FAMILY & FRIENDS: Where do we go from here?
The father’s words were measured and controlled as he summarized his thoughts at the end of our session. “Well, there was certainly a lot in our son’s early life which could have contributed to his feelings of rejection. His life wasn’t perfect, and I have plenty of regrets—things I wish I hadn’t done, others I wish I had. More than anything, though, I wish I had said, ‘I love you,’ instead of assuming he knew it. But… wishes won’t undo or redo anything. We can’t go back and rewrite history. Where do we go from here?”
Where, indeed? The son struggles with homosexual feelings and has just told his parents. The parents face the reality of their son’s pain, their own confused thoughts and conflicting emotions, and their virtual ignorance about sexuality in general, let alone homosexuality. What now, and how?
What do they do now? The following suggestions have been gleaned from the experience of other parents who have received the same painful revelation from their own sons or daughters and have found their way to emotional and spiritual health:
Communicate— First with God, pour it all out to Him, the pain, the confusion, anger… whatever it is, get it said to the only One who can really help. Second, talk with each other. Really talk, about the way you feel, your hopes and fears for your son or daughter, and pray together for them and for each other. Third, open up to your offspring. Let them know of your love, but also tell them your feelings. Fourth, share your burden with significant people in your life. People who understand and can support you.
Get Educated—Read the recommended reading, study the scriptures, pray for the insight of the Holy Spirit as you search out truth. There is much to unlearn as well as to learn about homosexuality. Drop your stereotypes, dig in and find out what is true. As you learn, commit all to God and talk with Him about your discoveries.
Join a Support Group—Other parents, family members, and friends of those with similar struggles can be a source of encouragement and spiritual nourishment for you and you will be for them also.
Let Go—You can’t change your son or daughter. The desire to “fix things” will be strong. You can’t fix things. Relate to them with unconditional love and acceptance. Channel your desire to “do or say something to help” into prayer. Tell God what you want fixed. Tell your children you love them. You want them free? Set them free.
How to do all this? Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing.” Never has this proven more true than in the search for healing for sinners and their families. Without God we can do nothing. So, don’t even attempt it without Him. Let Him in on it from the beginning, keep Him at the center of the search and you will find peace and resolution. After all, it is really Jesus you are looking for; “I am the way, the truth and the life.” What else are you looking for but a way through your confusion, the truth about sexuality and relationships, and the abundant life Jesus promised?
TIPS ON WITNESSING TO THE GAY COMMUNITY
Perhaps it’s your next-door neighbor, a childhood friend, a college roommate or a co-worker. In our culture it is common to know someone who is gay. As followers of Jesus, eventually many of us face the question of how to share our faith with the people in our lives who are gay.
We might be reluctant to witness to a gay person because of our own fears or doubts about how effective we can be. But once making the decision to proclaim the gospel there are other barriers and questions that come up. This section of the web site will answer some of those questions, give you suggestions on how to share your faith and address some of the common objections that gay people have to the Bible.
(Please note: This section of the web site was written specifically to address questions that may come up when witnessing to an unsaved person who identifies as gay or lesbian. Gay people who are Christians – as well as unsaved people who have homosexual feelings but do not consider themselves gay – may have different questions and concerns; please contact us for more information.)
LOVING SOMEONE WHO IS GAY
- Remember to pray, both for the person you are witnessing to and for yourself. Pray that the Lord will change in your heart any wrong stereotypes or fears that you may have of gay people.
- Don’t hit people over the head with their sin. It’s your job to share the good news of God’s love, not just the bad news that a person’s entire identity is an “abomination.” You don’t have to lie to the person and tell them gay relationships are okay, but you should let the Holy Spirit do the work of convicting them. Keep the focus on God as you explain that He loves them and wants their heart.
- Recognize that the person is an individual, not a stereotype (however similar they may be to a character on a television sitcom). The person you are witnessing to is not representative of the entire gay community or an advocate for the “homosexual agenda for special rights.” They are a sinner in need of a savior just like you.
- Recognize that homosexuality is no worse than any other sexual sin. People often pick out the sin that disgusts them the most and view it as worse than any other. All sexual sin defiles us spiritually before God; homosexuality no more or less so than any other.
- Respect their lives, experiences, thoughts and feelings. Listen to them – you may be surprised to learn that a lesbian relationship was the first time they ever felt loved or that their boyfriend was the only person to affirm their masculinity. Don’t make black and white judgments about their experiences or assume that all gay relationships are unloving, controlling, uncommitted or based solely on sexual fulfillment.
- Share what they tell you with discretion only. Many people struggling with homosexuality have made the big and scary step to confide their feelings/behavior/past history with a friend, only to find that news spreading like wildfire. If someone has come to you to talk, make it clear what you will and will not keep confidential – and then keep your promise not tell without permission (this includes not telling your spouse and pastor).
- Know that there is a difference between temptation and behavior, between actions and struggling. A person can “be gay” and never act on their feelings. People do not choose their feelings – the only choice they make is whether to embrace those feelings or not.
- Seek out a support group, a trusted pastor or a trained counselor that can help you work through these issues.