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Responding in Love to an Adult Gay Child

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You may feel hurt by your child's decision to "come out." But remember, this is not something they have done "to" you.

If you’ve ever heard the words “I’m gay” from a son or daughter, the announcement probably came as the shock of a lifetime. You likely cycled through an entire catalog of extreme emotions: shock, disbelief, anger, guilt. Then came the questions for you and your spouse: Why did this happen? Where did we fail? And how do we as Christians and loving parents respond to our child’s proclaimed homosexuality?

Stephen Arterburn, best-selling author and respected Christian psychologist, says many parents of homosexual children withhold love and affection because they’re afraid to appear approving of the gay lifestyle. The truth is that your child needs unconditional love and acceptance more than ever. Withholding love will only make a difficult situation worse. Remember that acceptance is not the same thing as approval. Acceptance means acknowledging what is true. It does not mean you must compromise your convictions about what constitutes right and wrong, nor does it mean you condone homosexual behavior and practices.

Chances are your son or daughter wrestled long and hard with the decision to confess their homosexuality to you. They braced for judgment and rejection. That’s why it’s all the more important you let them know they are valued and loved as much as ever.

You should feel comfortable stating your concerns about the morality, health risks and potential dangers involved with the gay lifestyle. But don’t belabor things. It’s especially important that whatever statements you make be couched in love. The important message remains: I love you and accept you — that will never change.

You may feel hurt by your child’s decision to “come out.” But remember, this is not something they have done “to” you. Their homosexuality is not something they conjured up to purposely embarrass or punish you. It’s most likely been a painful secret they’ve kept hidden for years precisely because they feared you would be hurt. This is your child’s struggle, your child’s wound. As a loving parent — and a Christian — you must be mature and courageous. Now is the time to show your child the same grace and unconditional love that Jesus shows to all of us who struggle with sin in our lives. Pray for wisdom, understanding and the right words to say in this difficult and delicate situation.

Withholding love from your hurting child will only make a difficult situation worse. You may feel hurt by your child’s decision to “come out.” But remember, this is not something they have done “to” you.

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