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When I came “out of the closet” at the age of 19, it was somewhat forced. My best friend through high school told me that she could no longer be my friend if I was going to pursue the homosexual lifestyle. My world came crashing down around me. I e-mailed my mom and asked her what her opinion on homosexuality was and posed a “hypothetical” question to her about my situation: would Christ have responded the way my friend had? I did not, at that point, tell her that I was the one who was gay or share the details related to how my best friend had responded.
However, she read between the lines and proceeded to have a phone conversation with my best friend who revealed to her that I had “come out” to her. She called me and asked me if I was gay, and in a moment of honesty, I told her that I was. I told her that I had been struggling since middle school and no amount of church activities, praying, fasting, leading, etc. helped take away my attractions. She said something to me in that phone conversation that I will never forget. She said “Ethan, I will love you no matter what you choose for your life.” This was shocking to me.
Let me explain why. I was raised in church where I constantly heard that homosexuality was an abomination. When the pastors would list sins, homosexuality would be the most prominent. There seemed to be an unspoken message that homosexuality was a worse sin than any other. And when I was struggling with temptation, it was really difficult to constantly hear that MY temptation might be worse than others. That somehow I needed more Jesus than others. It seemed hopeless because I tried to have more Jesus. I received awards from my Youth Group for being an outstanding leader and I was at church more than I was at home. But my attractions never went away. To hear my mom say that she loved me no matter what was the first time I had ever truly felt a human being love like Christ.
Unbeknownst to me, my mom told some of her closest friends about my struggle and they prayed earnestly for me. Three months after I “came out”, I made the decision to follow Christ. I was finally able to recognize His love and out of that recognition I was able to love in return. Christ sacrificed for me out of love, and so out of love I was able to deny myself and follow Him.
Looking back at that moment in my life almost 10 years ago, I attribute the softening of my heart to the unconditional love of my mom. It brought me back to the love of Jesus.
If I could give any advice to parents dealing with a similar situation, I would say to love your children no matter what. Most people that struggle with SSA have heard that homosexuality is a sin. Make sure your convictions are biblical and make them known, but do not “beat them over the head with it.” Treat them the same way you treat your heterosexual child. And do not forget prayer. James 5:16b says, “the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And lastly, allow the Holy Spirit to work. You cannot change someone’s heart or mind, but God has every power to do that and can. Relinquishing control can be difficult, but it is God who works miracles and healing, not you, so let Him.