God loves ya…I’m just sayin’

In a prior post, I offered six things to do when your child reveals to you she is “gay.”

The third on the list was “Remind her that God loves her.”

The culture has widely promoted the idea that Christianity, and more specifically the Catholic Church, is responsible for the oppression and persecution of “gay” folk. Pressure from her peers will make it seem important and inevitable for your child to give up her faith.

That is why it is critical that you reinforce with your child that she is a baptized child of God, that God loves her and wants the best for her, and that it is important to stay connected to God through his Church here on earth.

It will help the discussion to reiterate with your child that the Catholic Church demands of Catholics the utmost respect for every human, including people who feel same sex attraction. Here is a quote from the catechism.

“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” CCC2358

Does this sound like hate to you?

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Acceptance is not endorsement

In a prior post, I recommend that you “Accept that your kid has these feelings.”

This is an area of resistance for a number of parents I work with. They express a fear that acceptance means giving up, or rolling over and giving in to the culture. This usually turns out to be a matter of semantics, or sometimes of precision of thought. So, a longer discussion may be helpful.

One of the definitions of “Accept,” from the Merriam Webster online dictionary is: to endure without protest or reaction. Webster’s Unabridged includes: to accommodate or reconcile oneself to. I might add to those: To take at face value. That is the definition that we are dealing with here.

Acceptance is not synonymous with affirming or celebrating or embracing.

It is simply a recognition of a reality. Your child feels these feelings. It is not for you or me to deny that.

I try to use the word accept in a very specific way, and I suggest that you aim for the same precision. Accept that your loved one experiences these feelings (of attraction for the same sex, desire, etc.) That acceptance does not equate to endorsement of any acting on those feelings.

What I do not accept, and I suggest that you do not, is an identity of being gay. Recognizing a person’s feelings is one thing, but turning feelings into an identity cannot be reconciled to a proper understanding of the human person. So you can recognize a person’s emotional experience as real, and still legitimately dispute the conclusion they draw from those feelings.


Filed under Fathers, Gay Identity, Mothers

Love him, love him, and then love him some more

In a prior post, I offered six things to do when your child reveals to you she is “gay.”

The very first one was “Rein in your own feelings, and sublimate them to the needs of your child.

That exercise of control over your own feelings happens inwardly. If you do it well, there will be no outward sign that it is taking place within you.

Number two in the list is your first outward action, and that is:

Immediately affirm your love for your child.

Do this as quickly as possible, and do it with both words and touch. Tell him you love him, hug him, hold his hand, look him in the eye, and affirm his dignity and worth as a human being.

Acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage to have difficult conversations like this, and that you’re grateful that he is sharing this important information with you.

Accept that your kid has these feelings. One of the definitions of “accept,” from the Merriam Webster dictionary is: to endure without protest or reaction. That is the definition that we are dealing with here. I might add to that take at face value. Acceptance is not synonymous with affirming or celebrating.

Resist any inclination to dismiss or deny his feelings of attraction, because that is disrespectful of his experience. Don’t try to reframe or rename his feelings. Feelings are real. Give your child the freedom to feel whatever it is that he feels.

Be empathetic. Recognize that your child has been experiencing a lot of confusion and pain. Apologize that you didn’t see it earlier. Make sure he knows you will be there for him from here on out.

The gay culture emphasizes the stories of kids who came out to their parents, and who then were kicked out of the house. Tragically, this does happen, but not as often as they make it seem. Your child may have heard so much about this phenomenon that he may be expecting that of you. So assure him of your ongoing love for him, and that you will all work through this as a family.

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Rein it in and offer it up!

In my prior post, I offered six things to do when your child reveals to you she is “gay.”

The very first one was “Rein in your own feelings, and sublimate them to the needs of your child.”

As parents, you will most likely be experiencing many difficult emotions as you hear the news, and try to take it in. You may be flooded with a lot of negative feelings. Surprise, shock, dismay, sadness, grief, fear, hurt, confusion, panic, upset, bitterness, shame, and anger are common reactions. You might also experience self-recrimination, a sense of “where did I go wrong?” If you have had your suspicions, you might also feel relief that at least the topic is out in the open. Mom or dad, you may even be in fear for your child’s physical health and safety, and for his eternal soul.

But, right now, this is not about you. As Christians, we are expected to “die to self.” This is one of those times when you will have to opportunity to really exercise your Catholic chops.

In yet one more sacrifice you have to make for your child, you must set your feelings aside for the time being, and be present and loving for your child. You are entitled to your emotions and reactions, but there is a time and place for venting and dealing with those, and the moment of your child’s big “reveal” is not it.

Your need for support is very important. I am not minimizing that. You will need time and space to grieve all of the missed expectations, the dashed hopes and the worries and cares that this news brings. (Later, when there is a little time and breathing room, you should contact the closest EnCourage chapter. If you don’t have one in driving distance, then there is an online EnCourage support group, and there are other non-Catholic Christian support groups all around the country. If you can’t find something, leave me a message, I can help.)

If your child had just been hit by a car, you would not indulge your fears and bemoan your crushed hopes, you would get in gear and do the needful. That is what is called for here. As my mother would say, “Offer it up!”

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Coming Out Alive

I am frequently asked by parents, “What can I do when my child comes out?”

How a mom or dad behaves during the moments when a child comes out as gay to his parent(s) can be critical to sustaining an ongoing relationship with the child. This is true whether the child is underage or an adult.

Unfortunately, these conversations are emotionally highly charged, the parents are often blind-sided, and any misstep can confirm the child’s conviction that he is unloved or unlovable. What transpires in this conversation will reverberate through your relationship with your kid, for just about ever.

(If you have already had this conversation, and it didn’t go well, forget all the import I put on you in the first paragraph. Forgive yourself for whatever mistakes you made in that encounter, and start from where you are now.)

Here are five things to do in this first conversation. In subsequent posts, I will elaborate on each point.

  1. Rein in your own feelings, and sublimate them to the needs of your child.
  2. Immediately affirm your love for your child, and his goodness as a person, and as a child of God.
  3. Remind him (or her) that God loves him (or her).
  4. Acknowledge his feelings.
  5. Establish this conversation as the first in an on-going series.
  6. Gently ask questions.


Filed under Coming Out, Fathers, Mothers

“I am not the Messiah”

Many of us pick up the Little Blue Book for Advent, and of course the Little Black Book for the Lenten season. These pocket-sized books of reflection are invaluable in their simplicity and wisdom.

For January 2 2015, the entry is this:

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” (Jn 1:19-28)

We have here the very first words spoken by John the Baptist in this Gospel. And what were those first words? “I am not the Messiah.”

Want to experience a great weight lifted off your shoulders? Say those same words right now. “I am not the Messiah.” Say it out loud. Hear yourself say it.

Now, you already knew that. But there’s something about saying it. Then add: “World, I have good news for you. Although I am not the Messiah, the good news is that there is a Messiah, and I’d be glad to point him out to you.” (That’s in effect what John said a few verses later.)

I know I’m not the Messiah, but I can unwittingly try to be one. We all do it, usually with the best motives. Parents try to solve all their children’s problems…

Indeed, I do have a part to play in God’s plan. But it’s just that – a part to play. I am not the Messiah. Jesus is. He’s got the whole world in his hands.

Sometimes prayer is just meant to remind me that the Messiah is Jesus. Not me.

What relief!

That says it quite eloquently, but I am tempted to elaborate. I will just say that there is a tendency, especially on the part of men, to fix things. And so for parents, and especially fathers, their need to fix their children’s situations, whatever they may be, can feel irresistible and overwhelming. But, since “I am not the Messiah,” perhaps I can surrender my children, and all their situations, to Him Who Is. Feel the relief.

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Filed under EnCourage, Fathers, Free will, Mothers, Parenthood

What would Jesus do?

In this article at The Catholic Thing, Father Paul Scalia thoughtfully addresses the question of “what would Jesus do?” This was the question Creighton University President, Father Timothy Lannon, SJ, asked himself, prior to providing same-sex “spouses” health care benefits.

In The Gospel “Welcome”, Fr. Scalia notes that Christ’s love and welcome always are accompanied by a demand of repentance, and in fact, His welcome is an invitation to repentance, to conversion.

And those words get to the heart of what a welcome means. As much as we want to be welcome and invited, we also know that every invitation has expectations. Every welcome mat has also the understanding that we cannot do whatever we please when we walk through the door. “Many are invited, but few are chosen,” because not all shape their lives according to the invitation’s demands.

To the world, the Gospel Welcome must appear odd indeed. It is a welcome. . .to repentance. It is an invitation. . .to change of heart. He welcomes all who will repent, all who avail themselves of His forgiveness and healing – all who, acknowledging their sin and ignorance, embrace His grace and truth. It is indeed the most important welcome for sinful humanity: a welcome to His Sacred Heart. . .provided we recognize our need for it.

It is only in accepting that invitation to repentance that each of us can begin the process of dying to ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him.

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Communicating with loved ones

A friend who is a Courage member speaks with Mary Ann Jepsen in this interview about how to communicate with loved ones, for her radio program Family Sanctuary. The interview aired on November 3 and is available online, here (Family Sanctuary). It is very touching to hear this young man describe his return to the Catholic faith, and his struggle to reconcile how God could love him.

Some gems from his interview include:

  • the Church does not impose shame and guilt on us;
  • and just because someone identifies as gay, does not mean that they are sexually active.

Things to keep in mind when a loved one “comes out” to you:

  • they are taking a huge risk to reveal themselves;
  • receive them where they are and love them;
  • orient them towards Christ;
  • strive to be the living example for why they would choose to turn to Christ;
  • listen and walk with them.



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Filed under Chastity, Courage, Lived Experience

Paul is interviewed on Family Sanctuary

Paul Darrow, one of the three of us profiled in the film Desire of the Everlasting Hills, is interviewed by Mary Ann Jepsen for her radio program Family Sanctuary. The interview covers two hours of the show, aired on December 1 and December 8, and they are now available online, just click on the dates.

If you haven’t watched the movie yet, I ask you to watch it. It is very helpful to understand the lengths our Lord goes to, to bring us back to his fold. It is a story of redemption, applicable to all of us, not just those who experience same-sex attraction.

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Family Sanctuary Interview

I was interviewed by psychologist and radio personality Mary Ann Jepsen for her radio program Family Sanctuary, shortly after the Courage Conference this summer. The program aired on October 13, and is now available online, here. I hope you have a chance to listen. We talk about the film Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and other life issues (well, my life, that is…)

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