What should we say to our college-age son who claims to be a "gay Christian?" He believes God has told him that there's nothing wrong with homosexuality and that interpretations of the Bible to the contrary are in error. Worst of all, he's been sharing these ideas with his brother (who, by the way, is disgusted with him), and he wants to explain them to his younger siblings as well. At some moments I'm so angry I could scream. Other times I just sit and cry. We love our son, but we don't want this kind of influence in our home. What should we do?
First, we want you to know that our hearts go out to you and our prayers are with you in the midst of this painful and exasperating situation. The firestorm of conflicting emotions you're experiencing – crying one moment, angry the next – is simply what we should expect of concerned and loving parents in your position. Your feelings are normal, understandable, and completely justified. So don't blame yourself for reacting in this way, and don't assume responsibility for decisions your son has made as an autonomous young adult. He's old enough to be his own person now, and a burden of false guilt will only hinder you from showing him God's love in the most effective way.
How do you relate to your son now that he's told you straight out that he considers himself a "gay Christian"? Generally speaking, we suggest that you treat him as you would any other adult who is old enough to choose his own path in life. If he wishes to remain in your home, it should be on the same basis as any other boarder, renter, or tenant. He should know the house rules (we'd recommend you give them to him in written form, as a contract), respect your beliefs and values, and agree to abide by the standards you've established in order to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of every member of the family.
You can start by insisting that he refrain from discussing homosexuality with his younger siblings. To this you should probably add some stipulations regarding his behavior with any "friends" he may elect to bring into your home. For example, clarify that there will be no overt displays of homosexual affection nor any sharing of the same room while under your roof. Ask him if he would be willing to sit down with you and an objective third party – preferably a trained Christian counselor – who would be able to facilitate healthy communication between you. Don't be afraid to tell him that his announcement has sent you and the entire family into a tailspin, and that for this reason you feel the need to seek professional assistance.
Meanwhile, arrange a meeting with the other members of the family. Using age-appropriate language where necessary, explain to them what's going on with their brother. Acknowledge and empathize with their emotional reactions to the situation, remembering that each one of your children may need help sorting out his or her feelings. Make it clear that while you remain committed to biblical standards of morality, you cannot possibly stop loving your son, and that as a result he is welcome to stay in the house as long as his behavior conforms to the rules. Ask the other children to join you in your efforts to treat him with love and respect.
If your son decides that he cannot abide by your guidelines, invite him to begin the process of moving out of the house and pursuing his new-found lifestyle in an independent setting. Don't fuss or argue. Just let him know that while you love him dearly, your Christian convictions won't allow you to condone what you regard as sexual immorality. Help him understand that the choice is his to make.
If he persists in arguing that the Bible has nothing to say against homosexuality, remind him gently that the evidence all points in the opposite direction. Just remember that there is probably very little to be gained by way of disputation – on the whole, a case like this calls for generous amounts of patience and prayer. If you need help in this area, you might want to consider some of the recommended resources highlighted below.
In closing, we can't overemphasize the importance of enlisting the help of a professional counselor. Here at Focus on the Family headquarters we have a staff of trained family counselors whose job it is to dispense sound advice and practical assistance over the phone. They can also provide you with references to reputable Christian therapists practicing in your area. Call our Counseling department for a free consultation.
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