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
49 thoughts on “Our son just ‘came out.’”
one of the silliest conceits of secular progressives today is that it takes ‘courage’ to oppose traditional values. What does take courage is for someone who has to live and work among secular fundamentalists to declare support for conservative values. That is rare indeed.
I would like to say something as an ex “wanted to change sexes” and ex adulterer. THe road to healing for me came from being loved unconditionally and seeking out the root cause of the behaviour. It will never come from just trying to avoid the behaviour. There has to be healing inside. The root for me was not having a dad in my life and then when a father figure did come he was a wounded alienated man himself and didn’t know how to properly engage with me…..these things led me as a small child wanting to be a boy to the point of stealing boys underwear (but really what I wanted was male attention) which turned into promiscuous behaviour later, still very much a tom boy. Then with my husband because I finally had the “dad” I always wanted, I started maturing sexually and then again seeking males outside our relationship. It wasn’t until I read about the root causes of homosexuality, examined myself AND was loved unconditionally in my sin, that my yearnings for other males ceased. I give all credit to Yeshua and the Father for allowing a man like that in my life (my second husband) who I now have 4 beautiful children with, something I never thought possible!
Thank you for your response. I’ve had similar conversations with people about friends/family members “coming out”. I’d say who would tell their loved one you’re so courageous to tell everyone you’re a serial killer. Who does that? But the clarity of your point is terrific: homosexuality is not an identity it is a behavior, and one that God finds abhorrent! Again, none of us is perfect. Thus, we need people of faith to bring out these finer points to highlight the ridiculousness of “I’m so glad you came out”! God bless and keep the podcasts coming!!!
While reading your sad story, I was becoming increasingly disconsolate until I got to the end and happily discovered that God rescued you.
Onwards and upwards
Leviticus 19:18, You shall love your neighbor as yourself and do not hold any grudges. This would be my favorite verse if it were possible to have just one. If this is commanded for our neighbor, how much more our own family? Easier said than done, this I know. I have a wonderful friend who is gay. He became my friend because he heard from a mutual friend that I was traveling to Israel a couple of years ago and he insisted I stay with him on the weekends. He showed me brotherly love I needed from my like minded believers in Israel. He, a stranger took me in. He became my personal tour guide, photographer and cook whenever I stayed with him. We are good friends now. I am your prototype American Male, but when I make my wise guy remarks, I first consider if it would hurt my friend. I do not condone his lifestyle, but I truly love him.
What a beautiful and timely response for all situations in which a parent becomes disappointed with a child’s lifestyle. Homosexuality is a choice. When a child or person feels he does not have a choice other than to succumb to their impulses and thoughts is the deception. Some children are bent toward lying, stealing, selfishness, etc. They must be corrected with the truth but yet they have a choice. If society tells them they are born a liar or a thief, does not change the truth of God’s word. We must continue to love with a fervent love yet speaking the truth in love. The bible tells us love never fails.
Thank you for writing. Does the Bible really tell us that love NEVER fails?
But you are certainly correct that one can oppose the behavior while continuing to love the person. Sometimes we even loathe our own behavior but we ought to try avoiding the trap of becoming self-loathing.
I had a difficult time with my 24 year old daughter who ‘came out’ at age 17. I was angry toward her, myself and God. I treated her like an outcast–she had addiction issues also. Through God’s providence, I learned to walk in forgiveness and acceptance of all humanity. Not with their behaviors, but that they (and myself) are created by God and He sees creation as ‘good’. We have an open loving relationship and she knows her life choices are a sin issue. I needed a revelation of how God loved me in spite of my sin issue in order to understand how pure love operates.
Well done, Robin–
Life can be messy and we have to work within the parameters of possibility. I am happy that you have a loving relationship–that is the way to do it.
This article is very helpful to me. I have friends and family members that tell me often that I am too “old fashioned” in my beliefs; that people are born homosexuals, and they cannot help it, and I need to accept it as OK.
Please see my response to Kevin above. Sounds like he might be one of your friends or family members.
Well spoken, and timely. I am going through the same thing. But, not with my son. My wife has decided to “come out”. I am trying to be patient and loving.
Unbelievable what is happening these days! I do hope you are coping and somehow moving forward. Many times women are diabolically misled by feminist therapists and sometimes even by their friends to destroy marriages in the hope of finding sexual nirvana with other women. I’ve seen it often. Sadly.
Judge not.Lest ye be judged.
Gary – This saying, which is directed to hypocrites, is not appropriate here. (look at the context in which it was said, which includes the famous bit about not trying to remove a wood speck from your neighbor’s eye while ignoring the wooden beam in your own eye). Rather, in the same book a few pages later, the same speaker says that if our brother sins against us, we should reprove or rebuke him, privately. One has to “judge” in order to decide that a brother has sinned and that rebuking (telling them so) is necessary. This is RDL’s point (I think). You can condemn the bad behavior while still loving the person. Perhaps this is an application of Leviticus 19:17 -“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” Love the son, despite his errors. But do not retreat from making plain that this act is error. To do otherwise, and to conceal or deny the truth that God has revealed to us, is not loving. Saying we shouldn’t judge does not change the reality that some acts are not good for us (and/or society) and is instead a cop-out to avoid truly loving someone in an engaging way.
I am encouraged, I thank God for that timely advice.
One may call me a bigot or homophobic if you desire, However I will follow TORAH , Vayikra 18:22. I can do no other. If one has a problem then their problem is not with me it is with G-d.
“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” Thomas S. Monson
However, I’m not sure about salvation coming in an instant. But that could be another lengthy and profitable discussion for another time.
thanks for writing. Just ask anyone who’s had a loved one’s prognosis change from hopeless to cured in a medical instant. Or ask anyone who has been saved from financial hopelessness to economic salvation in one minute whether they believe salvation can come in an instant.
Apples and oranges? I suppose it largely depends on the definition of salvation?
Thanks for your responses.
I respectfully disagree. Being homosexual is not a choice. While there is disagreement whether people are born gay, there is little doubt that sexual orientation is established at a very early age before children even know what sex is. Sexual orientation cannot be changed. When it comes to sexuality, a homosexual is faced with three choices: 1. Never have sex. 2. Have sex with someone of the opposite sex. 3. Have sex with someone of the same sex.
The first option is not practical for some. Not everyone can live a happy celibate life.
The second option is the most morally bankrupt option because it involves another person. Does anybody reading this want their daughter to fall in love with and marry a homosexual man?
I would argue the third option is the only morally correct option for many homosexuals.
Yes, the last option is against the scriptures, but no one takes everything in the bible literally.
Yes, the bible was meant to be taken literally. We all have things we overcame. That is the reason we had to be born again! And we (Christians) still have things where we miss the mark, but we do not practice sin.
It’s a bit more complicated than that. When Leviticus 19:14 says, “‘You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind…” ancient Jewish wisdom says that no normal human being with common decency needs to be told not to get your laughs from tripping up people with dark glasses and white canes. Rather it is warning us of the immorality of taking business advantage of someone who is unaware of one of the facts of the transaction (blind) and will end up disadvantaged (tripped)
I don’t want anyone to be misled into thinking that the English translation of Scripture is meant literally in the sense that literal has in common English usage.
As economic adviser to presidents Wilson and Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, would say, “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.” You may believe that being homosexual is not a choice but in your haste to correct us, you didn’t read our words carefully. Homosexuality is NOT an identity, it is an activity. And all activities ARE choices for human beings. That is one of the distinguishing characteristics we enjoy over animals. Surely you wouldn’t argue with that.
“Sexual orientation cannot be changed” Really? You are sure about that? From what experience or knowledge? Of course people who experience SSA can be cured. (and I know many object to that term–but I am just a bit behind the times…about 3,000 years to be exact) The fact is that only a few short years ago the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM II) listed homosexuality as a disorder. I know that the popular culture doesn’t want us to believe that it is a behavior that can well be addressed and changed. But there is no reason for you or anyone else to jump on that bandwagon, especially since it is heading to a very bad road with steep drop offs on either side.
Finally, you omitted option 4 in your list of choices–stop having intimate relations with other men and start the process of adjusting to women. My God, people are comfortable with the idea of a man changing into a woman but can’t imagine a man who is attracted to men changing into a man who is attracted to women. C’mon, pleeeze! let’s not buy into every stupid position of secular progressivism.
Have to agree with the Rabbi with regard to “curing” homosexuality. The psychiatrist who advocated removing homosexuality from the DMSO did so to make seeking help for homosexuality less daunting. He never believed homosexuality was “normal” or an “alternative lifestyle.” His belief was that homosexuality was a benign neurosis.
I am so proud of your answer here. It is courageous and honest. It is disappointing to see that most religious leaders shy away from this topic and fear the reprisal of those who live according to the “politically correct” mantra. Your answer was caring for those who are hurting, but did not cover up the truth. I have always held the two of you in high esteem, but today my thoughts of you have reached even greater levels.
Thank you Jeremy
We’re so grateful to have a forum in which we can speak the truth without financial or legal penalty. Not everyone has this privilege
I have a friend who left the lifestyle, after 25 years, who is happy and a living life with true joy. The Lord changed their heart to follow Him.
Yes, we too know many who turned their backs on sodomy, Mary,
however, in these troubled times, therapists are prosecuted by law for helping any escape the lifestyle.
Very helpful article for so many. The practice of telling devout Jews and Christians that it is “their problem” for objecting to their children’s behavior is cruel. Your answer is one I am saving for myself and for others who may need it now or in the future. Your perspective on how today’s “modern take” on homosexual behavior and other issues is spot on. Sin never “works” so it’s foolish to chide people who discourage sin and reward people for “joining the sin party”. You can love them without approving of their destructive behavior and how they were likely duped and/or tempted into starting in said behavior.
Thank you Marti–
We hope many find hope and guidance in our words.
Rabbi & Susan…
Appreciate your insights very much and can’t wait to see your emails in my inbox each week
I think what this person is asking is ‘ how do I embrace my child without “agreeing or celebrating” this sinful lifestyle’?
We live in a time where – unless ‘you agree and celebrate my sinful behavior’, you are a “judgmental, intolerant, bigoted hater”
I struggle with this myself – how do I show that I love you but I cannot condone what you are doing / living / believing?
If ‘your house is on fire’ – I am going to try to make sure you get out
if you are about to step off into an abyss, I am going to warn you not to take another step.
Such actions / concerns in this day and age = hate and a myriad of ‘phobias’ epithets
As a Christian – I am taught to love the sinner but hate the sin.
How do we do that when it seems that “loving the sinner while hating the sin” equals hate of the person and anything less than condoning / affirmation / celebration is a hate crime?
Rather than preach the Word of God, which automatically feels judgmental and critical to those in a place of denial. All that will do is build thick strong walls between the 2 of you. Of course, it depends on the age of the child, if the child is 10 years old, hug them, embrace them and tell them how special God made him or her just as is, and affirm God doesn’t make mistakes. If they are an adult child, depending on how they were raised, as Church goers and bible readers or absent of these things, approaching from where they have been at a time of no confusion about their gender is what is important. If walls are already built between the parent and child, absolutely love the child, forgive the child, but in your private prayer closet, ask God to help you. Every day, pray Gods protection for your child, ask Him to give him eyes to see His outstretched hand, ears to hear His still,small voice and a heart to comprehend. Ask Him to guide you… He may be telling you to just love your child and be silent, trusting Him. But remember, God works through our prayers. God shows His love through a willing servant. What is most important for the child is salvation, that your child have a relationship with our creator, after that, sin falls off, not necessarily allof it all at once but a genuine relationship with our creator is what changes us, not a list do do’s and don’t s with the words burning in hell attached as icing on a cake. God bless you.
you’re right. Today’s times present special challenges. Freedom of speech and even freedom of thoughts and conscience are no longer what they were a generation ago.
Be strong and of good courage Deuteronomy 31:6
What an awesome, compassionate, and loving response. Dear L., please know above all else that you are not alone in walking the particular path of sacrificial love the Lord has called you to. May your child see your love of him. May he come to understand your desire for his restoration. Most of all, may He come to desire reconciliation and restoration with God and with who God has called him to be. May the Lord give you peace as you walk this out.
I truly appreciate the loving response. I struggle with this in my daily life but me being the son 🙁 it is not an easy journey and I honestly love my Jesus but I continue to struggle. I thank you rabbi for your compassion in the delivery of you message. Love in HIM will concur this and for those who think this is a split decision or it is an easy path have a whole lot to learn and love someone through this. IT’S NOT EASY BY ANY MEANS !!
Dear M: I am glad you were able to receive this response from the Lapin’s. You are right, it is not an easy journey. I do not understand exactly what you are going through, but I have a friend who’s brother practiced this lifestyle for many years and with Jesus’ help he has abstained and lives a holy lifestyle. Even though many believers may not struggle with this particular issue, we all struggle with something and continually turn to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance. We are all works in progress. The more the love of the Lord and the worship of Him is our focus, sin doesn’t have a place to come in. I will be praying for you. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
Oh no, JK,
we know it is not easy at all. Were it easy, you wouldn’t need to ask us and we wouldn’t need to consult the original sources of ancient Jewish wisdom. Stay strong
If you live wth someone of the same sex, it is just as imoral as living with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse.
we join you in hoping that our questioner, L, was helped and is able to move forward.
Your response to current ‘issues’ raises a critical point: of human choice. Life is all about choices. Whether the issue is ‘drug abuse’ or ‘X-sexuality’ or ‘devil worship’ or belonging to whatever exclusive coterie, the central issue remains the same. In pursuing a ‘false god’ to the exclusion of all other choices or imperatives in life, the central issue is DEVIANCE. When you decide to smoke dope, sooner or later most of your friends and/or associates smoke dope. In choosing the homosexual ‘lifestyle,’ sooner or later most of your friends are homosexual. In short, you have elbowed out of your world all those who do not conform to your deviant ‘lifestyle,’ in effect ALL non-deviants. He who excludes from his life all women and all ‘straight’ males is a paltry, narrow person indeed, who pays the bitter price of exclusion: he lives like Aladdin’s genie in an itty-bitty living space, minus contact with most of God’s creation.
I like your metaphor from Aladdin. When you choose one thing you automatically exclude others. That’s part of the choice. As the genie put it:
“Thank you for choosing magic carpet for all your travel needs. Don’t stand until the rug has come to a complete stop. Thank you. Goodbye now. Goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you. Goodbye.”
I loved your answer! It was so perfect!
I wish we could take credit, Rebecca-
we are no more than windows through which our readers can peer into the depths of ancient Jewish wisdom. And if you can see us, it’s a sign that window is not clean.
Hope it helps the original questioner, Sinnie-
Wonderfully put. Thank you for that God given insight. I am going to borrow extensively from what you have written when discussing this subject in the future.
And we hope you’ll attribute the source to encourage others to join us at http://www.RabbiDanielLapin.com !!
Success in your work
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