Since discovering your child is LGBTQ+, do you feel like you're caught in the middle?
You are not alone. We Christian parents are concerned about what our friends may say or think about our children or us when they see us loving our LGBTQ+ child.
If you consider yourself a conservative Christian, you may be worried that people in your life may suggest you should shun your child, that having a relationship with them signals you accept them or condone them being LGBTQ+. You may be worried that if you love your child, you are somehow turnning your back on God.
The minorities on the extremes in the LGBTQ+ conversation make the most noise and can be hateful and intimidating. The challenge is that Jesus doesn't desire any of us to be hateful; in fact, quite the opposite. He commands us to Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourself and even our enemies… Being hateful is not Christ-like, and it certainly isn't appealing. Most of us simply want to breathe and find a path forward that offers hope for our family.
The secret sauce for not getting caught in this fray is to remember...
We Serve an Audience of One, Jesus.
So, when you find yourself concerned about what your pastor, your family members, neighbors, church friends, co-workers, and others may think, the only one you need to concern yourself with is Jesus. If you're unsure how Jesus responds to the marginalized, spend some time in the New Testament and rediscover that Jesus didn't walk around pointing fingers condemning people but instead had open arms, even though he was the only one who had the right to condemn.
If you would like to have more discussion on this, we would be delighted to have you join one of our many virtual Embracing the Journey Care Groups for parents with LGBTQ+ loved ones. Remember, at the end of the day; it's all about the "Audience of One."
Making Things Right
Our good friend Brian Nietzel recently launched a wonderful initiative called Making Things Right. Part of Brian’s initiative includes a seven-episode podcast series through real conversations with some special friends and thought leaders representing varied perspectives on the LGBTQ+ conversation within Christianity. These conversations will provide insights and ideas to help you find your place at the table and your unique role in making things right.
The Quieter Middle
If you have an LGBTQ+ loved one, this is a podcast you won’t want to miss. In episode 5 The Quieter Middle, our good friend, author and theologian Dr. David P. Gushee joins Brian in a discussion for those wanting to examine what they believe. He also brings his personal and theological journey to help us understand what the Bible and Christian history are calling us to.
He is the author of well over one hundred scholarly articles, chapters and reviews and has written or edited over twenty books.
Embracing the Journey, A Christian Parents Blueprint for Loving Your LGBTQ+ Child Is the book we wish was available when we learned our son Greg Jr. was gay. We hear from countless Christian parents how this book has transformed their lives and healed their relationship with their LGBTQ+ children.
The Embracing the Journey Study Guide is designed to help parents move along the life continuum from a place fear to survival to thriving where they experience newfound purpose. This is the curriculum our Embracing the Journey Parent Care Groups use where they experience healing and hope.
Life Continuum With an LGTBQ+ Child
N E W N O R M A L
Kim Haltiwanger and her husband Bob transplanted to Athens, Georgia, in 2015 when they moved from Long Island. They had raised their three children in New York, where Kim worked as a pediatrician, and Bob taught and ran a lab at Stony Brook University. Their whole family was very involved in a wonderful, conservative evangelical church for 20 years. When their younger son came out as gay during his freshman year of college, Kim and Bob didn’t know where to turn. They suddenly felt hesitant to share Nathan’s news with other church members, fearing that they would be advised to seek conversion therapy or even cut ties with Nathan. Kim and Bob couldn’t think of a single Christian they knew who had a gay child, and there was little information to be found on the internet when Kim searched “gay Christian” in 2011.
The Haltiwanger’s decided to focus on loving Nathan, encouraging him in his faith, and trusting God with the outcome.
Kim made connections with parents of LGBTQ+ children through The Gay Christian Network, The Reformation Project, and some private Facebook groups. This helped her become more convinced that it was indeed possible to love and accept Nathan while remaining committed to Christ.
When Bob accepted the invitation to join the faculty of the University of Georgia, they realized Kim might prefer to retire rather than find a new pediatric practice. As she adjusted to retirement, she applied to the 2016 Leadership Development Cohort of The Reformation Project, a 12-week program that involved a deep dive into the theology of LGBTQ+ inclusion and became an ally for LGBTQ+ individuals in the church. Kim also felt God calling her to support other Christian parents with LGBTQ+ children. In 2019, she received an email from Greg and Lynn McDonald, whom she met at a conference sometime earlier. They had expanded Embracing the Journey and desired to bring on volunteers as part of their Care Team to help coach and counsel hurting Christian parents with LGBTQ+ loved ones. After meeting with Greg and Lynn and receiving some training, Kim joined the ETJ Care Team coaching and counseling parents. Kim does an amazing job of being an initial point of contact with bewildered and hurting parents and helps place many of them in our Parent Care groups.
And it is no surprise that Kim also volunteers with several other organizations in Athens, and she is serving as an elder at her church. She and Bob have two other adult children and two young grandchildren.
A Favorite Quote
“If your theology gets in the way of your ministry, there is something the matter with your theology.”
— ANDY STANLEY
Support • You Are Not Alone
Our team 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.