This is a top question we receive in our ministry – especially at the holidays.
Before I answer it, I need to make a disclosure: if you are LGBT+ and reading this, you may be offended by this post. Why? You know why. But please allow me to explain to other readers why you are offended by this kind of stuff. Put simply, it can be offensive because the answer should be obvious – a welcome is a welcome is a welcome; there is nothing complicated about it.
With this disclosure, the reality is that we encounter this question all the time and therefore I feel it is warranted to use my blog to provide an answer to many parents and families who want helpful answers to this question. This means that parents with good intentions want to learn how to better love and relate to their LGBT+ children. Our ministry exists in part for this purpose and so I submit the following help only in a spirit of wanting to answer this question.
1. When LGBT+ children don’t offer to come home, you take the initiative to invite them home! The greatest expression of welcome is an intentional invitation. If they don’t come home after an invite, them go to them for the holidays. If that is not possible, make a special trip after the holidays to go visit them. Sometimes, they only feel safe on “their” turf. Whenever and wherever…above all, spend time with your loved one…2. When LGBT+ children do come home, have a plan for serving and engaging them. If the “gay thing” has silenced discussion in the home, you have to come up with a list of conversations or questions that will draw them out – you must allow them to share about their life or else they will feel they are really “not” welcome at home.3. When time is short, focus on pulling them into the family celebration and making this holiday a wonderful memory for the entire family. In other words, just enjoy time with them. The is the greatest expression of love you can offer to all of your children…4. When there is time and you feel called to bring Biblical Truth into the discussion, choose very strategic, selective nuggets and then back off. Be creative and think about how Jesus revealed truth through sharing a story or asking a soul penetrating question without making a person feel judged. This is NOT a 3 carat nugget: small doses go a LONG way…especially since they already know how you feel! And that is the number one thing to remember: they know what you believe. So show them how much you care by holistically engaging them.5. Researchers on both sides of this issue agree that homosexual orientation is in part rooted in relational deficit. Thus, it is “relationship” that our sons and daughters are most hungry for. Outside of their sexual orientation, this relational repair is a wise investment. Don’t do it because you hope they will change; do it because it is what Christ calls you to do. We need families committed to investing wisely in unconditional love, acceptance and relational repair.6. Remember that rejection or arguments or unsolicited advice can clutter another’s soul making it difficult for them to hear God’s still, small voice. We want to so nourish them with acceptance that they can hear the still, small voice of God speaking into their heart. If I have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient, love is kind; it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) 7. For those worried about the term acceptance – acceptance does not equate to your personal approval of their same-sex relationship. Your children likely already know your beliefs and thus that you do not approve. They still need to know they are fully accepted and wholly loved. Most emotionally damaged adults who have not moved on toward healing are those who have never felt accepted. Lacking acceptance is a serious debilitation that can lead to others entering into destructive instead of healthy relationships.8. Do you want your child to go down a journey to the place where they can perceive the still, small voice of God personally inviting them to come to the Cross? If so, then you must not play God with their external life – you must let them ride their Prodigal Journey and give them space to hear that still, small voice of God…because He is speaking to them! The most merciful seed of the Gospel that we can give is to allow others to fully own their own journey. This may not easy; but it is necessary. To give this space does not imply that you give up; it implies that you invest a lot of your anxieties in prayer instead of trying to coerce your adult child; this more often than not alienates and fails to achieve the goal you are hoping for. (With any of your other children, you already know this lesson – why is it so hard to apply it to a LGBT+ loved one? Something to think about.) 9. When a lover comes home, what do you do? Who is that person who comes into your home from the other side? Can you see value, dignity and a hunger for love within them? Or do they just seem emotionally or spiritually unable to relate to your family? Whatever the case, they are someone’s son or daughter. And they are a child of God. Welcome them into your home as a son or daughter in need of the love of Christ. You may be the only meaningful witness of God’s love in their entire life. 10. Dad, you need to get in the game with Mom. You are so critical to calling out value, purpose and acceptance in your child. It is one of the most important roles God has given you. Forget about the past – this is no longer about shame and blame. But understand the past to develop a go-forward strategy for loving, accepting and serving your son or daughter. Dad, you are very critical. Other family members should do likewise; this is only to stress that it is fathers who commonly are most hesitant to deal with this issue well. Dad, you are needed…and the affirmations you alone can give are tremendously valuable to your loved ones.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas…