Q: Dr. Linda, my son recently told me (his dad) that he is gay. I am having the most difficult time because of my Christian faith. It bothers me to think of him with other men. How do I deal with this?
A. Many parents don’t know how to approach their children and end up cuting off their relationships. But gay sons and lesbian daughters need parental love even when they don’t have approval for the lifestyles.
I talked to a dad not too long ago who said he couldn’t talk or even look at his gay son. Consequently he’d been avoiding him for over six months. He kept thinking about his son with another man and couldn’t stomach the thought. He asked, “Why should I talk to him? He’s living a life my faith does not support.”
My answer was simple, “He’s your son. He’s a person and he still needs a dad.” I asked him these four questions:
1) Did you love your son prior to knowing his sexual identity? His answer was, “Yes, of course.” Then remember that he is still a part of you. He’s still your son. You don’t have to accept his gay lifestyle, but you love him unconditionally. That’s the model of Christ. God doesn’t always find us acceptable. We sin, disappoint Him, but He loves us just because we are His children. Love him, he is your child.
2) Does his sexuality define your relationship? Surely there is more between you and your son than his sexual identity. Focus on those aspects of the relationship. Stay connected and committed to wanting the best for him. Many gays struggle with feelings of inadequacy. You don’t want to add to those feelings by rejecting your own child who is desperate for your love.
3) As difficult as it is to do, try to get to know him. Ask him about his journey and how his sexual identity has impacted his life. Know his story. It will help you know how to specifically pray for him.
4) What would Jesus do? It’s a cliché now because of all the times we’ve seen and heard it. But it is still a good question. Jesus loves the gay person as much as the straight person. He came to earth to heal the broken-hearted not avoid them. Your child is in a difficult place if he is cut off from you. Ask God for the wisdom to deal with him. Your acceptance of him may be key. Rather than alienating your son, be a part of healing his hurts. He probably knows your struggle. But he wants your love. Loving him does not mean you agree with his lifestyle.
5) Consider family counseling. It may be helpful to find a Christian counselor who can help you talk to your son and keep the relationship going. The focus would not be on trying to change each other, but on how to be in a relationship. I am sure both of you know how the other feels. He was raised in your family and knows your position on his lifestyle. Now he is being honest about his. You can talk about why you both feel the way you do, your beliefs and faith, boundaries, and how to continue to be in a relationship with differences. Having those types of conversations may take the help of a third party.