For many Christian parents, their worst nightmare is that their child (or grandchild) will come out as homosexual or transgender. Phillip, a fourteen-year-old boy, told his parents that he believes that he is a girl in a boy’s body. Amy, a thirty-one-year-old pastor’s daughter, announced to her family that she is transitioning to become a man and that if they want a relationship with her, they must use her new name, Earl, and her preferred pronouns. Eugene and Thelma, when visiting their granddaughter, Diane, at college, are introduced to her girlfriend, Monique, whom she plans to marry after graduation.

Parents in these situations are often fearful and confused. Culture tells us that they should embrace their child’s choices. An LGBTQ minor child could be removed from the home by government authorities if their parents are not seen as supportive. Some families who have resisted the cultural tidal wave have been permanently estranged from their LGBTQ kids. Even if your heart is broken by your family members, God is always with you as your strength and comfort (Ps. 27:10-14).

What Should You Do If Your Child Comes Out as LGBTQ?

Your initial response will be very important. Don’t panic. You probably will be flooded with every emotion–anger, shame, grief. James 1:19 says that we must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Listen patiently as they tell their story (Prov. 20:5). Try to say as little as possible. You need time to think. Thank them for being honest with you, even though it must have been hard.

How did this happen? The problem of wayward children is not a new one. The very first parents had a wayward child, Cain, who sinned and was estranged from his family. In the thousands of years since then, many godly parents have experienced similar grief (Ezek. 18). God Himself has wayward children (Isa. 1:2). While we as parents are responsible to be faithful as we train them (Eph. 6:4), our influence is not determinative. Our children will be exposed to other influences, most of which are ungodly (see the warnings in Proverbs). As our culture continues to celebrate every kind of sexual sin, the number of young people who are gender-confused multiplies. Social contagion is rampant. Our children will then make choices which we cannot control. We are dependent upon God’s sovereign grace for their salvation (John 6:27, 44).

The grace of God also gives us hope. Our greatest concern should be for their souls. Their problem is not that they are gay but that they are lost. The gospel transforms those who had previously indulged in every kind of sin (1 Cor. 6:9-11). We have the testimonies of believers such as Rosaria Butterfield, who has come out of lesbianism, and Laura Perry, who spent years putting herself forward as a man.1

Your faithfulness to Christ may bring division in your family. Some will be forced to choose between loyalty to Christ and the expectations of relatives. Jesus told us the cost of discipleship. “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26). When faced with a choice between pleasing God and pleasing our family members, we must follow Christ.”2 Some parents, such as Eli (1 Sam. 2:29), have been guilty of honoring their children above God.3 We cannot celebrate that which God hates, such as a homosexual wedding. We cannot embrace the lie that the child God created as a girl is a boy. Sometimes, our pain will be multiplied by other family members who pressure us to capitulate. Jesus warned that our faithfulness to Him would come at a cost, creating division. “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53).

Even if your family members reject you, keep loving them. Not every family with LGBTQ children experiences these conflicts with the same intensity. Some LGBTQ children still value having a good relationship with their parents. I believe that we can love them and those whom they love without enabling their sin or approving of it. Again, we need to remember that their problem is not their immorality (of which we may be ashamed) but their unbelief. We are not required to shun unbelievers who live sinful lifestyles (1 Cor. 5:9-10). Jesus repeatedly calls us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44). Tell them you love them. Treat them kindly. Give them birthday and Christmas gifts. Some parents may fear that if they socialize with LGBTQ loved ones, they will somehow be signifying approval. I believe that it is most likely that, having grown up in your home and attending your church, they are probably well aware of your beliefs.

Conclusion: A Gospel Opportunity

Loving a child who has broken your heart can be very hard. But it gives you the opportunity to love as God loves you. Your LGBTQ child has probably been told that Christians are haters. Surprise them with kindness. Romans 2:4 reminds us that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Look for opportunities to lovingly speak truth and hope. I have observed that the LGBTQ culture has a false eschatology (promise of future bliss). They are told, “You will finally be happy when you come out,” or “Once you have the surgery, you will finally be the person you were meant to be.” Many former LGBTQ men and women tell of their disappointment and sadness when the steps they took did not bring them peace.4 This may be our opportunity to tell them the true story of redemption in Christ, which will bring the joy and fulfillment they were seeking in the wrong places (Isa. 55:1-2).

Questions for Reflection

  1. What are reasons that so many children from Christian homes now identify as LGTBQ?
  2. Why do so many “straight” children from Christian families embrace the LGBTQ agenda?
  3. How would you counsel a couple who were being pressured to attend their child’s homosexual wedding? Would attending the reception be any different?
  4. How could you interact with the false eschatology of the LGBTQ movement to bring the gospel to those who are gender confused?

Author’s Note: Check out the video Transgenderism – Reshaping the Reality in our Culture (Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, NC) for a further resource on this topic.

  1. An observation: Many young people find stories like this to be persuasive. ↩︎
  2. Matthew Henry wrote, “Children must love their parents and parents must love their children, but if they love them better than Christ, they are unworthy of Him.” ↩︎
  3. In the end, Eli’s failure didn’t help his sons, but rather brought judgment both on him and his sons. ↩︎
  4. Parents are often told that their gender-confused child will be a suicide risk if they are not encouraged to transition, but in reality, the suicide rates for those who have transitioned are no lower than those who have not. ↩︎