Emily Timbol

Being a Good Parent – You’re Doing it Wrong

Nov
24

Loving people is hard. I know because I am selfish and horrible person. I could give you examples but then you might stop reading my blog, so I’ll just leave you to your imagination. It’s something that scares me about being a parent. I’ve seen a lot of bad parenting in my day, and I’ve seen the result of that parenting (did I mention one of my favorite TV shows is “16 & pregnant?”) so the idea of single handedly screwing a person up for life is pretty terrifying.

This issue has been on my heart the last few days as I’ve had to witness a person I care very deeply about go through an unimaginably painful ordeal. He came out to his parents, and they didn’t take it well. There was the expected crying, anger, rationalizing, and begging, and also the unexpected vomiting, but at the end of the day the result was something I will never understand; a plead for him to deny his sexuality and become something he is not.

I do not understand this. Admittedly, I am not a parent, so I cannot imagine what it’s like to raise someone and have expectations for them and realize they will never have come to fruition. But I also cannot imagine raising someone, and then telling them that they have to change in order for you to love and accept them. Now, I understand what the Bible says about homosexuality. But I also understand what it says about loving others. And they way I have seen some of my friends parents treat them is not loving, and it is not the way Jesus would treat them. Not even close.

I want to say something to those parents. Please, please know that your children have tried, for years, to do the very thing you think would be so easy for them to do if they only “tried” – to change their sexuality. They only came out when they did because the double life and lying became too unbearable. I know this because I’ve talked to them and they’ve told me things they couldn’t tell you, because they fear what I fear – that you will only love them conditionally. Love them if their straight. This is not something that they “chose” or something that they are doing because they want to embarrass or upset you. It’s something they are doing, because it’s who they are. Saying that you love your child, and what’s best for them is to deny their sexuality isn’t love. The countless teens who have killed themselves because they were doing just that should be enough to convince you of this.

Being gay is not a curse. If your son or daughter is gay, this does not mean the rest of their life is doomed. It does not mean you will never have grandchildren, that you will never have a big family get together, or that your son or daughter is going to hell. It does not mean that you did anything wrong or that you now have to try to fix them. It does mean that your child needs you now more than ever, whether they come out to you at 10 or 40. It means that your reaction to them could affect the rest of their life, and that you rejecting them could forever damage your relationship. Please remember, this isn’t an issue of your child committing a crime, or making bad choices, it’s an issue of your child wanting to love someone of the same gender.

And that’s the issue at hand; love. How does a parent who believes that homosexuality is wrong love their child? How does that child, who wants so desperately to be loved by someone, accept that their parents might not love them as a result? How do I, someone who loves the Lord, and wants to serve Him, unconditionally love people who are “living a life of homosexuality?”

I don’t know the answer to all those questions, but I do know the answer to the last one. I love the Lord, and my gay friends, because that’s what I’ve been commanded to do in the Bible. It’s not my job to change them, or judge them, it’s my job to be there for them when they need someone to give them a hug after being told by their parents how “disgusting they are.” Christ knew that the best way to get people to grow closer to the father was not to judge them and make them feel bad, but to love them. I’m following his example.

So why aren’t you?

One Response to Being a Good Parent – You’re Doing it Wrong

  1. Emily, thank you for these beautiful words. I wish more followers of Christ shared your attitude. The amount of hatred aimed at our gay brothers and sisters is sickening anywhere, but it seems virulent in the Christian commmunity.

    On a different note, I know this is an old story but I was browsing the Burnside Writers blog archives today, when I stumbled across the “My Three Virgins” article (for the record, I didn’t like it.) I enjoy reading comments, and I cheered at yours, especially:

    “part of me thinks we spend way too much time as Christians focusing on virginity when we could spend time and energy elsewere.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to wait, I wish I had, and I respect purity, I’m just tired of reading about it.”

    AMEN, sister! That might inspire a blog post of my own…

    Thank you for writing so bravely about things that “typical Christians” shun.

    -Hope

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