Recently I sent an email out to those who follow my column, trying to get a better grasp on the biggest questions and doubts that parents with same sex attracted children have struggled with since their kids "came out" to them. Within an hour my inbox flooded with heart-broken responses from a multitude of guilt-ridden parents.
Is this my fault?
Did I not give my child enough attention?
Did I give my child too much attention?
Was it the divorce?
What could I have done different?
Reading story after story of parents plagued with guilt because of their kid's struggle with homosexuality left me certain that this is something that needs to be talked about.
Are you a perfect parent? Absolutely not. Are you actually a pretty messed up, sinful individual? Most definitely. Have you done things — even committed sins — against your kids that have had an effect on them? Sadly, yes — every parent has. Every person that has walked this earth (besides Jesus, obviously) has sinned in ways that have negatively affected other people on a daily basis.
Part of what makes sin so destructive is the ripple-like effect it has. Ever seen that weird Ashton Kutcher movie, The Butterfly Effect? That's sort of how I picture the workings of sin. Adam and Eve's initial sin was enough to throw the entire future history world into complete chaos. If one sin had such a massive effect, what kind of impact do our daily sins have on the people around us?
I'm not going to tell you that you didn't do things in raising your child that have helped shape them into the person that they have become. You did good things that have benefited them, and you've done bad things that have conversely affected them. We all know this to be true in our own experiences of being raised by our own sinful, fallen parents. I have most definitely been affected by my parent's sins and failures, as have you. This is just part of the broken reality that we live in.
But does this mean that you are at fault for your kid being attracted to the same sex, or for your kid's decision to embrace and act out on those attractions? Please hear me clearly: NO! I assure you with absolute certainty that there are a multitude of parents probably within a fifty mile radius of your location right now that have made the same mistakes and committed the same sins in raising their kids and their kids do not experience homosexual desires. I have a lot of friends that went through the same things — if not worse things — as a kid and they don't experience homosexual feelings, like I do.
Not to over simplify it (because same sex attraction is far from simple), but the ultimate culprit to blame for homosexual desires is not the sin that happens outside of us or against us, but the sin that indwells us.
Our nature — who and what we are — is sinful, broken, distorted, ungodly, unholy, blemished, stained and damned. Our hearts — the very core of who and what we are — are in opposition to God, bent toward evil, and utterly rejecting of submitting to true reality (reality which is centered around God, not us).
You won't find that on the back of a coffee mug, but it's true.
The concept — the reality — of indwelling sin is far from fully comprehensible. I know that sin plagues us all, but I don't know why it fleshes out in different ways in different people. I don't know why there could be two people that are brought up exactly the same way and one have homosexual attractions while the other has heterosexual attractions. I don't know why there could be two people that are brought up exactly the same way and one have explosive anger tendencies while the other be as meek and mild as Mr. Rogers. I don't know why there could be two people that are brought up exactly the same way and one have painful depression issues while the other be almost annoyingly happy all the time.
Neither you nor your psychologist nor your pastor nor your doctor will ever fully know why your kid is attracted to the same sex, but you can know that it isn't your fault. Yes, you are a sinner and yes, you have sinned against your kids… and yes, you do need forgiveness for that — and you have it fully if you're in Christ. But don't blame yourself for their broken sexuality. There are a million different sinful things inside and outside of them (the main three being the flesh, the world and Satan) that have continually worked to shape, feed and further distort their sexual desires.
I know this column isn't a fully comprehensive overview of the doctrine of original sin, etc., but I just wanted to briefly tell the parents out there to stop beating yourself up. Please, hate sin and hate all of it's workings and twisting's and distortions in your own heart and in your kid's heart — but don't hate yourself for your kid's sexuality. You are not to blame for this. Pray for you kid. My grandmother prayed and prayed and prayed for me, and the Lord moved on behalf of her prayers for His glory. They may be out and proud and accepting of their broken sexuality now, but I can tell you from my own experience that the Lord can change their minds (and hearts)… and He can do it instantaneously.