October 11 is national coming out day when individuals are encouraged to tell their family and friends they are LGBTQ. Very few parents assume that one of these announcements could one day be made by their own child. Far too many Christians parents are finding themselves in this place, which is why it is important to be talking about biblical principles regarding marriage, sex, and gender when children are young.
I’m regularly asked by parents whose child has told them that he thinks he is gay and wonder what to do next. Here are a few items to consider if you find yourself in this unexpected place:
- Reaffirm your love for your child and let the child know that nothing will change that fact. Do everything you can to maintain your relationship with the child as relationships are the artery that carry the Gospel. Ignoring your child might make family gatherings easier, but not eternity.
- Ask questions and listen. Try to learn how they arrived at this decision. It will be uncomfortable. If he is willing to share, praise God, and listen.
- Point the child to Jesus. The real problem is not homosexuality or sex or drugs. The real problem is that they don’t see Jesus clearly and treasure him more than sin. Homosexuality is the symptom, Jesus is the only hope. When he sees the goodness and greatness of Jesus, he will find his satisfaction in him not in a Jesus-replacement.
- Don’t act like everything is okay. It isn’t. To pursue homosexuality is to live in active rebellion against God. It is a serious matter and we need to a let a child know that it isn’t God’s best for them. Plead with him more than you rebuke him.
- Invite your child into your home and let them bring their partner. Jesus ate with sinners and you can too. This is not a sign that you accept the choice, but that you love your child. God always invites the prodigal home and you should too.
- Know that the child’s primary motive is happiness. He believes a lie that he will be happy, free, and himself when he pursues sexual desire. Without being preachy you can point out that happiness and freedom is only found in obedience to God. Just because we have a sexual desire, even if it is strong, doesn’t mean it is good or right.
- Gather a group of prayer warriors who will regularly pray for the child and your family. Ask them to pray weekly. Only God can save your son or daughter so commit to fervent prayer.
- Balance grace and truth. Jesus spent time with adulterers, murders, and thieves. He offered them love, but he always called them to leave their life of sin. If the child was raised in a Christian home, he knows what you think, but he is unsure how you will respond. Be gentle in your disappointment. What concerns you isn’t that they are breaking the rules, but that he is destroying himself.
- Initiate communication. God sought us out when we were still sinners and you can do the same. Text, email, and call. Even if there is little response, continue to initiate. An open door, a cup of coffee, and a warm embrace go a long way.
- Learn from the father in Proverbs 5-7. He talks with his son about the blessings and consequences of sexual choices. These talking points may come in handy, but should be used with discernment.
- Don’t expect them to live like Jesus. He isn’t going to act like a Christian. You know he has rejected God’s standards, so don’t expect him to live by yours. Unbelief is the main issue, so point the young person to Jesus.
You likely have a long road ahead so don’t give up. God is your help in time of need. He is your rock and refuge. Find strength in him.