Well, my heart is broken. Yet another mom has emailed me that their daughter came out to them as gay, and her husband, the girl’s father, kicked her out.
Dad said, “I don’t agree with her lifestyle; she will have to leave.” (Bear in mind there was no “acting on this” yet, no “lifestyle” – it was simply the daughter revealing her heart.) Mom disagrees with Dad – she is wondering how she can continue to live with a husband who would do that to his own daughter.
Unfortunately, this is way too common. With high drugs use and teen suicide rates for kids in this situation, it is a major threat to the actual lives of our precious children.
What the heck are we doing??
To kick your child out of the house is a major issue. Being gay? Not so much. Jesus never ever mentions this. He says to love, period. How does this translate somehow to permission to kick a child out of the house? How does this fit with the Jesus who put people over rules, every time? Tell me how this fits with the Jesus who knocked down the “rules” the religious leaders brought him, every time.
Of course, being divided like this in a marriage is a difficult, excruciating situation.
How does a couple proceed?
I don’t know, but I think you have to err on the side of unconditional love and acceptance – for your child’s sake.
“This is now a house divided,” the father said, but he fails to see that he’s the one who wrongly divided it. He’s the one who drew a line in the sand over his daughter’s behavior. Not even her behavior, just over her heart.
So, here we are. Knowing this dad is wrong to throw out his child – he is wrong – and knowing he may or may not change his tune anytime soon. Knowing that his wife has a difficult road ahead, and knowing how alone she must feel.
I want to rally us as parents to come together to do the right thing – for the sake of our child and our family.
I want to rally other affirming, accepting Jesus-followers to come alongside families like this and say, “What are you doing? Whatever you think about this issue, you can’t throw your daughter out.”
I want to rally this Dad’s male friends to sit down with him and say, “Buddy. This is your daughter. You’re supposed to love her unconditionally. You are Daddy – and if anyone can love her that way, she expects it to be you. Don’t teach her that love is conditional.”
But sadly, much of the church clusters in like-minded groups (we tend to find people who agree with us), so he is likely surrounded by those who share his viewpoint.
But these clusters are breaking down, getting smaller. The truth of Jesus, the truth of his life and love, the truth of scripture is breaking all of this down. It is indeed getting better.
But kids are still kicked out every day. They still turn to drugs every day. They die every day.
We need to speak up in love, come alongside these families and say, “This is not okay. We are here. You are not alone. We will help you.”
You will be glad to know that after a couple of nights to cool down, to consider what he was saying to his daughter, this dad is softening. He has told her she can come home, but no girlfriend. (We’ll give that time.) What he has realized is he doesn’t want to destroy his family. That’s good.
Everything is a process. Everyone needs time to change. I encourage LGBTQ people to be patient with their parents. Realize that their anger is not really about you – it is about what they have been taught on Sunday mornings for so long. But things are changing.
I also encourage parents not overreact and announce ultimatums, to let your spouse’s cooler head (or your own cooler head tomorrow) prevail. Many of those lash-out reactions are simply fear, anger, and a desire to push it all back.
We were clearly instructed to love – unconditionally. Period.
In the end, we will not be remembered for which rules we kept. We’ll be remembered for who and how we loved.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHeartsand Jesus Blog columns.