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 LGBTQ son or daughter who wanted to bring his partner home for a holiday that was true to the Bible, intellectually honest and gracious.
So, here’s my best attempt to summarize the most important points we should make, stated with love and 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 expect in your home. By the way, I occasionally the term “gay“ as shorthand for LGBTQ.
Our Dear Michael,
Your mother and I want to make sure you know this above all; we love you, and always will. We look forward to seeing you and meeting your partner for Easter. However, to avoid what could be any misunderstanding or awkward moments we thought we’d put our thoughts and expectations 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 and 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. Parts of relationship will undoubtedly change as a result of some of your choices, but our love for you will never change.
Up front we want you to understand once again that we don’t believe simply being gay, or same-sex attracted is a sin. However, sin has contaminated and distorted 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), God established his moral laws. These laws, found in the Bible put boundaries on my behavior and yours and tell me that regardless of my feelings, impulses, or hormones, “you shall not”.
A thief may not steal, nor can a married person commit adultery and follow their heart because “that’s the way God wired me.” 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.
Son, we know you've found other Christians who have a completely different interpretation of the scripture passages that to us appear to clearly prohibit same sex, sexual relations. I'm no theologian, but I found this paper (https://www.centerforfaith.com/resources) written by Dr. Preston Sprinkle, president of The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender very helpful. It's entitled, “15 Afirming Arguments and 15 Responses.“ While you undoubtably won't agree with his conclusions, it's a respectful, biblical explanation of why non-affirming Christians believe affirming people have addressed what you’ve called the “clobber passages” looking an interpretation that fits their hearts and passions. The truth is the Bible is full of “inconvenient truths” and hard teachings I wish weren’t there either. Please honor me by at least reading it and I'll read anything you send me. (If it’s not too long!
Obviously, our prayer is that you’d accept God’s wisdom and authority in your life even if you don't understand it. We don't always ourselves.
And for the record, what we believe isn't just an Evangelical hang up. All major religions and people groups on every continent, from every race for all of recorded history have believed marriage is between man and a woman until maybe 50 years ago.
You’ve asked us this painful question, “Do you mean God expects me to live alone the rest of my life?” It‘s no different than the choices heterosexual, single Christians have made, or were required to make for 2,000 years – to be celibate. And the Bible doesn’t prohibit you from having a roommate, although that might be very unwise for you to have a male roommate if you cannot resist the temptation to remain celibate.
So what does this mean practically in our relationship?
Your male friend will be warmly welcomed in our home with you, but we are asking you to respect certain boundaries. For example, we are asking you not to share a room or a bed together when you are here. You know we would expect the same if one of your straight siblings were single and had a girl friend. If you eventually decide to marry we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We also ask that you not openly display affection for each another in front our younger grandchildren. They are too young to understand and their parents, your siblings do not want to have this conversation with them yet and your open affection for one another, or talk of marriage will be very confusing for them.
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 grandchildren either. We don’t want them thinking that by our silence, we approve, and we don’t want to embarrass you or your partner in front of them by having to respond to you, if you do.
I know how badly you want the whole family to accept who you are sexually, which we can. You are who you are. 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. We’d love to have both of you join us for worship on a Sunday, but you’re an adult so you can make that choice yourself.
We’d be honored to sit down with you and discuss any topics sepearate from the grandchildren if you wish. On the other hand, we’re content to just enjoy each other this weekend and to get to know better, a person so important to you. These are uncharted waters for all of us. We’d love it if we could start this journey with you well and make your partner feel at home.
Son, we love you so much and look forward to seeing you, if you can live with our wishes please let us know
before you arrive. If not, we’re sorry, then your friend is not welcome, but of course you always are.
Love, Mom and Dad