Dear Susan: How Can I Unconditionally Love My Gay Son?


Why is it so hard for many Christian parents to unconditionally love their LGBTQ child? What is the source of the confusion and struggle? I look forward to answering a question I have heard from so many parents: How can I unconditionally love my gay child?

I write Dear Susan posts every Friday. Sometimes they will be poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read.  🙂

Dear Susan,

I’m a Christian mom, and my youngest son came out to me last year…after trying to convince myself and him that he is confused, I have decided to put his fate in God’s hands. However, I’m still having trouble accepting this…do you have any advice? I love my son and we have always had a very close relationship and I don’t want this to drive a wedge between us, but I do not like the person he says he is dating. I feel so confused all the time like if I’m supportive I’m letting God down and sending my son the message that I agree with his choice however if I’m not supportive I’m letting my son down so how is that unconditional love?? Please help if you can.

Concerned Mom

Dear Mom,

I am so glad you are putting your son’s life in God’s hands. After all, that’s where it’s been all along! …but we do live under the illusion that we determine our kids’ fate, don’t we? You are right in your sense that you cannot change this (you can’t), and you’re right to know your disapproval will drive a wedge between the two of you (it will). And your disapproval would likely have a much more negative impact than you even know.

Should you endorse potentially harmful behavior like drugs, promiscuity, crime – of course not! That would true regardless of your child’s orientation. Just remember that orientation is not behavior; it’s nothing they choose nor can they change it. To disapprove of orientation is to disapprove of blue eyes or left-handedness. So you are right that conditional approval of who they are is conditional love.

But are you ‘letting God down’? That is so heavy on people’s hearts as they wrestle with this, because we live in a church-age where we are taught that we are supposed to help other people not sin. Jesus does not teach that.

It’s been so deeply embedded in our churches, which focus on sin-management and behavior-modification, that we somehow feel like God put us on duty and we aren’t going to let any sin happen on our watch! No sirree!

God is the one who works in us, and in our children, about all we do in life. Our job is to trust that and do as Jesus taught, love God and love others.

My job is to love my child unconditionally. Period.

Despite your questions and concerns, you have embraced your son. Many parents don’t. I am proud of you. You are doing well. Stay on the journey. Please continue to simply trust God with your son’s journey, and trust God with yours too.

If you have to choose between doing the “right” thing and love – always choose love and you will always be right.

Bless you, Mama!

– Susan



6 thoughts on “Dear Susan: How Can I Unconditionally Love My Gay Son?

  1. I have learned that as I watch my gay teen son who considers himself a Christian, my pre conceived attitudes have shifted. When he came out at 13 I realized that God has known that my son Nick is gay. He was not surprised when my son told us that he is gay. God created and formed my son in the womb. My son is special and beautiful just like my other two children.

    My wife and I see him blossoming into a fine young man who has the world before him. Even though he is just 14 he is a mature and thoughtful young man who we are proud of. It is our job as parents to guide our kids in making wise decisions and also in being productive audits who will contribute to society in a positive way.

    Even though I am a conservative Christian I realize that it is not my son who needs to be changed but that I needed it. As for the church, we have been accepted here in the Bible Belt and hope that it continues.

  2. Beautiful response, Susan! I’m wondering from the letter is whether this Mom is more concerned about her son’s orientation or more about the particular individual he is dating. If the latter, this is an issue faced by many parents, whether their child is gay or straight. If that is the case, maybe she should ask her son what attracts him to his boyfriend…if she is concerned about some serious character flaws in this person, perhaps she should address those with her son just as if it was a girl he was dating that she found objectionable, and leave his orientation out of it…as her son’s choices in a partner has nothing to do with orientation, but rather, are about him making wise choices in a potentially future mate.

    • Yes, you make a good point, Debbie. That’s a good distinction to make, whether it is the gayness or the particular person. Even still, are role as parents of near-adults is to interact with them as an encourager, like a coach. Our “control” over our kids decreases sharply with time, and their response to us becomes voluntary. Best to stay in a amicable relationship, because if it becomes adversarial, we lose our influence altogether.

  3. THANK YOU for this beautiful response to a loving mom. Your eloquence is perfection. I get it, as a gay man, I understand the fear many Christians have… until they become informed. This week I shared my own story (shameless plug, of how religion almost killed me as a gay youth. This is an important topic and we all need to be understanding of each other and answer the tough questions with dignity and love.

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