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One of the most crucial insights I teach parents is the importance of allowing LGBT+ young adults to “own” their journey before God. Many parents make the mistake of holding on – trying to control the life choices of their LGBT+ adult children. This approach can have a catastrophic impact on both the parent-child bond and the parent’s witness of Christ.

The scriptures teach us that God often speaks in a “still, small” voice. During the stage of Front-End Surrender, raw emotions collide as parents cling to the hopes and dreams they had for a son or daughter. In this struggle for control, the young adult – understandably – entrenches deeper into a pursuit of independence. The message is: “I will prove that God loves me.” Or: “I will prove that I am making my own decisions now.”

Why are they so determined and angry? It’s quite simple: they are finally stepping out of self-hatred and refusing to live up to others’ expectations. They will perceive any attempt to spiritually or relationally control them as rejection or conditional acceptance. They often seek to reclaim their personal worth by fighting back or limiting interaction with those who preach at, moralize, or otherwise seek to control them. What they desire is personal liberation from parental control, but what they often get is something entirely different.

Young adults tempted to cut off or fight against controlling parents lose the ability to hear God speak through the evidence of their journey – as to whether it works or not. They desire control, but instead become entangled in this parent-child battle; a battle that has the power to harden their heart and confuse their spiritual direction. They rarely hear God’s voice in this kind of setting. They cannot consider God’s sovereign will when they are struggling just to gain personal sovereignty from the grip of their parents (or pastors).

As I close today, it is important for us to recognize that our traditional response to LGBT+ young adults has been to share a scripture that will prove to them why same-gender romantic and sexual love is sinful. Under this construct, few ever come out of homosexuality. Under this construct, many live their lives as a reaction to us. Some establish their identity as a victim of judgment, intolerance and a lack of understanding. To ever reach LGBT+ young adults, we have to adjust our approach – we have to get out of their way. We must walk with them patiently as they figure out how to own their own journey before God. 

Quote verses if you must. I choose, however, to focus on the long-term witness rather than short-term rightness.

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