The Standard of Liberty Voice
A publication of The Standard of Liberty Foundation
September 14, 2006, #26
The Only Good Choice
– what parents should do when confronted with youth homosexuality
I’m writing this because a friend knocked on my door the other day, and I’ve heard stories like hers one time too many. Sitting at my kitchen table she told me she knew of an 18-year-old who had just “come out” to his LDS family. They found his closet plastered with posters of mostly-nude males. The family was in shock. My friend wanted some resources to give them. I gave her a small stack of books, among them 7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child by Scott Lively, pointing out the last chapter, “What To Do When It’s ‘Too Late.’”
Wrote expert Dr. Charles Socarides, “Announcements like this that our kids have suddenly decided they’re gay amount to a kind of murder of the family. Parents can’t imagine things that are worse. It’s something like a premature Alzheimer’s disease; there’s no more real communication, no more sharing of experience, now, or ever. Some great parents can say that this is okay. But, deep down, they know they are deluding themselves. This can mean the end of hopes and dreams for their kids – that they will some day experience the extreme joys that have been repeated over and over again since civilization began, that they will become parents. And make them grandparents. To know that this isn’t going to happen – well, it’s a sadness.”
The words “too late” in Lively’s chapter heading are in quotes because, as the author quickly points out, even though it may be too late to recruit-proof your child, “it’s never too late for a child to recover his innate heterosexual orientation.” As a parent, there is much you can do to help. However, according to Lively, addressing this problem (which at this point has obviously gotten out of hand) “will take much more work than taking preventive action would have.” Helping your child “to recover from homosexuality will require more love, more patience, more understanding, and more humility from you than you may have ever given in the past. It will also require an honest desire to change on the part of your child.”
Truer words were never spoken. It’s excruciatingly painful for parents to face this problem and besides that, it’s a hard fact of life that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. There may be many ups and downs. Parents can do the best they know how, but their efforts may be insufficient (they may lack education and resources) and the problem may escalate. Also, the child may not be willing or ready to change.
When a child's problems fully come to light, parents can begin to learn a hard doctrine. They can give up the temporal hope that their child will recover from homosexuality and work on their own spiritual growth. They may have to start over from the beginning, praying about God's love for them and their child. It helps to quit asking God for things to be all right, and instead ask for the strength and understanding to do His will and in so doing perhaps help their child. Their hope will shift from earthly circumstances to timeless principles.
Try as parents might to help, it is only when and if a child decides that he will truly reject homosexuality, repent, and get well that it will happen. That’s how sacrosanct agency is. It’s in experiencing the mighty change of heart themselves and respecting their child’s agency that parents really begin to learn about love, patience, understanding, and humility, and can be instruments in God’s hands. I know courageous parents who continue to hold fast to truth and righteousness while tough-loving their stubbornly self-determined “gay” child. The spiritual growth they are experiencing must be off the charts. I testify that the opportunity for growing closer to the Lord that this problem offers parents is huge, no matter how things go. But it’s only an opportunity. Parents have agency, too. They can choose whether they will give in to the homosexuality and give up on helping their child, or whether they will stand firmly in opposition and get educated so they are available to help him get straightened out if and when he’s ready.
It’s a sad fact that nobody brings you a casserole when you find out your son thinks he’s gay. But perhaps it’s comforting to know that you are not alone. Due to our gay-affirming environment which specifically targets youth, the number of parents, including religious parents, facing this problem is growing every day and I don’t see any change on the horizon. Parents fighting this problem often feel alone for a number of reasons. In our politically correct, sexual-liberationist culture, most people do not go public with a homosexuality problem (unless they are pro-gay) for fear of being labeled bigoted, intolerant, and homophobic. By the way, this fear is not unreasonable – parents standing against homosexuality have to be prepared to be maligned and misjudged. Those who are in the middle of the battle usually only confide in a few trusted individuals. And those who have overcome it want to forget all about it, which is understandable. The good news is that more and more people who have left same-sex sexuality behind are coming out of the woodwork, more and more information for help in overcoming gender and sexual problems is available, and reparative therapy is catching up with the times and proving highly successful.
Before we get into what parents should do in this situation, we need a heads-up. Children are being sexualized younger and younger. When particularly vulnerable children begin to experience gender identity confusion or feelings of sexual desire for persons of the same sex, they often do not go to their parents but rather to someone else like a teacher or school counselor, an older friend or relative. The tragic thing, Lively tells us, is that these “compassionate souls” are often people who will encourage the child to accept an “alternate sexual orientation” rather than encouraging them to resist homosexuality. This has become a gross understatement.
In fact, activist individuals, web sites, and organizations including PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) encourage young people to refrain from telling their parents and church leaders until they are more sure of their “gayness.” And believe me, there is a wide array of youth recruitment techniques they will be showered with in the meantime. Once a curious child is exposed to sex, it becomes highly interesting and addictive, and an addict is an easy sell. The internet has made possible -- and kid-friendly-- secret and anonymous research into and communication with the world of no-rules, unlimited sex and predators.
Once they have immersed themselves in “gay is good” propaganda, they will publicly “come out” and be warmly welcomed into the “gay” community. But in reality, this is only the beginning. Lively says that “‘coming out’ is a multi-purpose tactic for advancing the ‘gay’ agenda – part psychological conditioning (of the new recruit), part political grandstanding.” This public declaration has the effect of branding oneself with a label very difficult to erase. Once self-branded, individuals feel they must continually justify their decision through various degrees of gay activism and sexual acting out.
Now we get down to it. Your child comes to you and pronounces that he is gay (I will use male pronouns for ease in writing, but you can substitute female pronouns), or perhaps you hear about it some other way. He is a free agent. You can’t force him to do anything. What should you do?
Think of your child’s well-being. Aside from our own shock, pain, embarrassment, and disappointment, surely one of our first reactions as parents when confronting problems of a sexual nature should concern our child’s safety. When a child tells us he is “gay” we should immediately ask ourselves what in the name of heaven the child had been exposed to. How did it come to this? What has he been looking at? Who has he been talking to? How has his innocence and natural modesty been so severely damaged? What’s all this inordinate pre-occupation with sex? How has he become past feeling when it comes to the commandments of God and the Spirit? This may require some soul-searching and, to be frank, some quite frightening detective work regarding the child that will probably uncover something horrific, such as child sexual abuse, peer abuse, gender identity disorder, masturbation, and exposure to pro-gay cultural messages, propaganda, and pornography. As difficult as it is to even consider that these things have occurred, this information will help in understanding how the child got so deep into misguided sexuality and in helping him recover.
Take appropriate responsibility. If your child is a minor, you have the obligation to protect him from harm. Homosexual ideas and behaviors are spiritually and physically dangerous. It is part of your stewardship to do everything you can to get educated, understand your child, and disentangle him from homosexuality while he is still your responsibility and under your influence. In addition, you are your brother’s keeper. If your child becomes fully recruited, he will likely begin, consciously or unconsciously, recruiting others in any of a number of different ways.
Show tough love. Don’t panic but do let your child know how you feel. Said Dr. Socarides, “ He’s still your kid, your young adult. And he needs your support. You’re not going to stop loving him, or ignore him . . . That alone – the sense of being loved no matter what – does wonders.” Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally. He wants us to learn how to love unconditionally, too. That said, I think it’s quite right to show concern, emotion, and distress, especially if the news that your child thinks he is gay runs contrary to everything you have taught him. The child has to know you care. He may be testing you, testing your love, testing your faith. Some say homosexuality is just another new way for teens to rebel. If you treat this problem too casually, your child may think you don’t care about him and that all you have taught him was a put-up job. On the other hand, if you personally internalize it and respond in a co-dependent way (that is, taking more responsibility for your child’s choices than he does) you will free him from his responsibility and enable him on a self-destructive path. Therapists warn parents that there is danger both in taking this problem too seriously and in not taking it seriously enough.
Discourage “coming out.” Firmly refuse to accept the young person’s self-identification as gay. Your child is not a homosexual. No one is. All human beings are innately heterosexual. It's the way we're made. Bear in mind that your child does not have the experience and wisdom to fully understand his new and exciting sexual feelings, which as we know have only one proper context, that is, within the boundaries of marriage between a kind and loving husband and wife. Parents should understand and teach their children that sexual feelings are just sexual feelings and can easily take a wrong path.
Of his experiences decades ago Alan Medinger writes, “For years it never occurred to me to define myself as a homosexual. The course I followed was wrong and destructive; others besides myself were hurt by it. But if someone had come along when I was fourteen or fifteen and forced me to declare myself a homosexual, how much more tragedy would have occurred. I thank God I was not exposed to this.” Well, times have changed. Youing kids are now being exposed to "gay pride," big time.
The worst thing a parent can do when confronted with this problem is accept their child’s pronouncement of immutable homosexuality to any degree. Young people do not know more about proper sexuality than their adult parents. But incredibly, I recently heard of an LDS mother accepting her 11-year-old’s declaration of homosexuality, no questions asked. Parents are likely to do this out of culturally-conditioned fear, misinformation, and intimidation, and it's a terrible shame. Instead of resigning themselves, parents must respond firmly and lovingly. Dr. Socarides wrote, “Don’t accept the currently fashionable cop-out that it isn’t a problem. Try to talk to your kid. Listen to him . . . Tell him about your values, and why you’re dead set against same-sex sex.” If you do not treat your child’s homosexual tendencies as a permanent identity he will see that you believe he can and should conquer them and live a normal life.
Live your faith. Especially when it comes to teenagers, shaming and lecturing and quoting scriptures won’t work. What may work is sharing facts, testifying of truth, living your religion, applying the gospel in detail to your own life, and getting the Spirit to let you know what to say and when to say it. Show your child the gospel of Jesus Christ works. Get on your knees, as I’ve already mentioned. Pray differently. Pray about God’s love for you. Pray about your own immeasurable worth to God. Pray about the worth of your child’s soul. Pray for confirmation of truth and guidance. Contrary to what some LDS “gays” have said about what happens when you pray a lot, you will not get “bloody knees,” only callouses. If you truly desire to do the will of God, sincere prayer will not make you more desperate, but stronger and more steadfast. Testify of basic gospel principals – God’s love, faith, human weakness and sin, the gift of repentance through the Atonement, the Holy Ghost -- and how they are working in your life. Make this part of your everyday family conversation. Show your child by example that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us and it is never too late to turn back to the Lord.
Don’t be manipulated, says Lively. “The PFLAG strategy is to use emotional blackmail and coercion to transform every parent of a self-identified ‘gay’ into a spokesperson for the ‘gay’ cause. The message given is that if you really loved your child, you would accept his or her lifestyle (not just accept him or her as a person). Typically, a parent is accused of being ignorant and ‘homophobic’ if he or she does not embrace the child’s homosexual choice.” Again, they operate on the false presumption that young people know more about sex than the parents who conceived them! Make rules that you can live with concerning privileges and behaviors you will and will not allow your child to participate in while under your roof. Don’t let your child run your religion, marriage, family, house, finances, car, computer, or life. Do not engage in debate with him or his gay-affirming associates or friends. You have the right and responsibility to protect yourself, your home, and your other children from evil ideas and influences.
Get informed and offer help. If you do not feel confident or comfortable discussing sex and sexuality with your child, you will need to read and study and pray until you do. The Standard of Liberty web site contains a treasure trove of scholarly, scientific, religious, and inspirational articles, books, videos, and web sites about overcoming homosexuality on our “Get Informed” page. You will need to arm yourself with truth and knowledge. The opposition is very clever and persuasive, and this is what your child has been exposed to, so he may have some very sophisticated arguments. He may have never even entertained the idea that he doesn’t have to be gay and that reparative therapy is available. Dispel the lies your child has heard about homosexuality and unrestrained sex being safe and healthy. In some cases, you may find it necessary to explain the physical and psychological dangers of homosexual sex and the promiscuous gay lifestyle. But don’t argue. Just stand fast and share the facts you have gleaned if appropriate. If he wants to share pro-gay views and materials, listen, and calmly state what you think of them. Always radiate love and concern. Let your son know you are available to help him at any time of day or night and that you will support him in any way if ever he desires to change his mind.
Discuss moral and proper sex and sexuality whenever possible. Tell him what sex is for and what the normal, healthy, and proper channel for sexual feelings is – procreation and wholesome, loving, unselfish relations between man and wife. Discuss traditional gender roles and why they are vitally important. Don’t neglect to maintain your own marriage.
Never give up hope. Lively says that several factors are on your side: Sexual orientation is not fixed. People can and do change from homosexuality. The “gay” lifestyle is not gay but miserable and many people reach a point when they want out. People are getting more and more fed up with homosexual propaganda and behaviors. Those who have turned away from homosexuality are speaking out. Your child may hear some truth sooner or later from people other than you. The Spirit may touch him. He may return to the things you taught him.
The question is not so much when as if we repent. You never know when your child may come around. Continue to hope the best for him but put the matter in God’s hands. See him in your mind’s eye dressed in clean white clothes. The Lord accepts the efforts of the laborers who come on in the eleventh hour as equal to those who are with him all along (Matthew 20:1-16). Boyd K. Packer said, “You will see events in your life that will test your courage and extend your faith. If you will face the sunlight of truth, the shadows of discouragement and sin and error will fall behind you. You must never give up.” Richard G. Scott said, “Never give up on a loved one, never!”
If you work to combine truth and charity, your wayward child may come to respect your convictions while feeling your unconditional love. A miracle may occur through the grace of Christ. In the process, you have a chance to learn something about being steadfast in Christ with a perfect brightness of hope for eternal life.
Even if all odds are against you, fight for your child. Fight for his psychological and physical health, his future posterity, and his spiritual growth and well-being. It’s the only good choice.
-Stephen & Janice Graham
Scott Lively, 7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child – A parent’s guide to protecting children from homosexuality and the ‘gay’ movement, 1998.
Charles Socarides, Homosexuality, A Freedom Too Far, 1995.
Alan Medinger, “Adolescents and Homosexuality – Close Look at a Major Study,” Regeneration News, Feb. 1993, 1-2.
Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May, 1989, 59.
Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1998, 61.
Copyright 2006 by Standard of Liberty Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.
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