My son has told me he is a homosexual, which I believe is not true. He went to a Gay Pride parade this past weekend. I'm asking for your prayers because I don't know how to deal with it. I've put up barriers between us, which I shouldn't because he's my son. I ask God to help me with this but I don't know where to even begin or how to talk to Him.
I am so glad you wrote! For the past 8 or so years, I have been working with a ministry (Living Hope Ministries in Arlington TX) that helps people deal with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those who identify as gay. I do send this with a prayer that you will allow this trauma to drive you closer to God and closer to your son, who desperately needs your respect, your attention, your affection, and your affirmation. He needs to know his dad loves him and wants to be a part of his life. Putting up barriers is the exact opposite of what will help your son. Invite him places. . . invest in what is important to him. . . ask him about himself. . . spend time just being WITH him so he gets the all-important message "my dad cares about me. I'm important to him."
There is a free, anonymous, online support group for strugglers and family members like yourself at www.livehope.org. In the "Family and Friends" support group, the executive director of Living Hope and I collaborated on a welcoming post called "So Your Loved One Just Came Out to You." I hope you find it helpful.
Welcome to the Family and Friends forum. We are so glad you're here. . . and we're so sorry you have to be here at all. The Lord has been gracious in bringing you to this place of acceptance, warmth, understanding and prayer support. You are now a part of "The Fellowship of the Broken." That's why we're all here.
So now you know your loved one experiences same sex attraction (SSA). It's usually a horrible shock. You may feel like Alice, having just arrived at the bottom of the White Rabbit's chute. . . but this isn't Wonderland, is it? You'd prefer to be anywhere but this new reality that's been forced on you.
Most people, arriving in this place, have two questions: How can I fix my loved one? And, how do I get my old life back, before the disclosure?
Second question first: "How do I get my old life back?" Well, welcome to your "new normal." We are so sorry—but you can't go back to the place of not knowing. Praise God, though: He lavishes grace on us in times of transition, even (and perhaps especially) this adjustment to your new, post-disclosure world. We pray for you to experience "acceptance grace," that you may receive His empowering to live in this new and unwelcome reality.
Back to the first question: "How can I fix my loved one?" (Or a variation of this question: "Where can I send my loved one to be fixed?") You can't. Only God can. And He usually works on a timetable and with a methodology that is different from ours. Your loved one is not a broken car that you send to the shop, and he or she will resent being viewed as a problem or a project.
The best thing you can do is entrust your loved one into God's hands and leave them there. What you CAN do is wear out your knees in intercessory prayer. The most effective prayers are scripture prayers. May we suggest reading through Paul's epistles and writing down his prayers for his beloved friends, which you then adjust on behalf of your loved one? For example, we have learned that grasping how much God loves us is a huge part of emotional healing, because God's love is the healing agent no matter what plagues us. Consider praying Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) on behalf of your loved one:
And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in his/her heart as s/he trusts in him. May his/her roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may s/he have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May s/he experience the love of Christ, though it is so great s/he will never fully understand it. Then s/he will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
That's #1. But in our ministry, we have learned over the years that when family members come for support and assistance, the greatest need they have is to work on their own "stuff." Every one of us has garbage and scars from living in a fallen world. Every one of us grew up with imperfect parents in an imperfect family. Every one of us has been the recipient of countless "fiery darts" of the Enemy in spiritual warfare. And we all tend to hide our baggage and our scars, all the dark and hurting places of our souls. One wise counselor calls this "Christian denial," and defines it as "denying God access to those places He wants to heal for His glory, and our benefit."
God has brought you to this place in your life where you are ripe for God to do some wonderful, amazing work in your heart. Your loved one's homosexuality is the method He used to invite you to this place, but it's not the issue He wants to deal with in you. He wants your heart; He wants your vulnerability; He wants YOU.
So what do you do next?
Give God permission to work. Open your heart to Him: "Lord, what do you want to do in ME? What do you want me to know about my own heart, my own stuff, that I have been avoiding?" It will be tempting to keep your focus on your loved one—it's much less threatening!—but you need to keep your focus on Jesus. Expect Him to show you things you've been in denial about, but also expect that He will lavish His grace on you to see what He wants to show you. He will never expose the dark and hurting places of your heart to you but that He's not holding those places in His own loving and safe hands.
Spend daily time in the Word, expecting God to meet you there and speak to You through His Word. You may find the Psalms especially meaningful because they are so comforting.
It will be helpful for you to journal this "adventure with God." Many people have reported that it is far more satisfying and helpful to use an actual book (or at least paper) journal instead of a computer. The multi-sensory experience of handling paper—seeing it, hearing it rustle, feeling it in your hands, smelling its fragrance—makes a stronger impression on your brain. Write what's happening and how you feel about what's happening. Write what God is showing you in your time with Him, both in His Word and in prayer. Many people find that they are better able to process what God is doing internally through journaling than any other method, because wrapping words around thoughts and feelings helps us to sort through our jumbled confusion.
Remember and practice Psalm 46:10—"Be still and know that I am God." God wants to soothe and comfort you, but you have to be quiet and still for Him to do that. You may find that listening to praise music may be helpful at times, but there is a time to turn off the music and the TV and the mp3 player and just be still before your God. Let Him love you in those moments.
We tell the SSA (same-sex attracted) strugglers who come to our ministry that the way God will bring healing and change to them is through intimacy with Christ. Many of them learn to also enjoy intimacy with their heavenly Father. That's the goal of all discipleship, which is what God invites you to as well. We're really a discipleship ministry, and whether people are here as overcomers, as strugglers, as family members of strugglers, or those with a passion for those in the struggle, God has the same goal for all of us: spiritual maturity. Abiding in Him is the way to grow more like Jesus, no matter which door into this place of growth and healing you came through—even a rabbit hole.
We are glad you're here, and we pray that you will allow God to do such a deep work in you that at some point, you will be able to look back at this time and say, "It was horrible, it was incredibly painful. . . and it was the best thing that ever happened to me."
With prayer for rich blessings in your journey,
Sue Bohlin (Living Hope Board Member)
From Ricky Chelette, Executive Director of Living Hope Ministries:
I AMEN to all that my wise sister has shared. I see so many parents, particularly of teens and young adults, that look at this struggle like a bad case of acne. They often think, "Well, this is a phase and after a bit of counseling, some more Bible study and rededication to Jesus, maybe even a conference or two, my kid is going to be fine." I wish it were that easy but you have to remember that we are dealing with relational brokenness. This is not making a bad decision to stay out past curfew, this is thinking the wrong things about who you are and believing those wrong things as truth.
As a result, God has to do some major work in the heart and life of those who struggle. You are not God. Therefore YOU can't do anything but love and encourage your son/daughter to seek wise counsel, Godly advice, and more of Jesus. I really wish this didn't sound as "churchy" of an answer as it does, but the fact remains that we are broken and once broken, we forever carry the scars of that brokenness in our lives. Yes, Jesus does bring healing, that is His promise to us on Calvary, but the process of sanctification and total relational healing will likely not happen until He comes again to redeem and reclaim His creation at the end of time.
St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in 297 wrote, "That which Jesus has not assumed (or taken upon himself), He cannot heal."
He assumes our sins as WE are willing to confess our sins and bring them to Him. We can not confess sins for others, only for ourselves. Your son/daughter has to get to that place and what it might take to get them there is only God's knowledge. You cannot create contrition. That is the work of God's Spirit.
Also please understand that the problem your child has is not homosexuality (though that is what we label it), it is sin. Sin is sin and it always deceives, kills and destroys. It does that in your life, my life and it does it in your child's life as well. They have to grasp the sin problem and the ONLY one who can convict us of sin is the Holy Spirit (notice mom, that I've said that twice! <smile>). Therefore, pray that God would use His Holy Spirit to convict and convince the heart and mind of your son/daughter so that he/she might see the error of his/her way and return to living for the Lord.
Despite what I sometimes hear from evangelical Christians, homosexuality does NOT keep a person from heaven any more than cheating, stealing, or telling "white lies." All those things are sin and all are bad and separate us from God, but they are also all covered by the blood of Christ on the cross. Granted, as humans, we tend to categorize sin and make some much worse than others. God doesn't do that. He says that what keeps us out of the Kingdom of heaven is not trusting in Him with our whole heart as our Savior and Lord. A person who thinks he/she is gay can be a Christian. They won't be a happy Christian, or truly intimately related to Christ, but they can be a Christian. I believe that God, in His incredible mercy and grace, will continue to reach out to them, woo them to Himself and draw them until that day when He calls them home. So never ever ever give up! God will hear your prayers for He fights for the souls of those who have "wandered from the way" (Matt. 18:12-13). God loves them more than you do—so wow, that's a lot!!
Keep in mind too that your task is not to "save your kid," but to show Jesus to them in everything you do. That is such a hard order for everyone and especially if your child has a partner. Do you allow the partner to come to your house, participate in your family activities, hang out with the rest of the family? Of course this is a very personal choice and one that you need to make with lots of prayer and discussion with your spouse. That being said, the question remains: How do you show Jesus to your child and their partner? Is kicking them out of family gatherings the way to do that? Personally, I don't think so, but maybe others here will feel differently. Remember, however, that your child loves this person and rejecting the partner will be akin to rejecting the child even though that is NOT what you are trying to communicate. I DO think it is perfectly reasonable to ask them NOT to show public displays of affection, not to sleep in the same room/bed, etc. Those are things that you would ask your child to do if they were in a heterosexual relationship and you were trying to uphold Biblical standards in your home. If there are small children around, you might have to think about the implications of that as well and if/how you want to talk to the children about it. I use to think that it was not good to expose them to such things, but with the popularity of homosexuality in our culture and media (need I say, "Brokeback Mountain" or "Will and Grace"), I think it might be best for them to hear the TRUTH from you rather than an interpretation of truth they would get in the streets.
We all know that this journey can be overwhelming, confusing and at times, even debilitating. Do not allow the devil to steal from you the hope that is in Christ Jesus. Do not be worn down by the familiarity and insistence of your child that this is "normal" so that you redefine Truth. Come here and post your frustrations, concerns, joys and victories. We have seen many make it out, hundreds of thousands in fact, and we have seen God do amazing things in the lives of the struggler as well as their family members. If you will allow it, this can be the greatest thing that has happened in your family. I am convinced that God wants to use it for good if you will let Him.
© 2007 Probe Ministries
About the Author
Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker with Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 35 years. She is a frequent speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board and as a small group leader of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Tapestry Blog. She is also a professional calligrapher and the webmistress for Probe Ministries; but most importantly, she is the wife of Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075