Advice for a Daughter on Same-Sex Relations

From an Anonymous reader:

My daughter is 17 going on 18 and is a senior in high school.  We have raised her in conservative evangelical churches.  Presently she is ambivalent, at best, about what she calls “religion.”

She is now working on a school project in social studies on contemporary issues.  The issue she chose was “gay rights.”  My wife and I, and our church, are “traditional” on the “marriage” question.  Neither my wife nor I have ever been hostile to gay people.  We both have gay friends and colleagues.  We don’t tolerate “gay bashing.”  Nevertheless, we’ve always made clear that as Christians we think “marriage” and “sex” are more than just arbitrary choices — that they are deeply spiritual parts of human nature that we believe should at best be unique to the covenantal relationship of a man and a woman for life.

One of my daughter’s working assumptions for her project is that “religion is against gay rights.”  I told her that I am in favor of full civil rights for gays, but that I’m conflicted on the “marriage” question.  My view, I told her, is that “marriage” is different, and that I think we have to be careful about what policies we adopt concerning marriage.  I agreed with her that many Christians _are_ hostile towards gays as people, but I shared with her some resources that I think show that “religious” people who hold a “traditional” view of marriage are not necessarily “against” gays — particular the book (“Love is an Orientation”) and website of Andrew Marin.

I think most of what I’ve tried to pass along to my daughter went in one ear and out the other.  She’s convinced that “religion is against gay rights,” period, and is strongly in favor of gay marriage.  She herself is straight.

Here is what I’m debating with myself:  should I pass along to her any websites or information from Christian groups that argue in _favor_ of gay marriage, such as this one:

I personally do not agree with the final conclusions of these groups.  I’m sympathetic to their desire to welcome and minister to gay people, and I’m glad there are voices in the broader Church that try to counter the harsh anti-gay rhetoric of the culture wars, but I don’t believe the Church should simply go ahead and marry or ordain sexually active gay people.  In my mind and heart, the issues here are far more complex and difficult than either side of the culture war suggests.  But still, with folks such as Richard Hays, I think the complexity and difficulty favors loving caution, even though I don’t know exactly what that should look like.

My point here isn’t so much to debate the merits of the issue.  Rather, the question is whether to introduce my daughter, who is a bit naive, to the fact that there are substantial “religious” and even “Christian” voices that favor full “gay rights.”  Part of me feels that it would be better for her to find affinity with Christian groups that are gay-affirming than to reject “religion” altogether.  Yet another part of me feels that introducing her to these groups now will tip the scale ineluctably to the “inclusive” view and further away from even considering the more “traditional” view my wife and I believe in.  Of course, she could easily find these groups herself just by Googling, but I don’t think at this point she’s interested enough in “religion” to try putting the two together.

I’m wondering if other folks here have dealt with this sort of generational gap on this issue, and how they’ve handled it?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • BD

    Yes… share those resources. Far more important that she.knows and loves Jesus than that she agree with you on a non-essential issue of our faith. Christianity is a Big Tent and it is important for all of us to recognize and affirm that.

  • phil_style

    My advice would be to encourage your daughter to seek the best grades she can and use the opportunity to hone her critical thinking skills. The fundamental premise “religion is against gay rights” – is clearly and demonstrably wrong. There are religions that promote gay rights of many different kinds. There are religious people who are gay.

    The only statement that can be supported is the following “religions which are against gay rights are against gay rights”, which is tautological.

    Your daughter should be given full access to all of the relevant data required to discuss the premise of the argument. Shielding her from that data will result in poor consideration of the evidence and, if I were the person marking her work, a lower grade than she might otherwise be able to achieve.

  • Dorfl

    I’m to young to have children of my own, but I’d say this:

    Her belief that gay-friendly Christianity does not exist is demonstrably false. By giving her information about gay-friendly churches, you correct that belief. If that causes her to form a different opinion on gay marriage than yours, that’s just too bad.

    If you have to be selective about what information you expose others to, because you’re worried that knowing too much might cause them reach different conclusions than you did, that’s a pretty good sign you’re doing something wrong.

  • Brian

    Hi BD @ post #1 … what is a “non-essential issue”? And who gets to decide? I would argue (from my own Orthodox perspective) that the quintessential issue is our union with Christ and our growth into the likeness of him, our theosis. Anything that hinders that – and I would argue a sexuality that goes against the grain of the Holy Scriptures, 2000 yrs of Christian teaching, and our very own physical design – is in the essential category. To be clear, I’m not just singling out homosexuality here and personally feel like it’s made out to be the bogey-man of sins among some, a charge that might not hold.

    A further comment … I realize this is a Protestant blog forum so I may be met with protests here, but the idea that “Christianity is a Big Tent and it is important for all of us to recognize and affirm that” is disastrous. Christianity has never been a welcome tent for any and all opinions that happen to have the name “Christian option” tagged on them. I’m thinking “sola Scriptura” and the ecclesiastical landscape of Protestantism/evangelicalism rejects this?

  • Prodigal Daughter

    I agree with the other commenters on this thread. There’s something about honestly sharing another point of view when teaching/debating/learning about an issues–that engenders trust, especially when one falls on the other side of that view. She may not come round to your way of thinking now or ever, but she cannot disrespect you for sheltering her and teaching her that there are other points of view. I think having an honest, open intellectual discussion will do far more for your relationship with her and give you an opportunity to share your thinking down the road than you will have if you don’t. And really, what’s the point of all this if not your relationship with her? I say this all respectfully, as a grown daughter who never had that opportunity.

  • Phil Niemi

    A good resource is a church like Church of the Resurrection that is split down the middle on this one. Adam Hamilton did a great sermon in Oct or Nov of last year on the subject. This will be definitive practical theological question of this generation.

  • Kyle J

    I’d strongly suggest both you and your daughter read “Torn” by Justin Lee. Regardless of where you come down on the issue of gay marriage (and the book leaves this question open ended), the book is an outstanding look at the ways in which the church has so often taken the wrong approach in dealing with those who have same sex attractions. At the same time, Lee comes across as seeking reconciliation, not anger (which is fairly remarkable, I think, given his own experiences). Can’t recommend it enough.

    This is no longer an issue the church can push off to the side or pretend that simple scriptural proclamations will suffice for. The practical implications are too evident now. An honest, but loving, dialogue is needed. This book starts that conversation IMO.

  • Chris

    I agree with Kyle J #7 — Justin Lee’s book is a must read for the church.

  • AprilK

    Here’s a third recommendation for the book Torn by Justin Lee.

  • scotmcknight

    Kyle J, Chris, and AprilK, I will begin blogging about that book Friday.

  • Scott Gay

    Can you imagine that there is a marriage that is legal and one that is sacramental. Is it possible for them to not be the same? Can you keep them separate? Gay rights has state implications. Gay rights has implications within the kingdom of God.
    Put this in real life. A couple gets married in a church without a license. Many a church has not near as much problem with them getting a divorce as they do if they are homosexual. But that couple separation has a ton of serious problems legally. And the truth is that if we could put the light of the beatitudes on the divorce, there is much to learn, which is a private matter, although a good open dialogue with one of a listening and discerning spirit could be helpful.
    You will think me off the topic, but this does have to do with our definitions of exclusive, inclusive, and universal. Neal Punt, a Reformed pastor(which I am not), turned my thoughts around in his “A Theology of Inclusivism”. It leads one on to the Gospel in a plural society. Lesslie Newbigin, who wrote a book on the topic, is a beautiful witness to the inescapable tension of the Gospel that both He is the light/everyone who rejects that light goes into darkness and that God’s purpose and plan is to save all. We have methods where we try to relieve the tension, but they are not the correct path.
    There is tension within this issue of gay rights. The “traditional” approach in reality tried to relieve the tension on the side of exclusion. The most liberal approaches don’t keep the tension either. It is my contention that most conservative evangelical churches haven’t considered the meaning, depth, and possibilities of a theology of inclusivism. Neal Punt says that this is more evident in your body language than you are aware. Which is often more influential than words.

  • Tiffany Taylor

    I also recommend Torn by Justin Lee (although I havent got a chance to read it yet I’ve followed the discussions, interviews and reviews about it)

    Further to that the organization Justin works with The Gay Christian Network is also a great resource. They provide a safe place for discussion of the issue that leaves rooms for both views within Christianity (they phrase them Side A and Side B)

    What I appreciate about that network is the ability for people who land on different sides of the issue to still seek unity and work out their faith together in love. Perhaps it’s exactly what she needs so she can see that within Christianity there are a variety of views, but above and beyond that there are also people able to disagree peaceable (a skill sorely lacking in our partisan/culture war times)

  • Abby Norman

    When I was in High School I started dating a Mormon. The smartest thing my Dad ever did was tell me that he trusted me and my judgement then gave me resources on BOTH SIDES. By giving me the agency, he showed me he trusted me and that made me take seriously my own thoughts and decisions. Your daughter can google those resources, ,show her you trust and respect her by giving them to her.

  • Brian E

    I hope you’ve already shared those resources with her for the reasons BD, Prodigal Daughter and Abby have already articulated.

  • dopderbeck

    A number of folks here have commented on trust of the person’s daughter. But what if the person really doesn’t trust her to reach a “reasonable” conclusion? What if the father knows the daughter is doing this particular project, at least in part, “just because she can” — that is, not out of a more emotionally mature desire to explore and understand, but out of an immature desire to poke her parents and her church in the eye? Maybe that immaturity is the result of “bad parenting,” but I dunno. Given the extremes of our culture wars — both within the Church and outside it — it ain’t so easy.

  • adam

    Better that you pass along the resources to her yourself. She’s going to find them anyway, and if it comes from you she may even develop a deeper appreciation for your position, which now seems less entrenched given your critical appreciation of other viewpoints.

  • Grandmother

    I speak as one who is slowly coming to discover the rich rewards of not needing to stake out the right answers anymore – both for myself and for my relationship with my young adult children. Above all else, I’d advise you to keep that door of communication open with your daughter. Do whatever it takes. Listen. A lot. And show good faith in her by sharing whatever information you have. She is old enough. Will she reach the same conclusions you have? Probably not. But then neither have a lot of other people out there. Fear is such a powerful motivator for parents and I don’t think we often recognize it as such. But if we are doing our parenting job right, our kids will resist that and take up their own lives. Of course you want the best for daughter! Of course you want to protect her from harmful influences while her thinking processes are still developing! It’s a hard lesson for any parent to learn – that they can not control their child or manipulate outcomes, no matter how well-intended they are.

    So share that website. And tell her that you want to hear what she’s learning and sincerely mean it! I know from experience that this is much easier said than done. There is a lot of conversation going on out there in the public square of the internet. Frankly, if you want to have any more influence at all, it’s a wonderful opportunity you have to be the one who introduces her to it. Spend some time reading Rachel Held Evans blog and the comments there and perhaps find your own boundaries softening a bit. Invite your daughter read what you’re reading and welcome, rather than fear, this new level of relationship with her.

  • Mike Paddy

    Deftly handled with love and concern showed towards your daughter. My concern is the same that the generalization of certain faith convictions portrays people of faith as intolerant. Fine line. I always think about Jesus and gay/lesbians. He had a rep of being over tolerant of sin when it came to certain groups of sinners. Which was a misconstrued belief. Thank you for your openness. I do not think the answer is simple and I applaud you journey seeking truth in a delicate situation with your family!

  • NateW

    I’ll toss in yet another suggestion to read/share Justin Lee’s book.

  • Joshua

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, and I can only imagine the bind that this has put you and your wife in.

    Have you considered that maybe your response should be to do nothing at all? I don’t mean that callously, and I hope my sincerity comes across as such. As her parents, the love you show her and the lives you lead are the best, most constant demonstrations, of the love and goodness of God. There’s no way around that. She may not understand now, but she’s young and, as you said yourself, naive. Yet she seems obstinate, which means that the more you push, the more she’ll likely pull away.

    If, by giving her the resources you already have given her (ie. “Love is Not an Orientation”), I find it highly unlikely that giving her resources that are contrary to the belief you’re defending and trying to impart to her will be helpful. If it is her desire to (mistakenly) believe that (all, or even most) religious people are against gays, and even hate them, and then you give her resources demonstrating that that is simply not true, and then she ignores it (by not reading it, or by reading it and remaining unaffected by it), and continues to believe as she does, I do not think anything is gained in her spiritual growth by being pushed further down a path that is, at bottom, based on a lie, and an irrational reaction to a belief that is demonstrably false.

    The issue here isn’t what the Bible says, or how what the Bible says ought to be applied to our laws and customs. There may be well-defended reasons for believing that the church ought to lay down on the issue of gay marriage (and, in the interest of full disclosure, I believe it should), but I do not think that is the issue for you as a parent. This issue is your daughter’s attitude toward religious people, which is based on feelings rather than facts. If that is the case, then giving her the resources you’re thinking about will only throw oil on the fire rather than water. You’re trying to reason with something that is, to its core, unreasonable, and I think that is imprudent at best.

    Continue to love her and pray for her during this time. You are not the Holy Spirit in your daughter’s life, but you are still very much an ambassador of Christ, and that will have a much greater impact on her in the long run than anything that she could read in a book or off of a website.

  • Tracy

    I can’t say enough good about this parent. If his daughter looks back and remembers a parent who wrestled with hard things, who was not afraid of information (that’s what we’re talking about, giving her INFORMATION) she will remember that Jesus’ command, “do not fear” was lived out in her household. She’ll be amazed and impressed at the intellectual curioslity that was encouraged in her home, and that her parents kept nothing from her.

    Raising children . . . its a marathon. The important thing is not to get too hung up with the moment you are in now.

  • EricW

    TORN is a good book. I picked up this one yesterday, which looks like it’s worth reading on the subject, even though it’s primarily a critique of official Roman Catholic teachings and is more scholarly and philosophical than TORN:

    Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality by Gareth Moore

    You can read a review here (remove the spaces for the URL):

    h t t p : / /

  • Chris

    I’m a little torn, but I wonder if maybe you should bet her the price of a latte that she can’t prove herself wrong. If she’s not intrinsically motivated to find the answers for herself, then whatever you give her will be regarded with suspicion anyway, but if she has to look, if she has to own her own research, she might convince herself all on her own. As a dad, your job isn’t to provide raw information, your job is to teach her how to learn and how to think critically. It’s not about saying “you’re wrong”, it’s about saying “I don’t believe you.”

  • EricW

    (Resent with second link disabled, hopefully)

    TORN is a good book. I picked up this one yesterday, which looks like it’s worth reading on the subject, even though it’s primarily a critique of official Roman Catholic teachings and is more scholarly and philosophical than TORN:

    Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality by Gareth Moore

    You can read a review here (remove the spaces for the URL):

    h t t p : / / w w w .

  • Steve Sherwood

    I join the chorus of recommendations for Torn, but would like to add to it Love Is An Orientation by Andrew Marin and Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. If she’s an average teenager, the thought of reading three books may not be particularly appealing to her. To me, these three books have been the best, most honest wrestling with issues of homosexuality and faith. Torn and Washed don’t land in the same places, but I’d love to listen to Lee and Hill talk things through.

    It sounds to me like her mind is made up on gay rights as a civil rights issue (as a ton of young people are) and us over 40 folks in the church need to realize that’s not an attitude that’s likely to change. The question I keep hearing is, “I’m GOING TO advocate for gay rights, the question is will I have to leave the church to do it or not?” I wouldn’t force her hand on that!

  • Journey Pastor

    Piling on the advice of #7,8 and 9. I teach religions at college and Torn is my recommended resources for young people like your daughter.

  • Mark

    My two cents: Jesus said we’ll be persecuted and mocked, presumably (among other reasons) b/c people hate what we say/think — even if we’re loving when doing so. Better to let the sharp, scandalous bits of Christianity stick out and offend, because that sharp bits are so often just where the Holy Spirit wants to meet us. Pray that the Holy Spirit opens her eyes to see all that she needs to see.

    Not a few professing Christians who espouse gay rights have very problematic theology. Then there are lots of other Christians who love gay people and hold to an orthodox theological anthropology, w/ all that that means for sexual ethics.

    I say — don’t give her questionable resources (she may adopt the bad theological bits embedded therein, and the 2nd situation may be worse than the first). Bring her around loving Christians. Vineyard’s usu. very good at this.

  • Bob Cornwall

    I would second those persons who suggest reading Torn by Justin Lee — I think it’s a very helpful book, especially for those persons coming at this question from a conservative evangelical perspective. (Here’s a link to my own review of the book: )

    From a more “liberal”/progressive perspective let me suggest the blog offered by my friend Steve Kindle — a retired Disciples pastor who started out among the Churches of Christ.

    I think it is helpful for your daughter to know that on this issue there are a wide variety of perspectives and many of us have moved from a closed stance to an open one and even to an affirming one.

  • Brandon Bishop

    In a recent seminary class, the professor, who has gay Christian friends, said he wishes he could be okay with homosexuality, but his reading of scripture doesn’t allow it. However, he said he believes the church should be loud in exclaiming their approval of gay rights. Even marriage. He thinks this is the best way for us in the church to show the love of God to our neighbors. Love listens and showing love will allow for our message to be heard in a new light.

  • Jon Phillips

    I also would like to recommend reading “Torn.” As Rachel Held Evans said, “It’s a game changer.”

  • Steven S

    I don’t know if is was posted yet since the comments section was too long to take in. But one resource that I believe many people could benefit from reading is the book by Tom Rainer on “the Millenials”. The book helps us to understand this new generation, that I’m even apart of, but struggle to explain what we value and whats important to us. From the book, one of the highest values that Millenials (born from 1980-2000) place are on relationships. Having a background from parents from the era of the legalization of no fault divorce and the ramifications that brought, many Millenials place a high or the highest importance on personal relationships. Text messaging, Facebook and other social media sites are used a lot by this generation to keep in contact. Millenials will offer accept extra week of vacation over a great pay advancement because they can visit family or be with friends. in mnay ways they could be called the family generation, wanting unity and love from family and friends. Now I could go on, but that’s the research from the book.

    What I think partly is the difficulty with your daughter is what calling homosexuality a sin does. It causes separation. And for many of the millenial generation, this is not separation without feelings or a face, it’s calling sin to people who are considered to be people, especially friends, who are believed to be not all that bad. Usually the ideal is that gays/lesbians have feelings too and why shouldn’t they be happy too? These are family members or friends in many cases. Millenials thrive and grow in diversity culturally, racially, etc and this seems to be another “choice” that people make. Why shouldnt they be able to make it? Much of Millenials choosing unity over divisive is understood through the lense of the hurt that it caused their own families or friends, especially in cases of divorce, bullying, etc. Millenials seem especially prone to avoid confrontations and the contraversy over homosexuality seems to make enemies and not lasting relationships.

    If this all is true, and the reason for many’s struggles, then it appears to me the issue isn’t the understanding of what Christianity believes. The issue is that our first love is not for The Lord but for other people. The idol is personal relationships rather than the relationship with God. It is sensible to me that when a person loves The Lord and sees their need for Him then what follows is obedience (whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me [obedience the proof of love]). But the first and greatest must be to love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength with none to compare. She has not yet been made poor in spirit enough to see that all else is vanity and grasping for the wind.

  • Robert

    Chapter 4 in Randal Rauser’s book, You’re Not as Crazy as I Think discusses the difference between teaching others *how* to think and teaching them *what* to think. It resonated with me. See what you think, Scot!

  • Tim

    First of all, I would thoroughly deconstruct your daughter’s working assumption that “religion is against gay rights,” which is an obviously false statement (e.g., some religious groups are “gay-affirming” and even support marriage between same-sex partners). Secondly, I would own up to the fact that the major religious traditions have a negative assessment of homosexual activity but that this doesn’t mean they are “anti-gay;” after all, the whole concept of being gay is thoroughly modern and was unknown to the people who’ve contributed to these traditions until very recently. Finally, I would challenge your daughter to come up with good arguments as to why Christianity, Islam, etc. are incorrect in their negative assessment of homosexual behavior and then critically evaluate those arguments with her, even if she doesn’t come around to your viewpoint the discussion will provide her with more material for her project.

  • Jeff

    I found it interesting that the daughter refuses to talk about the issue with her parents. I think what would first help is knowing what motivates her daughter to open up. I have used it many times, but I personally recommend to find out what your childrens’ passions are, and then you will find it a lot easier to communicate.

    But in my experience many times the reasons why young people are so set on believing that homosexuality is ok is because many people feel like they were born that way. Yet many are born with a genetic disposition for polygamy acording to and also alcoholism but that does not mean they should pursue those things.

    The other main reason why some believe it is ok is because love should not be restricted. But it should be if the two were siblings, or multiple partners as most would say is reasonable.

    So both these reasons do not fly too well if one were to open it up to this kind of criticism

  • Frank

    Definitely give her the resources. If she looks at them in an intellectually and theologically honest way she will come to the conclusion that God does not condone or bless homosexual behavior in any form.

  • jon

    At this stage in her life, your (the parents’) job is to help her find her own belief. You are launching her into adulthood, afterall. Lovingly discuss what you believe and why, and let her make her own choice. If you think seeing pro-gay marriage Christian thought would help her make her choice, then show them to her. If giving her the info would drive her away from you and the church, her mind is already made up, and it won’t help anything to show her a different opinion.

    Whatever you choose, show love as you do it.

  • Marty

    A good, Christian resource is the book Torn by Justin Lee. I would recommend that the parents read it first and then give it to their daughter. It describes well how growing up gay in a church setting can cause one to feel torn. Andrew Marin endorsed the book too.

    As a gay man and a Christian, I agree with the notion that “[sex and marriage] are deeply spiritual parts of human nature.” It’s just that, for me, the deep love that is developed with another person is someone of the same sex.

    I would argue that the your postion on marriage equality is indeed anti-gay because it uses the state to enforce a rule that only makes sense to those in the church. Having grown up an evangelical Christian, I would also argue that the position of many churches as described here is very damaging to gay youth. We all know that suicide rates for gay youth are much higher than other youth, and they are even higher when you look at gay youth raised in conservative church settings. I made it through my youth, but thoughts of suicide were in my head every day as I felt so much shame for who I was. It was only after I realized that what I had been taught about being gay was wrong that I came to a state of healthy self acceptance.

  • Jeremy

    It sounds to me like she’s already settled on a conclusion regarding homosexuality and if that changes it won’t likely be because of any material you do or don’t present to her. So, she can either believe this while thinking that she has the universal opposition of the church or she can believe it knowing that there are many genuine believers who agree with her (for better or worse). For my daughters, I’d much prefer the latter, but this is a very personal thing that can’t be imposed any more than right beliefs about homosexuality.

  • Dana Ames

    It sounds to me like the daughter is in the process of differentiation, and this is the subject that she knows will be decisive in that process; that’s why she is maintaining the premise that religion is against gay rights. If it weren’t this issue, it would be something else. A person is not a person unless he/she has the capacity to say “No,” and if differentiation is what is happening here, what she is doing is actually healthy, and safe for her within the sphere of your love for her.

    In terms of the project, what Phil Style said @2. Encourage her to get the best grade she can, using good resources, period.

    We cannot force our kids to believe what we believe, or keep our kids from moving to what seems like a place “further” from God and what we view to be “right.” To attempt to do so is really not love. As Grandmother said, love is the most important thing, at all times. It is possible to love your daughter well, and still hold to what your own conscience says to you; this is sometimes very painful, but it is possible. Perhaps that pain is for a **parent’s** own good in helping us to apprehend something about our own inner state.

    God loves our children even more than we do, and we can trust that God is at work and is never far away.


  • Naomi

    Believe it or not I think your daughter is in the best place possible to learn and grow. You have been open with her about what you think, but she is 17 and has plenty of time to develop a well rounded view of same sex marriage. That being said, don’t be pushy. It’s gonna take more than a school project to solidify her beliefs on this.

  • Gwen Meharg

    We were reading about male and white privilege and the last privilege is not knowing one is privileged.

    Give her the information. It isn’t about you trusting her, it is about her being able to trust you. We (I am 52 and my kids are ages 8, 13, 15, 17, 20 and 23) were raised in an environment where things were more black and white. Answers we were given were easy. The easy answers was never a reality, but a delusion we enjoyed. We can’t enjoy that delusion any longer and we might do well to repent from embracing so fully the easy answers.

    A couple weeks ago my husband and I heard Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman speaking about an at exhibit they collaborated on based on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. During the conversation a phrase was tossed out that hit my husband and I like a ton of bricks. “Lust for certainty.” I think that is why discussions often turns so mean. We are not accustom to uncertainty, lingering questions, the possibility of doubt, the likelihood we don’t have nor can have all the answers.

    I am noticing more room for uncertainty in my older children. I think it might be called faith. Faith is healthy. Certainty is not so much.

    (My 13 and 15 year old are in a logic class in a very conservative/traditional program. I encourage them to research the side of the other. “But Mom, I KNOW WHAT they want me to argue.” Some classmates have cried at the discovery that other believers might take the same scripture and come to a different conclusion. The premise of this program is they will LEARN how to think, but the execution is in actuality teaching them to think along the party line. Our party line has become very mean. Maybe our children, these children, will rediscover mystery and love.)

  • MikeW

    I’d be curious what kind of input the daughter is looking for from her parents. Would she like input, does she want to try out arguing against her parents, would she say she’s decided on the issue – and whatever her answers are – I would want to know why she thinks so. In other words, there’s not enough in the above post about how or why she has come to this perspective. Makes me curious.

  • dopderbeck

    Marty (#37) – did the author of the post say that he / she necessarily opposed the legalization of gay marriage in a civil ceremony? Or did he / she express struggle with that issue?

    IMHO it’s unfair to tag as “anti-gay” anyone who holds a “traditional” view of marriage as a matter of sincere religious conviction. I very much want to hear your pain and understand it. But, can’t there be mutual love and understanding even if some disagreement persists?

    Let me be the first to say that as a more “traditional” person on this I very much worry about the limitations of our situated history. I’ve studied a fair amount about the divisions in the churches around the Civil War. The “traditionalists” who supported African slavery on Biblical and theological grounds were wrong. But I’m not convinced the comparison is entirely apt. Nevertheless, unlike the Southern pro-slavery Christians, I would not advocate succession or civil war if and when gay marriage is legalized nation-wide — something the Supreme Court may well do this year. And yet, here I worry about what this will mean for churches that wish to maintain internal identities with respect to who they will marry in religious ceremonies, ordain as ministers, etc. It is a painful and difficult problem.

  • leslie

    I think the best advice is to LISTEN to your daughter. You don’t have to agree but it’s very important to validate and let her know she is being heard. I have found listening to someone can be better than any book or advice we can give. Most of us don’t know how to truly listen. There are great books on this topic. May want to pick one up.

  • Nathan Willard

    Here’s a link to a discussion between two “evangelicals” from the NPR show On Being with Krista Tippitt. One thing I like about it is that the evangelical against gay marriage is not “against gays”.

  • Rory Tyer

    I have noticed Justin Lee’s “Torn” being recommended; I would highly recommend “Washed and Waiting,” by Wesley Hill. He does the thing that seems most difficult to everybody involved: he admits that he is a gay Christian and does not think reparative therapy, at least for him, is an option (which often makes Christians uncomfortable), but he believes that the Bible’s narrative rightly interpreted points to sex as being intended for expression between a lifelong man-and-woman marriage, and thus believes that he is called to celibacy, and that this will bring him the greatest joy and freedom since it is a decision made along, not against, the grain of the Bible, and such decisions are always for human flourishing.

    I agree with those who have said that it would probably do more damage in the long run to be seen as hiding information from your daughter. I am 25 and will be forever grateful to my parents for always being open to dialoguing / arguing with me when I needed it, and to not seeking to shield me from “the world” but training me in wisdom and resolutely affirming that I would find them ready and waiting if I screwed up. I recommend the same approach, coupled with a heavy dose of prayer and trust in the Spirit’s power.

  • Rory Tyer

    Also, I agree with the other commenter who referenced the way millennials tend to give weight to certain kinds of reasoning (relationship-centered) over others. I do not think this conversation (homosexuality and the Bible) is actually about what the biblical texts say; their interpretation, and the assumptions / mindsets / givens that shaped the various writers on this issue, is fairly straightforward, and it is difficult to reach any other conclusion without engaging in what I would consider questionable hermeneutical moves. I think this discussion isn’t necessarily about interpretation but rather application – supposing the texts say what they do; ought that matter, and how? It sounds like your daughter isn’t necessarily seeking to make Scripture a central part of her reasoning process, and it doesn’t seem that this issue would be the one to help make that happen. Rather I think she needs to come to the conclusion on her own, or through some other avenue, that Scripture matters and ought to be central to the way we think and process and weigh things, and then that will give her fresh lenses for thinking about this issue.

  • Lance

    I began a similar experience with my daughter and had similar beliefs to yours. My beliefs were the ones that changed, genuinely – and one of the nice advantages is that the stress in our relationship disappeared. I decided that in the big scheme of things, my “beliefs” and opinions are no more important than a pimple on an elephant, but my relationship with her is everything. BTW, she’s about to enter a PhD program in religious studies.

  • Joe

    ” And yet, here I worry about what this will mean for churches that wish to maintain internal identities with respect to who they will marry in religious ceremonies, ordain as ministers, etc. It is a painful and difficult problem.”

    I dont appreciate you framing the discussion this way, and its a huge part of the problem. No one has ever advocated forcing Churches to recognize, or perform gay marriages. I have never once heard anyone say that. Never. It would be blatantly unconstitutional, and would NEVER make it through court. I know plenty of gay people who would NEVER support that.

    What you are not realizing, is legally speaking, religious marriage is completely meaningless. If you are married then you remember going to the town clerk and filing for marriage, providing identification, waiting until it is filed and finally signing the license. None of this has anything to do with “tradition” or a religious marriage. Marriages solemnized by ministers are no more official than marriages by a justice of the peace, the Supreme Court, or a local town official. You may argue they are the only official marriage in the Eyes of God, and i would respond Sure! Fine! Whatever! Not Relevant to My Life! Thats for YOU and YOUR church to decide.

    There is absolutely no attempt to change the rules of Christian marriage whatsoever. But to assume that Christian marriage is the only kind of marriage that should be legally recognized is quite shortsighted to say the least (in that case, what of Jewish Marriage? or Islamic Marriage?) In the end, everyone signs the same piece of paper.

    This painful problem doesnt exist. You have created this painful problem to justify attempting to fundamentally deny other people the same rights you enjoy yourself. That IS in fact anti-gay. You are not FOR marriage. That is the default position. Everyone is in favor of marriage. You are specifically AGAINST gay people getting married. That is Anti-Gay, not Pro-Marriage. Im Pro-Marriage and i have no problem with gay marriage. If you are FOR regulations prohibiting gays from getting married, that is Anti-Gay. Or Pro-GayMarriageProhibition if you need to use a “Pro”.

    I wont ever call you a bad person for being Anti-Gay, its not my place and I wouldnt be right. But do not delude yourself for thinking you are anything but.

  • Rob

    This is definitely a big one being played out in lot of christian homes today.. So welcome to the conversation!

    Whatever you do, please don’t make a decision out of fear how your daughter might take up a pro-gay stance but make a decision out of love and sound mind. Fear is cutting a lot of these conversations taking place short.

    1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love hopes for the best and believes for the best. This is not just a nice description of what love is but are instructions written to a church on how to deal with divisions.

  • dopderbeck

    Joe (#49) – you’re incorrect. In England, for example, the argument is precisely over whether the Church of England should be required to perform ceremonies for gay couples. In the U.S., there already have been cases under the employment laws for discrimination against gay teachers in religious schools. You are right that there is absurd paranoia about this in some culture war circles. Nevertheless, it is a very live issue.

  • phil_style

    @Dopderbeck “In England, for example, the argument is precisely over whether the Church of England should be required to perform ceremonies for gay couples.”

    Firstly, in the UK it is the geographic place that is licensed for weddings. This is different to many other countries where individuals are licensed. The argument here is whether or not the government can force a gay weeding into a church building. Now, THAT argument has been essentially resolved by the Prime Minister:

    “If there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that does not want to have a gay marriage, it will not – it absolutely must not – be forced to hold it,” David Cameron.

    The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church would be legally protected from being forced to host ceremonies against their wishes under the government’s plans for reform.

    It is only the media who keep trying to whip up this “concern”.

  • linda

    hi scot.

    i’ve sent you an email to pass on to the poster as i believe God showed me something about this situation with his daughter. just posting here so you know in case i don’t have your correct email. thanks.

  • KJ

    I recently was at a large conference where I heard the testimony of a man named Christopher Yuan. His story is one that not only is amazing, but brings forth truth of God’s character as Father and King in this culture war. His website with clips of his testimony can be found here: