My daughter has ‘come out’!

April 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 31 comments

My 47 year old daughter now says she’s lesbian. She has always been heterosexual. Please use your wisdom and experience to help me. I’ve never known anything like this close to me.

I pray for you and Susan, Rabbi. Please pray for me just once – I know your busy life.

Thank you.

Shocked Mom

Dear Shocked Mom,

Your poignant letter reached out and touched our hearts. We certainly pray for you and for all parents who are blind-sided when a grown child shocks them.

First of all, and we don’t mean this at all in a frivolous way—stop and take a few deep breaths. When news slaps us in the face, we need to give ourselves time to assimilate it. Ask God to support and guide you and be on the lookout for small ‘hugs’ from Him.

Second, and our reaction here may surprise you, we would like to encourage you not to overreact.  You don’t tell us anything about your relationship with your daughter, but separating her and the interaction between the two of you from her behavior is terribly important. Is this one more grenade she is hurling at you or have you always been close and she is worried that you are going to reject her? Are a husband and/or grandchildren involved? Whatever the answer to those questions, she is your daughter and that is not a relationship you want to sever.

If I (Susan) can give a piece of advice from personal experience, get a hold of Barbara Johnson’s book When Your Child Breaks Your Heart: Help for Hurting Moms (I believe it might have been published originally as Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?). While none of us wish trouble on other people, it does help to know that our situation isn’t unique and that others have trod the road we are on, even if the details differ. When I was going through a tough time as a Jewish mother, I found the Christian Mrs. Johnson’s faith-driven words helpful in a way that secular books were not. 

We are going to venture a guess that your daughter is hurting. We want to let you know that Biblically speaking, women with women is in no way comparable to men with men. Lesbianism today is presented as simply an alternative choice, but very often women “discover” this predilection in themselves after having been badly hurt by life, often in situations involving a man or men. Your daughter may very well be seeking love, companionship and affection in a society that confuses that, and much else, with sex.  You are absolutely justified in feeling that this may be a poor choice and one that goes against your beliefs and values, but at the same time you are most likely facing a wounded child.

You need to find the optimal place between the two incorrect extreme reactions of, “As long as you’re happy, everything you do is fine with me,” and “I never want to see you again.” You cannot control the actions of a 47-year-old and you need to acknowledge that her choices at this point in life are independent from you.

Obviously, if this revelation includes walking out on a marriage and affects the lives of grandchildren, your response is even more crucial. We want to reiterate our advice to breathe, pray, get support and think through the situation with as much empathy, clarity and wisdom that you can muster. The film of your daughter’s life is still rolling and we pray that it concludes in a positive way.

Blessings,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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31 comments

E.F. Shaar says:

Good advice!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks!
Cordially
RDL

Joyce R. says:

Dear Shocked Mom, May the Holy One be with you and guide you as you deal with this heart wrenching situation. The advice in Miss Susan’s and the Rabbi’s reply is some of the best I have heard on this subject. I would just add that the Holy One sees both you and your daughter as His children, whom He loves. He desires you both to be whole. My prayer for you and your daughter is that the Holy One would use this situation to lead you both to greater understanding of each other. May He receive the glory as He walks with you both through this time. Shalom.

Elizabeth says:

Please expand on your comment “We want to let you know that Biblically speaking, women with women is in no way comparable to men with men.” How “Biblically speaking” is if different? Really interested in your perspective from Torah. Thank you.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Elizabeth–
I am writing the same response to you as I write to Matt nearby since you both ask the same legitimate question, okay?
You ask me to expand on just how, from a Biblical perspective, men and men is different from women and women. The simple and direct answer is that the Bible repeatedly and explicitly prohibits a man from inserting his reproductive organ into the cavity of another man’s body. It could hardly be any clearer. However nowhere in the Hebrew Bible (and I presume in the NT neither ) is there any prohibition of one woman tickling another. You’ll pardon me being explicit and direct but your question is too important to risk misunderstanding.
That is the answer to your question but of course it is not an answer to the implied part of your question which is, yes, but why.
This is not the venue for a full treatment but your question is important and many people with the same question in mind read these pages. So a quick view from 30,000 feet is that God created two separate parts of humanity; men and women. Completion and unity happen when the two combine regardless of the fact that a few individuals feel differently. When a girl with an eating disorder feels fat, we don’t accept her feelings as determining fact. We acknowledge that her feelings are wrong. Needless to say, I am sadly aware that in today’s times, my words will goad some readers into a livid fury. I’m sorry about that. I grant them their freedom to think and believe as they do and in hope, I expect them to grant me the same courtesy.
One way in which God created men and women differently from one another is that in men’s bodies, one organ is multi purpose. It excretes waste water, it provides physical pleasure, and it effects reproduction.
In women’s bodies, there is an organ whose only purpose is physical pleasure. There is another organ whose only purpose is excreting waste water. There is yet another organ that effects reproduction.
There is also an important difference between the cavity in a woman’s body into which her husband inserts his reproductive organ and the cavity of a man’s body employed in sodomy. (If you don’t mind us using an old fashioned word for a very old fashioned sin). The difference is that the former is the passageway of life. Not for nothing is it often called the birth canal. The latter however is the passageway of death. It is the passageway through which the body on a daily basis excretes its dead cells and its dead waste from which all nourishment has been completely extracted.
One reason that the arena of what we call “sex” torments civilized society is because we ask ourselves how can something that provides so much sensual pleasure be “good and even holy”? But the same activity also creates a real live human being with all its infinite potential so we ask ourselves how can that activity possibly be anything other than “good and holy”? Result: anguish, conflict and torment. It typically gets answered easily but incorrectly in two possible ways. 1: sex is only about reproduction, the pleasure is an undesirable by product and should be spurned. 2: sex is only about pleasure, reproduction is an undesirable by product and should be spurned.
The Bible offers God’s third way, namely unifying 1 and 2. (We’ve written more extensively on this elsewhere.)
Since the male organ is not just about pleasurable sensation but it also makes human life possible, where it goes and what it does becomes supremely important. For an organ of such Godly creativity to be in a place of death and waste is ugly and incompatible with a Biblical blueprint of life.
Hence the Biblical distinction between what men do with men and what women do with women. I hope the difference is now a bit clearer. As we say, we’ve dealt with this matter in greater detail in earlier writings and teachings, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Sadly, many will disagree with us vehemently. That is of course their right. We pray that our right to express our views, regardless of how “offensive” others may find them will remain constitutionally protected and never abrogated.
Cordially
RDL

Karen Jones says:

I hope you don’t mind me informing you on the New Testament , I would not expect that you would know that the New Testament of Christian writings prohibits this between women as well….and having worked with several lesbian women over many years , this does not seem to be a case of ” sisterly affection and tickling”… it is often aggressive and definitely sexual , although the part about them being emotionally injured IS probably correct. I sat under a Pastor who also told us lesbians were not sexual and there was nothing wrong with it , he had lived a moral life since childhood and I believe he was ignorant of what goes on between them . Please delete this if you think it is offensive.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Karen–
I wasn’t sure about the NT. Needless to say, it isn’t recommended. My point only that the Torah does not prohibit this female behavior but clearly indicates that the sensual pleasure was created to cement the bond between a man and his wife.
I wouldn’t agree with that pastor who said there is nothing wrong with it. I would say it is nowhere near as serious a transgression as male homosexuality since it is not explicitly prohibited, but then neither is suicide, right? Doesn’t mean it is a recommended activity.
Cordially
RDL

Randal Repke says:

HI Keren,
I’m not aware of the new testament prohibiting woman / woman relationship. Perhaps you can enlighten us. If you are referring to “woman change the natural use for that which is against nature” this is not the same as men “burned in their lust…; men with men” The reference to the woman is the abonnement of reproduction and the creative act of giving life. What can be more against nature than destroying life in the womb or refusing God’s blessing with contraceptives.

Matt F says:

This was a very interesting and filled with good advice. One question though. In the blog it’s mentioned that women with women is no way comparable to men with men. Why is that?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Matt,
“Why is that?” you ask. The simple and direct answer is that we did not merely state that men with men isn’t the same as women with women. We specified that from a Biblical perspective this was the case. Thus the answer to your question is that the Bible repeatedly and explicitly prohibits a man from inserting his reproductive organ into the cavity of another man’s body. It could hardly be any clearer. However nowhere in the Hebrew Bible (and I presume in the NT neither ) is there any prohibition of one woman tickling another. You’ll pardon me being explicit and direct but your question is too important to risk misunderstanding.
That is the answer to your question but of course it is not an answer to the implied part of your question which is, yes, but why.
This is not the venue for a full treatment but your question is important and many people with the same question in mind read these pages. So a quick view from 30,000 feet is that God created two separate parts of humanity; men and women. Completion and unity happen when the two combine regardless of the fact that a few individuals feel differently. When a girl with an eating disorder feels fat, we don’t accept her feelings as determining fact. We acknowledge that her feelings are wrong. Needless to say, I am sadly aware that in today’s times, my words will goad some readers into a livid fury. I’m sorry about that. I grant them their freedom to think and believe as they do and I futilely expect them to grant me the same courtesy.
One way in which God created men and women differently from one another is that in men’s bodies, one organ is multi purpose. It excretes waste water, it provides physical pleasure, and it effects reproduction.
In women’s bodies, there is an organ whose only purpose is physical pleasure. There is another organ whose only purpose is excreting waste water. There is yet another organ that effects reproduction.
There is also an important difference between the cavity in a woman’s body into which her husband inserts his reproductive organ and the cavity of a man’s body employed in sodomy. (If you don’t mind us using an old fashioned word for a very old fashioned sin). The difference is that the former is the passageway of life. Not for nothing is it often called the birth canal. The latter however is the passageway of death. It is the passageway through which the body on a daily basis excretes its dead cells and its dead waste from which all nourishment has been completely extracted.
One reason that the arena of what we call “sex” torments civilized society is because we ask ourselves how can something that provides so much sensual pleasure be “good and even holy”? But the same activity also creates a real live human being with all its infinite potential so we ask ourselves how can that activity possibly be anything other than “good and holy”? Result: anguish, conflict and torment. It typically gets answered easily but incorrectly in two possible ways. 1: sex is only about reproduction, the pleasure is an undesirable by product and should be spurned. 2: sex is only about pleasure, reproduction is an undesirable by product and should be spurned.
The Bible offers God’s third way, namely unifying 1 and 2. (We’ve written more extensively on this elsewhere.)
Since the male organ is not just about pleasurable sensation but it also makes human life possible, where it goes and what it does becomes supremely important. For an organ of such Godly creativity to be in a place of death and waste is ugly and incompatible with a Biblical blueprint of life.
Hence the Biblical distinction between what men do with men and what women do with women. I hope the difference is now a bit clearer. As we say, we’ve dealt with this matter in greater detail in earlier writings and teachings, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Sadly, many will disagree with us vehemently. That is of course their right. We pray that our right to express our views, regardless of how “offensive” others may find them will remain constitutionally protected and never abrogated.
Cordially
RDL

Ted Baldwin says:

watch this short film about gay parents, it may shed some light on their problems.

(link removed as per our policy)

ps. her being gay is not about you. Also she may have been lesbian all her life in feeling but never acted on it before. She needs to be herself – it will save a continued life of misery and fear of disappointing you. And obviously she cares or she would not have bothered to tell you. I directed and produced the film

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ted,
Thank you for your concern about our “Ask The Rabbi” column subject this week. I’m sorry our policies prohibit us from promoting anything including your film. I will try and see it myself soon.
Regarding your points that she may have been lesbian all her life and that she needs to be herself. Here we must disagree with you. Let me explain why.
We do not view the term lesbian as an identity, but merely as a behavior. No woman is ever defined as a lover of women. That’s as demeaning as defining me as a lover of blondes. We are all children of a loving God capable of acts of inspiring goodness and also capable of acts of evil. No person is ever forced into any act. He or she may be tempted. He or she might have proclivities in a certain direction but none of us is forced to behave in any way. To disagree is to extirpate free choice and utterly the entire concept of a civil judicial system. (Sorry your honor, I had no choice, it is just how I was born.)
Secondly, we invest years trying to acculturate an infant into growing up into an adult who will NOT be him or her self. Deep down our selves can be venal, dishonest, and self indulgent. No matter. We work on regulating our behavior so we grow into people better than ourselves.
The notion that deep down there is an unchangeable self which we must somehow be true to is a lie popular in today’s mental health industry. In truth, it can only be the view of someone who believes that we are no better than animals. For humans this is not true. We can change, grow and improve until we’re unrecognizable from the unworthy person we used to be.
This is all terribly important to grasp for anyone who deeply desires to know how the world REALLY works.
Cordially
RDL

Robin says:

Thank you for this reply Rabbi Lapin. I work in Christian Ministry and the Mental Health Field and this is one of the best responses I’ve ever read in regards to labeling and the “I was born this way” credo.

Linda says:

My heart goes out to you, Shocked. And I can relate. When my daughter was just 16 years old, it became apparent that she had just had her first 2 sexual encounters, one with a boy and one with a girl. All I could do is cry. I immediately sought counsel with my pastor and we prayed together for my daughter. I didn’t respond to her with words but with continued actions of love.
Later in life, my husband hurt me in a big way with an act of betrayal and a light turned on and I can remember saying, “now I understand why some women turn to other women”.
I said all that to say this, your daughter is probably wounded deeply by a man, perhaps her husband. I pray to our merciful Lord that He reaches out to your daughter with His loving mercy and binds the wounds in her heart.
And I pray to our God that He heal the wounds in your heart as well. Keep your eyes on our God for His grace is sufficient. Continue to seek Him and keep your daughter in prayer. Seek counsel and prayer from a trusted friend ( perhaps your husband if you have one or a close trusted female friend) or church leader that can provide to you emotional and prayer support. Let not anger or criticism rise up and divide you.
I know that’s a tough call, and only in continuing to seek our Father in heaven and putting your trust in Him can that suggestion be met.
I am praying for you and your daughter in your situation. Our God IS an awesome God.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you for your helpful letter, Linda.
Hearing from someone who has undergone the same unenviable experience is often more helpful than hearing from anyone else could be.
Cordially
RDL

Mike Moore says:

How great is our God in preparing this life for us that even if we don’t choose his best plan for us, sometimes some of us can be happy with choosing secondary or tertiary options.

Robin says:

My 26 year old daughter began vacillated between heterosexual and homosexual relationships beginning in her junior year of high school. Because of her physical and cognitive disabilities, she had always struggled with belonging and feeling comfortable with herself. What peers said about her carried more weight than what I (and other supportive adults) affirmed about her. She wanted a sense of belonging and found it in a culture where alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity was the norm. I was devastated. I didn’t realize it then, but I eventually went through a grief cycle. After all, it was a loss. I lost my daughter to a lifestyle I was not willing to support. I still loved her. The funny thing is I never had a problem with people who chose to live alternative lifestyle–but this was my daughter!! I raised her in a Christian home. I lived through the five stages of grief: denial–she’s not gay, it’s just a phase; anger–why is she doing this?; , bargaining–ok, she’ll get tired of that and go back to being normal; depression–After all I’ve done for her, maybe I’m a bad mom, maybe it’s my fault; and acceptance–ok, it’s her life, her choice, I don’t have to agree with her choice, but I will accept her, as my daughter, and as a HUMAN BEING, someone loved and created by God.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing Robin–
As you describe sadly with regard to your daughter, the immense power of a deep relationship with another human being to make us feel whole and well grounded is almost unimaginable. This is part of the seductiveness of sex even when the time, place, and person may not be optimum.
Love the sinner doesn’t mean we can’t hate the sin is really what you are saying but saying more eloquently. And we think you’re right.
Cordially
RDL

Gus says:

Susan, and all others,
I feel that Susan was thinking more companionship or support of each other rather than a marriage between a woman and woman.
The Bible and God’s word is very clear in want is said. Homosexuality is wrong. In no way is it accepted, man or woman. In every case the allowance of these acts in a society will result in its destruction.
Now that being said; Prayer and forgiveness is the most that one can do and hope for. Always love your family no matter how bad it may look or be. Let God do his magic His way nd in His time.
Never allow Satan to come in and try to make something wrong seam right or ok.
Gus

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Gus–
Thanks for writing so helpfully. Just one little correction if you allow, namely homosexuality in a Biblical sense refers explicitly to men doing unmentionable things with other men. (Please see our response to both Matt and Elizabeth alongside) There is no Biblical prohibition to women playing with one another, if you’ll pardon me. The topic is too important and too fraught with misinformation for me to risk being obtuse. Penetration is the issue, as you’ll read in my longer response; and this between women is quite moot.
As you said, God and His Book are clear and we can’t try turn wrong into right.
Cordially
RDL

Gus says:

RDL,
You are absolutely correct I did used homosexuality meaning for both men and women which is just men. We all have problems finding the correct answer for an issue, when in fact their is no absolute right answer for any one person. We will all have to answer to our decisions we make good, bad or indifferent when we stand in front of our Father.
I still feel it is wrong for women to have sexual acts together in choosing another woman over a man. If this were to happen in a large scale we would have a problem. No more people. I believe somethings, God wanted us to figure out ourselves.
Of course I can understand when we were children and playing doctor or exploring was an innocent act. I’m not sure if you are aware how young girls today play with sexuality. It is every bit as bad as two males can be, not including the mind games they play on each other. What I have seen and heard of can not be good in anyway. It is not for me to judge nor should I judge right or wrong for every case is different and that is in Gods hands.
I am very proud of how you answered your reply’s keep up the good work.
God Bless You and Your Family

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Gus–
See my answer to Karen nearby.
Cordially
RDL

“the film of her life is still rolling”, so beautiful, so simple and so profound. I am going to try to remember that in every person I see. There was so much great information in this exchange but that really grabbed me. Have a beautiful and meaningful Passover.

Nathaniel Gilbert says:

The New Testament does condemn homosexual activity for both men and women in Romans 1:24-27. “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks Nathaniel–
I wasn’t sure about that so appreciate the clarification. As I mentioned to Karen nearby, there are many things not explicitly prohibited in the Torah like women with women, or for that matter, suicide. Neither are recommended activities. But nowhere near the same category of religious transgression as male homosexuality.
Cordially
RDL

Alessandro Mecle says:

Dear Rabbi and Mrs Lapin, I am deeply moved with the perspective pointed out. I can realize clearly the difference when such issue is about a woman. I listened you speaking about that in the past, but without details. The first response, followed by the second, helped me to understand the question. I am very gratefull for you both sharing an inestimable amount of wisdom. Thank you!

Becky Stern says:

Lesbianism has a more pernicious effect on society than homosexuality. The left understood that we accept images of heterosexual women casually touching, with no sexual implication. From there, it was easy to acclimate the public to images of women touching in a more suggestive manner. Think of those sickening ad council ads showing x-rays of people moving/interacting behind a white screen; they step out and they are first developmentally disabled, then of differing races, then a lesbian couple. Think of drug ads that cut quickly between images of a parent and child, to a normal couple, to a lesbian couple. These images paved the way for full-blown male homosexual images in the mainstream media. Lesbians traded on our acceptance of normal women being more tactile than men to open the door of public acceptance. Then they held it open for homosexual men. Can you imagine the “lgbt” movement being responded to as anything other than perversion if there were no women in it? I do not think homosexual men would be in the position of power they hold currently, claiming victim status, all the while dismantling society, if lesbian women had not joined forces with them. Feminism has always claimed that men destroy society through war. As far as I can see, lesbian women, and the women who support them, are destroying the society I live in.

Susan Lapin says:

Becky, I think you are making an extremely important point, but I see it as complementary to what my husband wrote rather than contradictory. I agree 100% with your idea that the wedge point was women because of the reasons you said. That is a marketing ploy, if you will. However, the harm to society once the idea is accepted comes more through men than women. Does that resonate with you?

Becky Stern says:

Two thoughts. First, should a lesbian be regarded differently than a homosexual if both eschew procreation and thereby lead a society towards death? Second, as lesbians assisted homosexuals in acquiring legitimacy, what does the Torah say about the person who knowing facilitates the thief, or the idolater, or the murderer? I understand what Leviticus says about homosexuality. My point is that lesbians, and their unthinking heterosexual female supporters, more than any other segment of society, facilitated the ascent of homosexuality. How is their behavior not equivalent to homosexuals’ in its destructiveness?

Adrian says:

Rabbi Lapin,

I admire your courage to take this subject head on. You explained it all very well, but it leaves me wondering if there are limits on how a man and woman can share their bodies. Is oral stimulation acceptable? I don’t think the NT touches on this and my first thought is this should be fine. Why should there be any limits on how a man and woman please each other? This may be a little off topic, but I doubt I’m the only one who’s curious about this…

Adrian

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Adrian–
Thanks for writing. Your intuition is correct. Mutual consent is the main restriction. I’ll deal with this more fully in another venue.
Cordially
RDL

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