I didn’t know what to say or how to react, and so I merely did what felt the safest- I changed the subject. Click To Tweet

I wonder if you can relate?

A lot of time has passed since that day.

Over the years, I have watched as my sister began openly engaging in same-sex relationships, and eventually started the process of changing her gender, including dressing as a male, changing her name, injecting herself with testosterone, growing facial hair, and finally, the removal of her breasts.

It has been hard.

On the one hand, I want to cry from the rooftops, “please don’t do this!” But on the other hand, my heart beckons me to quietly love.

I have been asked on many occasions, how our family responds to my sister’s choices. My answer is simple: Jesus’ greatest commandment was to love God, and to love one another, even as we love ourselves.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

(Matthew 37-39)

This sounds much easier than it actually is.

In some cases, the gospel seems to be a foggy shade of gray, instead of a stark black and white.

I’ve always known what we are called to do.. love. but practically speaking, I haven’t always known how to.

I’ve always known what we are called to do.. love. but practically speaking, I haven’t always known how to. Click To Tweet

And while I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, and I’ve definitely not always gotten it right, I am happy to share what lessons I’ve learned along the way.  

How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Same-Sex Family and Friends

Love God to Improve Same-Sex Relationships with Friends & Family.

As Christians, it’s important to learn the fine balancing act of loving our neighbor, while remaining steadfast in our convictions and refusal to compromise God’s Word.

Despite what some might say, it IS possible to do both!

Jesus was the epitome of love and truth.

Jesus was the epitome of love and truth. Click To Tweet

He was unafraid to be in the presence of sinners, tax collectors, adulterers, and thieves. Quite frankly, I think He rather preferred their company over the religious heretics of His time.

But He was also unafraid to call it like it is. Dispelling lies, calling out pride, and overturning tables for the sake of truth.

Now, I’m not suggesting we go overturn some tables and expose today’s “sinners” through the mouth of a megaphone.

Rather I’m simply suggesting that while we embrace our gay-identifying loved ones with open arms, we continue to stand firm on the truth of God’s Word.

We love with infinite grace and stand on absolute truth. Never compromising one for the other.

We love with infinite grace and stand on absolute truth. Never compromising one for the other. Click To Tweet

Relating to those of the same-sex can cause all sorts of interesting problems. Learn how to improve your relationship with your same-sex family & friends. #samesex #relationships #problems

Love One Another to Improve Same-Sex Relationships with Friends & Family.

In my experience, the LGBT community simply wants to be treated like everyone else. They want to be accepted, included, loved and embraced.

No different from the rest of us.

A common struggle for many, but especially among Christian circles, is our tendency to see our gay and lesbian friends as a label, rather than an individual.

This is destructive.

Labels limit the way we see others. It makes us blind and causes us to overlook the totality of a person.

How would it make you feel if every time you got together with friends, all they saw was a label?

Not very good, right?

It’s important to acknowledge that our gay and lesbian friends are people too.

They experience all the same feelings that we do.

Chances are they’ve experienced a lot more rejection than most.

By removing the labels that create division, and embracing our loved ones as individuals, we can begin the good work of loving well.

By removing the labels that create division, and embracing our loved ones as individuals, we can begin the good work of loving well Click To Tweet.

My sister has been in a relationship with her current partner for a few years now. Over that time, we have grown to love her as our own.

We include the two of them in all of our family holidays, birthdays and celebrations.

They join us on our camping trips and random get-togethers, and family group texts. (Anyone else?)

We’ve even invited them to our home Bible study.

They’ve never attended, but it never hurts to extend an invite.

Bottom line, we want them to know that they are loved and that our doors are always open to them.

We may not always see eye to eye, and our beliefs and lifestyle choices may be different, but that doesn’t have to change how we love.

Loving does not equal condoning.

It’s important to clarify the two.

While condoning the behavior is questionable, It is never wrong to love.

It’s crucial to remember that it’s not our job to save our gay and lesbian family members.

Our job is simply to love like Jesus, allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, and let God do the rest.

Love Yourself to Improve Same-Sex Relationships with Friends & Family.

You won’t always get it right.

None of us do.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, as I have struggled to know what boundaries are appropriate to establish, and what my role as a loving sister and a follower of Christ should be.

I’ve done and said things in the past that I regret.

Chances are, you will too.

The good news is that we are not perfect, nor are we expected to be.

When you make mistakes— and you will— extend yourself grace. Forgive yourself quickly, and if appropriate, ask for forgiveness from the other party.

Willingness to admit when we are wrong shows that we are only human, and it goes a long way toward diminishing our differences and nurturing our similarities.

Bottom Line

Learning how to best love our gay and lesbian friends and family members can be a challenging, complicated, and messy process. But, it’s worth the effort to improve our relationship with same-sex family and friends.

What’s important is that we keep trying. We keep digging in.

  • Keep the dialogue going.
  • Keep listening.
  • And, keep learning.
  • Keep welcoming.
  • Keep loving.

We fling wide open the doors to our hearts and our homes.

We make every effort to show that our gay and lesbian family members are valued and that they are loved.

Trust me— they will see the effort, and appreciate you for it!

We make every effort to show that our gay and lesbian family members are valued and that they are loved. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

My sister and I have not always gotten along.

We’ve both said and done things that have hurt the other person— whether intentionally or not.

But we have also worked hard to find common ground, and mutual respect.

I’ve come to realize that most people know the content of what we believe— but what they need help understanding is the context of what we believe.

Communication goes a long way toward bridging this gap.

Keep the lines of communication open. Be willing to ask questions, and discuss matters that are important to your relationship.

My sister and I may not always be on the same page, theologically, but we are on the same page, relationally.

We strive to treat one another with respect. We do our best to see things from each other’s perspective. And above all, we choose to love one another, regardless!

“A new commandment I give you: love one another.”

(John 13:34)

We strive to treat one another with respect. We do our best to see things from each other’s perspective. And above all, we choose to love one another, regardless! Click To Tweet

Actionable Steps

Love is a verb; an action word.

Here are a few steps that you can take today to start showing love to your gay and lesbian friends and family and improve your relationship.

  • Give acceptance. Help them belong, before they believe.
  • Develop friendship. Invite them to coffee, dinner, events and more.
  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Treat them as a human being, not a project.
  • Engage in conversation. Try to get to know who they are as a person, not just their orientation.
  • Listen well. Listen with the intent to understand, not just respond.
  • Open your doors. Create a welcoming environment in your home.
  • Write a letter. If your relationship has been distant, sometimes writing a letter to break the ice is a good place to start.
  • Show up. Surprise them by being someone they can count on, no matter what.
  • Be patient. Don’t give up. Relationships are worth fighting for.
  • Pray. Pray. And pray some more.

I’d love to hear how this message has impacted you!

Feel free to share your thoughts below.



About the Author:

Rachel Lee headshotRachel Lee is married to her best friend of 21 years and is the mother to their 8 children. Their family makes their home in the beautiful PNW.

Some of her loves include a good book, a hot cup of coffee, exploring the outdoors, spending time with family, and all things turquoise.

Rachel writes at Be Thee Inspired, where her aim is to passionately pursue Jesus while inspiring others along the way.

For regular inspiration, follow Rachel on her social media channels!

Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter



 

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How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Same-Sex Family and Friends

About helloredds@gmail.com

Blessed wife of Randy for over 25 years, mom to two great college students, blogger, women's ministry coach, speaker and author who is amazed by God's grace-

33 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Same-Sex Family and Friends

  1. Melanie thank you for hosting Rachel who shared her heart so openly.
    Rachel, I believe you’ve blessing many by your words and example and I’m grateful that you took this brave step.
    Your reminder to love and pursue truth is much needed in these times.
    Blessings to you and your sister. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this timely message, so desperately needed now. I am currently learning daily how to love and not label. Unconditionally as He does. Not condoning, but loving. Always loving. Praying that through my love they will see His.

  3. Thanks to you both for writing beautifully on a hard topic – so close to home in so many homes. No one likes to be labeled – I suppose a gay person could label me all sorts of ways. I hope it might be loving like Jesus.

  4. His commandment is to love and He has to change people, they still have free will. I always say He created marriage to be between and man and woman, but encourage readers to tell Him anything. He is the one to turn to.

  5. Rachel, thank you for sharing these words. They prove strong and grounded in love. I remember driving through town one day as I spotted a man on the corner. He held a sign blasting gays. I recall thinking what a harsh response it was, one that would never woo a person toward Christ. You’ve offered sound alternatives, ways to love without compromising truth. Amen. #faithonfire

    1. Kristi, isn’t it sad? Why we ever think we’ll woo people to Christ through means of prejudice and hatred, I’ll never understand..
      Christ didn’t behave like that. In fact, He was quite the opposite!
      We’d all do well to learn from Him! <3
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Oh my! This article was so timely for me. My father has been visiting our home for 6 days. He has been in a same sex relationship for over 30 years. For too many years I felt so alone dealing with this as a Christian daughter trying to honor Jesus and my father. So I came to the same conclusion about love after much much prayer and trying to read what little was available many years ago. I worries about my children being confused but they can see that he what he says about Christianity does not line up with what they have learned from us and the Bible. It’s a hugely complicated and personal subject. We have boundaries I really don’t want to cross. I have been struggling with “am I compromising” but i need to pray and when the time or if there is a time to confront the sin, I hope will listen to my Heavenly Father. For now, thank you for acknowledging there will be many missteps in this kind of relationship, both my father and I try to forgive and reconcile. And prayer is so required and powerful. I am so sad about this world but I think God Jesus has overcome!

    1. Tabitha, your words are such confirmation of my own. But it did not come easily. Oh no.. Like you, every decision, every quandary, every boundary, every thought, EVERYTHING was bathed in prayer! Much, much prayer. I simply didn’t know any other way..
      Concern for our children was HUGE! We have had many discussions in our home. In the end, I think all we can do is prayerfully teach our children, and be living examples of our faith. Hopefully that will be enough. I have to constantly trust that God has them!
      As for feeling like you’ve had to go this alone.. I understand that as well. I’ve heard rave reviews about the book, Messy Grace, by Caleb Kaltenbach. The tagline to his book reads, “How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction.”
      I personally cannot wait to get my hands on it! Perhaps it will be beneficial for you too!
      Blessings to you! I appreciate your thoughts here, and my prayers are with you and your family. ((hugs))

  7. This is beautifully written, well seasoned with grace and love. I like how you encourage us to look past labels, and to love the person as Christ loves us.

  8. Rachel, I appreciate you tackling a very hard and confusing topic for us who want to love one another and be true to Truth. In 1 Cor. 5:9-11 Paul differentiated how we treat those of the world and “so called brothers” who live in sin (not just sexual sin by the way, but the greedy and slanderers). He didn’t expect those of the world to act like believers. They wouldn’t have the power to change. Your post is an excellent reminder to love and treat every person with respect. Too often we’ve categorized sins the Bible doesn’t. The hard part for me is Paul saw it as loving (both to the one practicing incest, in this case, and to believers in the church) to separate from the one who knew Jesus and willingly clung to his sin. I heard J. Vernon McGee say sin is like the flu. It’s contagious whereas health isn’t. In the case in 1 Cor., the distance worked. The erring member missed the fellowship of believers and gave up his sin to return to God and the body of Christ. As sin becomes more culturally accepted it becomes increasingly challenging to know how to practice real love.

    1. Debbie, wow! Such great observations! I’ll be honest- I have really struggled with what my response is to be, in this situation. On the one hand, it is good, because it has caused me to return to scripture, time and time again. And seek the heart of the Lord in each new challenge that arises. (of which there have been many).
      I could probably go on and on about this subject. But it has not been easy. Balancing love AND truth is a very difficult thing. And often confusing.
      I have family members who strongly believe that my “love” ought to look slightly different than it does. This has caused me to doubt my own convictions, at times.
      It also is widely disputed in the church. Different pastors have different views on what our response and actions ought to be. Not to mention, well-known christian authors and influencer’s.. Very complex indeed!
      I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts, here! We cannot expect unbelievers to behave as followers of Christ. It simply doesn’t make sense that we would.
      I’ve come to realize that the only way to know real love, is to get closer to the embodiment of love, Himself. <3

      Thank you for this wonderful insight!

    1. Thank you Susan! I have struggled in that department too. Funny thing is my “One Word” for this year is.. love.
      Guess God knew I needed work in this area! 😉

  9. I loved this post, Rachel. I think the best advice is to respect them as a person and not like a “project” and also that it is NOT our responsibility to save them. This is basic, fundamental truth for any relationship that we as Christians have. I believe we are guilty of this far too often, even when the person is not gay or lesbian. Excellent post, written with compassion and I will definitely be sharing!

    1. Thank you, Susan! I do believe you are right— this is basic fundamental truth for ALL relationships!
      I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement!

  10. This advice help lots of people not just the LGBT community! They are so refreshing to read when our country feels and probably is divided in so many ways. If we could learn to treat people who we disagree with or who have different values than us with respect and learn to listen this world would be unrecognizable. Thank you for sharing this story and your heart with us in such a real way.

    1. Angela, thank you for these words. You’re right- it’s not just an important topic among the LGBTQ community, but EVERYWHERE! Satan loves to cause division. And we are often good at letting him. :/
      Learning to lean in with grace and love would go a long way towards building unity.
      Thank you for commenting. 🙂

  11. What a powerful post! I’m so glad you are speaking graciously into this hard subject, Rachel and that Melanie is sharing it in her space. I take the same view and want to love every person, no matter who they are or what they do. Like you’ve said, following Christ’s example by being loving and embracing the person, while not condoning their lifestyle is the only way to strike this tension.

    1. I think so too, Beth. But even THAT is a complex issue.. What does it look like to love like Christ?
      I have several family members who take a different approach to “showing love,” than I do. We respond differently, but all under the basis of love.
      So, who’s right and who’s wrong? It can get so complicated.
      Perhaps the path to follow is an individual one, as we each seek to heed the Holy Spirit’s guidance..
      More thought-provoking questions! 😉

      Thank you for your encouragement, friend. <3

  12. Bravo, Rachel! Your bravery in sharing is inspiring. I know as Jesus followers we don’t always know what to do. But that usually happens when we try to slip into God’s role and do all the fixing and all the saving. He was very clear we have but one role, and that is to love. Thank you for this reminder.

    1. Pam, that is so very true! I’ve tried to play God more times than I can’t count. It never ends well. 😉 Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  13. Rachel, this is articulated so very well. Thank you for reminding us that it is possible to balance love and truth. And you’re right, we will fail often at walking that line but we must keep trying and most importantly … keep loving. Thanks, Melanie for sharing this!

    1. Thank you Deb. It is such a fine balance, and as I stated above, I’ve failed at this numerous times. I’ve probably had more discussions with God about this subject, than any other.. Still a work in progress for sure, but I truly believe if we can make our main motive one of love, then how can we lose? <3

  14. Thank you, Rachel, for a thought-provoking, love-infused post about dealing with family members and friends who’ve chosen a very different lifestyle from our own.
    I believe many will be helped and encouraged by your words.
    Certainly, do appreciate you~
    Melanie

    1. Thank you, Melanie. I truly hope so. It is such a confusing and challenging topic, but one that is SO important. Thank you for giving me space here to share my heart. <3

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