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Dear Susan: Should I Talk to the Pastor About Our Gay Son?

Dear Susan: Should I Talk to the Pastor About Our Gay Son? December 5, 2014

dear-susan_white

You are a Christian, and your child comes out as gay. Where is the first place you turn? Often it is your Pastor.

If your Pastor is not affirming, turning to them when your child comes out could be a tragically bad decision. Imagine following a Bible-wielding Pastor into your home to “talk” (i.e. fix) your precious child!

So many parents feel lost, alone, confused and scared. They feel they have nowhere to turn, no place to even ask questions. That’s why we are here! That’s why the hundreds of Moms and Dads in our private Facebook groups are here. (If you want to learn more about these, just search for Christian Parents of Gay Kids.)

You are NOT alone. We will help you discover God’s heart and truth for your child, and help you unconditionally love, accept and affirm your gay child without feeling like you have sacrificed your faith.

I write Dear Susan posts every Friday. Sometimes they are poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read.

Dear Susan,

My husband and I have always seen signs of our youngest son possibly being gay…..he has even more so seemed to be transgender.

He just turned 12 years old in March and is going into 7th grade. I was going through his Instagram last night and saw that he was “following” a few homosexual people and drag queens. I then checked his text messages and found a text where he said that he told several people that he was gay. He does not know that we saw that. I’m trying to figure out if I should say something to him that I know about the text, or wait for him to say something to us. I don’t want these boys from school going around saying things and possibly leading to a bullying situation at school. Also, he mentioned in one of the text that one of his best friends has been his “boyfriend”. I really don’t want him going over there for sleepovers, etc. and having him explore his sexuality at this young age. We are devout Christians, and not sure whether to seek advice from our pastors.

Scared & Confused

Dear Scared & Confused,

You ask a great question. I believe God is shaking the beliefs of many of us over the issue of how God feels about LGBTQ people! I’m seeing it everywhere. The best thing we can do is to listen.

What is that line of privacy for your child? He clearly wants to come out at least to some people, because living in the closet is cramped and dark and so very alone.

He would benefit greatly to have you on his side – if indeed you are on his side! That is, if you will help him sort it out as an ally. In that case, you can talk about the topic in general, voice your distress of the bullying of LGBTQ kids, express that you appreciate the struggle of coming out in a hostile environment, to give him confidence to  come out to you.

But only if all that’s true.

If you create a truly safe place, and you have his back in every other way, he is likely to come out to you in due time. People need to stretch and breathe deeply, and they need community in which to do that.

But they also need to be safe. If your goal is to change him, or make this all go away, or to contain his “sin,” then do not pretend you are safe to talk to. If that is the case, counseling or a trusted friend might be helpful.

Also, I would encourage you to err on the side of love. There is no reason to not love your child. You may have questions and be very confused. I promise you that answers and peace will come. Your child is perfect in God’s eyes – please see him and treat him and love him that way. Breathe, err on the side of love, and let the answers come.

I can certain connect you with other parents.

That leads to the second question: whether to seek advice from your pastors.

The trouble I have with that is you may be setting yourself up – and your son up – for very harmful, ex-gay therapy behavior-modification. By that I mean, are they going to tell him he is broken and needs to be fixed.

That has led to absolutely horrific consequences including substance abuse, self-harming, and even suicide.

Some pastors will embrace you and your family, and love completely, with no attachment to the behavioral outcome. Other pastors will draw lines and say what your child – or you – can and can’t do based on your child’s behavior or thoughts (whether talking about it in public, acting on it, or simply not “repenting”).

In other words, some pastors are truly open and affirming, with no compulsion to “judge another man’s servant.” Others are very concerned about “drawing a line on, and not condoning sin.”

If you have the former, they might be a helpful ally on this journey. If you have the latter, they will distress you to no end.

If someone cannot give you a yes, then their no is meaningless. If someone cannot allow that God is fine with your son being gay, then their advice to the contrary is meaningless. Remember that Jesus gutted the obvious “no’s” left and right! He gutted behavior-modification. He gutted the religious leaders expectations and requirements.

Here’s our call as Christians – and as parents: we love, we encourage, and we trust God with everything else.

Your call is to love and protect your son! And that includes protecting them from bullying people in the church who label him as “other” or an abomination and tell you and him that he is broken and needs fixed.

I hear in you the desire to protect your son – even though it seems to conflict with being a “devout Christian.” I understand how you feel. That was me at the beginning of my own journey.

But I have come to know the truth of the Bible, of God’s heart, and of the teachings of Jesus. My relationship with God is deeper and richer than it has ever been. The same is available to you.

Your son’s life could be at stake, given bullying, suicide, and all the other dangers to the disenfranchised. Regardless of your convictions, you are called to love completely and without condition.

Bless you for your courage on this long journey! And bless your beautiful son.

Susan


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