I meet very few gays and lesbians who do not openly share about early wounds, early shame, early rejection and an early sense of condemnation. The vast majority can tell of serious early wounds that left them feeling rejected in one way or another…
Some LGBT+ persons deny any wounds, shame, rejection or condemnation. Some genuinely are not aware of such things. Some may simply not remember. But some fear that this information will be used against them to prove why their orientation is flawed – instead of made by God. I can understand that concern. Yet I could plead with such persons that honestly talking about and working through such brokenness will help ANYONE enter more healthy relationships if there are indeed ‘issues’ to be worked through.
Without getting into a definitive cause of homosexual orientation, researchers on both sides of the debate openly admit that this is such a complex issue of such great variation that isolating a single, definitive cause is not possible and may never be possible. As I have talked to more and more individuals, I have learned that there might be as many as 15 different forms of homosexuality. This is complex stuff…there are no easy-isms that fill in all the unknowns; there are many unknowns.
But this we do know: researchers on both sides of this debate accept that both nature (biology, hormones) and nurture (relationships, experiences) play a role in homosexual orientation. As non-scientists and non-researchers (speaking for most of us), we have no ability to reverse the impact of nature factors…whatever they may be. As people of faith who are relationally engaged with Jesus Christ, we can do something to offer a healing balm to ALL people who have been damaged by relational deficit and disconnection.
We cannot ‘fix’ or ‘change’ one’s sexual orientation; but we can offer the powerful presence of Christ who is the Great Physician to ALL people. We can offer His presence because we have personally experienced it and because He dwells inside us. Unlike many voices of the past, we know that healing does not always imply a removal of temptation. But Christ can give us peace, joy, freedom, purpose, mission and satisfying community in the midst of temptation. That is to say, many of us – from ALL kinds of backgrounds and dispositions and identities and orientations – know that it is possible to move forward in spite of our lingering brokenness. That no longer has to hold us back from life…
In light of this, we the church have a lot of moving forward to do in ministry to LGBT+ persons. Years ago, we viewed their orientation as an intentional choice – a choice to voluntarily have such attractions. They were caught in a no-man’s land where they could not deny the attractions and yet the Gospel was often denied as available to them if they refused to deny the attractions. This was and is spiritual abuse and extremely damaging to the spiritual, emotional, and mental health of anyone forced to deny something so intrinsic within…whatever the cause.
It was easy to make such damaging demands of individuals when they were weak and powerless. Many youth ran away from home – and still do today. Many committed suicide – and still do today. Many mutilated their bodies and descended into insanity – and some still do today. Many were pushed out of the church – and some still are today. As a church, we need to cry tears of remorse and mourn that our action and inaction has played a role in countless sad stories.
The methods of pushing such persons outside the church may be more benign today in the eyes of those who do the pushing…but for those who experience the pushing, it’s just as painful. As an example, the adult child who today is told, You can come home if, when, but not with…can experience similar pain as one that was told in the 1960’s, Don’t ever come home again.
As science has progressed, it has become impossible to deny the reality of involuntary same-sex attraction. I hesitate to even make such a statement because it is so obvious, but because of our prior response as a church…it must be clearly stated. The earth was not flat after all…
The more cultural power that the LGBT+ Community gained, the more the church aligned itself against such persons. The end result is that the very people who left or were pushed out of the church – due to our sinful response to their sexual orientation – are the very ones that the church then aligned itself against. My point is not to bash the church – I am an evangelical and I care about the church deeply. I care so deeply that I want the church to reflect Christ and one way we do that is by openly admitting when we have failed or sinned against others.
I confess on behalf of the church here and now – we have sinned against many in the LGBT+ Community over many, many years. For LGBT+ readers, you should know that I meet pastors and lay leaders and parents everyday that do cry tears and mourn the lost lives and hurt hearts of those wounded and judged by the church.
As stated above, we cannot ‘fix’ others; but we can make amends for our own sins. We cannot ‘fix’ the damage of relational disconnection and rejection that occurred in thousands upon thousands of families…but we can work toward fostering a spirit of reconciliation and relational repair in families touched by homosexuality.
Think of it this way: what if work addiction, materialism, divorce, pornography, anger and other addictions and brokenness in families is even a 20% contributing factor toward homosexual orientation? I suspect that in many cases it is a much larger factor. But let me be clear – I am not out to debate this. I simply understand that scientific research suggests that some kind of relational interplay is a factor of some importance – therefore, it is worth considering what experiences contribute toward this nurture-related factor.
The list above – in no uncertain terms – contributes to much relational deficit in many families. The outcome will not always be a LGBT+ child; it is never that simple. But let’s be clear about something: even heterosexual children can be mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually broken by relational deficit in families. Children in similar circumstances very often respond to or perceive or internalize relational deficit in very different ways. So this is not to isolate or definitively identify a single root cause of homosexual orientation: rather, my purpose is simply to say that relational deficit does play ‘some’ role in formation of same-sex attraction.
All this leads me to a single question: in light of this information, are we going to continue to counsel the families of LGBT+ loved ones within the framework a ‘church culture’ that ends up promoting additional relational disconnection? Not only did relational disconnection play ‘some’ role in homosexual orientation, the church for years counseled families toward further relational disconnection as the Biblically appropriate response.
Many reading the previous paragraph will say something like, Bill, the church has understood this for years. You’re talking about stuff that went on in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This doesn’t happy anymore. My response to such a comment? Poor counsel to such families does still happen today. It is more common than most people think.
Again, I must restate that the purpose here is not to bash the church; it is my purpose, though, to bluntly assess this situation ONLY so that we will be guided away from ‘church culture’ and toward a more Biblical, practical, tangible, hands-on, and Christ-like approach to ministry in this area.
When I share the LTH Vision in the church, there is a passionate response and desire to immediately implement some external ‘beyond the church walls’ evangelism program or event. That’s great – I understand that passion. But if we have never learned to care for families inside our churches who have homosexual loved ones, what makes us think we will be effective in going into LGBT+ Communities? We are very likely to further wound and greatly offend people.
What if the most blatant evangelistic opportunity is already within our church walls? My friends, the single best ministry opportunity to fish on the other side is already in our churches. If it is ‘church culture’ that pushed so many of our children outside the church due to poor counsel to families touched by this issue, then it is those very families that become the best evangelistic relationship to nourish away from ‘church culture’ and toward Christlike outreach.
LTH has created a seminar called FAMILY CARE; it is a confidential half-day workshop that equips families touched by homosexuality with a Biblical vision of mercy, love and relationship development with their children. We are not out to prevent or cure homosexuality; we’re not so foolish to see such endeavors as within our capability. But we can heal relationships that have been broken by a fundamentalist church culture that often lacked room for mercy and unconditional love…for certain people.
FAMILY CARE is announced from the pulpit, in the church bulletin and on the church website. However, the announcement states clearly that interested persons must pre-register in order to obtain the specific time and location of the seminar. This ensures that those who attend can trust that only other families touched by this issue will be in attendance. I encourage smaller and medium sized churches to team up with other churches in their area – this makes it more safe for individual families to attend.
FAMILY CARE connects families going through similar circumstances. These families learn from one another how to better relationally connect with their LGBT+ children. I present a Biblical mandate that Biblically strips away unhealthy church culture and casts a more Biblical vision of who Jesus calls parents to be to their children. Families have been radically transformed by FAMILY CARE.
Importantly, pastors and churches are not saddled with ongoing oversight of these families – these families are connected to assist one another and LTH offers free counseling to such families long after the workshop. For parents, this is not yet another regular meeting or support group they need to attend. It is a one-time workshop…the families can then connect by email or telephone on an as-needed basis.
Equally important, FAMILY CARE is hosted by and held in a local church setting. This is not some para-church basement setting; this is in sanctuaries and fellowship halls. If we failed in the past to minister well in this area inside the church, then it is INSIDE the church that we will make amends and cast a more helpful and effective vision to such families.
At FAMILY CARE, there is no shame and there is no blame. Looking back only becomes a platform for gaining a forward strategy for nurturing relational reconnection and repair between families and their LGBT+ loved ones. Trust me when I say that FAMILY CARE will be a safe place for you to come. Who attends? Moms and Dads; brothers and sisters; aunts and uncles; cousins; nephews and nieces; grandparents; and increasingly, teenagers attend because of a LGBT+ father or mother.
FAMILY CARE is an easy, obvious, low impact, low cost option that churches can implement immediately…just invite LTH to offer FAMILY CARE at your church.
FAMILY CARE is not a total solution…but it is an excellent starting point!
You can learn more about FAMILY CARE at:
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