Shame. It says, “There is something fundamentally wrong with you.” It is the lie at the very root of our identity. If I did something wrong, I can apologize and make amends. But if I am fundamentally wrong, what hope do I have?
Our greatest need is to be loved, to belong, to be accepted as we are. Shame says the exact opposite – that we do not fit in, are not acceptable as is and, fundamentally, are not lovable. Shame is the fundamental lie that keeps us separate, and it wreaks havoc in self-hatred and self-rejection.
Jesus never shamed anyone, and he never shames us. Neither does he give us permission to shame each other. Brene Brown has done paradigm-shifting work on shame, and one particular finding about men and shame is earth-shattering.
“When looking at the traits associated with masculinity in the US, the researchers identified the following: winning, emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, playboy, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality, and pursuit of status. Understanding these lists and what they mean is critically important to understanding shame…” says Brene Brown.
Isn’t that a shock? “For men,” Brown says, “there’s a cultural message that promotes homophobic cruelty. If you want to be masculine in our culture, it’s not enough to be straight – you must also show an outward disgust for the gay community.”
This is a very serious situation.
Shame has been foisted into various groups throughout history. Minority ethnic groups. Women. Children. LGBTQ. Especially vulnerable today in our highly aggressive culture are teenagers, and parents have a keen responsibility to protect their children from shame, to counter the shame they will face from the outside world, and to help them refrain from inflicting shame themselves.
Our LGBTQ children are in crisis. 25% of homeless LGBTQ youth became homeless on the very day they came out to their parents. 35% are approached by a sex-trafficker within 48 hours of hitting the streets. 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ. 57% of transgender youth without supportive parents attempt suicide. When even one parent is supportive, that number drops to 4%.The non-affirming church has used shame and condemnation and false teaching to drive these kids out of their homes, the churches, and to the streets.
As Kimberly Knight said, “The church is killing its gay children.”
It is indefensible.
And if you claim to follow Jesus this should stop you in your tracks, drive you to your knees, and cause you to open your heart, cry out, and listen for the Spirit of God.
In the face of this, home needs to be a sanctuary for our LGBTQ kids. Teens are the most vulnerable, not only from their own often unexpected self-discoveries, but from the learned disdain for homosexuality they face day after day. Parents cannot always ward off the disdain from without, but they can provide an oasis of life and belonging that makes a world of difference. However unsure you may be about many aspects of this issue, your task of offering support and safety to your teen is undeniable.
As shocked as some parents may be to hear their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, it is important to take care that your reaction never communicates shame, on your part or theirs.
It heaps piles of shame on a situation already challenging in a variety of ways. And it does something Jesus would never do and never told us to do.
I believe that the Bible does not condemn loving, same-sex relationships. But if you believe homosexuality is intrinsically harmful and sinful, I have a question for you: Do you trust God?
If you trust God, then you can just let God handle it.
And think about it… if God does not change your child, why would we think we can or should?
Maybe that is just how God created them… wonderfully, beautifully, imperfectly perfect. Beloved.
Just like you and me.
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