For a decade now, Christian parents have been asking my wife and me for help in parenting their gay kids.
As a Christian dad of a gay son, I wish there had been someone to talk me through the issues raised by my son’s disclosure of his sexuality. But the evangelical church has until very recently said very little about homosexuality, except that it is a sin and that those who practice it are worthy of condemnation.
As a result, most gay young people in the church stayed silent about their sexuality until they could no longer ignore it. Upon coming out, the majority left the church, and often their faith as well. Most parents, if they knew their kid was gay, told no one about it and had no one to talk to. Some decided to stay in relationship with their children by ignoring the issue; others watched their relationships fall apart in the midst of a sea of misunderstanding, rejection, and anger.
In order to love these families and their gay kids well, the church needs to do a better model to parents. What follows are a few suggestions rooted in my own journey with my son Drew. (We’ve written extensively about this journey in our book, Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and his Gay Son.)
My responses here are directed specifically to parents of gay kids, not to the kids themselves. I should add, too, that I am only speaking from my own experience as a parent of a gay kid, not speaking on behalf of all parents of LGBT+ kids. Each situation will have unique challenges. In addition, while the opinions here are my own, they have been worked out in conversation with Drew and so in some way bear his imprint as well.
I hold to a traditional biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage, one that affirms God’s creation of sex for marriage and marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. I am writing here to parents who share this perspective, and so I will assume it throughout this paper. Finally, while I believe my words of advice are rooted in the principles of the Christian Scriptures, the issues are often complex and open to dispute. I hope you will take what is helpful to you and leave the rest behind.
*To continue reading, click the link below to download a free copy of "A Christian Perspective on Parenting a Gay Child" by Dr. Brad Harper.