What if your child came to you and said, “Dad, I think I’m gay…” What would you do?
Recently a friend of mine mentioned John Pavlovitz’s article “If I Have Gay Children…” and wanted to know my thoughts. Since I am not typically a rage-against-the-machine blogger and Pavlovitz has made it abundantly clear in his article that “[He] really couldn’t care less” what I or any other Christians think on the issue, I am not writing in response to Pavlovitz. My goal is to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) to parents who fear the only options are Pavlovitz’ complete acceptance–or hate–and no other options.
He writes, “[My kids] are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.” My kids are, too. I bet you would say the same thing about your kids. As parents we are blessed to watch their little personalities grow and flourish into the people God has designed them to be. However, even my four year-old lies, steals, gets angry, and is disobedient to his parents. Those sins are going to grow up inside my children, and “sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15).
…but I want my kids to live! I want my kids to find eternal life. My children were designed to glorify God and enjoy Him forever–this is the only life there is. If one of my kids comes to me saying, “I think I’m gay,” I promise to do my best to shepherd them toward God’s desire and His design in these four ways.
I promise to see you how God sees you.
People in the world may define themselves by their sexuality, but that is not how God primarily sees us. No matter who you are, no matter your sexual feelings, God sees you as a person made in His image. The most loving thing a child needs to hear when they are struggling with their sexuality is this: “You are not defined by your feelings. When God sees you, he sees a child made in His image” (Gen. 1:26, 27; 5:1; 9:6).
I will always see my children as creatures made in the image of God. Contra Pavlovitz, Psalm 139 is not a passage of indifferent determinism; it is a passage of hope. My children need to realize that if God was so intimately involved in knitting them together in their mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13), He will be just as intimately involved in every single day he has planned out for them (Psalm 139:16). This is hope. God made you in his image, and he has a plan for your life. Kids, I promise always to see you this way.
I promise to point you to God’s Word.
I want to be like Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice who made sure that “from childhood [he was] acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). If one of my kids tells me he thinks he’s gay, I won’t react with disgust and anger–or acceptance and celebration. I will help him in his insecurities and questions to seek God in his Word.
In the realm of sexuality as in life, my kids desperately need to realize the truth of Psalm 19:7–“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” As best I know how, I will teach my kids to seek the wisdom of God–whether in something as complex as their sexual feelings or as simple as their poor attitude on the soccer field. Only the son who submits to the Heavenly Father’s instruction will truly find life.
I promise to remember that we are all sinners.
My kids are broken. Sin touches every part of their existence. In fact, the Psalmist speaks for all of us when he confesses, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). When my children struggle with lying, anger, or sexual sin it shouldn’t surprise me. We are sinners. And I say “we” because as I look at my kids I see myself: a man who was shackled to sin and unable to escape if not for my powerful Savior.
When my kids confess sin, temptation, struggle, and confusion, I have to recognize that these are the sad effects of sin on their lives. My sins, the sins of others, their own personal sins–these all play a part in their brokenness. Our home must be a place where confession of sin is encouraged. And in those moments when their sins incite anger and disappointment in me, I will try to remember that apart from Christ I too was “dead in my trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).
I promise to hold up Christ as our only hope.
In a sinful world full of sinful people like me and my children, I will point to Jesus as the only Savior of the world (John 4:42). No matter the temptation or sin, Jesus will always be held up as the only solution–our only hope. I will unashamedly encourage our kids to cling to Christ for everything. It has to be a “Christ-or-bust” mentality no matter the struggle, temptation, or trial in life.
I love my sons and daughter. Love means desiring the best for them, and I know what’s best for my sons: Jesus Christ. As a parent, I will never shift from the hope of the Gospel (Col. 1:23) for myself…and for my kids. Jesus came in order that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
I will never affirm my sons in a life lived apart from Christ. That’s not love. Jesus Christ is the only one who can bring us out of the darkness and into the light where we have true fellowship with God and with one another (1 John 1:7). This fellowship is not one of affirming each other in our sins. Rather, it is a fellowship of confessing sins, trusting that he “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
A father with no confidence in Christ’s power to overcome sin and to heal the broken-hearted has no hope for his kids. They need a father with a steadfast faith firmly set on Christ as the only hope and solution for every sin and brokenness–including broken sexual desires.
If you are looking for more resources on this topic, I would highly recommend Sam Allberry’s book Is God Anti-Gay?