Ok, I am a believer and child of God. I am having a very hard time as my 18 year old told me she is in love with a girl. This just isn’t what my husband and I have taught our kids. I feel like a failure as a mother. So hard to teach our kids that it’s ok and we need to accept it, but really it’s not right.
I just don’t understand and I know God knows just what he’s doing, but why?
Oh friend. I can imagine this comes as hard-hitting, and devastates and confuses you deeply. It is normal to feel guilt in this, so many of us would in some capacity or another, but there is no need to blame yourself. You may feel very alone and ashamed, but know you are not alone, and we appreciate your courage in writing in.
This topic is sensitive, controversial within our culture and amongst the Body of Christ, and opens up the door for conversation on broader matters of sexuality - something so very necessary - and something to benefit and grow the whole Body. No doubt, this was painful for you to hear and process, this was probably a very difficult thing for your daughter to confess to you as well, and her own feelings of same-sex attraction may also feel very isolating and shaming to her. I hope we can shed some light and distinctions on how to move forward, as well as resources for your journey (and maybe your daughter’s journey too).
A question of clarification - was your daughter purely admitting her attraction, or now choosing to identify herself as a lesbian and pursue a homosexual relationship?
This question brings out the difference between a sin of weakness or one of choice. While all sin is harmful and offensive to God, these two types should be approached in different ways. Weakness needs the strength only Jesus gives, defiance needs the conviction only Jesus gives.
I wish we could sit and chat, friend. I can only see in part and have so many questions to ask you. Not knowing your daughter, your relationship with her, her relationship with Christ, or the rest of the discourse, I hope I can give a few distinctions.
There is a wonderful little book by Sam Allberry, called “Is God anti-gay?”, that I encourage you to pick-up. He writes,
“Same-sex attraction (SSA) ... is (along with many other things) a consequence of the fall ... This kind of attraction is not something God designed for us, and it contradicts his design. We know from the Scriptures that temptation comes from our own fallen hearts (James 1:13-14) ... But this is not the same as saying the presence of temptation itself is sin to be repented of. Christians have always made a distinction between temptation and sin. After all, Jesus himself taught his followers to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:12-13).
Jesus himself was tempted in every way, yet was without sin!
I hope that is a bit of breather for you. Sometimes this becomes so big in our minds and becomes the pinnacle and most detestable of all temptations. But being SSA is no different from anything else you or I or anyone is tempted with, and remembering that we’re on the same playing field, and more-so, we’re all broken, distinctly sexually broken, be that in different ways, breathes humility and common ground in any experiences we face in life’s course. Truly, we are all “holistically in need of Christ,” as Jackie Hill Perry, an incredible woman of faith and art, puts it, giving such clarity and grace to this truth in this short video.
As Dr. Juli Slattery, co-founder of Authentic Intimacy explains on their blog,
"It’s important to reiterate that God’s healing for a person dealing with homosexual feelings may not be to give him or her heterosexual desire. God’s desire for you is not necessarily heterosexuality, but holiness. Ultimately, the greatest healing for any person comes when we learn to submit every desire to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Sometimes God delivers us from our brokenness, and other times he strengthens us through our struggle with it. The bottom line is this: God’s power is sufficient in your weakness, even if that happens to be a pull toward homosexuality. Living a godly life doesn’t mean embracing sin nor does it involve the absence of continual temptation. It means accepting God’s compassionate love while also relying on God’s strength to pursue holiness."
“Because sexuality,” she writes, “is so closely tied to our sense of identity, separating same-sex desires from homosexual action is often difficult. Unfortunately, many Christian men and women who experience same-sex attraction feel condemned by the church simply for having the battle. Religious institutions have heaped on shame by wrongly categorizing homosexual urges as more detestable than any other temptation. There is nothing sinful about the struggle of a person with homosexual attraction. We all struggle with something, be it depression, alcoholism, rage, habitual masturbation, bulimia, or any number of temptation and difficulties. Yet there is a difference between dealing with an ongoing struggle and legitimizing the behaviors the struggle may lead to. While we can’t control what we struggle with, we can control whether we yield that temptation to the Lord."
"... Jesus calls not just those who identify as LGBT to “deny themselves,” but he also ushers that challenge to every disciple. Deny your pride, your lust, and your self-righteousness. Deny your rights to please yourself for the greater joy of pleasing your Father in heaven. The call to surrender your sexual desires rather than acting out of them requires great sacrifice. It may, at times be painful, exhausting, and lonely. We only make a choice like this because we love God more than we love ourselves.”
God has made us sexual people; it is intentional, purposeful, and connected to our spirituality so much so that the Gospel is written within our bodies as well as the Scriptures.
While it is true that the Bible briefly mentions homosexuality explicitly, it is also true that when it does arise, it is of great importance to God, and He clearly lays out His design for human sexuality and the boundaries there-in: sexual intimacy, by design, is to be celebrated within a marriage covenant between a man and a woman, a holy metaphor for God’s faithful, committed love to his people, whether or not that love is reciprocated or merited upon on our behavior.
Acting on homosexual feelings is sin, and is not within God’s design, just as acting on heterosexual feelings outside of marriage is also sin and outside of God’s design. But empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can certainly and simultaneously embrace someone and yet not condone behavior (I don’t agree with all my thoughts or actions on a daily basis!) because we are all in need of Christ and His redemption.
So friend, where does that leave us?
The devil is such a jerk; he makes things so complicated and confusing (and wants to trap us in those places!), but where God is, He offers His discernment and clarity. Walking this out and wrestling with God’s truth on these matters, while also pursuing the love of Christ, is something that can only be discerned by God’s living and breathing Spirit Himself. Without His wisdom and supernatural love, compassion can easily fall into compromise, and truth can slip into judgment and a haughty spirit.
To stay grounded is going to be a day-by-day, sometimes moment-to-moment surrender to our Source. Loving God with our heart-soul-mind-strength, and our neighbor as ourself, really and truly is the plan on how to live life. No matter the circumstance that you’re walking through, you will need to press into the Lord in how to love your people, and specifically in this situation, your daughter, without compromising truth.
LOVE GOD. My biggest word of encouragement would be to lean into the Lord; stay connected to the Vine. God is (always) calling us to go deeper with Him, and now is not an exception. You will need to rely on His Spirit on how to love your daughter well, to maintain a relationship with her, and stand on His truth. I can’t reiterate enough that that balancing act is only possible through the power of the Almighty and Sovereign God. Dive into His word and pray unceasingly. Living the Christian life is HARD, and frankly, impossible, without the power of Christ in us.
Fix your eyes on Jesus first; I would give the same advice to someone walking through what you are, as someone in their marriage, to a host of other situations, because God is GOD - He is the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Wonderful Counselor, and Everlasting Father, and I pray your heart is softened and consoled in how He tenderly and provisionally reveals Himself to you in those ways. Focus on and trust Him, relinquishing your hurts and disappointments, shame, your daughter, and this journey to Him. He loves our children more than we ever can, and let Him take the reigns.
Pray for your daughter, for her to root her identity and worth in Christ, something that transcends our sexuality and gender. Pray for her love for Christ and friendship with Him to grow and be nurtured and disciplined, for a heart of openness and obedience to God’s leading in her life, for self-control, healing, and for a heart of surrender to His will over her entire life.
Maintain your relationship as much as possible, and keep building bridges and having dialogue. Without a relationship, you may not have much influence. Pray for your relationship with her, and for a heart of understanding, empathy and to be a safe place, surrendering to the long haul, and for patience and the ability to actively listen and demonstrate respect in conversation that honors Christ. There are going to be opportunities and moments to speak into her life, and there are going to be moments where it’s going to be best to keep quiet and simply listen. Only by His discernment will you be able to walk this fine line. You will mess up at times, we all do, but you land in His grace.
I think there’s a bumper sticker floating around out there that says, “pray first, speak after.” Such wisdom! It’s not our job to convince anyone about sexual truth, but it is our to job to walk alongside someone, pray for them, listen, and teach faithfully about what the Word of God says, applying it to our own hearts and owning our own actions. Even though your daughter is an adult, that still may mean boundaries needing to be in place (for example, if she’s living at home currently, etc.), remember that we can only control us.
I remember Lori Wildenberg, author of “Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home,” stating in a podcast, that God doesn’t need us to be his PR person. Oooh, that’s humbling. Encourage your daughter in her relationship with Jesus, and for her to find out what God has to say on these issues, but keeping in mind that we are not the Junior Holy Spirit.
Rest in Jesus' forgiveness. Satan is all to ready to drill your conscience with regret, guilt, and doubt in your Savior. Don't listen to his lies! Jesus has fought this battle for you and your child. He carried our burdens and nailed them to the cross when he died. ALL of our sins were paid for with His perfect life and blood - this includes sinful actions AND thoughts. There is hope and comfort in his resurrection! Even if on this side of heaven our "thorns in flesh" may never leave us - in heaven we will be in perfect peace and unity with Him. All believers will be transformed and made perfect in Jesus!
Learn. It is so vital to be prayerful in your hunt for answers; there’s a lot of information and opinions out there. Find out all you can about what God says about identity and sexuality, asking Holy Spirit to give you wisdom as you navigate this.
As another companion, Lead Them Home is another fantastic organization discipling Christians in matters of gender and sexuality, and recommend their their guidebook and their Posture Shift conference.
Additionally, here is a printable of the many resources that have been a blessing to me in my relationships and in stretching my faith and engaging in conversation with others of another worldview.