Help! “I Love My Son, But He’s GAY!?!”

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“In all of mankind’s history, there has never been more damage done than by people who ‘thought they were doing the right thing.’ Five cents, please.” – Peanuts’ Lucy Van Pelt

All week we have been reading a letter I received from a father struggling with his son being gay. His struggle is based on what he has heard on Sunday morning for years. That does not make it right. That does not make it the truth.

I know this is new and scary.  But as I wrote on Monday, all you need is an open heart. Let God do the rest.

Let’s continue with the Dad’s letter, Part 4…

“To expound the point, there are also some sins that are so egregious to our God that He lists them as abominations; an affront to His very existence and opposition to His very nature. The old church teachings that ‘sin is sin’ is not in agreeance with scripture.”

Here is my answer to him – and to those struggling with the same issue…

Let’s pause here, because you’ve just pulled a pin on a hand grenade of misunderstanding that Christians regularly lob at LGBTQ individuals. Let’s disarm that thing safely before it destroys any more people. This one is very easy if people are willing to be intellectually honest about it. Abomination means prohibited or unclean, but only prohibited for a time for a people group for a specific purpose. That’s all it means. We must get this very clear in our heads.

How many people have told you that God doesn’t change, so we can’t be messing around with his word, which doesn’t change. But in essence, his word did change. (Stay with me.) The Old Testament calls birds non-kosher, unclean to eat; they are an abomination. Then God tells Peter to eat non-kosher. For the time, birds were prohibited, ritually unclean, for the Jewish people. Then when God brought in the Gentiles, who apparently eat chicken, God said, “Don’t call unclean what I call clean.” So some things are for a time and a season. That is crystal clear.

From our perspective, “God’s word” did change. God’s heart and the overarching message of his word did not.

My friend’s husband let the “s-word” fly when he hit his thumb with a hammer. His young son said to him very seriously, “Daddy! We don’t say ‘SHIP.'” Okay, that’s totally cute! But imagine as an adult that he never says the word SHIP, and he condemns those who do. We would have to wonder what his problem was. Now, the culture will not sustain a ban on saying SHIP, and I’m sure this boy has long since learned the real s-word — thanks to brothers and schoolyards — so no worries.

The church culture, however, does sustain this misunderstanding about abomination, and it’s a bigger misunderstanding than SHIP. Abomination is so loaded with wrong meaning, we’d be better to use the word taboo, which conveys more its temporal, cultural and regional nature. Every time it comes up, we can say, “Abomination only means forbidden or unclean. [Audible sigh.] It doesn’t mean someone’s going to hell. It also applied to intermixed fabrics and eating pork. “Hey, nice cotton/wool sweater, and are you gonna finish that bacon?…

Also, without a doubt, our interpretation of the Bible changes. We know the sun does not revolve around the earth, even though by reading scripture (Psalm 93:1, Joshua 10:13, Ecclesiastes 1:5), it’s pretty clear that it does! It takes a LOT of hubris to imagine that now we’ve got it right!

More from the letter…

“There are some sins that are so entirely antithetical to God and His Holiness, that they cannot be continuously committed or acted upon without penalty on an eternal level. Acting upon and fulfilling homosexual desires and tendencies is one of these sins. I’m concerned this is the fundamental scriptural principle that is missing from your well intentioned writings and posts.”

First, I realize that many religious leaders teach this, but it is not biblical. I could expound on this, but suffice to say: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” No asterisk. I mean, there either is or isn’t condemnation, yes? And this verse says there isn’t.

Second, I appreciate what you are saying on the position about homosexuality as sin. But the truth we cannot ignore is that Scripture is not clear and has been academically researched and challenged at great length. Please, read James V. Brownson’s Bible, Gender, and Sexuality. It is scholarly, exhaustive, and it will illuminate your view of this. Also, Matthew Vines’ new book, God and the Gay Christiandue in May. I’m reading an advanced copy and it is eye-opening.

This view of homosexuality may be the biggest hurdle to understanding how I or anyone else can write what we do without fear. If you knew me personally, and you may discern from my writing, I take what I do very seriously; the last thing I desire is to mislead anyone in their understanding about God. But to call something a sin that is not a sin has destroyed lives, emboldened a majority to marginalize this minority, and driven those so marginalized to self-hatred and suicide.

Some figure we’ll go ahead and condemn homosexuality, just to play it safe. But Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” What?? (And there’s an abomination for you!) That’s an incredibly bold statement!

Apparently, to “play it safe” by adhering to wrong teaching on this is not safe at all — not for those wrongly condemned, and not for those wrongly condemning. Just a look around shows the cost to those who must trample other biblical commands to condemn homosexuality. They are unloving, harsh, and far out of line with Jesus’ attitude. We never see Jesus condemning like this.  The only ones he condemns are those who condemn others.

We as Christians talk about the courage it takes to follow Christ. To stand up against evil, to rescue children from sex trafficking, to trust God with situations where we want to take control. All this requires courage.

It also takes enormous courage to recognize the error in a teaching or a teacher you have trusted for a long time, and for a belief you have internalized.

I challenge anyone who has internalized the belief about homosexuality as a sin, especially a sin that would send someone to hell, to rethink from the ground up, to find scholarly input different from what they currently believe, and then prayerfully, trustingly, dive in.

Ask God to show you his truth, show you his heart, and show you what you don’t yet understand about this LGBTQ issue.

That may take the most courage of all.

The title of my posts this week have included, “I love my son, but…”  Maybe it is time we remove the ‘but’ and make it simple and true and unconditional and life-changing…

“I love my son. Period.”

[A final post about this letter tomorrow.]

 

 

14 thoughts on “Help! “I Love My Son, But He’s GAY!?!”

  1. I suspect father’s have a much bigger issue with their son coming out than mom’s do. I’d put myself in the top 2% of straight men when it comes to support of LGBT rights but I’ve still struggled with my son coming out over the years. I knew from an early age that the chances of my son being gay were much greater than most and that probability only went up as time went on. During the summer before my son entered high school I knew for certain after finding an email he sent to a girlfriend discussing the matter.

    Despite the fact that I would have bet my entire life savings on my son being gay beforehand, I was still taken aback. I was surprised by my feelings at the time. I had known in my heart for years but the final confirmation still caught me off guard.

    My wife and daughter were out of town that weekend and I had an opportunity to discuss with my son one on one. I wanted to convey support out of the gate but needed to compose myself first. I decided to call our priest and friend who is gay seeking some guidance. (We attended a very liberal church so the religious questions about homosexuality were not an issue in our family). In talking to him, I broke down and teared up in revealing that my son was gay. I didn’t quite understand it at first. Here I was talking to the guy who would be most supportive of anyone and I totally lost it. Fortunately, I got it out of my system and was able to have a good conversation with my son and relay my full support for whomever he wants to be.

    I write this today, almost 3 years later as I had the first conversation with my own father about my son this morning. Even though my wife and I have had confirmation for years, we’ve always felt like it wasn’t important or our business to discuss our son’s sexual preference just as our parents never relayed to friends and family that we were straight. I thought I should finally discuss with my dad today as my son’s prom photos with his boyfriend were floating on social media and I didn’t want my dad to feel like he was out of the loop. Well I didn’t have the breakdown I had years ago but I did find myself shaky in my conversation and it was almost as if I was sharing bad news with my father. This was despite Dad being very supportive and telling me he has “known” for many years about my son being gay.

    So after self reflection years ago, I realized why I broke down and again why I was shaky this morning. It wasn’t about my son. It was about me. What would my male friends think? What would my dad think? What would my brother’s think? My father in-law and brother in-law? What about the dream we have from when our kids are born regarding where they will end up? Doesn’t that dream typically consist of your son getting married to the perfect girl and having grandchildren that would carry on the family name? This was about my ego, my sense of machismo and my expectations of who my son would turn out to be.

    It’s a telling lesson though, not just with parents of gay children but all parents. Give our children guidance and love while allowing them to grow into the person that lives to their full potential and not the person that makes us feel best about ourselves.

    So a note to the men out there, this is absolutely a tough issue but get over yourself. Your dream of having the star quarterback probably hasn’t been fulfilled but you can still get out and make some hard blocks for your son that will give him more room to run and live his life to the fullest. Your son needs you.. Support him. Go to bat for him. Make the tough conversations easier for him. Most of all- love him unconditionally. That’s exactly what Jesus would do.

    • {{{Mike}}} <– those are hugs, by the way. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insight. It helps me understand my own father's actions a bit more…even though I am female. Much love to you!

    • Dear Mike, I love what you wrote, every word. You spoke so vulnerably, and it’s exactly right — it’s the father’s issue more than the son’s. I’d like to add to this that the culture, which expects “real men” to be homophobic, puts men in a serious bind. [Read this post for more about that.] But our kids deserve more than acquiescing to a homophobic culture. As you said, we must give them the unconditional love Jesus gives. Thank you for sharing your humble heart. Blessings to you.

      • That’s interesting research Susan but not surprising. All of the traits seen as masculine are focused on one’s self versus others. I think it’s time we redefined what a “real man” is.

        • I totally agree. Wouldn’t it fit a God-outside-the-box to use gender variation to make such a big, cultural change? Even to challenge the gender binary (the black & white of male/female)? Look how he used interracial marriage to challenge the binary of race! Thanks, Mike.

  2. Another nice post, miss! Im still reading through your site(hope you remember me from another post lol)

    My thing is this…I just wanna know the truth, you know? If it is a sin, I want to know how we can help people(saved or not) work through this, and if it is not a sin, I want to know how to help people heal from the years of condemnation and hurt from being told that it is…All I wanna do is help people, and not to condemn, and I think that we should all of this mind set or something close to it.. This topic has been weighing on my heart for a while, and I dont know why…maybe one day it will be revealed to me.

    Kudos!

    • Well, that’s a good way to put this. I know many have prayed for a clearcut answer and have not received one. (It seems if this were a black and white issue, they would have.) Also, many have found peace only after they accepted their own orientation. I agree that our attention needs to be just where you said: to help people heal, not condemn them. I do believe God will continue to reveal what he’s already put on your heart. Kudos to you too, my friend! I’d love to hear what happens for you.

  3. I would ask anyone that is struggling with this particular part of accepting someone that is gay to do four things. First, take what you’ve been taught and told for years and put them in a box. Put that box on a shelf until you have done the next steps. Only by putting those beliefs aside can you even possibly be open to different interpretations and understandings. Second, get a copy of one or both of the books mentioned above, or in the Resources section. Third, pray. Pray earnestly before reading those books that your heart and mind remain open to what God wants you to know. Fourth, study. REALLY study what you read. Consider the context, the history, the people’s culture of the time.

    Once you have done all of the above, go back to that box that holds the beliefs you had before you did a prayerful study. You might be surprised to realize that you can throw those contents out…eventually. It will not happen in a day, or overnight. But you MUST remain open to hearing God’s words to you right now, even if they are different from what you thought you had heard for years.

  4. This is SO well done on every level. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your insights, your experiences, and your sanctified common sense as you give us the tools to unpack the truth, live in freedom, and love our LGBT brothers and sisters.

  5. It took train loads of courage for me to trust God and what I felt in my heart to walk away from the pulpit of a certain faith tradition to go on a journey seeking enlightenment about my “Gay Christian Son” and how it all lined up with my faith, God, and the Holy Bible. It all changed for me and through many tears I was set free to love and extend grace to all in Christ’s name. I leave it all at Christ’s feet now.

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