With about 1 million same-sex couples—some legally “married,” some living as partners—in our nation today, it is important for believers to know how to respond and relate to this trend. It will become more prevalent, and polls suggest that new generations coming on will only become more accepting of it. It is a late-20th and 21st-century phenomenon (the widespread practice and acceptability of it—with mayors of large cities leading “Gay Pride” parades). It will possibly, if not probably, touch every one of us up close and personally through a family member or close friend, neighbor, church-family member, or acquaintance. Thus, I introduced some thoughts on this subject in the previous “You and God” post. In today’s installment, I want to continue with some “Do’s and Don’ts” when confronted with this situation.
I write not as a professional counselor but as a pastor whose only counsel is the Word of God and His wisdom, which is from above; and I draw upon a half-century of pastoral experience, for what that is worth. I write with a broken and burdened heart for our peoples, but with a heart full of love and compassion for all who are victims to Satan’s deception, and for the extended circle of family and friends whose lives are turned upside down by those startling words, “I am gay.” When you hear that from a person you care deeply about, I would like to offer some “Do’s” and some “Don’ts.” I will begin with the “Don’ts”:
- Hearing that may be like suddenly learning of an unexpected death in the family. Satan’s victim may have struggled with it for years before “coming out,” while you may have been clueless. So, try to allow yourself some time to process this news, and even grieve over it, before you react to it. It may well be like the death of one dear, so give yourself some time alone and with God. The don’t here is: “Don’t immediately launch into a hyper reaction to what you just learned.”
- Don’t reject or disown your loved one or friend who has decided to be honest with you. Read the account of the prodigal son in Luke 15, and study the devastated father’s reaction to the preposterous request of the younger son for his part of Dad’s inheritance early. Ask for God’s grace to respond, when you do respond, with the same steadiness, maturity, faith, hope and love that the father of the prodigal demonstrated, praying for the same outcome.
- Don’t assess blame. Do not blame God for not keeping His promise that if you train up a child in the way that he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Provs. 22:6) That, like many of Solomon’s proverbs, is a general rule of life, to which there may be and are often exceptions. Compare Cain and Abel, Isaac and Esau, Joseph and his often-wicked brothers—and many more, all of whom had the same upbringing. Do not blame yourself. Blame sin and Satan, and the “old nature.” You cannot and should not blame anyone else.
- Don’t bombard him (allow me to use “him” in the remainder of this post, for brevity, realizing that it is often a “her”) with a bunch of scripture verses, or knock him over the head by calling him the worst names you can drudge up. He probably already knows the verses and suffers from the guilt accompanied by sin.
- Don’t cut him off from any further visits with the family, contacts, or communication.
- Don’t dismiss this as a “passing phase” that he will one day move on from, or out of.
- Don’t beat him down as an abject failure in life.
- Don’t fail to recognize the crux of the problem as being spiritual and originating in the heart, like all sin that has resulted from the fall of man into sin.
- Don’t try to figure out the why of this. Some will say he was born that way, some will ascribe it to environmental factors, etc. The truth is: No provable reason can be offered except that Satan is a master deceiver and appeals to our fallen sin nature with the lie that this is desirable, pleasurable, and something one should not be reticent to do if the urge is there. Some will believe that lie and participate in this sinful practice, much as some are gluttons, alcoholics, pornographers, liars, thieves, covetous, and more.
- Don’t fail to assure him of your unconditional love, even though you hate the sin, allowing and praying for God’s love to flow through you to him unimpeded.
Now, for some “Do’s”:
- As stated above, but now positively: Always affirm your love to the one who has shattered your dreams with the words “I am gay.” God can do this through you, as God does and will always love your loved one. Remember, you too are a “broken” piece of humanity, just the same as all sinners, needing God’s love and grace.
- Pray, pray, pray—and never cease praying—for him, not despairing even though the answer may not come soon.
- Keep the lines of communication open on your side.
- Acknowledge that this is sin; he knows it, and to call it anything else would be scripturally untrue (cf. the previous post on this subject).
- Be ready, anxious, and willing to restore him upon repentance. Again, the prodigal son’s father in Luke 15 is a sterling example.
- Affirm the self-worth of the person. Yes, he is broken and has transgressed God’s law, but if he has achieved success in other worthwhile endeavors, acknowledge that with praise.
- Let him know that he is welcome to come home at any time.
- Trust God’s Holy Spirit to work in his heart and know that the key to your loved one’s redemption will be, not your logic, but your love and God’s irresistible grace applied to one’s heart by the Holy Spirit.
- Consider—if you still have children at home—not allowing your kids to do a “sleep-over” in the home of a friend. Too, too many children have been exposed to drugs and/or molestation in the home of someone that had been a trusted friend of the family. Just a word to the wise. I have heard the anguish in the voices of parents and grandparents whose kids’ lives have ended in apparent ruin (some in suicides) because of “sleep-overs.”
- Cling to and cultivate an attitude of HOPE! No circumstance is beyond the reach of our great God, so cast this burden upon Him and continue to hope that what you never could do, God can—and will—do according to His good pleasure.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)
Note: I highly recommend the book “A Changed Affection” by Becket Cook, who was deceived into the practice and pursuit of same-sex relationships from a fairly early childhood experience (exposed in a sleep-over). He was powerfully converted to Christ and transformed by God’s grace, with a mission now to share his testimony with others. The book will impact you and encourage you immeasurably.