Why Does Having a Gay Kid Change a Parents Theology?
A headline caught my attention a couple of weeks ago. The headline reads “Evangelicals with gay children challenge church.” Being an active participant in the effort to strengthen marriage and convey the biblical definition and image of marriage God designed to the next generation, I couldn’t help but read the article.
The story is about parents, Rob and Linda Robertson, whose 12-year old son Ryan told them he was gay. The Robertson’s sought o help their son by loving him, seeking counseling for him, and through church participation. Sadly though, at age 18, after a six year battle that eventually led to drug use, Ryan overdosed and died.
What strikes me about this story is not the circumstances, the Robertson’s story is one of many that are very similar. (That is a tragic reality of our culture.) Instead, I am struck by the Robertson’s response. They are seeking to help the church change the way it responds to evangelical kids that come out as gay. In essence, the Robertson’s want Christian parents to affirm their kids’ homosexual lifestyle.
Linda Robertson recently said:
“Parents don’t have anyone on their journey to reconcile their faith and their love for their child. They either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child. Rob and I think you can do both: be fully affirming of your faith and fully hold onto your child.”
The issue here is that my love for my children and my faith do not need reconciled.
When my 4-year old daughter does something wrong, like hit her younger brother, I don’t stop loving her. Because I do love her I correct her and I discipline her. My love for her is not absent in my correction or my discipline but underscores those actions. In the same way, my faith is not shaken because my child does something that is human: sin. My faith informs how I will respond and seek to educate and correct the actions of my child.
What seems apparent to me here is that many evangelical parents are not stunned or shocked when their child gets drunk, smokes, or engages in sexual activity outside of marriage. It’s almost as if they expect their kids to do those things because that is what kids do. But, when their child announces that they are gay suddenly their world – and their faith – comes crashing down because that is a sin that many evangelicals have elevated above all others.
Somehow evangelicals have forgotten the clear biblical warnings against being a liar, sexually immoral, or a drunkard (see 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 21:8). Despite clear biblical teaching on the dangers of these sins many parents almost act relieved that their kids “only” get drunk, lie, and sleep around. In fact, the church has become so lax concerning these dangerous sins that we even elect leaders that engage in these sins because…you know…we’re all human.
Linda Robertson also said that, as she sees it, parents “either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child.”
Why does this idea of rejecting and holding onto only seem to come up when we’re talking about homosexuality? I’ve never heard any parent say of their drug addicted child that their only choice was to either hold onto their child or hold onto their faith. And yet that is the perceived course of action when it comes to a child that comes out as gay. All eyes are trained on those parents to see if they will “keep the faith” by rejecting their child, or if they will “love” their child and walk away from their faith.
Somehow we can’t see just how unbiblical that idea is. Does God reject us because we sin? If so then He must really hate me, every day. We are instructed to be like God, to love like Christ. The idea of rejecting our kids in order to “keep the faith” is absurd. But so is the idea of rejecting our faith in order to love our kids.
What if we sought to love our kids the way God loves us by rejecting their sin as we simultaneously love them as people. We know full well that God hates sin and utterly rejects it as the affront to His holiness, righteousness, and character that it is. But He continues to love us unconditionally. And in the same way it is entirely possible for us to keep our faith while loving our child unconditionally.
Let’s be clear though. What I am talking about is not affirming sin. Whether the sin be homosexuality, drugs, drunkenness, or sexual immorality. There is no precedence in scripture for affirming the sin of any person, not even our own child. If God saw fit to kill His own Son as a penalty for sin, there is no room for the acceptance of sin on the part of a Christian. Somehow we only talk about accepting sin when we discuss homosexuality. Clearly homosexual behavior is a sin that God declares wrong, which means Christians can do no less.
I find it more than interesting that many of the leading voices advocating for Christians to accept homosexuality are pastors and religious leaders whose own children have come out as gay. A recent article cites the accounts of James Brownson, Chester Wenger, and Danny Cortez as examples of pastors and leaders who are calling for a new understanding of biblical teaching on homosexuality. Each of them have a child that is gay. These men have never advocated for acceptance of pornography, or drug use, or adultery. And yet somehow when their children announce that they are gay it’s the Bible that needs to change.
This is evidence that many have believed the lie that homosexuality is inherent, that somehow people are born that way and have no hope of ever changing. We’re not willing to tell alcoholics, drug addicts, or sex addicts that they can’t change and should just accept their condition. But we are more than willing to tell homosexuals that God simply isn’t big enough to change them. So we call for a new understanding of the Bible that is more welcoming and affirming of our sin. Oh how we’ve mocked God.
Just as I can love my child unconditionally when he disobeys me or commits any other sin; so can I love him unconditionally when he tells me he’s gay. I can hold firmly to my faith as I do it. It seems to me that parents seeking to affirm homosexuality in light of their gay children do so out of fear. They are desperately afraid of clear biblical teaching that proud, practicing homosexuals are destined for hell and want to find “another way” for their child. As if my sincere intentions and desires can somehow change God’s will. We would do anything for our kids – including die. So it makes sense that a parent would seek a way, any way around the biblically pronounced judgment against homosexuality. But our greatest efforts are futile against God’s divine will. A better use of our time would be to pray earnestly for our children, to share God’s design for sexuality and marriage, and to lovingly call them to repent.
A new understanding of the Bible is not needed. The Bible is plain and clear to anyone that genuinely seeks to understand it. The bottom line is that homosexual behavior, like drug use, drunkenness, lying, and adultery, is wrong. To affirm such behavior and twist the Bible to try and fit our circumstances is dangerous, and sinful.