The following post ties together with the following article geared towards parents, “Loving Your Gay Child.” If you are a youth worker, another pastor, or a friend, walking along side of a parent who is dealing with a gay child, here are 8 important concepts for them and you.
1. God remains lovingly sovereign – God is in complete control, and though you don’t have all the answers, He does. Rest in the assurance of who He is and what He promises.
2. Reach out in support – Help parents to create a safe place to ask open and honest questions about their situation and allow them to freely express themselves. Some might use crude language, bring up difficult doubts, yell, cry, or even sit in silence. The point is to help them express themselves freely in a safe place. Assure parents that no matter what, you will be there to walk along side of them. Additionally, assure them of God’s love and promises through scripture.
3. Do not try to answer difficult questions – We won’t have all the answers, and either will parents. Some questions may never be answered, while others will not be answered the way we want them to be. Help parents seek God in the midst of their uncertainty, and cling to the firm promises of scripture.
4. Surrender expectations – Author Tim Geiger notes that “neither you nor the parents can convince the child that he or she is wrong. Only the Lord can ultimately do that. What will generally make the biggest difference in the life of a child is parents who model the faithful, yet uncompromising love of God … Praying for change in their child’s life is appropriate. But it may not happen immediately – or ever.” In this issue of change, assure the parents that while God does transform those who seek Him, His ways are not ours and His idea of a “healthy identity” is not our own.
5. Keep connected to God – God is the only one who knows for sure why this family is going through what they are. Help parents to focus on their own relationship with Christ, especially through honest prayer with each other, and reading scripture.
6. Ask about the future – Again, Geiger notes, “when the storm clears, ask the parents how they could re-establish a sense of normalcy in their lives and in their relationship with their child.” Again, go beyond, “I want my child to change now” discussion.
7. Pray with and for parents.
8. Encourage them to bring others into their journey – Whether it’s a support group or even a weekly prayer group consisting of friends (a prayer group that includes intimate worship is ideal), help the parents to connect with others who can be trusted and committed in walking with them through this journey.
As Tim Geiger asserts, and I fully agree, this new journey will challenge the faith of the parents – as well as the child. Giving them a strong, supportive Christian presence is vital. Parents need to “hold on to the biblical position on same-sex relationships in the face of what may be strong, deeply emotional pleas from their child to affirm their lifestyle. This is a painful and difficult place for a parent today. It is not altogether wrong for parents to want to see their adult son or daughter prospering and being happy … yet, the one thing that will remain painful and grievous is their unwillingness to affirm a lifestyle direction that is contrary to God’s design in Scripture.”
Parents are not wrong or hateful for not affirming the life their gay son or daughter is living. However, what is important, and where the local church needs to support parents the most, is that the parent loves their child – unconditionally – and that they hold to God’s truth – unashamedly. Affirming a behavior that goes against the Word of God is not showing that person love – especially the love of God. Affirming a person, while holding to biblical truth, does show the love of God to others, even to those who refuse to listen. Standing for the truth is hard, but Jesus has called all of us to do just that (through the guidance of the Holy Spirit). Parents do not need to hear bible verses as much as they need to see them being lived out. Make a commitment to stand beside parents of gay children, no matter what; additionally, make a commitment to personally love on their gay child, no matter what.