When the “T” in LGBT Hits Our Own Homes

“How do I as a parent begin to explain to my teenagers that their older cousin whom they’ve looked up to all their lives has decided that he may have been born a boy, but he feels more like a girl? That he is now taking female hormones, beginning to dress as a female, and is looking at legally changing his name from that of a guy to a girl? That he is now living with his lesbian girlfriend? I am at such a loss here. I didn’t see this coming AT ALL. So many questions… How do I still love my nephew, but not approve of his choices? Do we have holiday dinners as usual? Do I choose as a parent that he isn’t a good influence on my kids and therefore can no longer have them around each other? I am so lost here.”

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It’s not just campers at Christian camps who ask questions; adults ask them too, daily. Questions that come to me via email, snail mail, and social media of all sorts. Questions that they would ask God if given the opportunity and with the assurance that He would give them an honest answer.

As I’ve made clear, repeatedly and emphatically, I am not God. I hesitate to speak for God. To the best of my ability, I can only attempt to offer an answer from the Word of God. And I do so with fear and trembling in my passionate pursuit of respecting the Truth and getting the answer right.

Now, having offered all of those disclaimers, I’ll give it a shot, answering these questions exactly as I would as if we were at camp together.

Believe it or not, you have just been handed a golden opportunity to share a teachable moment with your children. As teenagers, they are old enough to be told the unvarnished truth about their cousin, and about your personal struggles with his lifestyle choices. Your struggles mentally and emotionally are what they are, and are perfectly legitimate. It’s OK for them to see you struggle.

As you let them into your soul, they will see as never before in real time, right before their eyes, how you as a committed Christ-follower, as a parent, as an uncle or aunt, are attempting to respond biblically to this new information about your nephew.

Without in any way minimizing your shock, pain, and confusion, let me ask you to consider a couple of questions as you try to process all of this new information. (Trust me, I am processing this right along with you. So if my thoughts seem to be developing as I write this, they are!) 

  • Would you be asking the same questions — about holidays, contact with their cousins, etc. — if your nephew was heterosexual and living with his girlfriend? Or living at home but sleeping with his girlfriend? Or was into Internet porn?
  • What if instead of something sexual, you discovered that he has cheated on tests at school? Or gossips? Or abuses alcohol? Or uses illegal drugs? Or has been caught telling lies? Or is disrespectful to his parents? Or acts or talks proudly or arrogantly? Or has anger-management issues? Or uses profanity? Or was married and subsequently divorced? 

What I am getting at is this: Is the fact that his behavior falls in the category homosexuality or lesbianism the thing that drives your discomfort, and generates these questions? 

I find it intriguing that God explicitly states,

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family (Proverbs 6:16-19).

I cite this passage to suggest that if we are consistent, then we would be asking all of your same questions about any family member (or friend) involved in any of the issues that God explicitly states that He hates — including the telling of lies, or having proud-looking eyes!

Point is, we all do things that God hates. This being the case, how should we be treated with regard to holiday meals or contact with teenage family members?

“Consistency, thou art a rare jewel.” Thus my question, asked in all sincerity, is this: How do we respond with consistency when we are talking about LGBT issues?

I will not presume to tell you what to do. I can only tell you what I would do. 

I, too, have a nephew whom I love and respect. If he were to confide to me some lifestyle choices with which I personally disagree, it would make absolutely no difference in how I treated him, or how I would respond to him. 

Because you know what? It’s not up to me to agree or disagree with his or anyone else’s lifestyle. Who am I to sit in judgment of another’s lifestyle choices? (And in the interests of full disclosure, truth be told, I, too, have made some choices with which I disagree! No one, including me — especially me — can claim a monopoly on perfection.)

Did not Jesus say to us, “Do not judge others”? Yes, He did — Matthew 7:1. Did not Jesus say to us, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (the her being a woman caught in the act of adultery)? Yes, He did — John 8:7.

There is one (and only one) exception to my it-would-make-absolutely-no-difference statement: If anyone in my life, be it family or friend, was a clear and present danger to my family, that would be a game-changer. By clear and present danger I mean this: It’s one thing for someone to use illegal drugs; it’s quite another to entice my children into using drugs. It’s one thing to be sexually active outside of marriage; it’s quite another thing to display predatory sexual behavior toward my children. It’s one thing to have anger-management issues; it’s quite another thing to threaten bodily harm to my children.

See the difference?

Back on point, my nephew is not accountable to me for his choices. How he chooses to live his life is between him and God. My love for him is unconditional. I cannot think of anything that would change that. His lifestyle is, quite frankly, none of my business. 

So were I to receive the exact same bombshell revelation that you just received, I would be surprised, shocked, taken aback. But at the end of the day, in terms of my relationship with and love for my nephew, it would change nothing.

That’s where I currently sit on this issue (emphasis upon the word “currently”). But as I continue to process this, I would LOVE to hear from you. Tell me what you think (respectfully, please). We can certainly agree or disagree and remain friends. These are not easy questions. There are no easy answers. I am open to hearing your take on this subject.

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5 thoughts on “When the “T” in LGBT Hits Our Own Homes

  1. Lisa Trupka

    Dewey, this really hit home for me today. I have a niece in my family that I have stopped reaching out to because of her lifestyle choices. I have accepted that she has chosen an alternative lifestyle for herself, but I do not purposely reach out and keep in contact with her. After reading your post, I realized that in ignoring her and not reaching out to her, I have been judging her for her choice to live differently. I realized that Jesus does not command me to change others, but simply to love them as much as I love myself. If I will surrender my will and my desires, then I am certain that God will do what I cannot do.

  2. Good word, Dewey. As I ‘process’ these issues along with you, though, I’m thinking that ‘transgender’ goes beyond what you’ve compared it to here. Changing ones hormonal make-up and even physically altering ones self seems to me to cross the line of who and what God created us to be – male and female in His image. I’d say those other sins are perversions of His ideal for sexuality and/or relationships, but are at least within our created identities. This is more like a perversion of His very creation, if that makes sense. It’s like a rebellion against God’s definition of ‘human’. I can focus on the plank in my own eye on other sins, but can I with transgender? I don’t know… I’ll need a bigger processor. Your thoughts?

  3. Good work, Dewey–preached pretty much the same idea a few month’s back…and am still reapiing the benefits of encouraging grace and engagement.

  4. Diane

    Here is some extra info on John 8 that I had not realized until a few years ago….

    In John 8: 7, Yeshua responded to the Pharisees fully within the bounds of Torah. He in no way changed what had been previously written about how adultery was to be dealt with. The religious leaders were wrong in how they acted, and they knew it, for they failed to bring the other guilty party, yet stated that she had been caught in the act.

    When He told them that the one without sin should cast the first stone, He was not referring to any sin in their lives other than the one they were committing right then and there.

    The command they directly broke in John 8 by ONLY bringing in the woman is here, Leviticus 20: 10.

    He also reminded them, by writing in the dust on the Temple floor, that the only person who had the right to bring the woman alone (without the participating man) to answer for a charge of adultery, was her own husband.

    The passage which sets out what was to happen when there was a woman who was suspected to have committed adultery is Numbers 5: 12-31.

  5. Paul Fisher

    I agree that what is important is the unconditional love.I also think that if that person is living an unrepentant life of sin that as someone who loves them I have a responsibilty to tell them what the bible says.After all it’s eternity with Jesus is what we are talking about here.Discernment is a form of judging many things in my life.If my brother is living a life of adultery and I don’t discuss my concern’s my love and the love of Jesus Christ with him,that would not be love.

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