“My 15 year-old son just came out. He says he’s known since he was 10. He says he already has a boyfriend on the internet. He’s not sure whether he even believes in God anymore, but he’s definitely convinced that conservative Christian beliefs about sexuality are bigoted. I feel like I don’t know my own son. He’s angry and hurting, but he won’t let us help him.”
Unfortunately, I get some version of the message above from a parent once a month. And unfortunately, I am forced to honor those parents with an honest response:
Gay teens spend an average of five years in the closet making sense of their sexuality, often without the love and wisdom of parents—left alone with the lies of the Enemy and culture. This leads to loneliness, anxiety, shame, depression, sexual sin, addiction, suicide, and loss of faith. As I’ve met with dozens of individuals in counseling and pastoral care over the past decade, I’ve become convinced that the lingering wounds of the closet are the greatest barrier to gay Christians thriving according to a historic sexual ethic. Too many will spend a lifetime attempting to heal those wounds, haunted by the closet.
Even if churches are faithful to teach God’s love and wisdom for gay people in compassionate ways, even if pastors know how to provide effective one-on-one pastoral care, and even if churches grow to offer more family in the body of Christ—even if we do all of those, if kids continue spending five years in the closet, we may see little improvement in the thriving of gay Christians or the fruitfulness of their stewardship. The wounds of the closet will block them from the love of Jesus and the love of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
But it doesn’t have to be this way
We can’t wait until teens disclose their sexuality to share about God’s love and wisdom. We can’t wait until after kids have spent five years making sense of this alone, without love but surrounded by lies. Instead, we must prevent the wounds of the closet from ever happening, leading to a lifetime of thriving according to God’s teachings. To do this, kids need to share with parents as soon as they notice same-sex attractions. But to ensure kids share, parents must tell every kid before puberty about God’s love and wisdom for gay people and do so in ways that demonstrate safety to their kids. And to do that, parents need coaching and encouragement from pastors who often feel ill-equipped to train parents.
Thankfully, Equip exists to prepare pastors and parents for these life-changing conversations about God’s wisdom for sexual stewardship.
This Christmas, help same-sex attracted kids in our churches become known at the dinner table and the communion table. Help Equip and pastors we support train parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their kids about God’s love and wisdom for gay people so that next Christmas, more are known in their homes and churches.
Check out our free parent conversation starter to begin dialogue in your home. Then give so that Equip can help more parents and pastors start dialogue in their homes and churches!