There’s a hurting and often invisible population amid the LGBTQ+ revolution right now: parents. Each week I hear stories from moms and dads who communicate their pain, need, and sense of grievous loss in response to a child who is struggling with sexuality or gender or has embraced unbiblical ideology altogether. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” I’d like to humbly offer a few suggestions to my brothers and sisters in the church about how to love this often-invisible part of the body of Christ well in their adversity.
Weep with Those Who Weep
We are all familiar with Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Be prepared to enter the heartbreak of your brothers and sisters walking this difficult road. Even Job’s friends, who did not always offer the best counsel or help, entered into Job’s grief. Job 2:11 says, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.”
As people who need Christ, we ought to not be shocked that these issues are on our doorstep.
How can you grow into that kind of friend, seeking out parents who are hurting? You don’t always need all the right words to say; sometimes a quiet companion in suffering is just what someone needs. “And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:13).
A Showcase or a Hospital?
As people who need Christ, we ought to not be shocked that these issues are on our doorstep. How is God wanting you to grow as a safe and trustworthy friend for others in their heartache? After all, we are fellow Christians who know that in this world, we face trouble. We all know the painful burden of others’ sins and the reality of our own dark hearts without Christ.
Brothers and sisters dealing with the trauma of a child who has embraced a transgender or gay identity commonly describe their ordeal with words such as devastating, suffocating, sleeplessness, agonizing, earth shattering. The parents I’ve ministered to are generally earnest, sincere believers who have poured into their children’s lives and nurtured them in the Lord. Frequently, I hear stories from parents who were blindsided by their kids’ embrace of an LGBTQ+ identity. Their hopes and expectations for their kids becoming faithful adult followers of Jesus are crushed, and so are their hearts.
We want these believing parents and their children to see the church as a welcoming place where they can wrestle with these issues.
Pray about how you can be approachable and ready to enter into the sorrow of these parents. And consider talking with your church’s leaders about how they are thinking this through as they shepherd your congregation. We want these believing parents and their children to see the church as a welcoming place where they can wrestle with these issues. Remember Jesus’s words to the scribes and Pharisees when they murmured against him because he ate with publicans and sinners: “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31).
Pastors, Preach on LGBTQ+ Ideology
Brothers, you have an amazing privilege to preach about the beauty of God’s good creation—male and female made in his image and the beauty of marriage between one man and one woman. Preach to the young people in the church; warn, urge, and encourage them in the way of truth. Don’t shy away from these topics. Based on the constant flow of Christian parents reaching out to us here at Harvest USA for help in dealing with their LGBTQ+ identified children, these issues are in our churches whether we know about them or not. We can’t abdicate through silence, hoping we’ll somehow be safe. Parents desperately need God’s ambassadors to be that prophetic voice to their children alongside them. If you’re preaching on this issue, it makes it a lot easier for parents to feel comfortable approaching church leadership for help.
Many parents feel alone and isolated, even in their church. This ought not to be. Often, when their child comes out of the closet, they go in the closet.
Many parents feel alone and isolated, even in their church. This ought not to be. Often, when their child comes out of the closet, they go in the closet. They feel shame and guilt. Unfortunately, many young people caught up in the LGBTQ+ movement are poisoned against their parents and coached to blame and attack their parents as toxic for not affirming their new identity. These parents need the church to be there for them. The church is God’s place for these parents to grieve, to receive wise counsel, to be bolstered in the truth, and to be supported in their many difficult decisions. And the church needs to be ready and willing to minister to their children, as well.
Humility and Love
Philippians 2:1–8 is helpful and instructive—it calls us to emulate the humility and love of our blessed Savior. Parents going through this kind of suffering won’t benefit from pronouncements of guilt, judgmental assessments of their parenting, or easy answers to their child’s struggles. They need kind, humble, and gracious brothers and sisters who will walk gently beside them and be there in all the ups, downs, and messiness of this difficult road God has called them to walk.
The parents I walk with are asking hard questions and doing serious heart work which requires faith, repentance, and a teachable spirit as we work through our curriculum, Shattered Dreams, New Hope. They’re often dealing with excruciatingly hard decisions about pronouns, new names, same sex wedding attendance, how to navigate their relationship with their child’s gay partner, how this issue affects family dynamics with other children and grandchildren, and a myriad of other things. Be the kind of friend who is faithful in prayer, ever ready to encourage, and willing to lament with them. And be real about your own suffering and shattered dreams.
These are just a few suggestions which I’ve ruminated on over the time I’ve been privileged to walk alongside these hurting parents. May God help us to be those who are known by our love and willing to lay down our lives for the brethren to the glory of God, the good of his church, and as a witness to the unbelieving world.
Parents and Family Ministry Staff
Joy is a member of the Parents and Family ministry team at Harvest USA. Joy has years of experience ministering in the church alongside her husband, Tim, who is a pastor. She has a degree in Communications. She and Tim have five children and two grandchildren.More from Joy Worrell