When Your Child Confesses They're Gay

How you respond to your child's coming-out confession can impact the kingdom.
How you respond to your child's coming-out confession can impact the kingdom. (REUTERS/Stefanie Loos )

For many decades now, ministries like ours have been helping those who struggle with homosexuality. The fruit of such ministry for us has been the publishing of several books, ten years of weekly television programming and the release of an award-winning documentary.

But through all the years, one population has stood out as having very little help indeed: those with a gay loved one.

Recently, we released a documentary film just for them, which I commend to every Christian leader as well as to those who have such a loved one or suspect that they do.

The culture is brimming with inaccurate information on this subject, so allow me to share with you some of the more important points made in the film before inviting you to watch it for yourself.

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The biggest problem that we see in ministry is parents who have one or more children who are homosexual. We recently interviewed a young man with an attitude who came out to his parents by saying: "I'm gay, I'm HIV positive: How do you like me now?" However, most children are scared to death to tell their parents.

The fact is that by the time your child tells you the news, he or she has probably been agonizing over that moment of disclosure for years and is therefore extremely vulnerable to the tone of your response. It will first appear in your eyes. So prepare your heart and mind now, so that your unconscious as well as conscious responses will be redemptive.

Despite what the media and all of the pride parades might have you think, no one wants to be gay! Your child did not choose to have same-sex attractions. Your children are not the enemy—Satan is (Eph. 6:10-12; 1 Pet. 5:8).

Consider also that your child may have been successfully resisting homosexual attractions for years and is due some much needed encouragement for having done so rather than responses of fear, rejection or judgment.

Can you remember how powerful youthful sexual attraction was for you back in the day? Now imagine that it had been an attraction to do something the Bible describes as an abomination? Imagine the havoc that would have done to your burgeoning self-identity and the intense suffering it would have produced. In my experience, most homosexuals are filled with self-loathing, which is a root of many additional sinful and addictive behaviors.

So be very clear on this point: Your child is not the abomination! To a holy God, sin is—in all its forms. But the child He created is loved and even embraced in their moment of repentance.

Even before repenting, they are loved, which is both a reality and a strategy. The Scriptures teach us that it is love that compels us (2 Cor. 5:14); it is grace that teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-14); and it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

Remember also that your child is young and relatively new to this kind of powerful assault and probably unskilled in knowing how to handle it. They've been relentlessly lied to by the media, the culture and its significant authority figures to believe that they were born that way and that there is no healing for homosexuality.

Before responding to their confession or revelation of sinful desire, recall your own litany of sins and how Satan made mincemeat out of your identity as you suffered the slings and arrows of your own formative years.

And consider how Jesus responded when people were caught in sin (John 4 and 8, Luke 7:37) before making your first comment upon hearing the news of your child's struggle.

Common Reactions

These are some of the more common responses that parents have confessed to having when they first heard the news.

Reactions that push the child or young adult away:

• Horror—sheer disbelief and abject horror that their worst nightmare has come upon them

• Disgust—a revulsion at the thought that their child may have engaged in homosexual acts (or wants to)

• Grief 

• Anger - Parents sometimes get mad at God for letting it happen, or the child for doing whatever they imagine he or she has done to create the attractions. Such first reactions are understandable, but without reason, and should be confessed and put away. (Ephesians 4:26: "Be angry, and do not sin.") Focus your anger at sin and Satan rather than at your child.

• Denial - Yes—some parents don't believe their child and actually try to talk them out of being homosexually oriented. I will say, however, that because of the cultural atmosphere that praises homosexuality, some highly impressionable kids do imagine themselves to be gay in order to gain acceptance, but studies indicate that that phenomena vanishes away for most by the time they are 17, if not sooner.

• Bargaining with God - "I'll do this for You God, if You'll make this problem go away." It's not really helpful to try to manipulate God.

• Disappointment with the Child - Selfishly and understandably, the parent realizes that there will probably be no grandchildren or son/daughter-in-law—the death of a deeply held dream for many.

• Disappointment with Self - Many parents blame themselves for their child's homosexuality because they have heard that it could be caused, in part or in whole, by dysfunctional family dynamics. Their self-centeredness causes them to dwell on their supposed failure as a parent rather than the plight of their child.

• Embarrassment - The parent may have thoughts like: "What will our public and professional circles think of us as parents?" This issue more than many can destroy the illusion that they are "good parents" in the eyes of others. The irony is that the homosexual attractions experienced by their son or daughter may have nothing to do with their parenting skills. There are many potential factors outside the family environment that could have been the cause (e.g., sexual abuse, peer rejection, etc.).

• Fear of the Future—Many parents become afraid for their child's salvation, as if the temptations themselves are the unpardonable sin, which they are not. It is important that the child hear from the parent that temptations are not in themselves sin. It is the willful dwelling or acting upon them that is sin—sin which can be forgiven, by the way. Other fears include the possibility that their child might contract AIDS or other diseases, or that their gay child might influence the other children in the home to pursue homosexuality.

• Launching Bible Verses at Them - A huge mistake that almost every parent will eventually make. Usually the child knows those Bible verses really well and has adopted the heretical interpretations put out by so-called "gay theologians." Talk theology only after you have become well read in gay theology. Consult sources such as www.robgagnon.net to get equipped.

• Talking Science and Medicine With Them - Without having prepared to answer the claims of "gay science" (that your child has undoubtedly believed), this is a mistake. A good source for getting equipped on this topic is: www.mygenes.co.nz.

• Scheming How to Fix Them - Parents have been fixing their children's boo-boos for many years and will be strongly inclined to fix this one. However, because of the fact that family dynamics may be part of the problem, as well as the fact that by the time you find out, your child will probably be at the age when they are trying to pull away from your influence in order to become their own person, you as a parent will be among the last people that can fix this problem. It is a humbling and frightening moment to give your child over to God and to others who will be more likely to get through to them. Take advantage of the resources at: www.RestoredHopeNetwork.org.

• Kicking Them out of the House - Kicking them out because they are gay is about the worst thing a parent can do. The streets are littered with such children who are trying to stay alive by selling themselves to the highest bidder. And there is no shortage of predators waiting to do just that, as well as gay organizations that specialize in "helping" young throwaway kids.

• Disinterest - A lack of interest in your child's life and what they do is even worse. They will go out into the world in a desperate search for the love and care that they should have gotten at home.

Reactions that draw the child/young adult closer:

• Approval of their homosexual attractions and behavior may be a quick fix to harmony at home but a deadly recipe for eternal life. Nothing could be more selfish than to trade the temporal and eternal well-being of your child for a peaceful home.

• Feeling helpless at not being able to do anything about it is a very common and understandable reaction to hearing the news for the parent who hasn't prepared himself or herself for this kind of news. Now is the time to get equipped while at the same time recognizing that God must be at the center of this process and that you can do nothing without Him.

• Sympathy, empathy (if appropriate) and a physical embrace are the sorts of first and ongoing responses that parents should give a child who is in crisis. However, in his excellent article on the subject, Tim Wilkins of Cross Ministry provides a caveat for certain mothers of gay sons: "Oftentimes the gay son has unconsciously identified with his mother rather than his father. An inordinate closeness may characterize the mother-son relationship. If so, mom may need to communicate her love in a less demonstrative way; after all, what the gay son needs to learn is how to relate appropriately to the same sex."

• Understanding—truly understanding—and believing that, "but for the grace of God, so go I."

• Unconditional love is essential. Love your child as the offspring of God that he or she is. But love them enough not to embrace their sexual attractions as something good, holy or natural. They are reactions to things gone wrong in their upbringing, experience and/or environment and it is in the finding out what those things are that transformation can begin with the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

• Seeking God for help and trusting Him for it: "Help us, O God!" My mother learned this while interceding for me with tears one day. As she was pleading, God spoke strongly to her, saying, "Trust Me!" In that moment she realized that she hadn't been trusting God. She had been trying to persuade Him to do something He already wanted to do. She had been trying to figure out how to get me saved through her own wisdom and manipulative powers. But in that moment, she gave me into God's hands for the first time and truly began trusting that God would do a tremendous work even without her help.

• Suggest to your child that a partnership with God in working through the issue will bring great results. This is the way of all sanctification. It is through developing intimacy with God and obeying His instructions that transformation occurs. It is also the very purpose of life. Some may object by saying that they've asked God a million times to heal them and He did nothing. I did that as a child and became angry with God for not answering. But I was making demands of a God that I did not yet know. I was throwing ultimatums at a God that I was otherwise in rebellion against. I was also young and unwilling to humble myself and become obedient to the God I expected to serve me. There are many reasons why a prayer isn't answered right away or in the manner we demand that are not God's fault. God is flawless!

* If God reveals a part that you or your spouse played in your child's brokenness, then seek God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of your child. Humble yourself. Then, receive the forgiveness that has been promised by God to every believer (1 John 1:9) and move on. To not believe and accept for yourself that God has kept His promise in forgiving you is not well-deserved punishment, but unbelief, and a hindrance to sanctification.

• Get well-educated in the subject from solid Christian sources like Joe Dallas' book, When Homosexuality Hits Home, or my books, Sexual Healing; Transformed Into His Image; Love Hunger. Find them at: http://www.masteringlife.org/index....

• Search out counseling/support group resources for your child from places like www.RestoredHopeNetwork.org, the teaching resources available at www.PurePassion.us and the documentary resources at places like www.SuchWereSomeOfYou.org and www.HowDoYouLikeMeNow.org

• Be a Barnabus—a son of hope and encouragement.

• Keep the lines of communication open even at the worst of times.

• Here's another good piece of advice from Tim Wilkins: "Focus on your child's broken image versus sexual activity!" and "Rebuild your son or daughter's broken image, remembering that masculinity and femininity are more often caught than taught."

Finally, let's take a look at some common situations that arise when a child has homosexual confusion and begins throwing monkey wrenches into the peace and safety of the home.

Difficult Situations

• Unrepentant child—Just keep pouring on the love and the joy of the Lord. Remember the father who waited for his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). He allowed his son to learn life's lessons on his own but ran and embraced him when he returned and without any blaming.

• Bringing the gay lover home for Thanksgiving dinner? Consider the age of other impressionable children in the house and how much they might want to be like their gay brother or sister before coming to a conclusion. If it is safe on those fronts, then allowing the gay lover to come to dinner could be a good thing. Their lover needs salvation just as much as your child and may be influential in your child coming to the Lord if they respond to the gospel.

• Bringing the gay lover over to spend the night in the same room? Never! You need to protect your family and house from demonic powers that may gain entry by willfully allowing such behavior to go on in your home. If your gay child promises to sleep in a separate room and you believe that he or she will keep that promise, then it's something that should be taken to the Lord for further guidance.

Understand and be prepared for emotional manipulation from your child, which often comes in the form of: "If you don't accept me the way that I am then I will leave and never speak to you again!" What they are asking you to do is love them more than you love God and they are using the deep affection that you have for them to hold your faith for ransom. Jesus said that we must love Him more (Matt. 10:37-39). In the end, your child will respect you for having done so.

• Attending the gay wedding and/or reception? It will be extremely helpful that when declining an invitation to a gay wedding, you communicate to them your biblical reasoning, so that they see it as an act of faithfulness on your part to the Lord rather than as a rejection of them. Use Genesis 1 and 2 to describe God's creative intent for mankind as being heterosexual and monogamous. Show them the themes throughout the Old Testament prophets (e.g., Is. 62:5; Hosea) that show God as a Bridegroom and His people as His Bride, as well as passages that describe Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church (John 3:26-30, Eph. 5:22-32 and Rev. 19:7-9). Attending a gay wedding is a denial of the sacred imagery and reality of God's intent for human sexuality and marriage. A "gay wedding" is not a wedding at all and your presence would be tantamount to affirming it as good and holy. Attending the reception could also communicate that message, but every situation is so different that consulting the Lord is always the best way to go.

Hebrews 11 teaches us that sometimes we will not live to see the answer to our prayers, but that they are answered in the perfection of God's timing. Should God drag your child out of the gay lifestyle prematurely, the child will only return. There is a precise moment in all of our lives when we are finally ready to give it all to Jesus. That is the moment when the Lord will do what it takes to bring them out and to bring healing to the issues that caused the same-sex attractions in the first place. It's not an easy answer to hear, but "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12).

As promised, I want to invite you to watch the two films that we've made to help people with homosexual confusion (www.SuchWereSomeOfYou.org) and for those who have loved ones who struggle with this condition (www.HowDoYouLikeMeNow.org). You can watch the trailers and find out how to get the DVDs from these websites, or by going straight to: http://www.masteringlife.org/index.php/online-store?cat_id=3

Always remember that God loves your child even more than you do. Remember also that as one who has struck your own covenant with God through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, your prayers are especially powerful in touching the heart of God. Now get equipped, trust the Lord and do whatever He tells you.

Dr. David Kyle Foster is the executive director of Pure Passion Media and the producer of "Pure Passion" TV, which can be seen nationwide every Saturday at 11:30pm (ET) on Dish Network #267 and Direct TV #376 and on the "Pure Passion" iPhone/Droid apps, Roku, Apple TV, AmazonFire TV & Google TV channel.

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