The following was written by Christian parents who are an active part of the Strength in Weakness ministry. As you’ll see, this couple has two wonderful children they love very much, one of whom has fully transitioned to female. To respect this family’s need for confidentiality, we have changed their names and any other identifiers. As a Christian organization that offers help to Jesus-followers who live with unwanted, same-sex attractions and parents of LGBTQIA+ children, we have the privilege of encountering courageous people like this time and time again. We believe that there is a way to address these controversial, multifaceted, and emotional issues in a manner that doesn’t lower the traditional Biblical sexual ethic and yet, at the same time, uplifts the love, mercy, and compassion of Christ. We trust you will find that this moving account exudes both attitudes. We thank this mom and dad and their two adult children for allowing their story to be told.
- Guy Hammond; Executive Director, Strength in Weakness Ministries
After coming out of the hospital, Tim decided to postpone school so that he could receive further counselling. We found a Christian counsellor in another state who said he could help Tim, but only if he could see him every day for six months. There was a Christian family in that city that took our son in so he could go to these daily appointments. To this day, we are deeply thankful to this family, who helped us in our time of desperate need.
It was during this time that we found out the shocking news that Tim had been sexually abused when he was seven years old. He was now 20 and had never told anyone. How could this be? As parents, we had tried to shelter our children and protect them even with those we trusted as babysitters. It was extremely painful for us to learn that our dear son had kept this excruciating secret for all those years, hence dealing with the internal battles regarding his sexuality.
Needing an outlet for his anger, Tim chose his dad as the target. The counsellor explained to Ed that it is common for people going through challenges of this type to place the responsibility of what has happened to them on someone or something other than the actual culprit, so Ed became the center of Tim’s anger. As painful as this was, one of the most important lessons Ed learned during this season was that to help his son heal, it would not be helpful to defend himself over something Tim said had occurred, even though Ed had no recollection of saying or doing it. Ed reasoned that he couldn’t change history or what his child was recalling but he could apologize and ask for forgiveness to ease the pain and help clear the path for healing; that if the goal was harmony with his son, he needed to remove any barriers that were there, real or perceived. Ed also feared that he might lose his relationship with his son. He had witnessed his own father and brother ignore one another for years as adults, and sadly, his father died before the two could reconcile. It took humility for Ed to listen and ask for forgiveness to help his son heal from past hurts, but it was well worth it.
Tim eventually went back to school and finished his degree at university but found it too daunting to enter the world of professional dance. As he was coming out of the depression, Tim told us that he had decided to leave God and the church and move in another direction with his life.
Within that next year, he met a guy and began a gay relationship that lasted for the next seven years. Obviously, as Christians who believe that participating in homosexuality is sinful, we struggled greatly with this but decided that we needed to focus on loving our son, and even his partner, to keep the lines of communication open. We knew that our ultimate goal was that our son would one day return to Christ, and with him, his partner. We were kind and hospitable, opening up our lives and hearts to both of them.
This was an incredibly challenging time for us as our family beliefs, values, and convictions were challenged by Tim on one side and brothers from the church on the other. We told Tim that he was always welcome to come home with his same-sex partner but that they could not spend the night together in our house. That was a line we just were not willing to cross, and we hoped they would respect that boundary. While Tim thought that this was harsh and unfair, brothers in the church told Ed he was not harsh enough. Eventually, our son wrote a letter announcing that they would not visit under these conditions. Our hearts were torn and broken.
Admittedly, we did not teach on the subject of homosexuality in our home as the kids were growing up. Call it ignorance or naivety, the subject was never broached until Tim announced he was gay. With the gift of 20/20 hindsight, we realize that this was a mistake. It would have been highly beneficial for our son to have had the opportunity to bring what he was experiencing into the light within the safe and loving confines of his home. Had we gently initiated this conversation, it would have helped him unpack what he was feeling and given us the chance to help him understand that there is a place for him in Jesus’ church; that experiencing attractions to the same gender is not an excluder of him being a disciple of Jesus.
Today we encourage parents to have these kinds of honest conversations with their children, in an age-appropriate manner, teaching them what the Bible teaches. In doing so, you will not only be fulfilling your role as a Christian parent by keeping the Bible alive in your home but you will also be creating an open, safe environment for your children to be honest and unafraid to talk about what they may be questioning.
We also realize that we had put an unfair burden on the church, assuming that the teen leaders and ministers would be the best ones to deal with these issues as the kids were growing in their faith. It’s not that the church does not have an integral role to play in this regard, for it surely does, but the onus must ultimately fall to the parents to broach these sensitive topics with their children.
Christian youth are caught in the middle of a difficult dilemma in our world today. On one hand, they’re strongly influenced by the continuous parade of positive media representations of homosexuality. On the other hand, most parents and ministers stay silent while their children are barraged. While we stay silent, Satan is ensuring that everyone else is talking about it and celebrating it! So, in the absence of credible direction from the people they respect, the youth in our lives are beginning to accept what the culture is telling them. If they get no corresponding teaching about the options for those who are experiencing homoerotic attractions, they will wrongly assume there are no options!
The alternative, of course, is to engage our children on these subjects. If we could change anything, it would be that we had engaged in these honest conversations about sex and homosexuality with Tim and Hanna, especially in their teen years. We understand that these are awkward and even embarrassing conversations for many parents; they were for us, but the stakes are too high not to have them. It is worth experiencing a little discomfort to help our children understand God’s plan for their life.