Response: What would you do if your son came out as gay?

The titled question above is an excellent question. It cuts right through all the rhetoric and gets very personal. It is also why many professing Christians squirm uncomfortably and do a piss-poor job of articulating a response worthy of the gospel. It should be the place where Christians are at their finest. The fact that so many are not tells us the Church has become too content to remain at a stone-throwing distance from this critical issue. Nothing less than love and truth are at stake. A small little disclaimer is in order: I am straight, unmarried and not a father. However this question has long appealed to me because I enjoy thought provoking questions that require us as Christians to go beyond our chatty, cliché talking points and get real. I have had conversations with parents on this question before, and I have gleaned some insights along the way. The following is my response if I were a married father being interviewed by a non-Christian who is genuinely concerned for children coming out as gay in a Christian home:

Question: What would you do as Christian parents if your son came out as gay?

Answer: We would tell him we love him, that we adore him, that we would give our life for him and that our love for him would never diminish no matter what path of life he took in life. We would assure him that our love for him would be a constant in his life that would never change. But at the same time we would tell him, as Christian parents, there is a wide range of beliefs, behaviors and paths in life that we cannot support, encourage or celebrate. Not because it goes against our sensibilities or preferences, but because they go against a higher authority we as Christian parents have chosen to submit our lives to.

We live in an age where to simply have a desire is a sufficient reason to justify and pursue the desire. But Christ says the exact opposite. He says we must deny ourselves, deny our desires, pick up our cross and follow him. Now we have to be careful here. Jesus never said or denied that certain desires and urges are real. He knows they are! What he says is that we must not seek to fulfill those desires, preferences or urges if he considers them ultimately destructive to human flourishing and one’s pursuit of God’s holiness.

But this also means any attitude or display of hatred and violence towards the gay community is also off limits for Christians– parents or otherwise. In summary as Christian parents we believe picking up one’s cross and denying ourselves includes everything from denying any urge to hate one’s child because they are gay to denying the urge to overlook or dismiss what the New Testament says about God-ordained sexual contact.

So while we would assure our son of our love, we would also explain to him that we cannot pretend to believe other than we do. We cannot become hypocrites of what we believe to be true simply because we love him— because do so would ultimately be unloving and a lie.

Now if you think that is strange, barbarian, or bigoted let me flip the question around to you. What if your son came home and said he was going to be an extreme right-wing, Bible-thumping, gay-hating, “Christian” televangelist. You might be able to convince yourself you still love your son, but would you offer him your support, encouragement and affirmation. Would you honestly be able to celebrate his life’s direction if it went against your core beliefs? Probably not— but it doesn’t mean you don’t love him.

Agreeing to love and disagreeing in love are not mutually exclusive. Moreover we should not confuse love or agreement with tolerance. Tolerance implies the thing to be tolerated is not something you love or affirm—otherwise you wouldn’t tolerate it, you would agree with it! Sadly the true understanding of tolerance is lost on this youthful, liberal generation where tolerance has become a synonym for agreement and affirmation, at least up until the liberal comes across a belief or attitude they don’t agree with! Then they don’t call for tolerance—they just call you bigoted and intolerant. The self-defeating irony is often lost on them.

*This is just a preliminary response. Specific matters such as what to do if your son wants to bring home their partner to your house would have to be prayerfully considered on a case-by-case basis according to one’s conscience before the Lord. My opinion would be Christian parents cannot condone their loved one’s sexual sin (or any God-dishonoring sin) by knowingly allowing it (as behavior) in their home where Christ is declared to be Lord. Parents should not be caught becoming complicit in any moral compromise for the sake of appearing “loving.” On the other hand it is my opinion that where the Scriptures speak of disfellowshipping believers who are sexually immoral (or greedy swindlers and idolaters) and “having nothing to do with them” (1 Cor. 5:1-12) such an injunction is specifically connected to the fact that the Church is exercising due authority over professing believers who are unrepentant in the congregation. That is to say it is congregation-specific not necessarily family-specific as a means of discipline. Church discipline is meant to protect the Church from the “leaven of sin” spreading and hopefully lead to the restoration of the wayward believer. All of this implies the one being disfellowshipped is not an unbeliever or even a seeker but a professing, unrepentant believer who has broken covenant with others through his sin–including his stubborn disregard of correction prior to disfellowship. 

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About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.
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4 Responses to Response: What would you do if your son came out as gay?

  1. Charles Metzger says:

    Well said, Matt. But it seems to me the real challenge is what do you do if your son comes out as gay and tells you that he’s more Christian than he’s ever been? In other words, what do you do with: “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one” (1 Cor 5:11)?

    • StriderMTB says:

      Thanks for the response and thoughtful question. Admittedly the issue would be more difficult if your son considers his homosexuality to not be in conflict with Christian faith. Firstly self-justification of sin on the basis of “feeling” closer to God is the first sign of deception, and it only goes to demonstrate how far removed this current generation is from a true evaluation of genuine spirituality–which is never on the basis of “feeling closer to God” but rather holiness towards God. Christ didn’t mince words when he said our stated “love for God is a lie” if we do not obey his commandments (Jn. 14:14). Hebrews 12:14 says “Be holy, for without holiness no one can see God.” Of course this does not mean flawless perfection, but rather having a mindset of obedience to “put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, lust…greed” (Col. 3:5).

      Secondly we would need to distinguish homosexual behavior from homosexual orientation. The latter is a state of mind and of itself is not sinful unless acted on. I know an increasing number of wonderful Christians who came to a place of honestly admitting same-sex attraction, but for the sake of the Kingdom, holiness and following Christ, deny themselves in that very sensitive area. I believe they will one day be exalted by the Lord as great in the Kingdom to come for their willingness to deny themselves and carry their cross into the most sensitive part of their humanity for the sake of Christ. Amazing people–truly amazing! The Church should honor their faithfulness when possible.

      As for those that consider themselves our Christian brothers (or sisters) and yet repeatedly engage in same-sex behavior, we have no choice except to consider them deceived and lost. To the degree that they consider themselves “brothers” or “sisters” is to the degree the Church must distance themselves from allowing them to associate with the Church in any way that would affirm them as brothers or sisters in good standing. We cannot send mixed signals. However since 1 Corinthians is specifically addressing matters in the Church and since Paul’s primary concern is proper order and conduct in the Church, the issue would admittedly be more ambiguous in nature as it concerns the actual parents of a son or daughter who considers themselves a “Christian” but refuses to even concede their pursuit of same-sex behavior is sinful. In other words as it relates to the Corinthian passage you cited I think we can and should distinguish between someone in unrepentant rebellion who calls himself your church-going “brother” who still wants to break bread with you in communion and someone who calls himself your “son” because you truly are his father.

      That being said I think a parent would need to draw a line on what activities and behaviors could be allowed “under their roof.” This would involve any issue of self-destructive, sinful behavior. For example if their “Christian” son is sleeping with his girlfriend under their roof, growing pot and selling it out of their home, shooting up heroin, coming home smashed every night, habitually and unashamedly looking at porn (gay or straight), stealing or swindling people out of their money, etc… and does not even want to concede that any of these activities are contrary to his professed belief in Christ– steps would need to be made (I think) to remove any support their son is using to continue their activities unabated. We often call that tough love and I have seen it both work and not work. It often depends on the hardness of the child and how the parents are able to display and reinforce a genuine heart of concern that registers in the heart of the child that “mom and dad are taking these hard measures because they are genuinely concerned for my welfare and ultimately want me to be set free from what they think is destroying my soul.”

  2. Blogmom says:

    Thanks for your article. It confirmed that we responded in the proper way with our gay son. We spent many hours in counseling learning to deal with the fact we have different beliefs on this subject, but the love is never changing. The counseling was not to change our son (only God can do that.) We alked about respecting and loving each other through this. We are in a good place now. We can openly talk to each other about things without getting angry. I have come to understand homosexuality in a whole different way. They way we think things are and the feelings they have are not the same as we see them. I know God expects us to have empathy. Put ourselves in their shoes. We have a support group which we area so thankful for. I have started my own blog with my journey and lessons with my son. I’m not a great writer and only have a few posts at this point, but I am hoping with God’s help I will be able to help others. We need each other in situations that are challenging. Hope you can stop by and check it out.
    http://www.lovetherainbows.com Thanks again for your articles.

  3. StriderMTB says:

    Thanks Blogmom! I appreciate your words. I will definitely check out your site. Shalom to you and your family.

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