A Parent’s Crushing Regret About Their LGBTQ+ Child

A Parent’s Crushing Regret About Their LGBTQ+ Child May 12, 2023

One of our most popular YouTube videos is called: A Pastor Looks Up in Tears.  It is about a non-affirming Pastor who is shocked at what he discovers about God, others and himself when he gets to what the Bible calls Heaven.

We connect with Pastors who experience this kind of regret and change – and we have connected with tens of thousands of parents – most of whom come from a non-affirming Christian background, where they have been told, taught, pressured to, and sometimes convinced to reject their LGBTQ+ child… to condemn and shame them, to kick them out of the house, disown them.

Sometimes we say this and people will respond, “That doesn’t really still happen, does it?” Yes, sadly, it does. 25% of all homeless LGBTQ+ youth became homeless the same day they came out to Christian parents. You know the horror stories – I talk about it in my TED talk – so yes, it absolutely happens. We hear from the LGBTQ+ kids, and from their parents, daily.

We want to do a version of that YouTube video here as a blog post – for parents, instead of a pastor.

What happens when the parent who has not fully accepted and affirmed their LGBTQ+ comes face-to-face with God…

Well, your time has finally come. You and your spouse are about to Meet Your Maker, as they say. You’ve made it to the pearly gates after a long and faithful life lived in anticipation of this very moment. You shuffle your feet a bit—why in heaven’s name you should be nervous? After all, you’ve been faithful to your deepest held religious beliefs because nothing has been more important to you than to reap this final reward.

Now, I want you to understand that we hear from countless, literally countless, LGBTQ+ people whose parents have rejected them and cut off from the family. Tragic. These parents are filled with thoughts and feelings they can’t even begin to sort out, but they always frame it as if God is making them “tough-love” their child—i.e., cancel their child—and they have no choice. They present it as if they’ll get a reward for this! They are in fear, abject fear, that God will cancel them—and so they cancel their children. The fear is so deeply conditioned—of anything gay-related—they fear they will in up in hell they if they don’t cut off their children.

I can imagine these parents showing up in heaven to receive their long-awaited reward for their faithfulness. I don’t think things will go as they expect.

“Well, we’re here,” Dad says, “a little shocked to be here, honestly—we didn’t see that car coming—but, anyway, here we are!” 

A Voice says… “Yes, so how did you do there, on earth?” This is the question they’ve been waiting for!

“I think we did pretty well,” Dad says. Then he adds with a chuckle, “I guess You should tell us!”

“How did you do with the people I gave you to love?”

Mom and Dad look thoughtful, then Dad says, “I think… I think we did well. I mean, we tried to help people walk the straight and narrow, and… I feel pretty good about it.” He tried to sound modest, but if there was ever a time to toot your own horn…

“How did you do with your son?”

“Our son?” Mom says. “We loved him really well—we homeschooled him, we took care of all his needs, we taught him all the bible verses. And then he came out gay, so we, well, we told him that’s not okay.”

“Yes, you did. And then?”

“And then what?”

“Exactly. And then… what happened to him?” 

“Um,” she hesitated, “we lost track of him.”

“You lost track of him?” 

“Well, you see,” Dad took over now, “It’s just not natural to be gay. I mean, I don’t have to tell you!” He smiled but quickly stopped. “It’s just weird,” he said under his breath.

“What?” 

Dad looked down.

“How could it be unnatural if it keeps occurring in nature? And you want to talk about weird—have you seen what I’ve created?? Zebra? Duck-billed platypus? Space that infinitely expands—way beyond your conception of it?”

Dad was not smiling. “We couldn’t have him in the house influencing the other children and making them think that he was okay… We wanted them to know it’s not normal to be gay.”

“And who told you that?”

Dad looks confused. “Uh… it’s right there in black-and-white.”

“No, what’s there in black-and-white is to love each other, be kind to each other, treat each other the way you want to be treated—and don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated. That’s what’s in black-and-white. You ignore almost everything in that Book—about love and community and caring for each other—but you’ve added this thing in there now and are using it to hurt people I told you to love.”

Dad and Mom look at each other. “Yes, but you see… we just… we knew it was not okay…”

“So you cut him off from your love?”

“No, no, we still love him!” Mom insisted—if there’s one thing she knew, it’s that she loved her child. No one could tell her otherwise, not even… oh, this was not going well.

“But you wouldn’t go to his wedding, you wouldn’t meet his partner, even though it was so important to him. When he really wanted you, when he needed you, you abandoned him.”

“But, what would people say?” Dad interjected. “I’m a deacon in the church!”

His wife joined in. “And I teach Sunday School! They wouldn’t let me teach if I accepted my gay son! Everyone would hate us!”

“Oh I see. And you wouldn’t like that? For your church community to exclude you, that community you’ve known for years and years—knowing they would disdain you—that wouldn’t feel good, hm?” 

They shook their heads.

“If they said you were no longer welcome in the church, if they no longer welcomed your full participation in the community you raised your kids in—people you considered family—that wouldn’t feel good. Would that feel like love to you?”

Their heads were down.

“Would it?” 

“No,” Dad said, finally.

“So instead of enduring that loss yourself—that rejection that does not feel at all like love, you passed it on to your son. Instead of being a family and protecting your son, instead of standing beside him, you sent him out to endure that rejection alone.”

Both Mom and Dad had tears now.

“What do you think it means to bear one another’s burdens? What do you think it means that ‘Whatever you do for the most vulnerable person, you do for me’?  Do you remember that?”

They nodded.

“This child was an extraordinary gift, the one you prayed for—remember? the one you thanked me for—remember?  I gave you this child, and now you want to give him back? Or throw him away?  Because he isn’t what you had in mind?” 

They were openly weeping. How could they have done this to their son?

“I’ve taken good care of him. He doesn’t know that, because he wants nothing to do with me. Thanks to you and all the pain he’s endured—from you, and from others when you did step in to be there for him—thanks to all the lies he had to listen to every Sunday and in your home—lies about him being unworthy as he is, and that he needed to change—thanks to all of that, he wants nothing to do with me. But he is learning to trust his heart. Learning to trust his heart, to trust the Spirit inside of him. I gave him that beautiful husband of his. They are very happy together. You would have enjoyed the wedding.”

“I am so sorry,” they said over and over, “I am so, so sorry.” 

Many parents reading this did not respond this way. You fully affirm your LGBTQ+ child—sometimes it was right away, sometimes the journey took a little longer. If you need to apologize to, and seek forgiveness from your child for any part of that journey, don’t wait—do it today. Please. They deserve it – you deserve it – the relationship deserves it.

Many of you reading this are LGBTQ+ and you have parents who did NOT accept and affirm you. I am so sorry and I hope we are helping your heart know that their rejection is not about you, and never was, and it’s not about God either—but it is about internalized, fear-based, false religious beliefs.

Mom and Dad, love is not complicated. Jesus’ example is not complicated.

Err on the side of love, and trust God with everything else. You will never regret it.

Connect with us for extensive resources and vibrant supportive community – whoever you are, wherever you are on the journey.  We are honored to walk it with you.   

 

[image from Pixabay]

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