If I Have LGBTQ Children

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have LGBTQ children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I often do.

Maybe it’s because I have many people in my family and circle of friends who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of LGBTQ Christian kids, from both inside and outside the closet trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because as a Christian, I interact with so many professed followers of Jesus who find “homosexuality” to be the greatest of sins, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have LGBTQ children, you’ll all know it.

Our kids won’t be our family’s best kept secret unless they choose to be. Whatever about their lives they wish to share will be shared with joy and without apology.

I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language, I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older or easily offended or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most LGBTQ kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable because they need to be inauthentic. I’m not going to put my children through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.

If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.

2) If I have LGBTQ children, I’ll pray for them.

I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children do come to identify as LGBTQ, that is their normal.

I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them, from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that God shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh and dream and feel and forgive—and that they love God and all people.

Above all, I’ll pray that my children won’t allow the horrible treatment they might receive from some of God’s misguided followers, to keep them from pursuing God.

3) If I have LGBTQ children, I’ll love them.

I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school-cafeteria, kissing-them-in public kind of love.

I won’t love them despite their sexuality and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them for the same reasons I already do; simply because they’re sweet and funny and caring and smart and kind and stubborn and flawed and original and beautiful—and mine.

If my kids are LGBTQ, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.

4) If I have LGBTQ children—I have LGBTQ children.

If my kids are going to be gay or bisexual or transgender or lesbian, well they pretty much already are.

God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that God “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate, microscopic stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.

Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their identity or orientation that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do or say or pray just the right things to get them to “turn straight”, or forever lose them to the other side.

They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be—and today they’re pretty darn great.

I fully realize that many of you may be offended by all of this. I know my words here may be especially difficult if you are a religious person with a particular theological stance. Perhaps you find the whole topic unsettling.

As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send to me. You may be praying for me to repent, or preparing to unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic, but let me say with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster—I really couldn’t care less.

This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.

You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.

You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul when the world seems wrong.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.

And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well and was loved well by you.

If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are LGBTQ, but I pray you consider it. I pray you prepare yourself.

Because one day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented or what signs you did or didn’t see, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace and identity and acceptance, whose heart and very life may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined, and you’ll need to respond—and I don’t want you to blow it.

If that day should ever come for me as a parent; if my children should ever come out to me—as much as I m able, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.


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99 thoughts on “If I Have LGBTQ Children

  1. A friend of mine shared this on her FB page, which is the first time I’ve read something by you. I say that only to emphasize how very meaningful & encouraging, so TRUE your message is and that I wanted to somehow thank you and let you know. This is the gist of what I told her a day after having read it for the first time: I’m still feeling the compassion and love this morning that radiates from this man’s message. Compassion and love that we all need to give – that we all need to receive as well. So many people go through life feeling as if they are just “not enough”, feeling as if there is something inadequate about them that they dare not share with anyone. Yet God has created each of us, loves us and wants us to be and share who we are, and to know that we matter. You know how they have required readings in school? This should be added to the list – as well as for all the “after school is long over” folk. ……Thank you.

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  3. Great words of comfort and comprehension John.
    As you already know, those who believe are already comfortable with your clear eyed understanding of humanity.
    Those who don’t or won’t believe are not likely to ever believe unless they are listening for that still, small voice trying to get their attention – finally waking and knowing the truth.

    Seems to me there is much education required and for many to leave this earth so those replacing them are clear eyed and live the values we are all commanded to walk in.

  4. Once again, another argument is made based on a false dichotomy.

    It’s not one or the other. It’s both.

    A parent can and should be loving to a child that has a homosexual tendency, but can also teach the child that it would be a sin to commit a homosexual act and that it will go better for them to live their lives in chastity than to yield to a disordered inclination.


    • But then what are you telling them???? It’s not a choice, sorry if you still think they just chose to be a certain way, god created them and he created them out of love just like he created you. If you told them that then really what are you actually telling them, think about it. Why do you think there are so many suicides among the LGBTQ community??

  5. I was always led to understand that the reason homosexuality was unacceptable in the Bible teachings, is that the world needed more people and therefore more Christians?) . There wasn’t then a population explosion as there has been for the last 100 years in most places, so I should think we should be immensely grateful to the LGBTQ community who don’t ‘breed unthinkingly like rabbits’ but in fact choose parenthood with much thought and care. The world is overpopulated and is causing massive problems with water, food etc, so let’s celebrate them.

  6. When I was first pregnant in the early 1990s, I did a lot of thinking about parenting, in part so that I would not repeat the parenting mistakes that I suffered through as a child. I became more observant of what was going on around me.

    It eventually dawned on me that many parents have their children’s whole lives planned out for them before they are even born. What sports or arts they will enjoy. How well they will do in school. What career they will have. Who they will marry. How many grandkids there will be.

    When a child went against any of these plans, there would be anger and recrimination, but mainly what I was seeing was grief as a long-term, long-held plan was erased.

    I decided that I would make no plans for my children other than the obvious day-to-day, keeping body and soul together kind of plans. They would be supported and encouraged and I would find out who they are as that emerged. It was a great adventure.

  7. When my daughter was 5 years old, she told me that she wanted to be a boy and have an operation to make her one. I asked why she felt that way, and she answered that having a vagina felt like a Halloween costume, it just didn’t fit. I told her that she had to wait until she was 18, and stopped growing. I told her that if she grew tall, like her Daddy ( he’s 6’0) , and had the size of her 4 1/2 year old’s brother penis, she wouldn’t be comfortable or have any enjoyment out of it. I explained that it wouldn’t be in proportion. She didn’t understand the word, so I cut a picture of a mouse’s head and put it on a picture of a giraffe. She then understood. Even though, I always wanted a daughter and a girly out at that, I knew it was more important for her to be happy. I told her that I loved her because she was my child, not because she was my daughter or my son . I told her that we could compromise, that I could buy her clothes in the boys department and we could make believe that they were for her younger brother and she could try them on in the girls’ try on room and if anyone asks I would say that you and your brother are the same size and you are with me and he is home with Daddy. I told her that some people won’t understand, but I do and that there isn’t anything wrong with it. She hugged me saying that I’m the best Mommy in the world. I just asked her to please not wear her sports sweatshirt for family photos. She agreed. After the photos, she could wear whatever she wanted. She then told her father, that she was going to marry me when she grows up. He sked her why and she answered because Mommy understands me. He asked what she meant by that, and she sad that Mommy knows how to compromise . He said that he didn’t understand. My son then said, Daddy if you have to as, then you really don’t get it. A couple of years ago, my daughter came out to me. Her friends already knew, and I was the only family member she told. Even though, I thought so, for a long time, I didn’t think it was my business, unless she wanted to tell me or not. She knew that I was bisexual, and she also knew that I loved her unconditionally. When she told me it was over the phone because we don’t live together any more. I told her how honored I was that she trusts me . I told her that it really wasn’t my business, so she didn’t have to tell me. She told me that is the exact reason why she told me. She told me that she also loves me unconditionally too. She hasn’t spoken about wanting to be my son instead of my daughter since she was 5, but for me, I just want both of my children to be happy, whether I have a son and daughter, 2 sons, or 2 daughters. In my opinion, my children aren’t just mine, they belong to the Lord, who loaned them to me, until we are all called home.

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  9. It’s 5:15 am and I’m in tears at the amount of love in this post. I am a gay man, who has been with his partner for the past 19 years. I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me it’s not possible to be gay and a Christian. G-d bless you for this post and the love in your heart.

  10. There is a scripture that some might find comforting. “6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6).

    All my life I’ve had that scripture quoted “as if” what the bible is saying is that the parent can control how a child “turns out”.

    When I began learning Hebrew this was one of the scriptures that my Rabbi pointed out was “lost in translation”.

    In Hebrew, the meaning / flavor is more like “Find out who your child is, and raise them accordingly.. they will become all they are intended to be”.

    Beating them into our vision… or accepting who G-d designed them to be. Our choice.

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  12. I have 3 children, 1 who is transitioning, 1 who is gay, 1 who is straight. I love them all, with all my heart.

    When my daughter came out to me she said: “I was worried you wouldn’t accept me.”

    “Why?”, I said, “You are the same person you were before you told me. I loved you then, I love you now. I will always love you.”

  13. *sigh* Why do Christians support sin? Would you write this same article about someone who wants to live a life of divorce, beastiality, foul language, lust, fornication, lying, devil worship, rape, body mutilation, etc?

    Love your kids and support them. Part of that is being firmly against sinful actions they take – not supporting them in those pursuits. If your kid cusses like a sailor, do you sit back and say, “I’m so proud of my kid!” or do you correct his bad behavior?

    • First, while people like to cull a couple of scriptures out to say that the bible is somehow totally against gay people, the actual number of them is very small and since Hebrew didn’t have a word for “homosexuality”, they don’t address it.

      In addition: 1. Leviticus is a book written for priests (Levites), and thus there are a lot of conscriptions in that book that are for priests alone. In addition, the issue in Leviticus is shrine prostitution, which was very popular all through the biblical times. You may recall that the story of Judah and Tamar, she dressed up as a temple prostitute (whose services Judah utilized)..
      2. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is sometimes used as “proof” that G-d hates homosexual behaviour; yet Ezekiel tells us that the issue was actually arrogance, and lack of care and concern for others. 3. The biblical scriptures were written 3-4000 years ago (and come from stories much older in some cases). Do you really believe that striped sticks cause goats to bear striped kids? People used to believe such things; now science shows that it’s genes that direct such things. Science is building proof that being gay is due to genes (identical twins tend to be homosexuals together), and that the delicate balance of hormones and enzymes in the body might also contribute. IOW, being Gay might be G-d’s “fault” because it’s hard wired into a person. How many gay people have to suffer under a false sense of “guilt” for something they do not control.? And at what point do we hold G-d “responsible” for these things when science clearly tells us it’s an inborn trait?

      People didn’t understand a lot of things in biblical times. They didn’t understand the reasons people were born male or female, they didn’t understand what caused disease; they didn’t understand even how much of the world they hadn’t discovered. Why oh why insist on taking the bible so “literally” (especially since you are reading it in English and a culture very far removed from the original)? Why not offer people mercy instead?

      Bad language is a matter of manners, which is a matter of training, not a matter of birth. You’d be shocked at what the bible actually says about rape – namely that the victim should marry her attacker in some cases. (Do you seriously think this is a good idea?) Beastiality does not involve consent between two people. In fact, it doesn’t involve sex between two people. Apples and oranges. Body mutiliation is a choice – I assume you mean tattoing, which is so popular these days? (What would you do if your child got a tattoo?) Divorce, by the way, is allowed in the Torah (the Old Testament to you). Unless, by the way, you are the rapist who has to marry the girl he raped – then you are forbidden divorce. Devil worship – right up there with worshipping a human being, in the Torah. Christians should take note of that, and see why Jews may not be lining up to worship Jesus. Lust affects us all (unless you are asexual). It’s acting on it inappropriately – there are appropriate uses, are there not? – which is the problem.

      Maybe you need to back off the spiritual high horse, and get to know what gay people go through. I do not know a single gay person who “chose” to be gay. I have many friends who have chosen to be exactly who they were created to be, and they are wonderful, caring people. The world could use more of people like them.

    • …live a life of divorce..?
      No wonder the world laughs at & criticises Christians when replies like this appear.
      There is laughable commentary that could be aimed at the extreme lack of understanding of English expression but the attitude behind it is not a laughing matter.

    • People like you are why people are fleeing Christianity in droves. Who wants to be around such bitter judgmental people? If you ever read the Bible, you would see that Christ commanded Christians to be fishers of men. What kind of fisher are you? Your contempt and self righteousness wafts off you like a sickly smell.

      What would Jesus say right now if he was here and read your awful words? Jesus who hung out with prostitutes and judged no one. He’d be disgusted and rightly so. Remove the giant log out of your eye before you comment on the splinter in the eye of others and if you’re so special that you have no sin, go ahead and cast the first stone.

      • I meant, He without sin cast the first stone, I’ll wait. God said, the greatest of all in love. Everyone has sinned and fell short of the glory of God. No sin is greater than the other. A true Christian comes out of love, period!!

  14. Imagine a world where every parent felt this way. Imagine a world where every person saved judgements for a being larger than themselves. You know, it’s not surprising to me that this random post came up on my feed. It’s just what I need right when I need it. I share a very special relationship with God through Jesus.. It is everything to me and I’m getting emotional just typing this. I often struggle with the label “Christian” for one reason only; I have heard time and time again, people I respect that have taught me so much about God, Jesus, The Bible, scriptures, and so on, outright preach that a homosexual person is wrong. I’ve heard them quote the Bible saying that those people will perish. I’ve heard them cast out LGBTQ people . How does anyone have the right to sit back and judge someone else’s “sins”? And quite honestly, how is being anyone of those things (LGBTQ) a sin? The way I see it, God made that person. God hard wired that person to feel and think the way they do. How can I hold that person in contempt for how they love? I just don’t get it. It’s this very reason that I cannot claim my Faith as Christianity. I go to a Christian Church. I sit amongst Christian people. I pray. I am in my way to serving. BUT, I’m just not on board with the way LGBTQ are seen. through “Christian” eyes. One of my favorite people on this planet is a gay man. Although we aren’t related, I’ve referred to this person as my Uncle for most of my life because of his closeness with my family. He is an amazing human: He is kind, loving, hard-working. He has raised two amazing daughters. How can anyone tell me that because he has made his life with another man that his fate will differ from mine? I just don’t get it. I know in my heart that my God is love. He doesn’t “judge” me and I don’t “fear” him.
    I want to Thank You for writing this. It’s beautiful. It makes me happy. I’m struggling in my heart right now and I have been for a very long time. I feel like a hypocrite most of the time. A few months ago, I was participating in a Bible Study group where a woman voiced her opinion about how someone who was clearly gay was giving a sermon at a local Church and how against the Bible this was. Several other women were nodding their heads agreeing with her. I was instantly sick to my stomach. I almost stood up and walked out. My child was in with the kids group at the time so I decided to stay. But it made me angry. It made me question everything about my “religion”.
    Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to find a Church home. I prayed diligently for it. I got quiet, and sure enough it all fell into place. This Year, I resolve to get “spiritually fit”. When I get quiet, I’m hearing that I need to “serve”. I’m on a journey this year to build my conference to be able to serve other people. I also hope to narrow down exactly what that will look like; whether it’s possibky going to the women’s jails/prisons and serving there. Or even possibly, serving children. I’m not sure. This one subject definitely needs to be one that I can confidently talk about, otherwise I don’t think I can serve. It’s my one “hang up”.
    I just read this back and I apologize for sounding dramatic or weepy. I thank you for your opinion and views and being able to confedently write and post them. I will be looking for more of your writings.

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