Ministry leader shares tips for Christians ministering to the LGBT community

Preston Sprinkle, a pastor who witnesses to the LGBT community, speaks on an episode of the 'With the Perrys' podcast posted Oct. 11, 2023.
Preston Sprinkle, a pastor who witnesses to the LGBT community, speaks on an episode of the "With the Perrys" podcast posted Oct. 11, 2023. | Screengrab: YouTube/With the Perrys

The leader of a ministry aimed at witnessing to the LGBT community recently sat down with Jackie Hill Perry, who previously identified as a lesbian, to share how the Church can best minister to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. 

Preston Sprinkle, a Biblical scholar and president of The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender, joined Perry and her husband for an episode of the “With The Perrys” podcast released earlier this month.

Sprinkle shared that while he believes that homosexuality is a sinful act that goes against God’s original design for marriage, there needs to be grace and mercy guiding Christians when preaching to the LGBT community. 

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“Oftentimes, we just rely on citing the verses or stating the analytical theological point we agree with and we don't realize we're talking to a really complex human person that oftentimes has a very complex story,” Sprinkle said. 

“We've got our interpretive lenses are just so colored by our experience, our background, our emotions, our hopes, our fears. What we want to believe. And so, I think it's important to consider all those things."

Sprinkle stressed that "we need to get to know who it is we're talking about" and "to be curious about their story and what's going on."

"It doesn't change the content of what we are going to say. But, maybe it might change the shape of how we go about saying it," he added. He noted that Paul, Jesus and other biblical figures understood "the context in which they're in and they present truth in a way that it's contextualized.” 

Sprinkle said Christians need to be aware that there are certain “triggers" that have the potential to make the LGBT community turned off by preaching, noting that "for each person that might be different."

"One trigger that is a real subtle one is simply the word ‘homosexual.’ Instead of ‘gay,’ or even with younger people, sometimes they like the word ‘queer,'” Sprinkle said.  

“If you get up and start talking about how ‘we should love homosexual people’ … anybody who is affirming of same-sex marriage, is gay, maybe younger, they're going to hear that word and there's kind of like, ‘Oh, this person's out of touch.'"

According to Sprinkle, "most people in the community don't use that word" and that it is "usually a word used about them" that is "from an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ perspective."

"I know a lot of people who use that word. They don't mean anything by it, but it's just kind of outdated. It's not what most gay people use to refer to themselves,” he said.  

Sprinkle and the Perrys discussed how, on some occasions, people will engage in a same-sex relationship with another person, and they believe it is permissible if they pursue holiness by not engaging in sex.

In some cases, according to Perry, people in those scenarios will talk about “girl friends,” but not “girlfriends” or a “covenant-friendship-type-of-situation" instead.  

Sprinkle replied by noting that "this is a live conversation within" those who are LGBT-identified but are also "committed to a traditional sexual ethic."

"I want to maintain the sanctity of marriage and not engage in or make any other relationship look like that, mimic it,” Sprinkle said. 

“That clearly is sending a signal in our culture that this is, it's sort of mimicking, mirroring marriage in a way that I think is just, at the very least, unhelpful, it's just like, why do that?”

Sprinkle said that while Jesus never explicitly mentions same-sex relationships, leading some to claim that He would be OK with such unions, He clearly endorses the biblical definition of marriage.  

“​​He actually addresses more clearly than anybody else in the Bible the fundamental question we should be asking, it's because people don't ask that question. They think all this talk about marriage, they just don't think it's relevant. But He clearly said ‘marriage is between a man or woman,’ in Mark 10 and Matthew 19,” Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle stated that "there's not a single positive reference from a Jewish writer 500 years on either side of Jesus that said anything positive about same-sex sexual relationships." 

“When it came to same-sex relationships, there was no debate," he said. "When we look at what Jesus addresses in the Gospels, He's often addressing issues that were debated within Judaism about divorce and Sabbath and this and temple and, and all these things."

"He's not going to preach a sermon talking about something that is just nonexistent in Judaism at that time.”

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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