How Can Christian Parents Respond to their Gay Child?
A Hot Topic Requiring Patience and Love
Of all of the trending topics seen in the media today, none is more emotionally charged or controversial than the topic of homosexuality or same sex attraction. Christians are having a difficult time articulating a position that is both biblically faithful and gracious/loving to those with a homosexual identity.
One part of this discussion has to do with parenting.
What should Christian parents do if their son or daughter “comes out” and declares themselves to be gay? How can Christian parents respond to their gay child?
This is a rich question that requires a rich answer. Thankfully, Christians have a rich text that gives us the words and heart of the Creator of the Universe.
Let me give three practical principles that can help Christian parents respond to their gay child.
1. Reject Gay Therapy as an End Goal
Over the past decade or longer, this seems to have been the prevalent Christian parental response for having a gay child. The other option may have been to kick them out of the house, which is horrifying. The goal of “gay therapy” is to reorient the sexual orientation from homosexual feelings to heterosexual feelings.
Sexuality is still praised, as long as it is aimed at the right target. I think there’s a fundamental problem with this strategy from a parenting and theological perspective. This strategy elevates sexuality above the place that God has designed it to be. It also makes the salvation and restoration of this family a change in sexual attraction instead of following Christ.
This was the message of Alan Chambers, formerly of Exodus International as the organization closed its doors. Changing sexual orientation may in fact be possible. Chambers himself and many others have powerful testimonies of a radical change in orientation. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 even alludes to this as a possibility. But, that does not mean it is a one size fits all “treatment.”
Heterosexuality that takes the place of Christ is idolatry too. Parents should not have the goal of converting their child from homosexuality to heterosexuality. They should urge their child to not have an identity rooted in anything else other than Christ.
2. The Gift of Celibacy
“Well, you may ask, If the goal is not to ‘convert’ your child to heterosexuality, then are they just stuck being sexually deprived forever? Isn’t that cruel?” From the world’s perspective, yes. It is cruel. From a biblical perspective, it can be seen as an almost indescribably special spiritual gift. Paul himself, perhaps the greatest missionary in the history of the Christian church carried the spiritual gift of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7). Paul’s life could in no way be characterized in terms of incompletion or regret.
God used him in ways that, by his own admission, he could not have been used if he were married.
Say, for example, the child and parents have prayed that the same sex attraction is taken away by God, but it is not. This is not a failure! There should not be guilt. This could be seen as a tremendous opportunity and quite possibly the bestowment of a precious spiritual gift given to very few.
Parents should celebrate the gift of celibacy in their children to whom it has been given! I know that means that you will have less grandchildren. But your spiritual grandchildren could be uncountable. It is amazing what God can do through a man or woman who will follow Him anywhere.
3. Look to the Savior for Significance
Christianity is a strange religion and way of life for many reasons. In our sex-fueled culture, our sexual ethic doesn’t make sense!! Here’s the thing. We worship a God who became a man, and that man was a virgin. The savior of the world lived on the earth for 33 years and never had sex…and we are called to be like Him. Significance in life doesn’t come through sexual relationships, opposite sex or otherwise. Significance comes through Christ, and Christ alone.
Parents of gay children must point their child here everyday! I am married and I could easily make my wife an idol. I can idolize the feeling I get when she’s around. I can idolize the affection and intimacy we have for each other. Marriage is also a gift, but it is not my significance. Romans 11:36 says that for him and through him and to him are all things. Everything we do is for Him. Our mission is given by Him, to make disciples of all nations. It is here that we find our significance, not in relationships.
Let me close with grace. This is a difficult road that the church has had a hard time articulating. Grace must cover our actions, our words, and our decisions. We must walk in the same grace that God demonstrated when he sent Christ to die on the cross. As a church, we need to extend grace to those parents struggling with this very situation. We also need to extend grace to those children who have been abandoned or abused by their parents or family who have mishandled the situation.
John 1:16 – For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
This is how parents should respond to their gay child; grace upon grace.
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