I'm having some troubles with my roommate. At first, she seemed to be a kind, respectful person, but then I found out she's lesbian. When I said that she should try to see the light, she acted very offended and didn't realize that I was trying to help her.
Lately, I've been having more problems. I bought her a book about trying to overcome her homosexuality, and she started to yell at me. She got upset when I told her that I was uncomfortable with sharing a room because of her sexuality. When I put up a curtain on my bed so she would understand her boundaries, she called me a "fundamentalist lunatic," "a bigot" and a "nutcase Christian." Worst of all, she has a girlfriend who hates me, too.
I don't know what to do anymore. I've tried to reach out, and I've tried to teach her the error of her ways. All I want to do is teach my roommate how to lead a good, Christian life. Is there any way I can try to help her after all this?
Thank you for writing. In the same way a toothache can disrupt all of life, so too, when your home-life is turbulent, the pain affects every other area of life. This is not a small matter. And I feel for both of you: I suspect you're equally miserable. Nothing less than the Gospel of Christ will help you and your roommate. This is where we must start.
You haven't said whether your roommate claims to be a Christian, nor if you do. You've only told me that at first, she seemed to be kind and respectful. You've said you want to teach her how to lead a good, Christian life. Do you mean you want to show her the Gospel? Or that you want her to practice certain behaviors and not others? This is more than semantics. While external traits say much about the condition of the heart, they are merely evidence of deeper beliefs.
What matters is what you are trusting in, what you and she are believing. Paul writes,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
This is the Gospel. This is of first importance and also what believers need to be reminded of every day. As Milton Vincent writes in his profound little book, The Gospel Primer,
God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.… the Bible tells Christians to be continuously established and steadfast in the gospel and to refuse to be moved from there (Colossians 1:23).
When you believe the Gospel and meditate on it daily, it changes how you feel about the lost, how you feel about yourself, and how you feel about trials. Vincent writes, "The more I rehearse and exult in gospel truths, the more there develops within me a corresponding burden for non-Christians to enter into such blessings." Colossians 3:12 says, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
The Gospel changes your motivation for missions. You stop wanting people to be more like you, and you start wanting them to be like Christ. The Gospel makes you humble. Vincent says, "According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever" (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Gospel gives you perspective in trials. "More than anything else could ever do," writes Vincent, "the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me.… the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials." Here he points to Romans 5:1-5,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
So I would ask you, are you trusting Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Are you daily meditating on the infinite worth of His sacrifice on your behalf? When we recall what it cost Him to forgive us, it is possible to forgive others. And in forgiving others, in walking by the Spirit, in loving those who persecute us, we become the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
If your roommate professes to be a Christian, then you have reason to talk with her about what Scripture says we must leave behind if we are to walk in the new life in Christ. This applies to all sexual sin. It's the way we all walked before "God made us alive together with Christ." Ephesians 2:1-3 says,
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
If you're both believers, this conversation isn't optional (Matthew 18:15-20). But if your roommate does not claim to be a follower of Christ, then your efforts to point her to Christian living are in vain. First Corinthians 2:14 says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." If this is the case and all you are doing is trying to tell her what she should do, you are not really helping her. Only the Spirit can change her heart. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).
In your strength, you will never be able to convince your roommate to walk as a Christian, especially if she isn't one. Only the Holy Spirit can give new birth (John 3:5-8). If she is a professing believer, then as her sister in Christ, you should encourage her to walk in a manner worthy of her calling (Colossians 1:10). But do so with gentleness, keeping watch on yourself lest you too be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
A few practical suggestions:
Talk to your pastor. There's much about your situation you haven't told me; more that you should share with your pastor and if you're in a smaller, regular fellowship or Bible-study group, with your group leader. You need the counsel of other believers who know you well. Ask them for biblical counsel. Pray with them for wisdom (James 1:5-8). Ask them to help you better understand the Gospel and how to share it with unbelievers. Your letter should remind us all of our need to be in the body, to be active members of a biblical local church.
Don't suffer needlessly. Scripture is clear that we will suffer for the Gospel and that such suffering is a blessing. But sometimes we suffer for our own foolishness (1 Peter 4:13-16). This is why it's so essential to have the wise counsel of more mature believers, why we must commit ourselves to studying God's Word and understanding it rightly (2 Timothy 2:15), and why we need to hear the faithful, regular preaching of the Word.
Don't waste your suffering. How are you trusting God in these challenging circumstances? Ask Him to build your faith in the midst of this situation. "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles [unbelievers] honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12).
Read, meditate on and pray through 1 Peter. This book especially will encourage you in your suffering as well as embolden you to share the good news of the Gospel.
Praise God in the midst of this and every challenge. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). This is only possible through the power of the Gospel. The more you fill your mind with the reality of your salvation through Christ, the more grateful you'll be in the midst of any and all circumstances. Vincent writes,
That God, in fact, has given me a cup that is full of "every spiritual blessing in Christ," (Ephesians 1:3) and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.
Glorify God. You do not have to stay in this rooming situation. If you stay, show her Jesus. If you go, show her Jesus. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). How you walk this out matters because it reflects on the God you serve. Ask God to reveal your sin to you. "We all stumble in many ways" (James 3:2). Don't sit in judgment over her, but pray for her. Ask God to fill you with compassion for her.
Read "Does it Matter Who You Live With?" This classic Boundless article says it's good to consider living with other believers. When you live with believers, your home can become an outpost of ministry, a spiritual oasis. But when you share your home with someone who doesn't share your faith, you are setting yourself up for strife. This is true on any number of issues: media use, entertainment choices, decorations, conflict resolution, priorities, and as you've discovered, sexual ethics. The situation wouldn't be all that different if you lived with a roommate who was sexually active outside of marriage and whose boyfriend hated the fact that you tried to maintain a "no sex in the apartment" rule.
May God grant you the wisdom to know what to do, the humility to show grace, the love that proves you are His disciple, and purity of heart without which none of us can see God.
Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.