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What Does the Bible Say About...Associating With Sinners?

My question is whether or not it is right to maintain close ties with someone who would be viewed by the vast majority of Christians as a conscious sinner.

My best friend, well, we always tell people we're soulmates. I can't imagine my life without her, she truly is a fantastic person. However, lately things have been changing.

I had been aware of her bisexuality for some time, and soon I was informed that she was sexually active with a woman. Later, she became sexually active with a man as well. I've been told many times that being "gay" or "bisexual" or a "lesbian" is condemned in the Bible. However, I've done a decent amount of research, and I've realized that neither side of the debate has too much strength. Regardless, she has also been making comments recently, without thinking. One was about the Virgin, it was a blatant disrespectful attack on Mary's virginity.

Now, I'm not catholic, and I'm certainly not the most religious person in the world. I'll be the first to tell you that I'm an imperfect perpetual sinner, however, I believe that Christ is my Savior and my key to the door of eternal life with my Father. All through my childhood, I remember hearing, "If you're a friend to Christ, your friends are too."

Does this mean that she and I shouldn't be friends? Am I supposed to love her as my neighbor, or am I supposed to distance myself from her because of her sexuality and lack of religious sensitivity?

Help! Thanks so much.


I would question your contention that neither side of the gay issue has much strength. At least as far as men performing homosexual acts, the scriptures are very specific that God considers it an abomination. The only scripture that would apply to lesbians might be Romans 1:26-27. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, , leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” Clearly Paul is here saying that homosexual acts by either gender are unnatural. The Old Testament passages, and even Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians specifically talk about men engaging in sexual acts with men.

Be that as it may, that wasn’t your question. Your question deals with our dealings with unbelievers. Some people would quote 2 Corinthians 6:14-17: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” Another might quote 1 Corinthians 15:33, which says “evil companionships corrupt good morals.”

These passages tend to indicate that we should have nothing to do with those in the world around us that do not share our beliefs. Some have taken that to an extreme with the monastic system.

On the other hand, we have passages such as Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.” Jesus also said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) He clearly intended that we be in the world, and associate with those in the world. How else could we teach them about the Messiah?

Peter and Paul both told those who had become Christians but their spouses had not that they should stay with the unbelieving spouse, in the hope of converting them. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” (1 Peter 3:1) “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” (1 Corinthians 7:12-13)

I think the way to reconcile all these scriptures is to say that we must remain in this world, and deal with those in it. We must stand up for our faith. But we must also be careful not to be influenced by those with whom we associate. I think you can, and should, associate with your friend. You should try to be an influence for good upon her. However, if you find that she is influencing you for evil, or if you can no longer deal with her disrespect of your beliefs, you must tell her that you can no longer associate with her, and lovingly tell her why. If she is the friend you say she is, maybe that would open her eyes to how her behavior offends you. That could be a first step toward a meaningful conversation about salvation.