Another excellent question – this one was submitted a few weeks ago – and since, as St. Paul said this past Wednesday: “Now is a very acceptable time”; let’s get right to it. There is, of course, only one way to treat a person – any person: with love. So, there’s the short, simple answer to your question. But, of course, you wouldn’t have asked unless there was more to it. So, let’s look at the more to it.
To love someone means that you desire what’s best for your friend and that you are willing to do something about it. Before we can go any further, we need to make a little correction/clarification as to your question. You don’t have a friend who is gay. You have a friend who experiences same-sex attraction. The first misstatement attempts to talk about what a person is. The second speaks about what a person has. That seemingly little distinction is what makes all the difference.
As St. John Paul II said so beautifully: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.” Just so, a person is not identified by his or her desires or experiences; but rather by God’s love for him or her. Your friend is not gay. Your friend is a beloved of God who also happens to experience certain disordered desires with regard to sexuality.
In loving your friend, always keep that distinction clear. Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies is instructive here. Your friend is obviously not your enemy, but if we are to love even our enemies, then our love for one another is clearly neither tied to, nor dependent upon our agreeing with one another. That means that I can have strong disagreements with someone and still love him. I can disapprove of his behavior and call it wrong and encourage him to do otherwise and refuse to cooperate – all while loving him.
Now, if I didn’t have any friends without disordered desires, I wouldn’t have any friends except Jesus and Mary and the saints in heaven. All the rest of us have disordered desires – desires that tend to lead us into unhealthy, sinful behaviors. It just so happens that one of your friend’s disordered desires has to do with sexual attraction. Ok. So, how can you best love him?
The best thing we can do for anyone – the best way to love someone – is to bring Jesus into our relationship with him. That means caring for him in every way that you can – without participating in or encouraging sinful behavior. Praying for and with him, helping him with life tasks, enjoying his company, letting him know that you’re there for him – all are ways of loving him with Jesus’ love. I would suggest that as the place to start in treating a friend or family member who experiences same-sex attraction, or gender dysphoria, or addictions to any number of things, or cheering for one of those Chicago teams, or any other disordered desire.
I realize that there’s so much more that might be said here, and that what I have said in love about love is so often mislabeled ‘hate speech’ in our current culture, so if you have any further insights or questions about this, please share them on our “Three Parish Catholic Family” Facebook page. Thanks for another great question! And may God bless you and your friend and all your loved ones.