How do I answer my son who has declared he is homosexual? My beliefs are against this practice.
You must be in tremendous pain and we pray that you feel ‘hugs’ from God as you go through this time.
So many parents are undergoing this challenge in our days. The entire ethos surrounding us says that this is your problem not your son’s, and, yet, you are faithful to a tradition that existed for centuries before ‘modern’ thinking came into vogue and will still be around when the ‘modern’ becomes old-fashioned.
We want to remind you, during your time of anguish, that contrary to contemporary norms of positioning nearly everything in terms of identity politics, Scripture does not accept the existence of a person defined as a ‘homosexual’. There are many sins and a male having sex with another male is one of those sins. When a man engages in a Biblically prohibited activity called homosexuality, it doesn’t change who he is. Similarly, a Jew who engages in the Biblically prohibited conduct of eating a ham sandwich does not change his identity into being a “ham-eater”. In other words, homosexual is a behavior, not an identity. In spite of what your son or the latest social science might believe, he is not a homosexual. He is your son who has yielded to a temptation to sin. He may be feeling confused and his peer group are patting him on the back, praising him for his courage in ‘coming out.’ The fact that he sinned yesterday is no guarantee that he will continue to do so. In spite of popular culture’s wrong-headed insistence, men can and often do abandon the practice of homosexuality. Obviously we realize how out of step our teachings are with today’s popular culture but our mission is to tell the truth rather than to win friends (Should those two goals be in conflict.)
I (Susan) once read a book aimed at parents coping with children whose behavior was tremendously painful to the parents. The author spoke with compassion and practical wisdom to parents whose children were prostitutes and criminals, drug addicts and predators. However, she abandoned her general compassionate attitude to tell parents who were disappointed and suffering because their children practiced homosexuality that they, not their children, had a problem. Do not let yourself believe that.
You, as so many others, see your child going down a path contrary to God’s directions. You may be feeling guilt and shame along with distress and sadness. Those are most likely counterproductive emotions.
The question, as we see it, isn’t so much what you should ‘answer’ your son as how to continue your relationship. Naturally, we encourage you to discuss your situation with your personal spiritual leader. In addition, we think that modern technology provides a tremendous boon. We would recommend linking online (and perhaps that will lead you to individuals with whom you can meet locally) with others who share your beliefs and your challenge.
While there is a common theme, each family has its own dynamics and each child has his or her own complexity. We think you will find solace in sharing your story with those who understand and hearing what others choose to say or do will provide you with ideas that will help you forge your own path as they resonate or don’t resonate with you. We would be extremely hesitant to give a blanket response to such a complex question.
Remember that he is still your son. He is not a new alien being. He should know that loving him and rejecting his actions are not contradictory.
Always, of course, keep praying and reminding yourself that salvation can come in an instant.
Wishing you blessing,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin