When coming to terms with your family's new normal, many Christian parents wrestle with whether they can love God and their LGBTQ+ child. You may have been told that by loving your LGBTQ+ child, you are condoning their behavior. You may ask yourself if I embrace my child, am I turning my back on God? Or if I embrace God, am I turning my back on my child?"
Don't be afraid to explore these thoughts. Understanding this new relationship with those you love is an important part of the healing process.
It is not in spite of your faith but because of your faith that you need to love your LGBTQ+ child unconditionally. Think about it, who are we called to love? Is it only those who think, look, and live like us? Let's explore what Jesus taught. Before we can love the way Jesus did, we need to be committed to his teaching.
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered him, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
But who is our neighbor? In the book of Luke 10:25-37, Luke recorded the parable of the Good Samaritan.
On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this, and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" In reply, Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite passed by on the other side when he came to the place and saw him. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Why is this story so important? Because the Samaritans of that time were not simply outcasts; they were the despised enemies of the Jews, and they saw Jews as their enemies, too. Yet the Samaritan in Jesus's story risked it all: he risked his reputation, sacrificed his money, his time, even his comfort to a person who his society told him was his enemy. And he did so unconditionally.
Do you see the connection? Jesus gives us a beautiful example of who, and how, to love well in his name. He shows us how important the outcasts are—outcasts like the LGBTQ+ community, who are so often shunned in society and in the church. Our sons and daughters need their parent's unconditional love more than ever. Jesus's teaching is clear and offers no loopholes, shortcuts, or workarounds.
"There is no one righteous, not even one," says Paul in Romans 3:10. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't look for a loophole in loving you?
We encourage you to spend some time reviewing stories of Jesus in the Gospels and be sure to be on the lookout for four things.
- Who did Jesus say he was?
- Who did he hang out with?
- What did he have to say?
- How did he treat people?
As Jesus followers, having our lives emulate his will draw our LGBTQ+ children into deeper relationships with us and vertically with God.
Today, choose one new way to show your LGBTQ+ child the kind of lavish love the Good Samaritan showed the Jewish traveler.