Parents out there with LGBTQ children: I see you.
I see your held back tears and the weariness you wear and the weight upon your shoulders.
I hear you when you tell me how difficult this all is. I hear you when you talk about your frustration.
I hear you when you share your stories of tears and humiliation.
I hear the grief in your voice when you talk about the faith you used to have or the prayers you used to say or the church where you used to feel welcome or the God your child once believed in.
I hear you when you say you feel like a failure—and I want you to know that you haven’t failed.
Your children haven’t failed either.
The Church has failed you.
It is the Church, not you who have been wrong:
If the Church ever made you feel like you had to choose between loving God and loving your LGBTQ kids, the Church was wrong.
If the Church ever made you believe that your children couldn’t be both gay and Christian, the Church was wrong.
If the Church ever forced or pulled your child out of a ministry position he or she loved simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, the Church was wrong.
If The Church ever caused you to resent your son or your daughter without realizing it, the Church was wrong.
If the Church ever shunned your family with silence or forced distance upon you because of your desire to love and accept your children fully, the Church was wrong.
If the Church ever caused a fracture in your friendships or your marriage or your family, the Church was wrong.
If the Church openly embarrassed your child by name on social media or from the pulpit or to the congregation, the Church was wrong.
If the Church threatened you with Hell for choosing to defend your children from its cruelty, the Church was wrong.
If the Church ever told you that you and your child could pray away something that was the truest part of who they are, the Church was wrong.
Now The Church for you, may be a pastor or local church staff you know well. It may be a group of people in your faith community you used to call friends. It may be a denomination or organization. It may be a high-profile Evangelist. It may be a callous, hateful stranger on social media.
Whatever the source of the damage done to you in the name of Jesus or on behalf of God, I want you to know that these people didn’t have the consent of God when they did these things—and I’m sorry that they’ve done them.
I’m sorry for every pastor, priest, preacher, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, small group member, sign holder, bullhorn wielder, or pew sitter who ever became a barrier between you and your children, or between your family and Jesus.
They were wrong.
You deserve better.
Your children do too.
These words won’t undo the damage or repair your relationship with the Church or give you back all that you’ve lost, but maybe it will make you feel less alone, maybe a little more hopeful, maybe a bit more sane.
Maybe this apology, even if it’s not the one you need or deserve, will bring some peace.
Your children, as you’ve always known or are just beginning to remember—are beautiful.
They are deserving of your pride and your celebration and your bragging on them. They are deserving of joy and lightness and laughter, and I hope they have these things in great abundance for the rest of their lives.
I hope you never let the Church when it is wrong, temper your love for your children, your confidence in your own worth as a parent, or your belief in a good God who completely adores you and them.
If you ever need a pastor who will say the words your family should have heard from a pastor long ago, you know where to find me.
Be greatly encouraged today.