Are You Really Rejecting Your LGBTQ Kids?

By Joe Dallas Published on November 22, 2023

If you’re a Christian with a gay or trans child, and you want a lecture on how wrong your beliefs are, just browse YouTube.

There you’ll find a mother telling her adoring Ted Talks audience that, when forced to choose between her evangelical church and her lesbian daughter, she chose her daughter. Then there’s the Reformed Presbyterian pastor announcing his resignation from the denomination because of the harm its non-affirming policies did to his gay son. And there’s Piers Morgan, cross-examining Christian entertainer Kirk Cameron as to why Cameron wouldn’t affirm a gay son, if he had one.

The message is clear: affirm your children or reject your children. And there’s no Curtain Number Three.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This holiday season plenty of believers (most of them parents) will feel this pressure to choose between belief and love. When their invitations to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner go out, they’ll be surprised, then heartsick, to receive an RSVP telling them “Cannot Attend Unless You Affirm.”

This usually comes when a son or daughter has recently declared they’re LGBT and/or Q. The parents said they loved their child even if they cannot approve. They expressed their hope that the relationship can still thrive.

It’s a reasonable hope. No one completely approves of anyone, no matter how deep their love. Disapproval happens, often based on political or religious differences. When it does, mature adults recognize it without needlessly highlighting it, and the relationship stays intact.

There is indeed a Curtain Number Three in this discussion. We can stay true to the Word of God and (not “but!”) also remain true to the deep love we hold for family members who have chosen not to walk in truth.

So one party at Thanksgiving dinner may disapprove of something about the other (the Baptist who wishes his Episcopal cousin would skip the wine) while recognizing the other’s right to decide. Each person at the table recognizes others’ right to do disagree. We clarify, we negotiate if needed, then we pass the turkey. Differences don’t mean cutting the ties that bind.

Unless, that is, those differences are about sexuality. This is understandable to a point. Announcements of “I’m now in a same-sex relationship” or “I’m transitioning” are galaxies away from disapproval over cocktails. They require much more grace and negotiation. Still, it shouldn’t seem unreasonable to ask that principles of fairness and respect for differences would apply, even in tough family scenarios.

The “Either/Or” Fallacy

Reasonable or not, it may be naïve. A growing number of Christian parents face an “either/or” fallacy. Also called the “false dichotomy” or the “false dilemma,” the “either/or” fallacy presents only two choices or outcomes, ignoring that others exist.

The YouTube videos cited earlier are a good case in point. Parents seem compelled to choose between loving their kids’ gayness or rejecting their gay kids. The mother in one of them reported choosing her lesbian daughter over her church. How likely is it her church forced her to make that choice? It may have been more honest to say she made that choice herself: She chose a gay-affirming view and rejected her church’s traditional view. Did she need to imply her church was so harsh as to say “It’s Us or Her!”?

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Likewise, the Reformed Pastor who resigned over the denomination’s position on same-sex marriage said, in essence, that the biblical view described in Genesis (Genesis 2:24) and reiterated by Christ Himself (Matthew 19:4-6) damaged his son. His message seems to be that his only options were to affirm that “damage” or love his son.

Christian parents facing such a dilemma feel cornered: They must amputate their conscience or else amputate their relationship with their child. It’s an impossible choice. But it’s not necessary.

Reconsider the Source

This is symptomatic of a bizarre twist of roles. The Body of Christ, the Light of the World (Matt. 5:14-16) is being told which sins it may or may not condemn. Worse, its instructions are coming from the very culture this Light is meant to illuminate. Plainly put, the world is telling us which sins deserve condemnation, and how transgressors will be punished.

Too many of us are listening, and the effect is disastrous. Consider the Barna Group’s findings a few years back, noting that 55% of American pastors were uncomfortable discussing controversial social topics, fearing they’d offend people. LGBTQ topped the fear list.

The people they feared offending? Those in the pews, they claimed. And what was the source that was influencing people in the pews to be offended by truths about sexuality? Hint: It wasn’t the Bible.

Too many of us are being educated by a school we never should have enrolled in. Lectured by cultural voices, they adopt views that are foreign to Scripture but familiar to society. Parents face cruel rejection from their own children, plus scathing accusations, even from religious voices, that they are the ones guilty of rejecting their own children. They hear themselves asking, “Is it them or is it me? Should I abandon my views? If I don’t, will I have abandoned my child?”

“What Saith The Scripture?”

We could always do worse than to ask that question Paul posed to the Romans in Romans 10:8. The Bible not only tells us what is true, but how to present that truth. With that in mind, let’s review three talking points parents can make when presented the “affirm me or reject me” threat.

#1 “We have a Creator who created us with good intentions. Is it fair to say that I am rejecting you because I believe you could live in a way that’s closer to His intentions?” (See Genesis chapters 1-3)

This shows you don’t view homosexuality as the worst of sins, but as one of many behaviors outside of God’s will. Even to the non-believer, it should seem reasonable that if someone believes there is a Creator, they must also believe some behaviors are part of His intent, and some are not.

#2 “Jesus Himself noted there’s such a thing as sexual sin, and he told people to turn from it. Yet He hardly rejected those people. On the contrary, He showed them grace and respect without compromising His views. Can you not allow me to do the same?” (See John 8:1-11)

This points out the inaccuracy of the “disapproval equates rejection” position, citing Jesus and the adulterous woman as Exhibit 1.

#3 “I’m not threatening to end our relationship just because of your sexuality, though I do disagree with you on it. Is it for you to threaten ending our relationship just because you disagree with me on it?” (See 1 Corinthians 5: 12-13)

This shows you are not coercing your loved one over this disagreement. Instead you are appealing to his/her sense of fairness to not coerce you.

We must avoid the errors of Christians who’ve shown a very unbiblical contempt for homosexual people. But let’s also avoid the error of thinking we must comply. There is indeed a Curtain Number Three in this discussion. We can stay true to the Word of God and (not “but!”) also remain true to the deep love we hold for family members who have chosen not to walk in truth.

 

Joe Dallas is an author, conference speaker, and ordained pastoral counselor. He directs a biblical counseling ministry for those dealing with sexual and relational problems, and with their families as well. He is the author of Desires in Conflict, The Game Plan, When Homosexuality Hits Home, Five Steps to Breaking Free from Porn and his latest, Speaking of Homosexuality.

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