We are pleased to introduce the Embracing the Journey Speakers Series. This is an ongoing series of educational, thought-provoking talks by notable speakers designed to help guide you along your journey. Each of these talks will have an extensive time for Q & A where participants will be able to ask those questions you've wanted to ask.
You are invited to attend our first inaugural event on March 24 from 7:30–9:00 pm Eastern Standard Time where hundreds of Christian parents who have LGBTQ+ loved ones will be present.
Dr. Mark Yarhouse will be our first distinguished speaker where he will share with us from his forthcoming book “When Children Come Out.”
Christian parents don’t all share a single story. Still, as Mark has listened to many Christian parents sharing from their hearts—and often through their tears—he has learned that parents encounter many similar experiences. There are regrets, and there is hope. There are challenges, but there are also opportunities. In addition to helping parents be better informed and supported in their journeys, his hope is that the church is better positioned as a resource to Christian parents navigating difficult terrain.
Register now to reserve your spot;
there is no cost to attend this event.
Professor and Dr. Arthur P. Rech and Mrs. Jean May Rech Endowed Chair in Psychology, Director, Sexual & Gender Identity Institute
Dr. Yarhouse is a clinical psychologist who specializes in conflicts tied to religious identity and sexual and gender identity. He assists people who are navigating the complex relationship between their sexual or gender identity and Christian faith. He is the Dr. Arthur P. and Mrs. Jean May Rech Chair in Psychology at Wheaton College, where he runs the Sexual and Gender Identity (SGI) Institute. He is an award-winning teacher and researcher and is the past recipient of the Gary Collins Award for Excellence in Christian Counseling. He was a past participant with the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank in Washington, DC, and he was named Senior Fellow with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities to conduct a study of students navigating sexual identity concerns at Christian colleges and universities. He has been a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections to address issues facing sexual minorities in corrections, and he was part of a consensus panel from the American Psychological Association on sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts that convened to provide input to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Washington, DC. He is currently the Chair of the task force on LGBT issues for Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) of the American Psychological Association. He was also invited to write the featured white paper on sexual identity for the Christ on Campus Initiative edited by Don A. Carson for The Gospel Coalition.
He has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and is author or co-author of several books, including Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministers and Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. His most recent books are Sexual Identity & Faith and Costly Obedience: Listening to and Learning from Celibate Gay Christians.
How Should I Respond?
We have conversations with hundreds of Christian parents who have LGBTQ+ children during the course of the year. At some point, almost all find themselves doing a deep dive into the Bible, trying to determine what it says about how they should respond to their LGBTQ+ child. Parents frequently find themselves confused when looking for answers.
In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
It is important to note that the audience Jesus was talking with was Jewish, and they tried to keep or maintain 613 laws. So, then when Jesus responds and says, “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” we encourage parents that when in doubt, always go back to the first and second greatest commandment. Recognize there are no loopholes in who we are to love.
When in doubt,
love trumps everything!
Jay & Julie
Leaders of our Parent Care Groups for families with transgender and non-binary children.
Jay and Julie’s paths first crossed in 1991 in southern California. They were married in 1993 and grew their family with two sons. This was the family they had always imagined and poured themselves into building their relationship on unconditional love, always being yourself, and serving others. Full-time ministry was not in their plan, but by 2007 Jay had been on staff at a handful of churches and with Julie planted a church in Colorado. Leaving full-time ministry was not in their plan, but being out of that spotlight brought freedom to express struggles and doubts and an impactful switch in perspective when it came to being right. Jay built a career in systems administration and professional development, became an altruistic living kidney (2010) and liver (2020) donor, and serves as the Vice-Chair, Donor Advisory Committee for Kidneys for Communities. Jay’s life mottos are “Do hard things,” “I am defined by my actions, not my intentions,” and “I’d rather love and be wrong than hate and be right,” which fuels his love to passionately and sacrificially serve others (John 15:12-14 & 1 Cor. 13:13). Julie found her purpose in becoming a librarian and strives to create a space where education, advocacy, and belonging are at home. Julie’s life motto is “My best is yet to come,” which fuels her passion of being a lifetime learner, moving forward from mistakes, and allowing kindness and love to steer her actions. (Micah 6:8 & Phil. 2:3).
In May 2019, their oldest child expressed her truth and told them she was transgender (Male to Female) and had been battling gender dysphoria for years, another unexpected turn in their journey. The following year was a deep dive into scripture, education on transgender realities, wrestling with God, and refusing to allow anything to damage their love and relationship with their children. Walking through deep places alone is not how God intended life to be lived and left them feeling as though they were holding their breath as the waters were rising around them. Embracing the Journey has brought them belonging in a community where they are safe to exhale the pain, confusion, and doubt and breathe in love, empathy, resolve, and kindness. Jay and Julie lead Embracing the Journey Parent Care Groups for families with transgender and non-binary children.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
— WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD
We love this quote by William Arthur Ward and believe he was on to something. Too often, Christian parents who have an LGBTQ+ child can become fixated on their child's sexuality or gender identity. It doesn't help that; tragically, our kids are often made to feel like objects of disgust by hateful and hurtful people. Yet we're convinced that Jesus never met anyone his Dad made who he found disgusting. Not recognizing all the incredibly wonderful things about your child is a tremendous loss for you and your child. Take time to share with your child how grateful you are for them, just the way they are. Our children need to know that we not only love them but that we are grateful for them.
Nice Things People Say
“There would have been a time without you, Julie & Embracing the Journey that this could have been a very awful night. I'm going to live and be here for my kids.” — Anonymous
“5 years ago, our world was turned upside down when our son came out as gay. We were lost for the following four years with no support and not knowing how to love God and our son. After reading the book Embracing the Journey, ten months ago, we finally had hope. Soon after joining the ETJ support group, the healing process began. There is no question the guidance and support of ETJ saved our family. My faith is now stronger than ever. I now feel closer to God and have a better understanding of what the Great Commandment is all about.” — Jeff from California
“After my son came out, I gradually went into the closet and became more withdrawn from my church and Christian friends. I never doubted my son, nor did I question my love for him. I started questioning God instead. I knew He could handle me. ETJ has become the Christian family I longed for, where we can all share our stories our burdens and continue practicing our love for one another and, our kids and God. No matter where we are in our journey, ETJ groups make such an impact because their only premise is LOVE!”
Support • You Are Not Alone
Our team of caring Christian parents who all have LGBTQ+ children is here to walk with you and help you process the myriad of emotions associated with having an LGBTQ+ child. These are not uncharted waters for us. Our team has coached and counseled over 1500 Christian parents and helped many more. If you or a loved one want to talk with a member of our Care Team or are interested in joining one of our virtual Parent Care Groups, we are here for you. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org attention Melanie, and we will schedule a time to talk in person. We do not charge for our services.