Please Keep Talking

Today sons and daughters will come out to their parents. For the very first time they’ll tell their moms and dad about feelings they’ve most likely had for a long time.

Tomorrow the same thing will happen. And the day after that.

Families looking forward to hearing about their child’s first day of school today will be the family that someday listens to the same child say, “I’m transgender.”

It may be a month or a year or ten years, but your family may be the family who is faced with responding to a child coming out to you.

Will you know what to say? How to respond?

Will love be the first emotion you convey?

little boyThankfully more and more young parents are aware of the fact that they may be raising an LGBTQ child. These parents realize everything they say now, even at the earliest stages of their children’s lives, will impact how the child feels about himself/herself. How they respond to any mention of sexual orientation, whether it’s in conversation or watching LGBTQ characters in a television show, will influence their children’s attitudes. Most importantly, they’re creating an environment in which their children may or may not feel safe to come to them freely and open up about their sexuality.

That’s why it’s so important to keep these conversations going.

To help parents learn how to respond down the road.

By creating a safe environment for their children now.

A few weeks ago I saw a comment in response to a post on social media that was most disturbing. The person commenting was bothered by any mention of the LGBTQ community. The person insisted that there was too much conversation about LGBTQ issues, and that in Christian circles especially, there shouldn’t be such talk. Talking about something just makes it that much bigger, so this person believed.

There’s truth to that. Talking about something creates more awareness and has the potential to deepen our understanding. And with this conversation, that’s precisely what’s needed. More conversation is desperately needed, because in many Christian circles there is still such hesitance, such fear, such embarrassment, that we are loath to talk. We need to talk about sexuality even more because one of those families who hasn’t even contemplated the possibility that they may be raising an LGBTQ child is going to be faced with this question today.

mom & daughterThis afternoon while you’re driving her home from school.

Tonight, after supper.

Or at bedtime, when he comes to sit on the edge of your bed to talk.

And I can’t bear the thought that you wouldn’t immediately hug her. Hold him. Put your hands on her face, just like my mother did with me, and tell her that there’s nothing she could ever say or do or think or feel that would cause you not to love her. Sit and listen for as long as he wants to talk. Ask him to tell you what life has been like for him.

We must have these conversations now, to help prepare all of us with what to say – and not say – in response. We must talk in our families and in our churches and with friends until we get past our awkwardness and shame, our embarrassment and fear. This conversation must be ongoing, because there are parents today who need to know how to respond tomorrow. Next month. Next year.

dad & son fishing

And in five years, maybe someone in your family will feel safe to open up to you and tell you he’s gay.

Because you’ve been creating space for him to tell you anything all this time. Then you can reassure him that you love him. Most importantly, that God loves him.

So please, keep talking.

6 Thoughts

  1. I remember I told my mom and dad on valentines day when I was 14 that I struggled with same-sex attraction. My mom didn’t talk to me for weeks. My dad just didn’t know what to do and just dismissed it and pushed it under the rug. I remember reading the story of the prodigal son before telling them.

    1. So courageous for a 14 year old boy to open up like that to his parents. I know how scary that is, and how much it helps to have parents who know how to ask questions and reassure us that we’re loved. I’m so sorry that you didn’t get that then. How are things with your family now?

  2. sallygary:

    I hear your pain and frustration. I sense the level of your emotions. And I empathize with much of your article. Love is the only thing that can overcome such feelings. Christians must consistently exhibit love and be willing to assist a struggling friend or family member……or total stranger. One of your concerns (criticisms) is the lack of any “solutions” – just criticism and rejection.

    Your feelings and emotions are very real and should be considered when trying to find a “solution”. But, on the other hand, the biblical teaching on issues we have come to call LGBT, must also be included in the “solution”. Our “feelings” about any issue will not be the criteria for judgment. God has outlined his requirements for obedience in all areas of our lives. He has also stated that obedience, coupled with His grace, will be the measure of our lives.

    What do you suppose will be His reaction to a person who is “straight”, but is addicted to sex (or alcohol, or lying, or greed, or gossip, or …….) when evaluating (judging) their obedience to His will? In the final analysis, what He sees when our life is compared to His instructions for living faithfully, will be the verdict. I can say I love you even though I do not know you. I can say also that I want to see you in Heaven. God wants to see you in Heaven. He has done all He can do to ensure that. We must accept His gift of salvation, but it must be on His terms and conditions. If we are not in obedience with His will, then WE must change.

    You have suggested that the Nashville Statement offered no solutions, just criticism. Even if that is true, and I must admit I have not read it, then maybe the “solution” for you can be found by engaging someone who signed that document in a sincere effort to try to understand one another’s (and God’s) position. Don’t just join the camp of the critics, but create a new camp of peacemakers dedicated to determining and obeying the will of God ….. who will have the final say.

    God bless.

    Ray Hooper

    1. Thanks for writing, Ray. I, too, believe in assuming best motives and giving people a lot of grace when I don’t know them personally. I would welcome the chance to sit down with any of these signers and talk over a cup of coffee, as brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s what the ministry of CenterPeace does – create space for conversation- and we host Peacemaker seminars for church leaders to help better understand the LGBTQ community. Here’s a link to our website: https://www.centerpeace.net
      Please let us know if you’re interested in talking more.

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