How do you lovingly tell your unsaved friends about their sin (especially their sinful sexual behavior)? Is it better just to spread Christ’s love, and hope they come to desire it as well? What if our friends don’t believe in God?
– From a concerned teenager
This is basically a “Truth & Love” question. Christians are commanded to have both. Now truth and love (contrary to popular opinion) are not mutually exclusive concepts, so it is not a balancing act . . . we need to have 100 percent of both truth and love.
So, how do we discuss the truth about sin with loving “tactics” in mind? Today the word “sin” can often shut conversations down before they really have a chance to begin. This has not always been the case, but laws have been passed north of the border (merely stating that “homosexual behavior is sinful” is now deemed a “hate crime” in Canada) — and some of our fellow Americans have already attempted to pass similar legislation in California — commanding Evangelicals that we cannot use “sin” language when it comes to things related to LGBTQ issues.
This is where apologetics is vital when it comes to evangelism and influencing culture in general. If your friend does not believe in God, then start with the plethora of evidence we have for the existence of God (a.k.a., the “Cumulative Case”) — this includes the historical evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Consider a few arguments to get their feet wet:
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument
The Moral Argument
The Teleological Argument
The Ontological Argument
The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism
The Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism
The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus (The Facts)
The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus (The Explanation)
If God exists and if Christianity is true, then God created humanity on purpose and for a specific purpose. If this is true, then there are objective facts about humanity irrespective of the subjective opinions from humanity. This is what grounds thoughts and actions as objectively good, bad, right, wrong, or evil.
If a person fails to meet his or her objective purpose in life, then they are objectively wrong compared to that purpose. This is another way of saying that one has “missed the mark,” which is another way of saying, “one has sinned.”
So, I like to begin by showing people the evidence for the existence of God, His intent and purpose for creating humanity, and how we can know the objective purpose of life. Once we know the objective purpose of life (via the teachings of Jesus), then we know how we ought to live and what actions we ought to avoid.
This can be made clear without using the word “sin.” Here is an example:
1- God raised Jesus from the dead (we can prove this via the historical method).
2- The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval on the teachings of Jesus.
3- Jesus taught that we ought to follow His teachings (John 14:15, 23).
4- Jesus taught God’s intent and purpose of sexuality (Mark 10:6-8).
5- Therefore, the Law of Christ (teachings of Jesus) is clear that homosexual acts are against God’s intent and purpose of sexuality.
6- Therefore, the Church and all followers of Christ are rationally justified in holding the position that we ought not recognize gay marriage as it is against God’s intent and purpose of sexuality.
1. God raised Jesus from the dead (we can prove this via the historical method).
2. Therefore, Christianity is true.
3. Given multiple and early attestation in the Gospels, we can be certain that Jesus spoke of moral purity (what approximates to God’s intent and purpose of human sexuality) and against sexual immorality (what opposes God’s intent and purpose of human sexuality).
4. Sexual immorality (porneia) referred to all sorts of sexual misconduct (what opposes God’s intent and purpose for human sexuality), such as adultery, incest, having sex with one’s stepmother, same-sex relationships, sex with prostitutes.
5. Therefore, same-sex relationships/marriage opposes God’s intent and purpose for human sexuality and cannot be approved of or facilitated by the Christian Church (those who follow the teachings of Christ).
Sharing truth via logical argumentation is beneficial because it allows Christians to simply deal with facts, evidence, and logic. This tactic helps Christians not to get drawn into emotional brawls. No matter how mad or emotional your friend might become, simply stay calm, go back to the facts, and stay respectful/loving.
A potential drawback, however, is that if one is only focused on logic, then the emotional party might see the one committed to logic as nothing but a “computer” who does not really care about their feelings. Make sure to let them know that you care — cry with them, and take care of their hearts while you show them the truth. I am definitely not perfect at this, but I attempt to always speak truth and love. Check out this example: An Open Letter to My Gay Brother in Christ.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
And as I say, whatever you do…
Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),