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How Do You Navigate a Workplace That Supports LGBTQ+?

This week on the podcast, I want to talk to the very many of you who are Christians. You believe what God teaches about biblical sexuality, that is to say, that sex is intended to be enjoyed between one man and one woman in one marriage, for one lifetime, and that any other expression of sexuality is wrong and sinful, including the manifestations of sexuality represented by the panorama of LGBTQ+. I want to speak to those of you who have those biblical convictions about sexuality and who are living in a culture that does not share those convictions. By the way, if you haven’t gotten the memo, that’s the culture you’re living in right now. I want to talk to those of you who are in a workplace where you are aware that as a Christian with biblical and traditional views of sexuality, you don’t fit. I want to talk to you if, in particular, you are aware that that may be more than not fitting. You are being punished or isolated or made to feel less than or uncomfortable because of your embrace of biblical sexual values.

These tensions are very difficult for us to navigate on a personal level. Sometimes there’s no institutional burden that you’re bearing, no institutional discomfort that you are feeling. But you are working with people who are LGBTQ+ or who are LGBTQ+ affirming. And it creates all sorts of relational tensions as you work with these people who don’t share your biblical and Christian values. But sometimes, it’s more than just personally uncomfortable. Sometimes, there is a real risk. There are employers who are demanding an affirmation of embrace of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, they are mandating this in messages that you are to share and not share and sometimes clothing that you are to wear. I’m talking with people in my church; I’m talking with Christians across the country who are really in fear that if it would come out, that they don’t adopt a full-throated response of affirmation to LGBTQ+, that they’re not going to have their job that their ability to get a promotion is not going to be possible. And these are scary things. Most workers have families who like to eat when they’re hungry. Most workers have this fond delight that when you turn on the light switch, the light actually comes on. All of that takes money, and all of that takes a job. So these are not concerns that are irrelevant. These are scary for some of you. And if you are a person like that, I want to give you three suggestions on the podcast this week for how you could navigate a workplace that celebrates LGBTQ plus when you do not.

What Does the Bible Say?

I want to talk to you about that from the account in John 4 of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well. I love this encounter because Jesus is the incarnation of faithfulness. There is nobody that’s been any more faithful to God in his word than Jesus is. And here he is. He’s not in a place of work, but he is out in the public square, and he is talking with someone who embraces different sexual values than he does. And I love this representation of an interaction of Jesus, the faithful, with a faithless woman who does not embrace biblical truth. There are a couple of lessons that we learn about how to navigate our workplace environments in Jesus’ relationship with the woman at the well.

1. We Need to Be Compassionate 

Here is the first point I want to emphasize. It is that we need to be compassionate. We need to be compassionate. As you are going to a place of work that rejects biblical sexuality and embraces homosexuality or LGBTQ+, one of the first things that you need to do is to remember to be compassionate. There are other things we need to remember; we’re going to talk about those in just a moment. But you need to remember to be compassionate. I want you to notice Jesus’ compassion as he speaks with the woman at the well. This is seen in his willingness to talk to this woman, who, at that time, would have been a societal reject. But one of the ways that you see his compassion is that Jesus offers her something, and John 4:10 says, “Jesus answered, if you knew the gift of God, and who it is, who is saying to you give me a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Jesus is offering this woman a gift; he’s being generous, he’s being compassionate, he’s being gracious. In verse 14, we find out that that gift is not just any drink of water. But this living water is water welling up to eternal life. Jesus is being compassionate by offering this woman a gift that can never fade and never diminish. This is the compassion of Christ. Does he know she’s a sinner? Yes, we’re going to talk about that. Is he honest that she’s a sinner? Yes, we’re going to talk about that. But Jesus is compassionate. You need to be in your place of work. A compassionate man or woman, Jesus in John 13, is going to say they will know your my disciples by your love. You need to be the most compassionate person the LGBTQ+ person that you work with will ever meet. You need to be the kind of person who maybe will say, hey, he does different stuff on Sunday than I do. She embraces different sexual values than I do, but she sure is nice. She sure is compassionate; he sure is kind. You need to be as Jesus was and, as Jesus commands, the most compassionate person the LGBTQ+ people in your work have ever met. But there’s more than compassion.

2. We Need to Have Courage and Conviction 

There’s also courage and conviction. Sometimes we can run to one extreme and say, well, I’m just going to be a compassionate person. And I’m not going to get into all this. And I’m not going to talk about that. And I’m not going, to tell the truth. And that is not an option. Jesus, we read in John 1, is full of grace and truth. The Bible demands that we speak the truth in love. Compassion is not at odds with courage and conviction. Courage and conviction also are not at odds with compassion. And so, as you are a kind and compassionate and loving person, you also need to be a courageous and convictional person. In John 4:16-18, Jesus, with great courage and conviction, identifies the sin of this woman. He says that you are right that you have no husband in verses 17-18. He says, you have five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. He’s confronting her by her telling the truth about her unrighteousness and her unfaithful sexuality. He tells her the truth in 4:21-22 When he says that salvation is from the Jews, he’s talking to a Samaritan who was outside of the Jewish race and who was considered not to be a faithful religious person. And he says, look, salvation doesn’t come from you. It comes from the Jews. It comes from the Jewish lineage that leads up to the Messiah, and in verse 26, he tells her that he is indeed the Messiah. That is, Jesus is honest about who the Messiah is, and he’s honest that it is him. Jesus is honest about sin. He’s honest about biblical faithfulness, and he’s honest about who the Messiah is; this must be true of you. You have got to find a way, even as you’re compassionate, even as you are in a hostile work environment, you have got to find a way that you would be honest about sin. At a bare minimum, what this means is that you cannot affirm the LGBTQ+ lifestyle. You can’t affirm that lifestyle and the language that you use. You can’t affirm that lifestyle in the celebrations in which you participate. You cannot affirm that lifestyle in the clothing that you wear; you cannot do it. If, in your attempt to be compassionate, you failed to be courageous and have conviction and tell a lie. You are not representing Christ. And so, you must be compassionate. Yes. But like Jesus, you also must be courageous and convictional.

3. We Need to Be Careful 

Here’s the last thing I’m going to say. You also need to be careful. You need to be careful. In Proverbs 17:27, the Bible says, “Whoever restrains his words, has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Let me tell you what this doesn’t mean. What Proverbs 17:27 does not mean when it says restraining your words and saying that if you do that, you have knowledge; it doesn’t mean that you fail the courageous and conviction test that I just talked about. It doesn’t mean that you hold off on your conviction. What it means is you don’t have to say everything you know. You don’t have to say everything that is true right now to this person in this context. That is to say that it is not necessary that your faithful courage and conviction require that you go and get yourself fired for disagreeing with your place of work or with people in your work. You can be exhibiting reserve; you can be exhibiting care as you purvey your courage and your conviction.

Let me give you an example of a man I know who did this well. In his place of work, they were going to have a gay pride celebration day where they were going to do that, and everybody was going to be required to wear a t-shirt that expressed that they were in favor of LGBTQ+. As he came to me and talked to me about this, and we developed a plan, they went to his boss. And he said, listen, I’m a Christian. I love the Lord Jesus, I believe in the Bible, and I don’t want to embrace LGBTQ+, and indeed, I can’t wear this t-shirt that you are asking me to wear, and I am asking you to please not make me say something that I can’t say. The conversation ensued. But the long and the short of it, his boss said that was fine. Don’t wear the t-shirt. Listen, that is not the way every one of those conversations is going to go. Some of them might be more unpleasant, but the man did what was required of him to do. He was compassionate. He was courageous and convictional. And he was careful. And he was able to trust the Lord with the rest, and the Lord did protect him in that instance. My point is that you need to be compassionate, you need to be courageous, and convictional, and you also can be careful. You need to be wise and how you speak about these things. These are dark days that we’re living in. Christians are going to lose their jobs on these issues. You need to be willing to lose your job. You don’t need to try to lose your job. Instead, you need to be compassionate. You need to be courageous and convictional, and you need to be careful.