Many Christian parents live with a real fear that one of their children may someday reveal that they experience same-sex attraction. Others have already had a son or daughter admit to being homosexual and did not know how to respond. One of the reasons this is such a crushing experience for many parents is because they assume that their alternatives are limited to affirmation or alienation.
Every child, whether gay or straight, is oriented toward sin, and so are you. If your child or grandchild says he or she is gay, you shouldn’t act shocked, as though you are surprised your child might be tempted toward sin, or that you find your own sinful inclinations somehow less deserving of God’s judgment.
Your child’s point of temptation doesn’t mean that your entire relationship with him or her should be defined by that. We never affirm something the Bible says is wrong simply because someone we love is drawn toward it, but that doesn’t mean your entire relationship is now to become a sparring match over Romans 1. As a Christian, you believe this person is made in the image of God and thus worthy of love, regardless of how far away from God or from you.
Still, you may be asking, How do I practically respond to this? First of all, consider what your child is telling you. He or she could be saying that this is an identity from which they refuse to repent. That will require a different sort of response than if the child is saying, “This is how I feel, so what do I do?” This will change the way you respond, but what doesn’t change is your love and care for this child. Don’t panic and don’t reject them. Say explicitly that you love that child, no matter what, and mean it. Your relationship wasn’t formed by the child’s performance, and that won’t start now.
If your loved one is a Christian, spend time over the years discipling her about what following Christ looks like. Jesus isn’t shocked by your child’s temptations, and He will not leave him alone to fight them. The path toward chastity and fidelity to Christ is a difficult one. Your child will need you, the church and the “large cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) to cheer her on as she walks a path that can be lonely in a world that too often defines sex and sexuality as ultimate in life.
If your loved one isn’t a Christian, express your love, keep the relationship going and be a gracious gospel witness. God never promises us that our children will all follow Christ. Every wandering son or daughter needs to know that if the moment of crisis comes in his or her life, there’s a house waiting with a fatted-calf party ready to go, welcoming the wanderer home (Luke 15:11-32).
God calls parents to love their children. Be clear about your convictions, but do not exile your child from your life. If we sacrifice grace for truth or truth for grace, we will fall short of displaying Christ to others.
Let’s be people who respond with grace—not just to our kids, but also to the culture at large. This means we call for repentance inside the church and bear witness to God’s pattern for human sexuality outside of the church. Our children will face these issues sooner or later, and we don’t want them to face them alone. So let’s help our children be prepared for what they will encounter in the world and teach them to love as Jesus loved. After all, what our broken world needs more than anything else is to know the love of Christ.
Adapted from Christ-Centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues by Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt
This article originally appeared here.