If I Have Gay Children: Four (or 5!) Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent


We talk with countless Christian parents of LGBTQ children – many just after their child has come out to them. It was usually not something the parent had thought about or prepared for. And their initial reaction can have a life-changing impact on their child.

This is Rob, Susan’s husband, writing today. 🙂

This article, from John Pavlovitz, really resonated with my heart. It takes that step of thinking through and preparing for “What if my child is gay?” And it conveys the promises of a Jesus-following Dad to his own children. What a blessing.

The love of a parent should be unconditional. Without condition. No asterisks. We are called to love as we have been loved by God. This post conveys a core foundation of acceptance and affirmation that is critical for us to share with our children.

Enjoy the article by John – with a little “5th Promise” addition…   🙂

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because; as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because; as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.

I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.

If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.

2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them.

I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal.

I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray the He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and humanity.

Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.

3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them.

I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.

I won’t love them despite their sexuality, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.

If my kids are gay, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.

4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children.

If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.

God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.

Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their sexuality that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.

They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.

This is Rob… I will add a 5th promise – as suggested by a Dad on our Facebook Dads group…  I promise to give my gay son the right to add his partner to our family, and to fully accept them, and fully accept their children as our grandchildren.”

Back to John’s post…

Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person; one who finds the whole topic disgusting.

As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, or clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send me, or praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less.

This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.

You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.

You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.

And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.

If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are gay, but I pray you consider it.

One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace, and identity, and acceptance; whose very heart, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined… and you’ll need to respond.

If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.

Amen John. Amen.

(You can read John’s original article here.)

 A note from John:  The word “gay” in this post, refers to anyone who identifies themselves as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning) . Though I certainly realize and respect the distinctions and differences, it was simply the word that would quickly and easily communicate within the context of the piece. It was the clearest and best way to address non-hetereosexual individuals in the post, by using a common tern that would resonate with the average reader. Hopefully my heart for the LGBTQ community is still clear in the writing.



34 thoughts on “If I Have Gay Children: Four (or 5!) Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent

  1. First of all I have to say that this pulled at my heart strings. I am a gay man and people don’t realize that damage that parents can do to a child by not accepting them. I am very fortunate because even with our Lutheran background my parents accepted me for who I am. You both are an inspiration to good parenting. Love is suppose to be unconditional and my parents didn’t even bat an eye or get angry. I thought my father was going to blow a gasket he just waked away and thinking that he was upset with me I went to my room bawling my eyes out. What I didn’t know is that he was on the phone with other members of my family praising me for having the courage of showing how I am. He came in to my room and I apologized to him for not being the son he wanted me to be. I held me and told me I am the son he;s always wanted because I stayed true to who I am and that’s all he’d ever want for my life was to be happy. Again thank you for posting this.
    God Bless

    • Wow, what a story! Thank you for sharing. Note to parents: be sure to comfort your child in the moment – then go call your friends with a praise! 🙂 …and if you’re disappointed, DON’T dump that on them. We parents absolutely underestimate how much impact we have on our kids. They NEED to hear our love and encouragement so much more than we realize!

  2. Before you go patting yourselves on the back and high-giving each other for how evolved you have become via this article, consider this:

    That this article exists is deplorable. That there is hate in your community that you yourselves tolerate and at time support and even participate in, is in humane. That you still grapple with this as if it is relevant and worthy of debate is unconsionable.

    This is only an issue of hate an transcendence from that hate because Christians have allowed it to to go on so long unchecked and unchallenged.

    You are behind the times. You are backwards, you are slow to look inward and recognize tebfailin of your policy and culture.

    You are now playing catch up with the rest of the civilized world.

    • David, you are correct in saying that hate exists in the Church towards LGBT people and that is deplorable. But please don’t attack Rob and Susan for being agents of change, they and most of the people here do recognize the failings of our culture.

      Hate exists in every human heart, even yours as evidenced by the anger behind your words. If you hate the haters, does that not put you right in their place? We all fall short of the perfect standard that we expect from others.

      The Church has had many failings over her history; slavery, women’s rights, inter-squables about who is “in” and who isn’t, etc. We are an imperfect bunch for sure. None of that changes the fact that all of us fail God’s perfect standard and it is only by His grace and mercy to us through the work of Jesus that any of us have hope of change. Instead of attacking those who are brave enough to stand up to their peers and declare what is wrong, wrong, why not give support and encouragement to these foot soldiers fighting so that future generations won’t endure the guilt and shame thrown at them that this generation has?

      Oh, and BTW, I’m a middle aged straight ally, with no known LGBT folks in my family and a member of a very conservative, evangelical church. I existed not recognizing the hurt that you so accurately point out but when I realized the depth of the pain that many Christians cause when I walked with a friend as her son came out and was driven away from our church, I was filled with anger at the injustice and I became aware and became an ally. Don’t isolate yourself from those who you think are full of hate. Those who actually love you just might come around and see the issue differently when it ceases to be “those people” and it becomes a real flesh and blood sojourner on their path.

      Peace brother.

    • Thank you, Angie. David, I understand your passion for this. I do. And you are right. But all I know is that we all (or most of us) do the best we can. Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” That’s all we can hope for ourselves or others. I’m glad you wrote.

  3. Thank you for this. I grew up with a gay parent, and if there were more people like you there’s a good chance I’d still be involved in the church. But sadly I didn’t want to put my own children through the same things I heard for having a gay grandmother.
    I really hope your view becomes the “normal” view, but sadly we aren’t there yet. Keep on fighting the good fight. God bless.

  4. When my son told us he was gay (he was 13) it did cause us to question a lot of things. But as time has gone by, it has gotten better for us as his parents. We have learned to love our son and learn from him. His siblings are also very supportive and won’t tolerate hatred a bigotry. Unfortunately, our son tells us that those who say hurtful things to him are other teens who call themselves Christians but act so unChrist like to him that he struggles with whether God truly loves him or not.

    As a Christian, we see ourselves as blessed by God for our son. God made him and created him and formed him in the womb. Our son is a beautiful creation. Our son is slowly recognizing that he is not “disgusting” in God’s eyes.

  5. I only wish I could have read this article 10-11 years ago… my daughter came out twice to us. Once when she was about 13 and we denounced it… horribly I might add and again when she was 17. I took it better, but not like this article . I wish I could go back, and get ALL of that time bck…. my only wish now is to know that my daughter knows I love and cherish her for who she is, my daughter!

  6. The only part I’d disagree with is the part about “you’ll all know it”. I think that should be up to the child. Just because you are loving and supportive doesn’t mean the child will be comfortable with the parent’s friends knowing that child is gay. This should be a point of self-determination for the child, even if the parent thinks there wouldn’t be any problems. The parent should respect the child’s wishes in this part of the child’s life.

  7. I loved this post, thank you! I often ponder the same thing and I’ve made it abundantly clear to my young teenage girls that I expect them to love and respect all of their friends, gay or straight. This doesn’t sound very earth shattering, but we exist in a very conservative, evangelical world where the condemnation and judgement of our peers always simmers just below the surface. Our family (not so) secret is that we will always have open arms, a clean bed and a place at the table for any of our girls’ friends who don’t have parents like John Pavlovitz. Keep up the good work!

  8. You know, I’m only a teen, but I’ve thought about this as well…”What if I have a gay child?” That used to frighten me, and it’s sad that we as Christians tend to fear this…anyway, thats what led me to do some research on my own, to find out if being gay really is bad…which it isn’t. I’ve come to the same conclusion as the man who wrote the article…to love my child no matter what.
    I used to think being gay was horrible, because thats what I was taught. My mother says all the time that it’s unnatural, an illness, a sickness(and she always focuses on the sex for some reason :/) and now when I hear her say these things, I cringe on the inside…I get frustrated and uncomfortable because I can’t believe the things that she says…it’s really sad actually. And my sister who’s 14 (im 17) is just taking in everything that my mom says, and that worries me…I want to tell her that being gay really isn’t bad at all…
    My mother doesn’t know how I have changed my mind on this, Im too afraid to tell her…but if I have a gay child, and they come out…then I come out as well in support. I may be afraid of my mothers reaction (or maybe not, I’ll be grown by then) but if it’s for my child–I will. I have too.

    • So proud of you. :-). Stay close to your sister and share your heart with her. She will value your opinion more than you know. Your mom is probably just repeating the things that she has heard for so many years in church. Please take a look at the resources page on our website, and it will give you lots of invaluable information and resources to use in the future. God bless you. Please stay in touch. And let us know how we can help you. – Rob

    • N, I am so proud of you! Good for you for putting first things first – loving your child would be a first thing, that’s for sure. I’m sorry about your sister, but we just have to trust God to be guiding her. Maybe as she gets older she will see things differently. You just trust God with her, okay? You are a real treasure, my friend. God bless you and keep following what God puts in your heart. Much love to you. ❤

  9. Yes, I read this and I could have written it myself. I loved it!!!!
    I have been sending folks that have been responding on his blog over here, to FreedHearts, get ready for even more fun! Haha

    I am trying to help him dodge some of fire over there as well.

    God Bless us all in this walk.

    “Thank you” to you and Susan!!!

    I hope she can catch s breath while doing all of this. I am glad for social media and the connections I have made, one day, I hope to meet many on this Blog.
    I often wonder about, Jonathon the Lawyer, Nate, and Patrick. Where they are in their journeys, if the family has come around, etc.etc.

    Praying for you guys often.

    Be Blessed

  10. Thanks for sharing this, Rob. I had read it last week on the day it was posted. I have no words to describe the way this touched my soul. John really gets it!

  11. Amen,

    Literally made me cry sitting here at work, thanks a lot! 😉

    I have learned so much about unconditional love from this experience of being a parent of a gay child.

    I’m not sure of a lot of things I used to believe about my religion even God however one thing I am certain of is that grace, humility, and unconditional love are all good things, things that I desire even more of and am so glad I have grown in. It is healing my soul in ways my religion never did.

    • As the mother of son who only told me that he is gay 8 days ago, I can tell you personally that God has shown me more love for this son than I have ever known before. It has shaken my beliefs about my conservative Baptist upbringing to the core and brought me to the one fact I know right now; that God loves all of us unconditionally. I wish I had known that my wonderful son had laid in bed crying and praying for God to take away the gay when he was only 11 years old. Now I see him not believing in God because he felt so abandoned. I have 11 months left before he leaves for college, only 11 short months to love him full throttle, and to show him God loves him even more than I ever can. When he leaves for college I want him to know he is deeply loved and accepted always, no matter what. This is a journey my family didn’t ask to take, a journey my son prayed not to take but with God’s love we are taking this journey together. The biggest concern to me is that my son’s relationship with his Savior is restored and that he once again will love God. Please pray that God’s love will be revealed to him.

        • Donna – My daughter came out to us last month, and she too leaves for college in 11 months. Thankfully her faith, although challenged, continues to pass the test. I so understand your concerns and I will join you in prayer for your son and trust that He will take care of him and you.

      • Dearest Donna, I have walked where you are walking. I KNOW this path, and will be praying for you every day. Your story could be my story. Our precious son couldn’t come to us until he was 25 yrs old! He had suffered tremendously for way too long. If you ever need to talk , pls contact me at bbaswell1@gmail.com–You are NOT alone. I will be praying for you and your wonderful son–

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s