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February 19, 2015 12:00 pm
NC Family president John Rustin talks with Glenn Stanton, Director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, about his new book, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth.
This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family, and often the studio hears John Rushton, president of the North Carolina family policy Council joining us this week. Profamily policy matters. It is our pleasure to have with us on the show again is director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family and he debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting. Glenn is the author of several books including the ring makes all the difference and secure daughters. Competent sons to be talking with Glenn today about his new book loving my LGBT neighbor being friends in grace and truth which tackles an important question for us today and that is how should we as Christians respond to and interact with the homosexual community. Glenn, thanks so much for being with us again on family policy matters that it's my pleasure well were delighted to have you again and I appreciate so much all the great work that you do at Focus on the Family. Now Glenn I know you been studying issues related to human sexuality for over a decade in your job Focus on the Family what motivated you to write a book on how Christians should reach out and love to our neighbors who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or LGBT as our culture has come to refer to those living in those lifestyles.
Question primarily because this has become such a big issue in our culture. I mean it's it's you know facing so many of us, whether it's within her own family. Our work nicer in your neighborhood or you know it will be in the short time, and second, I just don't really think many of us are really happy or pleased with the way that the church is handling this issue and when I say that I mean reader you completely on one extreme or the other and that that is really been concerning the on one extreme we have you not just absolute denunciation. These people are bad. We don't want anything to do with them or we have just complete uncritical exception. What can we all just get along. Can't we all just you know, forget all these issues and troubles, and you know why this is so contentious. What I want to do is find that middle ground. Jesus told us where the Scriptures told us that Jesus came to us, full of grace and truth and so how do we live it that way. Jesus is in the midst of this issue. Living in the truth of the issue would also be gracious and graceful to the person in front of us that were dealing with writing at the balance that we as Christians absolutely need to get right in this book to to try to help us to well I think it's great that you have tackled this question in this issue because it is it is a challenge and we are being confronted with it on a daily basis. And so it's really important that you have spoken so eloquently to this issue and are provided the kind of counsel that you have now. Glenn, I note your book loving my LGBT neighbor is really predicated on a command given to us by Jesus Christ in the Bible that we as Christians should love our neighbors as ourselves what your perspective does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself as it relates to this particular issue. Well it's interesting that you put the question that way because remember when Jesus said that there was a young man who spoke up and said my neighbor and he wasn't really wanting to know that the fullness of that question was basically trying to get permission not to love those people over there, and Jesus answered them and says you know what the people you do not want to love the most are the people that you should be loving the bows and that's the story of the good Samaritan and that is the issue that we are called to love our neighbor, but within Christianity.
Christ calls us to love our enemies as well.
Soon as Christians have a very big calling and content.
Think about all we need to love our enemies. That means you know, nice to them and and don't be mean to know why it is a radical word. It means to seek them to care for them to look out for what's best for them to turn the other cheek and things like that so that's the question and that's what this book deals with is how do we deal with the issue itself, in uncompromising truth, but thinking with the people involved. On the other side of this issue in uncompromising grace. It really does, not academically comes from the number of friendships that I developed with those people that I engage in this issue and and and you know irritably disagree with as well as you know a number of people that I work with you across the country are using lots and lots of examples of people that are doing this well well and speaking of friendship you write in the book that friendship is not a means to an end, but really and in in itself. Explain what you mean by that and why the distinction is so important, particularly when dealing with individuals living in the LGBT lifestyle. Well you know what we want to say will, of course, you need to be friends with those I save those you know in air quotes. Think of course we need to be friends with those people because how in the world share the gospel don't become friends sharing the gospel is very very important, but it can't be the means to that end, friendship is it is the means to the end. It's it's can't friends somebody in order to do something to make an art project, new people likes to be somebody's project is is that project may be just the gospel be it.
It is worth just being people's friends for being your friend.
And so that's very important for us to understand and then other things will come out of well and I guess it is really goes back to the fundamental circumstances we find ourselves in the God's grace and mercy that he sent his son Jesus Christ to sacrifice himself on our behalf, so that we can enter into a relationship with him. It is so much about the relationship. Again, as you said, it's not a means to an end. It's really the end and of itself is is developing those relationships and that so key and so important in this whole discussion when one of the things I love about the book is that you get into some really practical issues that are facing Christians right now as we live out our daily lives. How are we to respond.
How are we to seek to engage in these relationships and these friendships that were talking about and it is particularly challenging with the national battle raging across the nation over marriage. One question for example is what about a circumstance where there is a same-sex couple that moves into the house next door for parents with kids, especially this could be a concern.
How do you suggest that we handle the situation. How can we be neighborly as you have discussed, but do so without affirming a lifestyle that we do not support and that we believe really violates the tenants of the Bible first tallest understanding and distance is where I comment from the book and that is to understand whomever your neighbor is understand a couple of things about God created them as human beings. God loves Dennis human beings. And just like everybody else in the world, including ourselves.
The how we are painted with a terminal illness calls sin and every one of us are struggling with that and so regardless of who it is that moves in with us next door you know we are loved by God. We are cared for by God created by God but we are all separated hopelessly from God and really rebellious against him and every one of us need the hope and the life that the gospel gives us and without that every one of us are separated, so I like to say okay so how did you put the gay and lesbian neighbor fits perfectly within just like anybody else does. And so the issue is to know if there are nice people if they're not search nice people. You still look like it was much as you can be nice to grandma treat them neighborly surprise them and let them know that we want to be your friends until you give us reason.to one of your friends kids that's different and we dealt with this with our kids.
We have five kids just simply had to explain to them now. Sheila and Joe next door.
They have kind of the different life they don't know Jesus and like a lot of us when we don't know Jesus we choose things that are long and they lived together and we don't approve of that we are called to love them and care for them and that's what were good to try to do and you know you just do it is simply is that and let your kids see do that. Well, one without compromising on the issue is also not compromising when your care and kindness and thoughtfulness to those people think some Christians who have LGBT friends and family members struggle with a little bit of guilt at times.
When it comes to the marriage issue and is the question whether they can really love their LGBT neighbor and also take a public stand against same-sex marriage and this is, where the rubber can read the road in a circumstance like that. We were just speaking of is it possible to oppose same-sex marriage. For example, and still maintain meaningful relationships with our neighbors who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender apps cast the way this issue is defined by our opponents, on the other side creates this understanding that either you accept everything about the and never resist me in any way, or you have to basically be called a hater.
We can walk and chew gum as I say we can disagree on these fundamental issues and still be gracious and kind to each other and I think that that's very important and I'm really seated in my life is a challenge to say okay I am not going to agree with you. I believe that I believe is a Christian and I believe it uncompromisingly, but I am going to demonstrate to you purely and consistently as much as I can that I care for you as a person so that I will in a sense making it impossible for you to hold to yours storyline that I have to completely agree with you in order to really care for you as a person. I think the church needs to demonstrate that yes I can very much disagree with you but I can unconditionally love you in the sense of do anything that I need to do for you as a friend. But again, that doesn't mean that I need to change my convictions.
Whatever issue do we have clear friendship is predicated on complete agreement on a particular issue. I mean, you don't live that way any other world, and we should look that way on this issue and it's unfair for the other side to demand that of us it's unrealistic to point that out. Well I got a great point England before we go I just want to ask you what kind of responses your book received from the LGBT community has been praised, has been criticized hasn't been ridiculed or some of all of the above. No John it is really surprising and this may be hard for some people to kinda wrap your head drink was for me. It is copy the most positive from those in the gay and lesbian community, and they see that I am not compromising that I you know don't given leeway on the D conviction on the issue, but they want to know that even if we don't agree with them that they are indeed love and shows deep deep deep in the human heart. People just want to be involved, and we make some mistakes that well loving them in caring for them means that we have to agree with them. They want to know that they are lovable and spiritually. That's such a big big thing and that is the reaction I'm getting from them is okay I know you don't agree with me but it's very clear that you love me and they're grasping on to that wonderful challenge and invitation for the church to be that kind of person to love the other person while still remaining true to what it is that Scripture teaches letter grades, concluding fault for show this week. Unfortunately, we are out of time. But before we go.
Glenn, I want to ask you where our listeners can go to get a copy of your new book loving my LGBT neighbor they can go to local bookstores around them or the Christian book Distributors CBD or places like Amazon or even by contacting Moody publishers themselves or any of the local bookstores around them and send thank you for being with us on family policy matters and sharing your great insights from your excellent book and for all of your great work at Focus on the Family. We are truly grateful for you and all the focus of my question's family policy matters is information and analysis, future of the North Carolina family policy Council known as weekly discussion on policy issues affecting the family you have questions or comments. 919-0708 visit our website and see family.1