Whether the confession comes from a son or daughter, spouse or close friend, the admission of homosexuality hits like a bombshell, especially in Christian homes. Instantaneously, life seems completely out of control. You are now headed in a direction you never, ever thought you would be going.
Without fail, a week does not pass without my receiving at least one phone call or email expressing, “Well, I sure didn’t think I would ever be faced with this!” The majority of calls and emails come from pastors and parents due to a child’s or congregation member’s confession of same-sex attraction. Homosexuality always seems to be someone else’s problem until it knocks on your front door.
This coming June, a new documentary about how relatives respond to the disclosure that their loved one is struggling with homosexual confusion will be premiered and released. Many of the individuals in the documentary are friends and/or ministry colleagues. The title of the documentary is, “How Do You Like Me Now?”
For a mini-preview, please see:
How well I remember having to make the above declaration to my parents. While my confession occurred many, many years ago, I recall, vividly, having to pick my mother up from the kitchen floor. The ironic truth is that while I felt an immediate sense of relief that “the problem” was now out, my parents, friends, and family members were instantly projected into a state of fear, bewilderment and consumed by a myriad of emotions.
Once the initial impact has subsided a bit, while Christian families know God is the answer, it still takes a long time for them to wrap their mind around how to engage God in what they perceive as needing to be done. Make no mistake, when someone we know confesses their same-sex attraction, many Christians struggle with how to maintain a Christ-like manner and position.
Every individual that awakens to their issue of same-sex attraction has already been through quite a heart-wrenching process and therefore it really doesn’t matter whether the individual has embraced the gay identity or is still combating and resisting temptation as well as seeking freedom from same-sex attraction. Often, very often, parents in particular will respond to the crisis by focusing on their own pain and deep sense of loss forgetting the individual plagued by same-sex attraction has already experienced a huge amount of pain and loss.
Speaking from experience, having waded through years of healing, discipleship, study, and surrender (at times, daily), when homosexuality hit my family, as it has a multitude of others, it brought pain, indescribable pain, and misunderstanding along with it. Largely because (way back then), no one knew anything about the behavior. Frankly, about the only comment anyone offered was, “It’s wrong!” Today, just like then, that’s not good enough and completely unacceptable.
Not long ago, a Christian friend and mother I have known for many years wrote me and once again uttered the expression I have heard so many times during the 22 years of His Way Out Ministries, “I never thought I would be contacting you with a problem of homosexuality in my family.” The mother was understandably shattered. Initially, while the mother did respond and react appropriately standing upon the right Scriptures, the son responded with a very interesting and revealing remark. He said, “Mom, you keep telling me how hard this is for you to hear and deal with. Don’t you realize how hard it has been for me these many, many years, being raised in a Christian home and knowing that once this got out it would kill you? Ultimately, I had to make a decision that I knew nobody would be happy with. Please consider and realize that I have my own demons to fight.”
Frankly, there is a great deal of truth in the son’s comments. Whether we agree or not with the son’s ultimately decision or conclusion that he is gay and entitled to act upon his feelings and desires (which I certainly do not), we must admit that he was right in saying he had reached his conclusion after going through quite an intense struggle on his own. It is very important to remember within the evolvement of same-sex attraction that homosexual tendencies are discovered but the gay identity is ultimately embraced. And, there is a considerable difference between the two.
When any individual discloses their battle with same-sex attraction, their confession enables an intriguing and powerful opportunity to the family and really to anyone that becomes aware. “Can I truly continue to love him for who he is and not for what he does?” As a Christ-follower, if we are becoming effective in not putting unrealistic expectations on “anyone,” we are in line to accept them for who they are, not for what we wish they were. It is God’s part to give those that struggle with same-sex attraction abhorrence for the behavior – an abhorrence that will bring them to a place of complete surrender to the sovereignty of God in their lives and a desire to change.
While there are no specific verses in the Bible telling us under what circumstances, if any, we should adopt this or that policy toward a homosexual loved one, let’s consider a few specific communications that need to be offered with the hope and endeavor of keeping the lines of communication open. What the Bible says and why you disapprove of homosexuality every time you are with your child, friend, co-worker, etc., is not necessary state. However, do make sure the individual knows the following:
- You understand that he/she did not ask for these feelings.
- You appreciate their honesty and transparency in disclosing their issue with same-sex attraction.
- Your belief regarding homosexual practice as sin is not going to change.
- You want to protect your relationship through mutual respect and understanding.
While you may never agree on the subject of homosexuality, you are committed to not letting that disagreement ruin your relationship.
As faithful followers of Christ Jesus, we must never affirm homosexual practice. But we can at least affirm the fact that the individual struggling with same-sex attraction has tried to be honest with us and has taken quite a risk in telling us, knowing it is not what we wanted to hear.
How well I remember disclosing my own battle with same-sex attraction and giving my family every reason to write me off. Frankly, there was no reason for my family to ever think I would repent and turn completely away from homosexuality. Thankfully, sometimes when God calls us to release a family member or friend through a prayer of relinquishment, that doesn’t mean He is releasing them as well. God is saying: “Do all you can do, continue to love them and wait.” Indeed, dealing with the discovery that someone you love has same-sex attraction issues is a difficult stewardship. But the God who gave us this stewardship has also equipped us to handle it and maintain a Christ-like attitude.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
Pastor Phillip Lee
His Way Out Ministries
Member of Restored Hope Network
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, the I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is tested.” Martin Luther