Help for the Straight Conservative Christian Parent.
This page is written to help you with questions you may have when a loved one
comes out. Let me introduce myself. My name is Dave. I am a minister of the
gospel in the church of the Nazarene. I am on track for ordination but am not currently
pastoring a church at this time. I am a Side B conservative Christian who God has
called to minister in this area. While I don’t propose to have all the answers for you I
hope to give you some help in understanding this and how Christ would want you to
Father I pray that you would help the person who has come to this page on my web
site. I pray you would give them a special sense of your presence and your peace. I
pray you would shower your grace on them and give them direction and comfort as
needed. I pray also for their relationship with the person who has come out to them
and I pray your blessing and guidance on this person as well. I pray Lord Jesus that
your peace, your love, your presence would be tangibly felt in this family and that you
would guide them through this time. In Christ’s name, Amen
Since I have not spoken to you I am going to have to assume some things about you.
If you are the typical conservative Christian your son or daughter coming out has
probably come as quite a shock to you. As a parent it may feel like severe
disappointment or the death of a dream – a dream for your son or daughter. You may
also have feelings of guilt, wondering what you may have done wrong that this would
have happened. But, let me assure you, your son or daughter is the same person you
have raised and loved all of these years. And you are not responsible for your son or
Your son or daughter has probably struggled long and hard with choosing a time to
come out to you. They are probably fearful of how you will respond. They are
probably most concerned with whether you still love them or not. I would urge you, as
a minister of the gospel, not to withhold your love from them but instead love them as
you always have and give yourself and them the gift of time. Hang on to your faith in
Jesus Christ. Realize that while you may be surprised and / or shocked by this turn of
events, Jesus is not. Jesus is already at work in your son or daughter’s life and your
life. Jesus Christ still reigns and will help you both through this time. Jesus Christ is
the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) He is always a reliable
source of help in time of need (see also Hebrews 4:15-16) .
So lets look at some questions you may have...
I am also going to take some guesses here as to what questions or concerns you
may have. Let me start off by saying that most of what you have heard about lesbian
or gay people is probably wrong. This is an area that few people explore unless a
close friend or relative is gay. Therefore you may be relying on some very old
stereotypes. I know I was. There is also, sadly, much bigotry in this area. The
challenge is to separate the bigotry we have learned from what the scripture actually
says and to respond the way Jesus wants us to respond. Some of the questions that
follow may seem to be very simple and perhaps you already have the answers to
them. Other questions may surprise you or shock you. This is because I am trying to
communicate to a wide variety of people who may visit this web site. With that in
mind here are some questions I suspect you may have...
What is homosexuality? What does the word ‘homosexual’ mean?
Homosexual describes an individual who finds they are romantically attracted to a
person of the same sex and not romantically attracted to the opposite sex. It is not
just about sex, it’s about relationships.
Is homosexuality or same sex attractions a choice?
Same sex attractions are not a choice anymore than heterosexual attractions are.
For those that are asking this question I would ask you some questions:
• When did you choose to be heterosexual?
• When did you choose to have heterosexual attractions?
I believe your answer would be that these attractions, these desires just happened.
And that is the same answer that a gay person would give you.
Are same-sex attractions the same as lust?
No, although it is true that there are homosexuals and heterosexuals that do lust after
Is being a homosexual a sin?
Being lgbt or having same sex attractions is not a sin because no one chooses their
attractions or desires. Emotions (and attractions) are not, in and of themselves,
sinful. Additionally, emotions (and attractions) are a barometer of the soul. They tell
us what is going on inside of us. The understanding that feelings and emotions are
NOT sin comes from the heart of Wesleyan theology. The question, as with any
desires, (whether they be heterosexual desires or homosexual desires) is: “What do I
do with these desires / attractions?” We will talk more about what to do with these
desires a bit later.
How can you say that feelings and desires are not sinful? What is your
biblical basis for this??
Scripture never condemns anyone for having feelings. We are cautioned against
acting on certain feelings but the feelings themselves are not condemned. Feelings
and desires can play into temptation but they are not sin. If they were then Jesus
would be sinful, but the bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are
yet without sin (Heb 4:15) Tempted in every way as we are means just that. There is
no feeling that we have experienced that Jesus did not experience. There is no
temptation that we have experienced that Jesus did not experience. But Jesus was
sinless. Now some may ask: What about lust? This is a valid question. But the
question really is: When do sinless thoughts, feelings and desires become sinless
temptations. And when do those sinless temptations move into being sinful lust?
There is a line there to cross but one does not cross it by simply having feelings or
thoughts or desires. Again, emotions are a barometer of the soul. We are not
automatically condemned for having feelings. They tell us what is going on inside of
us. Thus, those who are exploring and seeking to understand their feelings in this
complex issue can be assured that Jesus is there with them, understanding them and
working with them. And they need not feel bad for having these feelings.
Are people born gay?
This is the subject of an endless on-going debate with each side quoting research. A
definitive conclusion has not been reached. If you are curious to know the pros and
cons to this argument you may want to visit this web site.
Whether you are born gay or whether sexual orientation is the result of a complex
interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors like Love Won Out and
the APA claims doesn’t matter. Your lgbt son or daughter did not ask for these
feelings. Nor did they ask for these attractions. However it happened, it is a part of
them. And they are looking to you for love and acceptance. You don’t have to agree
with everything your son or daughter thinks, feels, or does, to love them and accept
them. After all, our heavenly Father loves us without agreeing with everything we
think, or feel, or do.
Is it my fault that my child is gay?
No. While there are some questionable studies out there that claim how a child
bonded with their father or mother can effect a person’s sexual orientation, these
studies are NOT supported by any professional medical organization. Additionally,
while it is true that many who are ex-gay have a common experience of emotional
distance from one parent or another (and some have had sexual abuse) the same
experience has happened to some heterosexuals and the result was NOT a
homosexual orientation. For a deeper exploration of this question see this article.
Are homosexuals promiscuous?
Probably no more than heterosexuals are. Our society as a whole has drifted away
from the idea of remaining chaste until marriage. Additionally, movies and TV shows
depict couples having sex on the first date or within a few dates, And in most all of
these, it is heterosexual couples being depicted. So sexual morality is an issue
across the board, whether you are talking about gay or straight individuals.
I have heard that gay people can change their attractions. Is this a possibility
for my son or daughter?
What you have heard and what is reality may be two different things. Exodus (an ex-
gay ministry) only reports a 15% success rate in orientation change (see article). By
the way, the article I am sending you to claims that Exodus is a wiser and older
movement. A more accurate statement would be that they got caught being less than
wise. When they went political it gave them more attention than they expected. And
news agencies investigating the changes found more often than not that change didn’
t happen. So Exodus is changing their tune on just what they mean by change. There
are many that would dispute that 15% figure. Especially since Exodus is now calling
this ‘change’ a life long journey or to quote the article: "a meaningful but complicated
heterosexuality". Additionally, some who were originally involved in Exodus have
renounced their position on change.
Changing from same sex attractions to opposite sex attractions is about as easy as
you or I trying to change our heterosexual attractions to homosexual attractions. While
it is true that the lgbt individual can make choices about what to do with their
attractions, they cannot easily change their attractions (many believe it is
impossible). Some have tried to change. Testimonies at this webpage will tell you
that the journey was very difficult and took a long time. Testimonies at this webpage
will tell you that many were unable to achieve this and actually experienced harm
financially, spiritually, and emotionally in attempting to do so. While some who have
sought orientation change claim success, true change seems unlikely and rare and at
times risky due to the methods used. The APA rejects orientation change (see their
website) and questions its validity. Yes, I know that ‘what is impossible with man is
possible with God’ but God does not always bring the change or healing we ask for.
So I would be very careful if you are thinking of trying to encourage your son or
daughter to take this route. We are people of the book (the bible) not of any
particular therapy method which many ex-gay ministries practice. While some
people have claimed success in this, far more have not, and many have fallen away
from Christ in their pursuit of this. While I certainly can rejoice over those who have
found peace in this ex-gay path I am concerned for the many who have not. Therefore
I would advise caution for there are many pitfalls in the ex-gay path.
What are these pitfalls in the ex-gay path?
A big pitfall with the ex-gay path is that it often has the individual at war with their
attractions and always feeling sinful. This is not helpful and can lead to depression. It
also can have the person feeling guilty because when change doesn’t happen they
feel that they didn’t have enough faith. Simplistic answers (such as a lack of faith or a
lack of honest effort) are given when change fails to occur. These types of answers
are shallow and harmful, blaming the individual for something that may indeed be
unchangeable. Sometimes presumptions about the individual seeking change and
presumptions about their family relationships are made that are false.
It is often more healthy to embrace / accept oneself for who you are rather than try to
deny who you are and try to suppress emotions. For example, for people born with
unique personality traits or abilities, it is often more healthy for them to embrace /
accept who they are rather than to constantly be down on themselves for who they
are. This is a biblically consistent view of emotions and desires since they are not sin
in and of themselves. Note that I am not calling homosexuality a mental condition
here. I am comparing it to other things a person may be born with that are amoral
As an alternative to the exgay route some Christians have chosen either the Side A
route or the Side B route….
What are these different sides you are talking about? I have not heard of
The sides are derived from two web sites. Bridges-Across originated the
terminology. They wanted to come up with neutral terms that defined beliefs about
orientation without being negative toward the other position. For example you might
believe same-sex sex is wrong but not be anti-gay. GCN took this terminology and
changed it a bit to match a more Christian world view. I have changed it slightly from
the GCN position and it should be noted that the definitions are not cast in stone.
The Sides really depict how one responds to their orientation. Someone who is Side
A according to Bridges-Across refers to anyone who believes that same sex sex is
Ok. However, those who define themselves as Christians who embrace Side A
beliefs have a narrower view. These folks believe in waiting until marriage or in this
case waiting for a committed relationship perhaps blessed by a Side A pastor. For
the purpose of clarity this is the definition I am using when we talk of Side A.
Christians who are Side A do not regard their same sex desires as sinful because
they believe God made them this way, and do not regard same-sex sex as wrong.
However, as Christians, many are waiting for marriage or (since gay marriage is
often not legal) a committed same sex relationship. Those who are 'waiting for
marriage' might regard their desire for sex before marriage as temptation in the
same way that a Christian heterosexual would who is remaining chaste until marriage.
Christians who are Side B accept their attractions / orientation but choose (because
of their understanding of scripture) to be celibate. The beliefs of those who are Side
B typically would line up with many conservative beliefs (though I should mention that
there are those on Side A who are conservative in every way except for their beliefs
about sexual orientation). Some who are Side B may go on to have celibate
committed relationships. Others may choose not to have a committed relationship.
This varies within the gay Side B community.
Those who embrace Side B beliefs vary greatly in how they define their same sex
desires or orientation. Some may look on these desires as sinful. Others may not
Some may regard their desires to be a byproduct of the fall (Adam’s sin). Others
may believe that God created them this way. Theological background and personal
philosophy of life give a wide variety of viewpoints.
Neither Side A nor Side B believe they are condemned for being gay. It is important
to separate sexual orientation which is amoral (neither good nor evil) from sexual
activity. Both sides have beliefs concerning when sexual activity is appropriate with
Side B believing it is never appropriate and Side A believing it is appropriate within
a committed relationship.
Those on Side C on the other hand are questioning or uncertain about what to do with
their orientation. They are still searching for answers. And finally there are those
who believe their same -sex feelings and attractions are sin and thus seek to change
their attractions This is called Side X. This can lead to depression and self loathing
as was implied earlier when change does not occur.
I should mention that apart from these websites the "sides" are not familiar
terminology. But I have fond this terminology to be very helpful in having respectful
conversations with regards to sexual orientation.
Wouldn't it be better for gay and lesbian folks to have a heterosexual
marriage? Won’t God just make it all work out?
This is called a mixed orientation marriage. Some have tried to do this. And some
havesucceeded. But for others it often ends in much heartache and divorce with the
straight spouse wondering all along what was wrong with them that their marriage
partner just couldn't relate to them and love them. I know of several mixed orientation
marriages that have failed because of this. Therefore I would be hesitant to push
anyone down this road.
What about celibacy?
Well those who are Side B believe this to be a biblical response and there are gay
Side B Christians who have chosen this direction.
Realize what we are asking lgbt individuals to do... We are telling them: You can
never have a 'significant other'. You can never have sex. You can never have a
family. You can never have someone to share your life with. The heterosexual single
Christian (living a chaste life) never knows when that significant person will come into
their life. But for the lgbt Christian, we are saying that they can never have a
relationship. Some have called this cruel.
I am not speaking against the Side B viewpoint in sharing this. What I am trying to do
is help you to gain an empathetic viewpoint so you can better understand why many
go the Side A route. It has been my experience that because we heterosexuals
cannot easily relate to same-sex desires we can tend to be less understanding and
empathetic about it. We have never considered what it would be like to be born with
desires and attractions that are different than everyone else's. We've never thought
about what it would feel like to try to come to terms with this while being condemned
by our own church. Thus there is a need for us as Christians to come along side
those who are gay and seek to empathize with them and understand their unique
journey and life experience.
I thought you would tell me my son or daughter could change and that this
would all be a passing phase . –Are you saying it is permanent?
I would be hesitant to call anything permanent but change is, for the most part,
unlikely. I don’t know your son or daughter to know how long they have struggled with
this. For most people, they only come out after many years of questioning. For many
gay and lesbian people this is a long journey. Some are certain of their orientation.
Others go through phases where they decide to be Side B, then Side A and then
back to Side B again. Some, on their own, do explore the ex-gay route (also called
My son or daughter wants to or has a romantic relationship with a same sex
partner and has made it clear that he / she does not believe gay sex is
wrong.. I guess you would call this Side A. I can’t believe that he/she is
abandoning their faith in Christ.
They may not be abandoning their faith. Many on Side A maintain all their Christian
beliefs with the exception that they do not believe that same sex sexual relations are
sinful. I have visited Side A churches. I have found these churches to be very
welcoming and very friendly. If you were to visit them you might be surprised at what
you find. They believe in the same Jesus you do. They believe in the same trinity you
do. They believe in the same virgin birth that you do. They celebrate the same
resurrection that you do. They believe in the same justification by faith that you do.
They sing much of the same songs that you do. They have communion like you do.
They sing about the blood of Jesus washing away sin just like you do. They take
offerings, have prayer meetings, and have bible studies just like you do. They have
both traditional and contemporary services. For an example of this worship click
here. Other than the fact that they are lgbt there is little to no difference. I will admit
that I have seen some (but not all) Side A churches believing that there is more than
one path (other than Christ) to God. But there are heterosexual churches that do that
Do you believe that lgbt Christians that act on their attractions (have sex) are
automatically going to be condemned?
No, I do not believe they are automatically going to be condemned If people were
automatically going to hell because their sexual morality didn’t lineup with scripture
then many of the people in the Old Testament, people that God called righteous,
would be condemned to hell as well. Some examples of these would be people like
Abraham with multiple wives and concubines (Genesis 16:1-3, 25:1-6) and people
like King David who also had multiple wives and concubines ( 1 Samuel 19:11, 25:
38-43, 2 Samuel 3:5, 11:2-3, 11: 26-27, 3:1-4, 5:12-16). I am not saying that sexual
morality is unimportant. Scripture indicates that holiness is tied into our sexual
morality ( 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8) and that we are called to be holy.
Rather than pick on this one issue (homosexuality) we need to realize that there are
many things that (straight) Christians do that do not honor God such as failure to tithe,
divorce, remarriage, sex outside of marriage, smoking, cheating on taxes – working
under the table, abortion etc. Not all Christians agree on what would honor God and
some would disagree with some of the things I just listed.
There are Christians (heterosexual) in classes I lead that are not living totally
according to what I believe is in God’s word. Although this concerns me I am not
worried about them losing their salvation. The reason I am not worried is because I
can see that they are growing in Christ.
Additionally, if you are from a faith tradition that believes in eternal security I am
surprised you would even ask the question. I do not believe in eternal security but I
also do not believe that any of us has arrived yet at perfect Christlikeness. We are all
works in progress. God is not finished with any of us yet. We are all on a journey to
become more and more like Christ (Phillipians 1:6). Wesleyans call this journey
'ongoing sanctification' or 'growth in grace'. The lgbt Christian is journeying in Christ
just like the straight Christian is. As long as we are following Him according to what
we know, we are secure in His salvation. However, if God convicts us in any of these
areas mentioned (and other areas not mentioned) that we are sinning and we fail to
repent then I believe our security in Christ could be at risk (James 4:17) (Hebrews 10:
So the lgbt Christian’s security in Christ is based on the same thing as the
heterosexual Christian’s security. Both should be following Christ to the best of their
understanding and ability.
It sounds like you are affirming the Side A viewpoint. Is that right?
No, but I am affirming God's grace to the folks who are Side A and to the folks on all
the sides. God’s grace was at work in the Old Testament even with those whose
behavior many of us would find unacceptable - but God called them righteous and
holy. And God’s grace is at work in the lives of Christians today who are seeking to
follow Christ .. .. in your life …. in my life …. and in the life of your son or daughter. I
believe that orientation issues should be resolved inside the fold, inside the safe
harbor of the church. I dialogue with gay and lesbian people online every week. Their
journey in Christ and in figuring out where they should be .. Side A .. Side B ... Side
X... Side whatever .. takes years... even a lifetime. Likewise straight Christians are
on a spiritual journey to figure out God's direction in their lives. Both gay and straight
Christians need the fellowship of other believers to assist and encourage them in this
spiritual journey. Unfortunately the church is often not a safe harbor for lgbt
individuals. As a minister of the gospel I believe that this needs to change.
But isn’t having homosexual sex a willful choice? And won’t God judge
Well that is an interesting question. After all, God is judge and He will judge all of us
one day. But if God judges the way you are implying it will not be a good day for the
church. How will God judge those who willfully choose not to tithe? (Failing to tithe is
robbing God. Ref.) How will God judge those who willfully choose not to serve Him?
(Jesus said if you love him you will obey him. Ref.) How will God judge those who
are not being chaste until marriage? (Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom. Ref.)
How will God judge those who have willfully chosen to divorce? (Jesus said : What
God has joined together let not man separate. Ref.) How will God judge those who
have remarried after divorce. (Jesus calls remarriage adultery. Ref.) And how will
God judge those who have gone beyond His word and have willfully vilified and
slandered gay and lesbian people? There is plenty of judgment to go around if that is
what you want.
As for me, I take a more gracious position. Especially since we are warned in
scripture that we will be judged in the same way we judge others (Matthew 7:1-2).
People are complex and come to Christ from many different backgrounds and
situations. If it were not for the mercy of God we would all be condemned. The
question is not so much where the person is at in life. The question is where they are
going. Every one of us who names Christ as their personal savior is on a spiritual
journey. As we offer ourselves to God, we allow Him to mold and shape us. He is the
potter, we are the clay. None of us has been completely shaped by God yet. We are
all a creation in process, an identity in process.
What can I do for my son or daughter?
Love them ... Jesus still does. I have spoken online and elsewhere with many gay
Christians from both sides of the debate. While I may indeed disagree with some of
the theological positions, most of what I hear is very sincere and I do not doubt that
Jesus is loving, embracing and guiding these Christians just as He guides you and
me. It would be good to remember that we are not saved by perfect knowledge, we
are saved by faith alone, by grace alone, and by Christ alone (Martin Luther). Once
we are saved, the rest of our life is an ongoing journey of understanding and following
what Christ wants.
How do I come to terms with my feelings on this?
Much of what I have written here gives you facts and resources .. with cautions about
quick fixes such as exgay ministry methods and/or mixed orientation marriages. I
have also shown you a non-condemning view that relies on God’s grace (which is
something we ALL rely on).
I would also recommend the video: Through My Eyes available at this website. I
believe you would find this very helpful in better understanding the unique questions
and struggles Christians such as your son or daughter may have when they come to
realize they are gay or lesbian. I have also recently (Jan 2011) reviewed a new film
entitled "Lead with Love". This film shares insights from several families whose son
or daughter came out to them. It can be found here.
I realize that the emotional struggles that you may be having over this are not easy to
cover on one web page. You can email me if you like by using my contact page. I
would be happy to talk to you.
Additionally, a website that I believe you might find helpful is Family Acceptance.
They are what I would call a gentle Side A site. Family Acceptance shares more
about the emotional struggle that these parents went through when they found out
their son was gay rather than attempting to get you to change your mind. They are
very open and honest about their struggles and the different routes they attempted.
Their son also shares his story on their website.
I would also urge you to find a supportive group or friend. You may have to look a
while to find such a friend. Some people are very closed to talking about this subject.
Additionally, there is a non-Christian community forum here (though this site is not
very active). For a Christian perspective you could also listen in on the parents
family and friends forum (or join it) at GCN here . Both of these are open forums so
you can see what is going on without becoming a member. You may gain a lot of
knowledge just by listening.
Should I challenge my son or daughter's beliefs about sexual orientation and
if so how?
Beliefs about homosexuality are usually very polarizing, thus theological debates can
easily become very heated. Therefore I would recommend you learn more about this
yourself first. Your son or daughter has quite possibly already explored, at length,
different scriptural interpretations. When God first led me to study this I had many
ideas and approaches that I thought would be helpful. It did not take long for me to
see that my knowledge was limited and often inaccurate. Therefore I would
recommend that you take considerable time to research and understand
How can I learn more about homosexuality?
Well if you have skim read down to this point on the page I would urge you to go back
and check out the many links you may have overlooked. Additionally, for a brief
overview of the theology and ideology surrounding homosexuality I have a view of
both sides on this page. (I will be adding to this page in the future.) If you would like a
deeper discussion into Side A /Side B theology I would suggest the two views
offered here and here. Both of these views (Side A and Side B) are from people that
identify as gay Christians.
I would also recommend resources that give both viewpoints. Here is one such
resource that has Tony and Peggy Campolo discussing this issue on this website. It
may interest you to know that this husband and wife coupe have opposite views on
whether God affirms same-sex sex but both care deeply about gay and lesbian
people. You can also hear them in an audio recording here.
This list includes links shared above and additional resources..
Through My Eyes: www.throughmyeyesdvd.com
Highly recommended by me. This DVD is extremely well done. It gives insight into
the lives of about 26 Christians who identify as gay. No affirming viewpoint is pushed
here. Rather, this DVD justs tells their stories. This DVD is extremely helpful for
better understanding the journey of those Christians who discover they are gay or
Lead with Love: http://www.leadwithlovefilm.com/
A recent film available online with some good principles and pointers for parents. As
with the film Through My Eyes, this video does not deal with the moral questions but
rather focuses on love and family relationships.
When Christians Get it Wrong (in Responding to Homosexuals)
Excellent sermon that challenges the church to respond with the love of Christ to gay
and lesbian people. (about 40 minute length)
Anyone and Everyone: www.anyoneandeveryone.com/index.html
This is a DVD film that I have not fully previewed so I am not sure if it is Side A or
Side B. From the trailer it is clear that this film tells the stories of several families of
different religious beliefs whose son or daughter came out to them.
Daily Strength: http://dailystrength.org/c/Families-Friends-of-Gays-
This is a support group on line forum you can share your thoughts on and talk to
others with like circumstances. It is not a well trafficked site. I visit this site on
occasion. My screen name is PastorDave
Family Acceptance: http://www.familyacceptance.com/home.html
This is a web site put together by Christian parents who went though all of this just like
you are. They share their pain and their loneliness as they worked through the
issues. The main advantage of this site is the personal stories from these parents. I
do not see a great effort to convert you in terms of your theological view. I would
classify it as a gentle Side A site.
Gay Christian Network: www.gaychristian.net
This is a forum for Christians who are gay Side A or Side B. There are also some
straight people on the forum like me. My Screen name is p_Dave.
A cyberspace initiative providing models and resources for building respectful
relationships among those who disagree about moral issues surrounding
homosexuality, bisexuality and gender variance. It includes journeys of various lgbt
individuals. Bridges-Across is a multi-faith, multi-world view website that seeks
ways to dialogue across the divide. They used to have a forum but it is no longer
accessible. Never the less you may find many of their principles and articles helpful.
Fortunate Families: http://www.fortunatefamilies.com/index.htm
Catholic website which has both Side A and Side B stories and resources.
Common goal seems to be God's grace and mutual respect.
For the Parents