With gay marriage making headlines around the world, parents are looking for helpful ways to identify with children, friends, and family members who identify as homosexual or same-sex attracted. When Rachel's 22-year-old son Jordan initially came out to her last year, she was shocked. Instead of avoiding the conversation, however, Rachel and her husband chose to turn to Scripture, church counselors, conversation, and prayer.
"There is a huge need for the church to begin dialoging more about this very sensitive and divisive topic," Rachel said. "Our church never warned us to think through how you would want to respond if your son tells you he's gay."
Jordan's story is recorded in a Christianity Today feature article, "Hope for the Gay Undergrad." Here is Rachel's story of how she and her husband learned the importance of prayer and compassion in responding to this sensitive topic.
Q: Did your son's confession of same-sex attraction come as a surprise?
A: When Jordan called a family meeting one night, I honestly had no idea what he was going to say. It had never occurred to me that he might be attracted to other men. When those words came out of his mouth, I truly felt like I'd been gut punched.
As I struggled to breathe, two phrases ran through my head: "He needs to know that I still love him," and "God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him." I repeated those phrases over and over to myself as I listened to him share his story. My children have always been one of my greatest joys, so the fear that I'd done something to "cause" this, and the pain of knowing he'd been struggling with this for many years, was pretty devastating.
Q: After the initial shock subsided, how did you work through his confession?
A: The thing I did the day after he broke the news to us was to put really powerful Bible verses on sticky notes in places where I might have too much time to think about things, including on my bathroom mirror, by my kitchen sink, and in my car. That helped to keep me focused on the one who gives hope, rather than on the seeming hopelessness of the situation.
After much prayer and time in the Word, I'm just now beginning to get a firm biblical understanding of what this means for him. A few days after our initial talk, the Lord brought to mind Joseph when he found out that Mary was pregnant. The shame he must have felt! But then the angel appeared to Joseph and said, "Do not be afraid." That is the foundation on which I've chosen to stand. God loves Jordan, my husband, and me. Even though it's hard, I know God knows exactly how this will play out, and I know he will use all of it—the pain, the shame, the sidelined hopes for his future—to help conform every one of us to the image of his son.