When Our Daughter Came Out

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Four years ago our daughter came out to us as bi. She was 20. Here’s one of my first thoughts: we’ll never be the same in the church. No kidding. My daughter is telling me something very intimate and scary, several thoughts are going through my head, and I am a little surprised to realize that one is about how the church relationship would never be the same. Not just our then-church but the evangelical tradition we’d been in for 20+ years. They don’t accept gays, and no way are we going to squeeze our daughter into some box so we could fit a church. No. Way.

Frankly, the fact that our relationship to the church was a concern in my mind in that moment indicates a very serious problem with the non-affirming evangelical church tradition. Every time Jesus interacted with people in need, he was a safe and welcoming place. Done. We are supposed to be that for each other. Yet, in this moment of need, I knew the church was not a safe place for me to bring this conversation. Just the conversation was not safe to have with my closest friends there. That is a serious distortion of what the church was supposed to look like.

Our daughter asked if we would accept her. I said yes. She said are you sure? I said of course. Absolutely. My husband said the same – no doubt about it.

As I look back on the conversation now, I get chills. But in the moment, I didn’t grasp the gravity of the question. Of course we would accept her. No other possibility crossed our minds. But she told us this is not always the case. She told us that some of her friends lost their families when they came out. They were kicked out. What? How could that possibly makes sense?

My experience since then shows me this rejection is all too common. One young woman’s psychotic mother threw her down the stairs. A young man’s mother fell on the floor and wailed, “Where did we go wrong?” and his father answered, “When we had him.” This response is a serious breakdown. (Ya think?)

And it reveals something horrifying.

It reveals a lack of understanding of sexual orientation. A lack of understanding that it is who somebody is, not what they do, and not a choice. And nowhere, nowhere, does God or the Bible or common sense condone throwing out your child because they’re gay. By no measurement does that make sense. Period.

It reveals a completely wrong understanding of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. It is a wrong and dangerous teaching that puts behavior first, that makes worthiness up for grabs, something that can be withdrawn on a moment’s notice. It completely undermines Christ’s presence on earth and in our lives today.

That my daughter could think, after all these years, that we could cut off or in any way limit our relationship with her is a chilling indictment of much the church and its teaching. Here’s someone who’s already had their world rocked by discovering and admitting to themselves that they have an LGBTQ orientation. When the Christian parents, and the church, discover that, they throw them out? That makes no sense! ZERO SENSE. And it is the complete opposite of the message of God’s love.

That’s why I’m beyond grateful that God is ushering in a new day and age in the church. Legalism, fundamentalism, literalism – all of it – is on its way out. The next generation will not tolerate it. God is refreshing his message of love to his people.

When you throw all that out, what’s left? Love. Jesus.

As it should be.

23 thoughts on “When Our Daughter Came Out

  1. Your writing is so amazing and heart felt – it is like you are articulating things feelings I have not yet found the words for myself. It is so encouraging to not only see someone speaking out for the LGBT community, but doing so with such conviction rather than being vague or mild. It is a real issue which deserves the kind of urgency that your writing suggests.

    I too came out to my parents when I was 20 and sadly my mum thought her world had ended. It is now year later and we’re still trying our best to reconcile things. Through this time my younger brother has wisely realized the same truth that you speak of: The fact that conversation around LGBT topics is so turbulent in christian circles is highly disconcerting, and a clear sign that something is very wrong. Change is desperately needed.

    I cannot thank you enough for being a voice for that change – a change that will lead to a brighter future for myself and so many others.

    love from your sister in Christ.

    • Oh thank you for such kind words. And you are more than welcome, sister. It is my heart’s blessing to do this work. I love how your brother put it: the turbulence is a sure sign something is very wrong. Exactly. Bless you and your mum – I hope things come together. Even still, loads of pain and lost time. A pity. Bless you and keep the faith!

  2. I have searched for sites where some sort of guidance. My daughter is, to tell you the truth I don’t know what she is. She has relationships with other girls and makes herself to look like a man. I have read on some comments, homosexuality is not in the Bible, yes I know that word is not there. However the act is mentioned and how God turns them over to a reprobate mind. At this point my world is turned upside down. This behavior goes against every thing I have ever been taught and what I read in the Bible. All I do is cry, I don’t have a daughter anymore I have this person in my house that I have no clue who she is or what she is. I weep for her, I see the confusion and the physical and mental problems that have taken its toll. I love her but I can never condone the sin and I don’t know how to separate the two

    • Sweet Mom, I know you’re overwhelmed. So much has been said and taught in error, it’s hard to know where to start to make sense of it. I pray for God to unfold truth for you. Please read through the resources on my site. Ask God personally to reveal what you need to know. The act mentioned for which God turns people over to a reprobate is not homosexuality as we know it — it is about sex with slave boys, and men being in the role of women (unthinkable, given the lowly status of women, who were considered “deformed males”!). No, Romans 1:28 has been completely pulled out of all historical context and used to condemn people wrongly. Please read this post, which I just happened to read before reading your comment! It will at least stop your spinning brain long enough for you to get your bearings. Then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all truth, as he promises. You cannot yet separate your daughter from her behavior, but you will. God will make sense of it, if you will let him. Also, I daresay that he will show you this is not even about behavior but about who she is. I will also personally connect you with a couple of moms who have walked in your shoes. Just pause, let God carry you, and as we read so often throughout the Bible: Fear not! God is with you and will uphold you with his righteous right hand! (Isaiah 41:10) Bless you, beloved, and trust. God will lead. 🙂

    • Dawn, thank you for being willing to share where you are today. As a gay daughter, I would suggest that you simply focus on your child. You have a child that seems to be attracted to females and that has chosen to be open and honest with you about this. The best thing you can do is simply love and embrace your child and to the best of your ability to embrace who your child loves. Showing that you love her unconditionally will bring such healing to both of you. She is yours and NOTHING can change that, except for YOU.

      LOVE your child unconditionally while you sort this out. The answers will come in time. Open your mind and heart and God will show you the way!

  3. Thank you so much for this. Few people in the church are having these conversations and there is an undeniable lack of love and acceptance for others with topics of homosexuality, abortion, adultery, etc. and we are way overdue for this. The most important thing should be the most important and that is love. I truly cannot thank you enough for your authenticity and that sweet reminder that Jesus’ love is perfect and it is for all people. I know he does and will continue to use you for his glory and bringing darkness into the light.

    • You’re welcome, Sweetie. You are so right — it’s the conv we need to have in churches, but it’s scary to them. It feels like stepping out of the boat and into the water. Many people are just not willing to go there. It’s a shame because the God of the universe said he’ll help us! We don’t have to be afraid! Love to you, Justina.

  4. I still see the tears in your eyes as you told me this story. The tears were because of the compassion you have for others. It was very touching then and still is today.

    What I didn’t think to ask then was, do you have any idea why you were able to respond with such love and acceptance immediately given the church environment you were in for so long? Was there something that had happened before that might have prepared you for that moment?

  5. Truly beautiful words spoken…

    For every parent who speaks a word of acceptance and love.

    Ten more are strengthened to do the same.

    The world is being changed, one mother’s heart at a time.

    We have always heard “there would be no wars; if mother’s decided.

    It is so true… Even in culture wars.

    Future generations of our “children” will walk in freedom. Because of the love in parents hearts today.

    Keep speaking out loud via written words to break chains of bondage the Church put people in.

    CHRIST came to set the captive free!!!

  6. Such an uplifting post, Susan! These parents who reject their children…well, how can they even know what LOVE means?! We lost one gay son to aids shortly after a younger son came out to us. Then after the death of the first, our other son informed us he also had AIDS. It never occurred to us to reject either of them BECAUSE we loved them deeply! It’s been a very rocky road, losing one & overcoming the fear of losing another, and even we have learned so much more about love and loving. Our second son is alive & healthy, and such a joy to us, as is his large circle of gay and straight friends. I think that the depth of pain we experience, if we face it & work through it prayerfully, gives us an even deeper capacity to love. Thank you for all you are doing..May God & His deep love for us all continue to strengthen & guide us! God bless you!

  7. I totally agree with your thoughts as well! Our God is a loving God, whether you are black, white, indian, gay, married, or straight! I just hope and pray that the folks I attend church will evidentally feel the same way!

  8. Susan, I don’t think you realize what a miracle you and Robert are. I mean miracle in the best sense of the word … something that is impossible in human effort alone. At the time I would imagine you had no idea how your pure, unconditional love for your daughter would be a starting place for you to usher in and/or introduce people to the true love of Christ. The capacity of your heart and the transparency of your love gives me hope. Thank you.

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