Why is it so hard for many Christian parents to unconditionally love their LGBTQ child? What is the source of the confusion and struggle? I look forward to answering a question I have heard from so many parents: How can I unconditionally love my gay child?
I write Dear Susan posts every Friday. Sometimes they will be poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read. 🙂
Q am a Christian mom, and my youngest son came out to me last year…after trying to convince myself and him that he is confused, I have decided to put his fate in God’s hands. However, I’m still having trouble accepting this…do you have any advice? I love my son and we have always had a very close relationship and I don’t want this to drive a wedge between us, but I do not like the person he says he is dating. I feel so confused all the time like if I’m supportive I’m letting God down and sending my son the message that I agree with his choice; however, if I’m not supportive I’m letting my son down so how is that unconditional love?? Please help if you can.
A I am so glad you are putting your son’s life in God’s hands. After all, that’s where it’s been all along! …but we do live under the illusion that we determine our kids’ fate, don’t we? You are right in your sense that you cannot change this (you can’t), and you’re right to know your disapproval will drive a wedge between the two of you (it will). And your disapproval would likely have a much more negative impact than you even know.
Should you endorse potentially harmful behavior like drugs, promiscuity, crime – of course not! That would be true regardless of your child’s orientation. Just remember that orientation is not behavior; it’s nothing they choose nor can they change it. To disapprove of orientation is to disapprove of blue eyes or left-handedness. So you are right that conditional approval of who they are is conditional love.
But are you ‘letting God down’? That is so heavy on people’s hearts as they wrestle with this, because we live in a church-age where we are taught that we are supposed to help other people not sin. Jesus does not teach that.
It’s been so deeply embedded in our churches, which focus on sin-management and behavior-modification, that we somehow feel like God put us on duty and we aren’t going to let any sin happen on our watch! No sirree!
God is the one who works in us, and in our children, about all we do in life. Our job is to trust that and do as Jesus taught, love God and love others.
My job is to love my child unconditionally. Period.
Despite your questions and concerns, you have embraced your son. Many parents don’t. I am proud of you. You are doing well. Stay on the journey. Please continue to simply trust God with your son’s journey, and trust God with yours too.
If you have to choose between doing the “right” thing and love – always choose love and you will always be right.
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.