I decided to tag onto my previous post and give my thoughts on what I would do if my son or daughter came out to me as gay.
First of all, this would not have been the first conversation we have had on the subject, nor the last. It won’t be the first because I plan, relying on God’s grace, to lay a proper foundation for any discussion of these issues which includes discussing what God’s word says and talking about the heart issues of idolatry that would be involved. This context is important. If I say nothing to my kids about these things before they talk to me, and simply react negatively to their announcement, then regardless of whether I intend to be reacting in defense of God’s truth, they will perceive only self-righteousness and disapproval. If, on the other hand, we have established the ground work of understanding what God’s word says and what the heart issues are, then we have a framework in which to deal with this issue.
And this won’t be the last because I will recognize that I can’t just say harsh words and force them to “snap out of it.” Whatever the true nature of homosexuality, it is clearly deeply ingrained into a person’s psyche. This will not have been just a whim that they decided to take on impulse that morning. It will probably be something that they have been harboring in their hearts for years. You can’t just brush that aside. In fact my primary motivation won’t even be to force change on them. It will be show them from God’s Word how they’ve chosen to follow the idols of their heart into sin and to plead with them to repent. I will recognize that I cannot force them to change. I can only be a faithful minister of God’s word to them and pray that God will work in their heart. Applying the gospel to this situation will take years of patient administration of the Word of God and of prayer. There will be complex layers of heart issues that will need to be worked through, and there will probably come to light ways that my sin has contributed to the situation, which I will need to repent and seek reconciliation for – which means I’ll have some log removal to do. That needs to be step one.
Secondly, I will remember that the reason they chose to come out to me was to seek my affirmation. What do I mean by that? I mean that keeping this secret from me has created an inner conflict in them that they are seeking to resolve. They are looking to find out how I would react to them telling me they are gay, and hoping that I don’t do the typical, “I have no son,” act. They are testing whether my love truly is unconditional, and need to be affirmed in it.
The most troubling implication of what I’ve been reading lately from conservatives is the rejection of the term “unconditional love.” What’s wrong with that term? It’s as though we’ve accepted the World’s notion that Love requires acceptance and absolute moral approval. Rubbish. Love is a commitment – a choice – to place the other’s needs above your own; to seek the good of the other no matter what. My child will need to know that I love him. She will need to know that my commitment to her is not grounded in my self interest but on the love that God has for me, and that even when they have chosen a path I disapprove of, I will still be their dad. This means that there will be some tough conversations and confrontations, but there will be a marked difference between the response of a self righteous, and embarrassed parent who is attempting to bully change out of his son, and the response of a loving shepherd who is broken that his sheep has gone astray, goes looking for it, brings it back, and binds up its wounds.
I cannot condone his choice, and I will not back down from trying to counsel him with the Word of God. But I will remember at that moment, that he needs to know that I still love him. She needs to know that my love cannot change. How I express that love will change, but the fact that I love her cannot ever change.
My message to my son or daughter would essentially be this: “We’ve talked about this. You know what God’s Word says about this. We’ve discussed the various heart issues that are involved in this decision. You know that I cannot morally approve of this choice. But you are my son, and I love you. I will never stop loving you. You are (growing into) an adult and I cannot force you to choose to honor God. I can only plead with you that you do and counsel you from God’s Word, which I will never stop doing. But this choice is yours to make. I will support you whatever you choose, even while I pray that God would win your heart back with the Gospel.”
My long term prayer and goal would be that God would use me to minister his Word to them and bring them back to repentance.
But my short term goal should be to affirm to them that my love for them is unshakable. It cannot be torn down by anything. It is founded on the solid rock of the Christ’s love for me that has put up with many a sin over these years.