My PlanDear Friend,
We are thrilled you plan to reach out to your relative. Here are the best recommendations based on the most relevant research for your upcoming conversation with him.
- Alert a close friend that you plan to have the conversation; make sure this friend is available to offer support after the conversation.
- Speak in your own loving voice.
- Make it clear you welcome an open and honest conversation.
- Be patient; change takes place over time.
Common points of view
The primary reasons your relative might offer for why he does not support LGBT equality are that he believes:
- Being LGBT is a choice. Church and state should not condone immoral choices like this. Source
- Homosexual relationships are different from relationships between a man and a woman. Men and women in heterosexual relationships are focused on love and commitment to one another. Gays and lesbians just care about sex. Source
- The Word of God is inerrant and the Bible is clear on the immorality of homosexuality. Having a relationship with someone of the same sex is a sin. Nothing can change that. Source
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality threatens the family. Source
- Emphasize the core message of the Bible: love your neighbor. Example: "My god is a God of love and compassion…Jesus said nothing about homosexuality at all, but he did talk a lot about love of of neighbor." Source
- Do not allow the conversation to be framed as the religious case against vs. the secular case for LGBT equality. This will not likely lead to a productive conversation. Focus on the moral and social justice aspect of LGBT equality in terms that make the most sense to the specific religious tradition of the person you are trying to move. Source
- Bring up the Golden Rule, which guides many people of faith in their understanding and movement toward ending the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage. Treating others as we would want to be treated includes allowing loving and committed gay couples to marry. Source
- Reassure the person you are speaking with that legalizing marriage for same-sex couples would not ever force any church or clergyperson to perform same-sex marriages. The church is protected by law that separates church and state policy. (For the same reason, no church has to perform interfaith marriages.) Source
- Focus your story on the family, and how important it is to society - and to individuals. Specifically, focus your story on how families and social structures are disturbed when LGBT people are rejected. Source
- Focus on the boundless love of God, for example: "The most important thing Christ taught was that Love is the most important commandment. I believe that God's love knows no limits and that God cares for all of us equally." Source
- Tell stories about conflicted Christians, ideally heterosexual people who are considered moral leaders, who have come to support full dignity and equality for LGBT people. Highlight their journey to acceptance of gay and lesbian people as a spiritual journey. Source
- Stay focused on a clear moral framework, rather than the secular idea of equality. Source
- Don't engage in "proof-texting" (quoting single Bible verses to make a point). Instead focus on broad messages of the Bible, such as love and inclusion, or use Bible verses as part of a story about a spiritual journey toward acceptance of LGBT people. Source
- Make it clear from the start that you want to have an open and honest conversation. Emphasize that you want to have a conversation about where they are now. Source
- Remind the person you are speaking with that, whatever one's views on homosexuality are, ultimately only God can judge people for their actions. It's not for us to lay down judgment on other people. (This is most effective when combined with a framework of God's love or Christ's inclusion.) Source
- Assert the Scriptural fact that God's welcome is all-inclusive. Jesus Christ welcomed everyone into his community, even those who were shunned by society, so everyone should be welcomed to participate fully in the church. Source
- Whenever possible, spell out "lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender," instead of using the acronym LGBT. Even better, refer to the sexual orientation/gender identity of the specific person about whom you're speaking. Source
- Focus on the core Christian tenet that we are all one in Jesus Christ, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and class (Galatians 3:28).
If these recommendations do not work for you, or you can improve upon them, please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will incorporate your experience into our recommendations. Thank you for the work you are doing to effect equality for all.
Please take care and best wishes to you,
The team at the Friends and Family Plan