Dear Michael – a Parent’s Letter to a Gay Son
Twice in the last year I’ve been asked what I would say in a letter to a gay son or daughter that was true to the Bible, intellectually honest and gracious.
So, here’s my best attempt to summarize the most important points from scripture; hopefully, stated with grace. (Although those who disagree with us on these issues often view our disagreement, in and of itself as unloving and ungracious!) I conclude with some very specific boundaries on behavior that I believe you have the right to enforce, in your home as well as a link to some talking points I’ve written on the subject.
Our Dear Michael,
Your mother and I want to make sure you know this above all; we love you, and always will. We’d rather say the things in this letter face-to-face, and I hope we will have a chance to do so, as soon as you come home for Easter. However, to avoid any misunderstanding and awkward moments, we thought we’d put our thoughts in black and white.
Perhaps you’ve been afraid that we’ll reject you and throw you out of our life because you’re gay. I want you to know that you will always be welcome in our family home – your home. We hope you’ll continue to text, email, phone regularly. We certainly will. We’d especially love you to come home any opportunity you can. I hope we can continue to go fishing together and to share other areas of our lives like we used to. Our relationship will undoubtedly change as a result of your chosen lifestyle, but our love for you will never change.
Up front we want you to understand that we don’t believe being homosexual is a sin. However, sin has contaminated every relationship even heterosexual relationships. I’m a heterosexual Christian who still struggles with lust. That’s not the way God made me and you being gay is not the way God created you. It’s the way we have become because of sin.
To deal with these “not the way God created us to be”, issues (sin), he established his moral laws. These laws, found in scripture put boundaries on my behavior and yours and tell me that regardless of my feelings, impulses, or hormones, “you shall not”.
A thief can’t steal, nor can a husband beat his wife because “that’s the way God wired him.” All those who dare to call themselves followers of Jesus are commanded by God to resist our natural impulses and simply obey him, whether we feel like it or not. When we fail, we’re told to confess our sin and repent of it, which means stop doing it.
It’s also clear that God considers some sins more grievous than others, such as those listed in Leviticus 18 and 20. Interestingly, of the sexual sins God considered deserving of death in the Old Testament; almost all of them are heterosexual sins, in addition to homosexual sin.
In the opinion of the church for 2,000 years, Romans 1:24-32 couldn’t be more clear about how God feels about same-sex sex. We hope you’ll be intellectually honest enough to not accept the interpretation by the gay Christian community that what Paul is prohibiting is temple worship sex or pediphelia. The other explanation of the gay community is that this doesn’t prohibit committed, monogamous, same-sex unions, only promiscuous homosexual sex. Please be honest enough to admit that’s a real stretch from what is plainly written. Those passages don’t even hint at those possible interpretations. And, because these strong prohibitions appear in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, clearly it’s a sin for both Jews and Christians, for all time.
Then Paul in I Corinthians 6:9-11, lists the sins that actually bar us from entering the kingdom of heaven. He doesn’t mean those who are inclined to those sins or even have committed those sins, but those who have given themselves over to them without regret or remorse.
So for us son, if you are gay but are trying to resist the temptation to sin sexually and confess it when you fail, we embrace you as a fellow struggler against sexual sin and a brother in Christ. However, if you embrace the gay lifestyle, and in particular gay sex or gay marriage, then we are in serious disagreement and based on scripture, we believe you are in danger of the judgment. Therefore, we will continue to pray for the Holy Spirit’s conviction in you.
Obviously, our prayer is that you’d accept God’s wisdom and reject the teaching by some Christians that the gay lifestyle is fine with God if it’s a committed, loving and monogamous relationship. It’s impossible for us to come to that conclusion based on the Bible. Because we live under the authority of God, as much as we love you, we don’t have the right to accept, what God clearly prohibits we’re truly sorry.
You’ve asked us this painful question, “Do you mean God expects me to live alone the rest of my life?” While that prospect saddens us, it’s no different than the choice heterosexual, single Christians have made for 2,000 years – to be celibate. And the Bible doesn’t prohibit you from having a roommate, although that might be very unwise if you cannot resist the temptation to remain celibate.
So what does this mean practically in our relationship?
Your male friend may visit our home with you, but we will need to discuss certain boundaries. For example, we can’t allow you to share a room or a bed together when you are here. We also ask that you not openly display affection for each another, especially in front of the other children. We hope that you’ll worship with us on Sundays, but that’s your choice. We also ask that you not discuss your living together, or your relationship, or your views on sexuality or gay relationships in front of the children. We don’t want them thinking that by our silence, we approve, and we don’t want to embarrass you or your friend in front of them by rebuking you, if you do.
I know how badly you want the whole family to accept who you are sexually, which we can. You also want us to accept the loving relationships you believe God allows you to have. However, we can’t do that and be faithful to scripture at the same time. So, if you can live with these boundaries, so can we.
We’d be honored to sit down with you and discuss how you or other gay Christians read the Bible differently. But, when we’ve read the various arguments on gay, Christian websites, it feels like they’re simply trying hard to justify – what they want to be true. We recognize that tendency, because we’ve done it ourselves on occasion regarding a clear teaching from God, we’d prefer it wasn’t there.
Son, we love you so much and look forward to seeing you, if you can live with these boundaries.
Please let us know if you can do this. If not, we’re sorry your friend is not welcome, but of course you are.
Love, Mom and Dad
If you’d like some talking points I prepared to discuss how same-sex unions and marriages will affect every American, click here: The Effects of Same-Sex Marriages on Society and the Christian Community
Question: What would you add or change in this letter?
On Thursday, I’ll post an interview with an Anglican pastor who battles same-sex attraction, but has chosen to be celibate. I think his thoughtful responses will be a wonderful resource for you.
Following Jesus in Real Life