Five years ago, Redditor RegBarc ”came out” to his father. Shortly afterwards, his dad disowned him in a handwritten letter which RegBarc shared with the world on Tuesday, adding the comment: “This is how hate sounds.”

James:

This is a difficult but necessary letter to write.

I hope your telephone call was not to receive my blessing for the degrading of your lifestyle. I have fond memories of our times together, but that is all in the past.

Don’t expect any further conversations with me. No communications at all.

I will not come to visit, nor do I want you in my house.

You’ve made your choice, though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle.

If you choose not to attend my funeral, my friends and family will understand.

Have a good birthday and good life.

No present exchanges will be accepted.

Good bye, Dad

As I find it hard to believe that a true Christian would ever write such a letter, I’ve drafted a letter that I hope a Christian father would write (although I’m sure we all hope we’ll never have to write it).

My dear James,

I’d rather say this man-to-man and face-to face, and I hope I will have a chance to do so soon. However, to avoid misunderstanding, and to ensure that you have something in black and white you can keep and refer to, I want to make sure you know one thing: I love you, and I always will. I do not hate you, and I never will.

Our relationship will probably change a bit as a result of your chosen lifestyle, but my love for you will never change. I will continue to seek your very best, as I have always done. In fact, I will probably, by prayer and other practical means, seek your good as I’ve never done before.

Maybe you’ve been afraid that I will reject you and throw you out of my life. I want you to know that you will always be welcome in our family home. Text, email, phone regularly. I certainly will. We’d especially love you to come home for birthdays and for other special occasions. I hope we can continue to go fishing together and to share other areas of our lives.

Your male friend may also visit our home with you, but we will need to discuss certain boundaries. For example, I can’t allow you to share a room or a bed together when you are here, and I will not allow open displays of affection for one another, especially in front of the other children. If you stay with us, you will attend family devotions, and if you are with us on a Sunday, you will come to church with us to hear the Gospel.

Perhaps these boundaries are not going to be easy for you to accept, but please try to understand that I have a duty to God to lead my home in a God-glorifying manner. Psalm 101 commands me to prevent sinful behavior in my home. While extremely anxious to preserve a relationship with you, I am especially concerned that your siblings are not influenced into thinking your lifestyle is fine with God or us.

I know that you don’t like me calling your lifestyle and sexual practices a sin. However, remember I’ve always told you that I myself am a great sinner, but I have an even greater Savior. I hope the day will come when you will seek that great Savior for yourself. He can wash us snow-white clean. He is also able to deliver us from the bondage of our lusts and from everlasting damnation.

I will not bring up your sin and the Gospel every time we meet, but I do want you to know where I stand right up front, and also that I’m willing to speak with you about the Gospel of Christ anytime you wish.

I hope you will not call this message hate. This is how love sounds.

I will always be your Dad. And you will always be my son.

As I will never stop loving you, I will never stop praying for you.

With all my love,

Dad (Ps. 103:13).

Anything you’d say differently? Anything you’d add? 

  • http://letmypeopleread.blogspot.com Frank!

    Dr. Murray,
    As someone who frequents reddit (including the Christianity and Reformed pages) I’m glad you’re interacting with something made popular at this very busy news aggregation site. I’m glad you’re giving Christians a template for how to reply with grace and love. However, I know most people on-line will probably cry foul because you call it a lifestyle and not an orientation (the whole “they were born that way” argument). Would you be able to speak to that? I ask because some of the newer arguments people are using try and point out that the modern concepts of gender and gender identity shouldn’t be put upon the text. I’m sure there’s a flaw in the thinking, but I’m hoping you could shed some light, at least from an OT perspective.

    • kmf

      I was thinking of this yesterday, what a Christian father’s response would be, thank you for articulating it, in such a way.

    • Lance

      Hi, Frank. The whole natural orientation applies to all of our indwelling sin. Just because sin is “natural” doesn’t dismiss our responsibility to confess and repent of it, and find forgiveness and freedom in Christ.

      For example, most men are born in such a way that they desire intimate relations with just about every beautiful woman they see. Does society then excuse them when they commit adultery and sleep with these women? Absolutely not! Yet it’s natural. They were born that way. But simply having a natural feeling or desire does not make it right or acceptable. Those that you referred to who would cry foul at Dr. Murry’s phrase are simply being inconsistent.

      • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

        Agree with you, Lance.

    • http://beholdingglory.net Jason Dahlman

      Hey Frank! I realize that your question was directed at Dr. Murray and there’s no real reason why you should care what I think. I’m a big fan of David Murray and I’m sure he would answer your question better than I could. I did do a series of blog posts which attempted to give biblical answers to the questions you’re raising. I’d be honored if you’d check it out and let me know what you think. You can find those posts at beholdingglory.net

  • Bemused

    While I think that stating “I still/will always love you” is a step up from the original letter, the rest of your hypothetical letter improves little to none of the original.

    You take (and promise to take) every opportunity to remind your hypothetical son that they are wrong and that you are right[eous]. You remind him that he is a danger to his siblings and a disruption to your “god-glorifying” home. If or when his partner is under the same roof, you’ve politely but firmly demanded that they lie by omission to anyone not ‘clued-in’ about their love. A significant portion of your letter is devoted to tacitly attempting to convert your son, telling him in not so many words that he needs to “un-gay” himself and return to the arms of another man- that is, Jesus.

    If I were your son, receiving this letter would be almost as horrible as receiving the original one. You profess your love, but attach quid pro quos to it. You invite him home, but only if he pretends to be what you want. You tell him he’ll always be your son, but you’re only ‘Dad’ when he’s straight.

    This is a rejection letter. A nicely-worded rejection letter, but a rejection letter all the same.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      So what would you write, Bemused?

      • Bemused

        Dear Son,

        I understand that talking to me and “coming out” may have been a scary thing to do, and for that I’m sorry. I have tried to make it clear in your life that I love you, always and forever. When you spilled juice on the carpet, I loved you still. When you broke the VCR with a PBJ sandwich, I loved you still. When you got in a fight at school and got suspended, I loved you still.

        And now you’ve found the love of your life, and I love you still.

        I’m an old man, brought up in a society and time far different than now. I can’t say I understand everything about your relationship, I can’t say it’s not a bit ‘foreign’ and strange to me. I can say that I am hoping you’ll do as I did when you were a child and take my hand and walk me through this, answer my questions as best you can and smile and hug me when I don’t “get it” yet.

        I’m not perfect, but I’m trying to live up to a perfect example in Jesus, who reminds us in Matt 22:39 to “love your neighbor as yourself”. I can’t know the mind of God, and it’s not my place to judge or measure your relationship with Him (Matt 7:1). Your relationship with God is your own, but know I am still “Dad” and always ready to do my best to answer your questions and discuss your faith. I hope you’ll still come to church on Sunday, or at least visit for Christmas and Easter.

        I look forward to seeing you again soon- your mother and I have missed you. Let us know if we need to set up the guest room.

        Love always,

        Dad

        • pat

          I’m afraid I much preferred David Murray’s letter over yours. Murray’s had both a tremendous amount of grace as well as a tremendous amount of humble strength. I think it is a far better and closer representative of what God calls us to do in the Bible than your letter.

          I suppose in a sense your letter might be ‘gracious’, but it’s a ‘graciousness’ which tends toward being overly ‘gracious’ such that at the end of the day it’s not really ‘grace’ at all but unfortunately a sort of impoverished cousin. Sadly worse, however, your letter doesn’t have the humble, quiet strength that imitates Jesus himself when he lovingly, tenderly, but nevertheless firmly calls sin what it is – sin.

          For example, while the following isn’t perfectly analogous to a father relating to his homosexual son, there are significant parallels. Jesus in replying to his brothers said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come’ (John 7:6-8). On the one hand, Jesus calls them to repentance (e.g. ‘your time is always here’). He explicitly tells them they are part of the world in contrast to himself. Yet he’s gracious and loving to them in his reply.

          I’m sure there are other passages in the Bible which better illustrate all this. I’m sure others far more knowledgeable as well as godly than I am can point these out.

          In any case, and again I say this as respectfully as I can, I think Murray’s letter is closer to what the Bible would have us say and do than yours.

          And can I say, well done, Mr Murray! There are a thousand different angles in which a man can fall but only one in which he can stand upright. Currently you’re being attacked even by professing Christians but I’m glad you have your eyes fixed to please none other audience but the audience of One.

          All blessings to you and yours,

          Pat

        • Brian

          I agree this is a rejection letter . . . a rejection of a sinful and self-condemening lifestyle choice.
          In your letter (below) you mislead in saying that the father cannot know the mind of God inthis relationship. The mind of Godis clear (1 Cor 6:9-11), the father in this letter simpy is not aware of it or outright rejects what God has clearly said about the homosexual lifestyle.

          • Douglas

            I am the pastor of a church in a city where there is a large gay population. We love them and reach out to them and several attend our services from time to time. Several of these gay men, who are still attracted to other men, have received the salvation offered through Jesus and without exception they all say that they knew, deep down, that the life they were living was wrong and they are so thankful that someone showed them kindness but also told them the truth. There are countless churches in our city that affirmed their lifestyle and many of these men frequented these churches and many have told me that they often felt anger toward these churches because they knew that the were not honest enough to tell them the truth. I am going to print both letters in the post as well as the letter from Bemused and get their input. Based on what I have heard from them in the past I am pretty certain I know which letter they will agree with (hint: DM’s).

        • http://fredbek.com/fearfullyandwonderfullymade/ Fearfully Made

          Wow, Bemused. This is so beautiful. I loved it

        • http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/08/moral-imperatives.html Frank Turk

          Bemused –

          (1) Too bad you don’t believe in sin. I wonder why you believe in Christ if you don;t believe in sin?

          (2) If you say you do believe in sin, here’s my response: your letter doesn’t work if we change it from the sin of “homosexuality” to the sin of “heterosexuality”. That is: you would probably write a different letter if your son came to you and said, “Dad: I have decided that I am a full-blooded hetero, and I need to sleep around the rest of my life because I find that being trapped in a relationship with one girl forever is too limiting.” Your opinions about “times change” and “judge not” would be entirely repurposed if you found out your son wanted to be a character from a Will Ferrell movie the rest of his life – you’d see them as inadequate for the problem at hand.

          However, I might ultimately be wrong about you, and you may be one of those people who think that the Maury Povich show demonstrates how sexual mores have changed and we should just accept that. If that’s the case, nice work, and I hope you are right. Preach that good news to all living creatures.

        • http://thesweethummingunderground.blogspot.com Wio

          Thank you, Bemused! This was wonderful.

    • Elaine

      Bemused. What you are saying is that if you were the hypothetical son you would expect your father to accept unconditionally your right of a lifestyle of your choice? You’d strip your father out of any rights that he might hold over his family and his home, otherwise you’d feel rejected?

      I see.

      ““Love” has been redefined as a broad tolerance that overlooks sin and embraces good and evil alike. But that is not love; it is apathy mixed with compromise.” (John MacArthur)

      • http://quickreply.com F0ley

        Part of being a father IS being aware that your son will grow up. When that happens, you DO have to unconditionally accept any lifestyle he chooses to undertake: Assuming it is not an inherently harmful one. Doing otherwise (regardless of your reasons) will only ostracize yourself from his life (and your own kids are pretty awesome: trust me, you wanna be a part of their lives!).

        However I think we all kind of accept that to some extent, the real dissonance comes from the reader’s belief that homosexuality is NOT wrong, whereas both you and Mr. Murray DO. Unfortunately when it comes to parenting, much like any important relationship: Making demands and refusing to budge on them leads you to a life of loneliness.

        However I still liked this article, if only because it shows Mr. Murray’s desire to TRY. If this is the opening salvo, to be counter-offered and eventually result in a compromise… Then that is a bit of a hard ball offer, but it’s fine. As long as the door remains open, you and your hypothetical son will BOTH learn and realize each other are NOT as evil as you had previously thought.

        to speak in reddit parlance: “TL;DR: Horrible ultimatum, decent opening negotiation”

        • Cassie

          I see no “try” in this letter. I see no, “I’m very set in my ways, so please come over and let’s discuss the matter. I want to hear your point of view, and see how you live your life now, and maybe you can help me understand. At the very least, we can reach a compromise”.

          What I do see is “Please know that I’m okay with you thinking you are gay, so long as you do not act gay…especially around the children. I will pray every day for God to fix you, and when you come home, we’ll talk about the Gospel and *I* will try to fix you”.

          Or to put it in tl;dr: “I’ll love you through his phase, and then it’ll be over when you come to your senses”.

          This letter is absolutely no different than the written one from the Reddit user. Just as hurtful, just as ignorant and cruel. Maybe even moreso, because the son sees hope in the first paragraph, and then it’s ripped away from him.

      • Bemused

        I would hope that my father would love me and accept who I am, yes.

        I am not stripping him of any rights- he is free to write any sort of letter to me, to welcome or bar me from his home, or to try to de-gay me or not. What I am saying is that *I* would feel rejected, which is also my right.

        As other posters have said, Mr. Murray and yourself are coming from the position that homosexuality is “wrong” and, I think it is safe to say, a “choice”. That is, as you say, your right (and the right of the father to think this way) and I wouldn’t strip you of it.

        However what we are discussing here is the communication between father and son, not the abridgment of rights. The common thread between the letter that sparked this post and the expanded form offered by Mr. Murray is that the father lays it out very clearly that he is in the right, and as such will be imposing a set of rules on their relationship. No ‘rights’ have been infringed, but the communicated message is that the son is ‘in the doghouse’ until he conforms to what his father wants.

        I am free to feel rejected, he is free to reject or accept or whatever. Obviously, I am writing as one who would accept.

        • Ryan Fishel

          Dear Bemused,

          Certainly you can relate, such as if you had a son on drugs. While loving and embracing your son with a broken heart and tears in your eyes, it would be unspeakably uncompassionate to not reject that which was harming his life.

          Yes, you are writing as one who would accept the son. Yet so is the father here in this illustration, writing his utter acceptance of his son.

          The difference is, I believe, you, Bemused, would additionally approve of the son’s actions. That which the father understands as harming him. And sometimes it takes that long-time loving relation, and that outside perspective, to see it.

        • http://crossward.info Tom M

          Bemused,

          It strikes me that your letter lacks conviction. David Murray’s letter — while, of course, imperfect — takes the stance that homosexuality is, indeed, a sin. Why? Because he is seeking to honor God first *before* his son, which is how it ought to be. He does not need to apologize to his son for not “getting it” (as your letter does).

          If you believe homosexuality is a sin, then your letter makes no sense. It comes across as accepting your son’s behavior and you just don’t “get it.”

          Bemused, there is nothing to “get.” God calls it sin, period. Would you let other damaging, sinful behaviors in your house? What if the son was a child molester, serial liar, thief, etc.? Would you have no boundaries in your home? Would you not say, “You are welcome to come over, but you do understand that since you have a tendency to steal things, we have to keep an eye on you.”

          True love is calling sin what it is, sin, all the while encouraging the person in other areas, and towards God.

          Your letter is actually quite hateful because it sets the son on the path of assuming homosexuality is *not* a sin and he is free to engage in it — it sets him on a path to hell.

          Tom

        • http://thesweethummingunderground.blogspot.com Wio

          You inspired me to write a letter of my own. Here’s my take:

          Dear James,

          I have only been in love once – that was with your mother. We were so different – yet we were instantly drawn to each other. Love came naturally to us somehow. Living together was often a struggle though. We had different opinions about most things. If love had been a choice, we would probably not have chosen each other. We really loved each other though. Our love for each other was what made us stay together and work our disagreements through. When I look back at those years, I know now that all the struggle was worth it. Your mother was the love of my life. She taught me what it means to really love someone. Now she has been gone for 20 years. I have never managed to find love again.

          When you tell me that you have fallen in love, I know it has not been more of a choice for you – than it once was for me. I believe that love is the greatest gift God has ever given us. God became man in Christ to show us his love, and deliver us from evil. This obliges us to (seek to) live out God’s love in our relationship to our fellow man, as the double commandment of love (Luke 10:27) commands us to. When I examine the Bible from this point, I come to no other conclusion than that love is love. I truly do believe that homosexual love is a reflection of God’s love as much as heterosexual love is. God’s love is for everyone.

          We must not forget that the Bible is a book about God, and not a book about human sexuality. We know that homosexuality was not a central question for Jesus. Homosexuality is not even mentioned in the teachings of Jesus. My suggestion on how to interpret Jesus’ silence on this issue, is that Jesus’ public teaching that we should behave lovingly toward each other, should be applied also in the meeting with homosexuality (whether this meeting is “internal” or “external”). I know Jesus loves you – just as you are. Please know that I accept you and love you too.

          I know you feared I would react differently than this. Ten years ago I probably would have reacted in a different way. Ten years ago I didn’t have the same understanding for sexual ethics – as I have today. Since we – Christians (and others) have achieved new knowledge and deeper understanding of love and sexuality – it requires us to examine a possibility of development in sexual ethics. I have studied this issue ever since pastor Green held his infamous speech 2004, where he claimed that homosexuality is like a cancerous tumour.

          I have learned that there is no way to make homosexuality go away. The president of the organization Exodus, which works with “curing” homosexuality, has confessed that in 99,9 % cases it doesn’t work to cure homosexuality. Since homosexuality is not a disease, it can’t be cured. A person can’t change her/his sexuality. With this new understanding, some Christians have come to the tragic conclusion that homosexuality can best be defeated by executing homosexuals. The financial support for Uganda’s kill-the-gays-bill comes directly from American Christians. In Nigeria, homosexual people will now be locked away instead. What those Christians fail to understand is that even if they get rid of homosexuals in the Uganda-way or hide them away from society in the Nigeria-way, homosexuality will not disappear. Homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is part of nature.

          The people who insist on condemning homosexuality today, do nothing else than harm to our Christian community. They have no morality outside their framework of the Bible. My son, I advise you stay away from those people. They abuse the words of the Bible from a wishful thinking to get simple, clear rules of complex moral issues. I find it unreasonable and impious to generalize Paul’s words (Rome 1:26 f, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 f) to be the Word of God concerning ALL kinds of sexuality between people of the same sex in ALL kinds of relationships in ALL times and in ALL social and cultural contexts. This is exactly what you can expect those people to do. They will insist they are right, while they completely fail to recognize the importance and the greatness of the double commandment of love.

          The Christians who condemn homosexuality, think they are morally superior and therefore within their right to impose their morals on you. They are an example of why the Bible can be very dangerous in the hands of a person who lacks a moral conscience. They condemn a group of people, based on certain Greek and Hebrew words, which they do not even understand. Most likely they follow a translation of the Bible, which hasn’t taken into account recent (i.e. less than 150 years ago) discoveries of Greek text materials (including papyri and inscriptions) that shed new light on Greek vocabulary. How can it be just and Christian to condemn a group of people, based on words like malakos and arsenokoites/arsenokoitai (which can’t even been found in the Greek translation Septuaginta of the Bible, 300 BCE)?

          I want you to understand that you are not to be ashamed. You have done no wrong. You fell in love – with a man. It’s natural to crave for togetherness. In fact we are created for togetherness. The biologically essential twosomeness was between a man and a woman. Due to this combination, humankind was able to fulfill God’s commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. That commandment is indeed the only one of all the commandments that God has given us that we humans have met – and that to overdo. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. Poor people’s lack of resources is a big problem today. In 2010 we had 925 million hungry people. It’s time for us – Christians, to put a greater focus on other commandments in the Bible.

          Dear son, if you can’t accept yourself for who you are, then I have failed as a parent. Know this: I would rather have a gay son than a dead son. Know this, I love you – just as you are.

          Lots of love,
          Your father

    • Arthur

      Bemused, I must say that you are completely correct

    • Brian

      I agree this is a rejection letter . . . a rejection of a sinful and self-condemening lifestyle choice.

  • http://sbcvoices.com Dave Miller

    Fantastic post. May more believers respond as you suggest.

  • d e

    that was actually pretty condescending and hateful, and if i were your son, i’d be very hurt. he doesn’t need to be reminded how wrong he is. if he has lived under your roof, he probably already knows that you’re going to consider it a sin. he doesn’t need to be told to hide who he is, either.

    i thought your letter was rude and disrespectful, and although yours was more eloquent, and you did not completely disown your child, you said the same things as the other father. you just sounded better doing it.

    i would hope that most people would treat their children better than that.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      d e: I think you are making the mistake of equating hate with disagreement and disapproval. You disagree with me and disapprove of my letter. But I’d never assume that you hated me as a result. None of us will get very far in life if we think and act like that. What would you write or say yourself?

      • d e

        what would i write?

        dear son,

        while i think it’s kind of silly to respond on paper i just wanted to let you know that i’m here for you no matter what. and although this world is home to self-righteous bigots, and i have no doubt that you’ll meet a few along the way, know that my door is always open to welcome you. don’t ever be afraid of coming home.

        on that note – i hope we’re still on for dinner on saturday! aunty may and uncle jerry will be there too, and are excited to see you as it’s been a couple years!

        the cats miss you almost as much as i do. see you soon.

        love from mom.

        • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

          Thanks for your response d e. And what if your son became a self-righteous bigot? Same letter?

          • d e

            is that your best response? another question?

            i do not believe in unconditional love. i believe that each individual man should be treated fairly and respectfully, unless or until such time as he proves that he does not treat others that way.

            so if my son were to become a self-righteous bigot, he’d hear the same thing he heard when he was younger. as a teenager, he decided to use the “n” word to describe black people within my earshot one day. he knew it was wrong, but he thought he was being cool in front of his friend.

            i gave him a list of a few stories on the internet about the problems that black people have faced throughout the years, and told him he had better educate himself. then i sent his ass out the door and told him he would not be welcome in my home if he were to continue talking in that manner. he was gone for 2 days (i knew where he was at and the family he was with). when he came back we talked about what he’d said, and the stories i’d asked him to read.

            i raised my kids to treat people as equals, and i would not dismiss any disrespect by them any more than i’d dismiss it from anyone else in my presence. simply put – i don’t allow bigots in my home or place of work, whether they’re related or not.

          • http://www.bringthebooks.org Adam Parker

            I think what d e is saying is that he would treat his son hate and condescension. He would give him hope and then rip it away that he accepts his bigoted lifestyle.

          • pat

            d e said:

            ‘is that your best response? another question?’

            But it’s a relevant and poignant question which cuts to the heart of the matter.

            Jesus likewise would respond to a question with a question.

        • Jenn

          De: Woohoo!!!! You my friend rock at life!!!!! That the way it should be written… if needed to be written at all!

          Jenn

          • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

            d e: Thanks for patiently responding to my questions. Looks to me like your son’s experience of your love has certain conditions attached. I think we’re actually on the same page as far as sanctions for unacceptable behavior in your own home are concerned, although obviously we differ in some ways on what is unacceptable.

        • Jake

          d e,

          I’d be curious what your response would be in the following hypothetical scenario.

          A father comes out of the closet after he already has a son and becomes a practicing homosexual.

          His son grows up in this home.

          The son moves out of the home for his college years and practices the gay life style himself, well into his 20s.

          The son is exposed to the gospel and is graciously converted to Christianity.

          He calls his dad and lets him know he is a Christian and will now be living his life according to biblical standards as he is coming to understand them, also in relation to his sexuality.

          What should a phone call or letter of response from the father to the son look like?

          • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

            Think you’ll be waiting for a long time for a reply on that one, Jake!

  • Tom

    “Psalm 101 commands me to prevent sinful behavior in my home.” “…remember I’ve always told you that I myself am a great sinner…”
    Do you see the hypocrisy? You would have to kick yourself out of your own home.
    Ah, but yes, you do have a savior who shows you grace. I would urge you to show your son the unconditional love and grace that your savior has given you. In that way, your son may be saved too.

    My Letter:

    Dear Son,
    You are not defined by your gayness. You are my son. I love you, regardless and so does Christ.
    Love unconditionally,
    Dad

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Thanks Tom. I’m afraid there’s no such thing as unconditional love. You’ve never experienced it nor given it, and neither have I.

      I do want to show my (theoretical) son the same love that my Savior shows me. Thankfully, part of His love is a set of clear limits and boundaries on my conduct.

      • Jennifer L.

        Wrong. Unconditional love is real, it is the love God has and why Jesus came, and took on all sin, for all from then on, and gave His life, so that we who believe, accept Him as Lord and Savior, and repent, may be pardoned from eternal damnation.

        It is God The Father’s forgiveness that is conditional. He forgives us ONLY if we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, sincerely, and honestly and earnestly strive to walk in holiness.

        As people, while the way we express our love, may always be imperfect, stumbling, and at times, injurious to others, it can be uncondtional. Meaning, to have love and continue to have love for another, simply because. They needing not to be considered good enough, they can be evil, and seemingly without hope, and they can still be loved, the same love Jesus The Son has.
        Loving someone unconditional doesn’t mean not holding that person accountable, and it doesn’t mean allowing them eternal access to a person’s live, in case they are dangerous. It is possible to love a person and keep a safe distance. I don’t believe God wants anyone to put their self in harm’s way all the time, using love as the reason.

        I have loved unconditionally and I have been loved unconditionally. I always forgive, even when it’s not instant, and I need the help of Jesus to work it out. I don’t ever permanently close the door on anyone either. As long as I’m here on this earth, and they are too, there is the hope for them to repent, and to be truly converted and redeemed, and to own their sin, have remorse, to repent, and apologize, and strive to make amends, all of which God commands. Too many people walk in carnality, people who claim to be Christian, and they claim to love God, and love others, only they aren’t loving as Christ does. Their love remains human, in it’s corruptedness, and that is why they have conditions, and why they pass not just unrighteous judgment, they pass unrighteous condemnation and either or both, shun people, and hate them, showing that hate because even if the person they unjustly judged and condemned, owns their sin, apologizes, and asks for forgiveness and reconciliation, they are denied, a door remains shut on them, they remain shunned, and by that unChristlike treatment, it leaves the person questioning their faith, because they wonder if they are truly worthy of The Lord’s forgiveness and love, why are there people in His name, who treat them as though they aren’t worthy, as though they not only aren’t redeemed, as though they never will be. It leads to broken, confused people, lacking trust in a God that allows such people, many holding positions of power in assemblies, to not only get away with it, they seem to have God’s favor.

        The only people God rejects, are those who choose sin, who live in unrepentance, rejecting Him, allowing their hearts to be hardened, their consciences seared, and either choosing their own fate, of eternal damnation, or leaving it so that only God supernaturally, could break them, to bring them to true repentance. God doesn’t go about condemning people, shunning them, turning His back on them, simply for sinning, when they haven’t a hardened heart, nor seared conscience, and they are remorseful, and seek His forgiveness, when they are repentant, and strive to overcome and live holy. So why people who claim to be of God think they can behave that way, shows they don’t truly know God, nor He them.

  • http://www.nancyguthrie.com Nancy Guthrie

    Your letter assumes that the son has expressed no interest in Christ. What if he says,
    “I have sought and found that great Savior and he accepts me as I am. Why can’t you?”

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      That’s certainly a much more complicated situation, Nancy, and one that I’m actually helping someone to deal with right now. If you can offer any advice, I’d appreciate it. I’d want to be very patient and think long-term. I’d ask him if he was willing to discuss the Scriptures with me. If he agreed (and I’d hope a professing Christian would), then I’d ask him to explain his understanding of certain verses and chapters, his understanding of what sin is and of Christ’s mission “to save his people from their sin.” There are also other verses that may eventually apply in this situation, that do not apply to a non-Christian (2 Thess. 3:6-7; 1 Cor.5:9-11), although I would want that to be a real last resort and can hardly imagine the pain of such a decision. I’d welcome your input.

      • Foppe VanderZwaag

        “I have sought and found that great Savior and he accepts me as I am. Why can’t you?”

        That’s a wonderful truth, but a half-truth. In justification God accepts sinners ‘as we are.’ However, in sanctification God does not keep us as we are.

        I might say, “I’m a kleptomaniac. I just can’t help to steal things, that’s the way I am.”

        God does welcome sinners (thieves & adulterers) to come to Him, to confess their sin(s), trust Christ for (initial) forgiveness AND for (ongoing) cleansing (1 John 1:9). He will forgive them for “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all (manner of) sin” (1 John 1:7)!

        However, God does not welcome such in heaven unless they have repented of their sin(s), trusted Christ, followed Christ in the way of holiness. Here is the passage of God’s love & hope, not only for gays (homosexuals), but also for kleptomaniacs (thieves), etc.:

        1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

        In short: Yes, there is love and rejection in David’s letter, and that may ‘hurt the feelings’ of the son, but what is that compared with being rejected by God in eternal condemnation? Especially when you consider that there is hope for change.

        • Foppe VanderZwaag

          PS Dear David, I appreciate your post and agree with its tone. I do have difficulty with using the word gay. I find it tragic that we allowed sin to be covered in neutral or even positive vocabulary, and have such precious word hijacked & perverted.

          Compare http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gay
          with http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/gay

          Homosexuality is not gay; it’s sin.

          I hinted already at it as I compared it to kleptomania, which really is stealing, so I had to add this PS after reading this article: http://julianfreeman.ca/christian-life/sin

          • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

            Good point, Foppe. I’ll give that serious consideration. Even the word homosexuality seems euphemistic in a way.

    • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah Anderson

      Yes. This is actually the stickier situation–and one that is going to be the reality for more and more young people as the Church herself continues to accept gay lifestyle choices.

      My tendency would be to confirm his love for Christ and his commitment to Scripture. (If you can’t agree on that, any further discussion becomes meaningless.) Then, I’d simply express my love and appeal to his love for Christ and for me–a love that at the very least would be sensitive to not boasting in or flaunting his choices in front of me.

  • http://willadair.com Will Adair

    I posted the following on Reddit (I’m a redditor).

    I am a Christian. If my son who is is now two “came out” in 20 years then this is what I would have to say.

    “Dear Son,

    I love you. I will always love you. You are more than what you do. I’ve always taught you that.

    We baptized you as a infant. We trusted you in to the hands of Christ before you were even born. You were raised in a tradition that taught that God is merciful and that his perfect love covers a multitude of sins. I hope I modeled that grace well to you in your childhood. As I have asked before, I ask again now, forgive me for when I have sinned against you and not modeled grace. I am not your judge. I am your dad.

    This is not what I hoped, or hope, for you. It is where you are. I’m here and always will be here for you whenever you need me.

    You know my own struggles with sexuality. I’ve never claimed perfection other that what God has promised in Jesus. I hope you know that my love for you is unconditional. I love you for being my son. I always will. You are my “little man of joy” and always will be.

    My primary hope for you has always been that your identity is found in the person of Christ. Not being a male. Not being a preacher’s kid. Not being straight. My hope for your sexual identity is that it is consumed by a passion to live as Christ in a dying world for the glory of God and the salvation of many. It’s not easy. It’s never been easy for me but I can say that it has been well worth it.

    You are always welcome in my home. I hope to see you soon. As always, your are in my heart and my prayers.

    I love you,
    Dad”

  • James

    I’m just a little bit disturbed with this, simply because it is hypothetical. It may not be very helpful for some parents who are suffering in such circumstances. There are differing degrees and expressions of the mentioned sin, as well as a multitude of different relational issues that could be involved, that would make the suggested letter form unsuitable, unwarranted even. All I say isI wouldn’t want to hang a guilt trip on a parent or parents because they felt it was impossible for them to write this letter or something like it, not every case is quite as straight forward. Also one point of disagreement I would make David is, I would not be happy with the young man’s other half in the family home with him, that would be beyond the boundary, other things being equal. Lastly, let not any hypotheticisers judge parents who are in the reality of this, it is an extremely, I say extremely hurtful place to be, especially Christian parent or parents, please do remember that. I only mean to help.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      You’re right James about the difficulty of this being hypothetical for me but a reality for others. However, I’ve been approached by others in this situation and asked for counsel and so I’ve had to try to think about a biblical response. But you’re right, the actual real life situations are much more painful and complicated. I thought long and hard about where to place the boundary. I think this would be a matter of wisdom depending on the context.

  • concerned

    SON, AFTER HEARING YOUR NEWS OF YOUR LIFESTYLE CHOICE, I MUST SAY THAT I AM DISSAPOINTED. YOU KNOW I CANNOT AGREE WITH SUCH A LIFESTYLE DUE TO MY OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD AND HIS WORD. I CAN NOWHERE FIND IN SCRIPTURE WHERE A HOMOSEXUAL LIESTYLE IS ACCEPTED AND APPROVED BY GOD.

    NEVER THE LESS, YOU ARE MY SON AND I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN I EVER HAVE. AND THIS IS HOW GOD DESCRIBES LOVE…

    LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND. IT DOES NOT ENVY, IT DOES NOT BOAST, IT IS NOT PROUD. IT DOES NOT DISHONOR OTHERS, IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING, IT IS NOT EASILY ANGERED, IT KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. LOVE DOES NOT REJOICE IN EVIL, BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. THEREFORE, I CANNOT REJOICE WITH YOU IN YOUR DECISION AND LIFESTYLE, BUT LOVE ALWAYS PROTECTS, ALWAYS TRUSTS, ALWAYS HOPES, ALWAYS PERSEVERES. SO IF WE BOTH SEEK THE LORD, JESUS CHRIST, AND HIS WILL, HE WILL LEAD US TO A PLACE OF RECONCILIATION.

    IN HIM,

  • Aaron

    Great post, David. I thought that this hypothetical situation was handled lovingly, scripturally, and with the kind of grace-driven reverence for God and the authority of His Word that is (hopefully) common among believers. “This is how love sounds”, you wrote. I would agree, as love must be of the quality that “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). I hear in your words a trust in Christ and His gospel. I appreciate the willingness to have the “partner” of the hypothetical son come into the home, where he may hear the law and gospel. Hopefully this post will provide a little guidance for any fathers out there who may one day be faced with this situation.

  • Laura

    The second letter is not one that I’d write but it is night-and-day different from the first.

    Of course you have the right to control what happens under your roof.

    The only part I really dislike is the assumption that your son has never sought Jesus and is not saved. I’ve read enough testimony, and known enough people, who were raised that homosexuality is a dreadful sin and were horrified to find themselves with same-sex attraction, and prayed as Paul did that this thorn in the flesh be removed, and got the same answer Paul got (“no”). I would never pile on such a person’s burden by reminding them of their specially horrifying sin and assuming that it means they must not know Jesus. What an awful thing to do.

    I think you share the Gospel with a gay person like you would anyone, and you leave the rest of it to God. Jesus’ blood is sufficient for any sin we can come up with. And there is such a thing as unconditional love.

    • Ben

      @Laura

      To my mind, the sin in this case is not same sex attraction. The sin is that he is living out this lifestyle unrepentantly. Just like no Christian father would accept his son’s decision to live an adulterous heterosexual lifestyle. True love in both cases is to warn him that what he is doing is a sin, and he will be eternally condemned if he does not repent.

    • MR MARK

      Laura, thanks for highlighting the one point that caught me by surprise in the original post. I’m consistently surprised at how often its the one sin too big for the cross. If you sin in this manner, you must not be saved.

      • Laura

        Mr Mark, I had a coworker once who tried to tell me that very thing. She kept telling me that God could not forgive homosexuality, and I kept asking her, “Is Jesus’ blood not sufficient?” and she finally had to admit that it was.

        It is really, really easy to condemn something that we are not tempted to. I am attracted to my husband, period. I think women are beautiful but I am not attracted to them at all. It would be easy for me to throw the book at a woman having a partnership with another woman, but I have to think that if somehow I were supposed to be partnered with a woman, to whom I couldn’t be attracted at all; and it was wrong and sinful for me to love my husband and want only him and to face the world with him the rest of my life, just the two of us together; that would be the hardest thing in the world. If my father or mother told me that I had to choose between my husband, or any relationship with a man ever, and their love and approval – wow. Am not feeling compassion from those who think gay Christians have to live a life we don’t have to live, in order to be saved. Is anyone willing to really try to walk that road with them?

        • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

          Laura, the one thing I agree with you on is the need for compassion and sympathy. Any of us who know the power of temptation and our weakness would sympathise with this son without supporting him in his sinful decisions.

      • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

        No Mark, it’s not too big a sin for Christ’s salvation. Definitely not. I was assuming that this was not a professing Christian, and not just someone struggling with same-sex attraction, but someone who was pursuing an unbiblical lifestyle with no desire for salvation. Obviously, if the son repented and trusted in Christ, then there would be a full and free forgiveness just like for the rest of us.

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  • kristina

    Personally,I wouldn’t write a letter. My son is 19 and told us he was gay a few years ago.
    whenever a parent makes ultimatums towards their grown-up children, it never ends well and looks to be ‘conditional love’.
    you child already knows how you feel about SSA. He/she has lived it all their lives. If the parents have been wise to biblically communicate their position on such sins/rules/laws then there need not be a formal ‘talk’ of any kind.
    In these types of situations, the child is the one who needs to decide how to live and deal with the parents. The child is the one in control of the situation. Whether or not the child is Christian is of no consequence.
    The parents, if sticking by their christian guns, so to speak, do not waver in their love and obedience for Christ and do not waver in their love for their child, will come to work out some sort of agreement in what the future holds.
    Your child is a creation of the Almighty One, He knows what the future for your child holds. He knows you as a parent are hurting and He knows that this may split the family.
    We must believe God also knows the bigger picture and plans for all ours lives and we must still believe God for the promises He has made.
    I have dealt with this every day, every minute, every hour for the past 4 years with our son.
    My heart aches for him, I love him and cherish each moment he spends with me. Who knows if it will the last?

  • purisomniapura

    We’re living in a time where it’s become not only acceptable & wonderful … but even fashionable to be homosexual. I remember a time when having affairs (also once known as adultery) experienced a similar kind of liberation & acceptance in this country. Didn’t matter how many husbands, wives & children were hurt or destroyed by divorce from these selfish acts …it was all about a self-centered expression of ‘accept me as I am’ & ‘free love.’ This hedonistic era of ‘coming out’ had brutal effects on the generations it produced & the celebration, encouragement & wide spread approval of homosexuality will have its own unique carnage in the years to come.

    That said, how is the Christian to respond? Any of the behaviors Jesus would not endorse, Christians cannot endorse. We don’t have some special license to modify the biblical model in order to appease & conform to the ever declining moral standards in a sin saturated society. The scriptures haven’t changed that I’m aware of, although many who cling to immorality in any form in the church insist they have. They will also insist that Jesus Himself is unlike the church & is an accepting, understanding Jesus who empathizes with the homosexual, the adulterer the fornicator.

    There is no question the woman caught in adultery was forgiven by Jesus & in His closing words to her …Christ clearly commanded her not to engage in it again. Does this not put an end to the speculation on the matter? I think it does, for Christ made His will known. Why would Jesus give this warning? Because sin has consequences. If we want to follow Christ we have to love the commands of Jesus & personally apply & issue the same warnings He did. If that means doing so to ourselves, relatives, friends, neighbors, & yes even children, it must be done. At the risk of seeming irrelevant, out of touch, unloving & uncaring, Christians must warn all to go & sin no more.

    As Christians we love & respect homosexuals & because of this, we must engage them in honest, reasoned, nonviolent sharing of facts concerning the immorality & liability of their homosexual behavior. To do anything other than this is to sanction behavior the Bible clearly condemns & most importantly, dishonors God.

    • purisomniapura

      BTW, I forgot to note that the last paragraph of my post was a quote from John Piper.

  • http://www.karadedert.com Kara

    We’ve wrestled with this too in relation to a family member we love and care for. The letter David has written closely resembles how we’ve approached the relationship. Showing respect and care to her and her partner and asking for respect for our wishes as well in the presence of us and our children.

    We maintain open dialogue and try to consistently show our love while never apologizing or hiding the truth. Why would I when the truth is what sets you free? I’m much more afraid for her remaining outside of Christ and that gives us encouragement to be consistent in witnessing and presenting the hope of the gospel.

    Gospel truth accompanied with humility and love is powerful.

  • http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com Wesley

    The gist of many of these replies (though not all) seems to be that the “loving” response to a gay son is to unquestioningly embrace all that the son now embraces and discard all that the father holds dear [and which many of you have affirmed, the son most likely already knows he holds dear]. In David’s hypothetical response he simply re-states what the son already knows he feels to lovingly say that the ‘change’ in the worldview of his son does not change his: he simply maintains his standards. If the son were coming home with his new live-in girlfriend, i’m sure the same father would also remind the son that – in his home – his son and his girlfriend would not be sharing a bed.
    I’m not sure why “loving” and the maintenance of the relationship has to completely fall on the shoulders of the father. It is a victim-mentality that assumes all others must bend and capitulate to them, while they remain “on course”. The father is also making huge stretches in David’s letter to accommodate what he views to be sinful in order to maintain the relationship with his son w/o compromising his integrity; the son should now take up the slack and do his part.
    The “choice” argument on the part of the gay son is really irrelevant to this discussion b/c whether or not the father believes the son chose this lifestyle or was pre-disposed towards it does not change his response to it. The world went to war against Hitler b/c he went against what many believed went against their understanding of freedom and human worth – no one was calling those who stood their moral ground against Hitler “head-in-the-sand” fundamentalists b/c they disagreed with what he was doing and fought against it. You can say the bible makes the son feel rejected but you can’t say the father makes the son feel rejected for holding to what the bible says.

  • Paul

    Post test

  • Your Son

    Dear son,

    I love you, I love you, I love you. I’ve never told anyone this but I struggled with same sex attraction when I was your age too. I’ve had many sexual struggles in my life and praise God he has never let me fully indulge in my sexual tendencies but has saved me from the path those sins lead to, distruction.

    Know I love you, your always welcome. I can’t wait to see you next week when your mom and I come and visit you.

    You may be fearful that I would stop loving you but I won’t.

    Though I will never stop loving you I can’t pretend the Titantic isn’t sinking. If we were on a great ship and it was about to sink I would have to alert you of the coming reality. Even if that truth were unpopular I would still weep with you I the truth. I would lay out the facts and bet you to come with me on the life boat. However I cannot make you.

    Funny analogy right? Maybe not. I love you and I’ve been in your shoes. I know the world is saying your acts and lifestyle is okay. However, a true study of Gods word would be obvious it isn’t righteous nor acceptable to God. Please research it, don’t try to mend Gods word to your desires. Try to find out he true meaning on it. I would love to help. I would love to open up the Word together and see what it says fully with you. Maybe this next week?

    Because I love you and want your lasting and true happiness I beg youto follow me to Christ. However I can’t make you, but I can always keep loving you.

    Know I’m a thousand times happier following Gods word and truth. Know I am not faking my love for your mother, I hope you have always seen that. Know I am living proof of Christ’s power to overcome what is natural. Sin is always natural, Jesus makes us Holy, not us. Worldliness and sin will always be a struggle. You may never get over your same sex attraction…

    Let’s talk more in depth about this, I am very curious to hear your heart in this matter. Know I’m going to bring truth and Gods word in it.

    I love you so much and cannot wait to see you:)

    Your Father

    • buddyglass

      I like this one. In retrospect, I like the fact that it doesn’t even try to lay out “rules for when you visit”. Not that there shouldn’t be expectations, but the initial letter probably isn’t the best place to lay them out. That can come later.

  • cub

    [i]be not deceived[/i]

  • Tom

    My Dear James,

    I hope this letter finds you well.

    I wanted to write to you at the outset because I think it’s easier for me to express my thoughts in a way that will hopefully be clear and unambiguous. It also means you have a copy which you can refer to if you so wish.

    I have not written this letter on my own. Your mother and I have talked about your decision at great length and much time in prayer has been spent over what to say, so please don’t make the mistake in thinking I am acting impulsively or reactively to your announcement. On the contrary, what I have to say I do not say lightly or in the heat of the moment.

    More than anything I want you to never forget this: Your mother and I love you dearly. We love you very very much. We have never stopped loving you. From the moment we first held you, saw your first walk, attended your graduation and celebrated with you when you first got a job, we have loved you with a heart which I hope shone through during your childhood years.

    We live in a day and age where those who oppose homosexuality are branded as bigots and haters and hypocrites. I am not denying that there are many who claim to be Christians who go about this the wrong way. Not for a moment and it grives our hearts when Christians do not look to the Lord Jesus for guidance. Your mother and I look to Christ for guidance in all areas of our lives and this is no exception. What I’m saying isn’t MY own opinion – but a view taught in Scripture, and something which we tried to bring you up with.

    My son I love you dearly, but O James, you have made a choice that angers the Lord. True – I am a sinner. I sin everyday and I do not seek to be perfect. You know this. Your mother knows this – I am not perfect, and yes, there are many faults you can point out I’m sure. But I believe the Lord Jesus has washed me of my sins, forgiven me and declared me righteous. It’s all of His mercy; I’ve done nothing to deserve this.

    So what I’m saying is from Scripture. Your decision angers the Lord because it is a decision made that goes against what Genesis 2 plainly teaches – that a sexual relationship is to be between one man and one woman. God Himself instituted marriage and He only ever intended a relationship to be between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others within the confines of marriage. This much is sure.

    My son if you continue with your decision, whilst it may bring an element of happiness and contentment the Lord does not approve, and I plead with you to seek the face of Christ who loves to forgive and loves to wash us of our sins. How many times I have gone to Him in my own sin and yet He still forgives me! What a saviour I have! And He will never deny you, never push you away. He will never stop loving you and forgiving you if you turn to Him in repentance.

    My dear James, I believe you are suffering from a unique temptation which I personally don’t suffer with. I don’t hate you because of it, nor do I judge you in a high-minded manner because I have suffered from other temptations which you may not have, so this does not give me the right to get “all righteous, and on my high moral horse”. No. It does not. I’m simply saying I will never loving you, but it’s precisely because I love you so much that I feel compelled to warn you. I have a duty before God to tell you what He desires, and I hope you will think deeply on what I’ve written.

    Things will probably feel awkward between us now. And for that I am sorry. I don’t want things to be. But you need to know where your mother and I stand on it. Whilst we love you with all our hearts we must point you to the warning contained in Scripture. I commend our saviour to you. Seek Him. He loves to forgive and He doesn’t turn anyone away.

    You and your partner are welcome to come to our house anytime you both wish. We will never close the door on you. But if you do both decide to stay over with us, I will treat you in the same way I would treat it if you brought a lady with you – separate beds, and coming to Church with us on Sundays.

    Let me know when you’ve read this letter. If you want time, of course that’s fine. But don’t ignore us. We miss you and love you deeply and I long to have you round soon. I would like us to meet in person maybe later to have a short discussion about it. After that I won’t bring it up – you know where we stand, and what God thinks.

    Please note, it’s been incredibly hard for me to write this letter because I don’t want to upset you intentionally and drive you away. But I cannot ignore what My Saviour says. Yes He loves sinners, but He does not condone sin. We love you and we miss you.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    All our fondest love

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Thanks for all the work you put into this, Tom. Learned a lot from it.

  • Colin

    David,
    Thanks for writing this post. I certainly found it helpful and appreciated your expression of love while asserting the need to not condone sin.

    Help me with one part of what you said though. Specifically your comment of ” If you stay with us, you will attend family devotions, and if you are with us on a Sunday, you will come to church with us to hear the Gospel.” I am inferring that this comment flows from the belief that as the head of the home you feel responsible to lead your family spiritually to worship God.

    My struggle with this point though is assuming this son is 1-an adult, 2-apostate (if he still claims to want to follow God, claims he is following God, etc its a different story), 3-doesn’t live in your house then I struggle to see why you would require the son to participate in devotion and to attend church. Obviously we would want the son to do so, and encourage and invite the son to do so, but I’m not sure I see the justification for requiring it or see the benefit in forcing it on the son. My assumption is that a gay son who abandons the faith isn’t going to be eager to return to the church he grew up in and have to deal with the relational, social, and other considerations (not to mention the discomfort of having to face God and His word!) that would arise. I would expect that the parent who writes this letter would have conversations with this son about the Gospel in individual and whole family discussions. My last question is would you require this of a heterosexual apostate child? Help me out here, am I missing something? What’s the thinking and justification for requiring an apostate child to participate in devotions and church?

    Thanks again!

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Colin: If I understand the original situation, the son is not living at home and is not and never has been a Christian. My reasoning for insisting that he attend family devotions and church if he is visiting/staying in my home is because of the power of example to the other children. I’ve seen, time after time, parents start to weaken on things like this with their first child, and the rest all then follow suit. Also I think the terms of the fourth commandment indicate that the head of the home is responsible for all who are under his roof, even the visiting stranger. Lot more can be said, but I hope that helps a bit.

  • zKatherine

    I have been frustrated by the lack of meaty discussions on this topic by Christians. Nobody seems to go beyond “homosexuality is a sin” to the real life circumstances so many of us find ourselves in. How do we handle same-sex parenting situations at our children’s school? Are they welcome in our home? Do they get invited to birthday parties? Are same-sex partners welcome at family events? We need to be wrestling with these questions because as same-sex relationships become accepted by society, we will be confronted, with increasing frequency, these same sort of real life scenarios. So thank you, David, for challenging us to think through and discuss this topic.

    It’s funny to me that out-of-wedlock childbirths, divorce and remarriage, and cohabiting relationships are so frequently accepted in Christian households and churches and yet same-sex relationships make us squirm in our seats and throw up our hands. All sex outside of marriage is a sin. Period. If it’s possible to still invite your son and his live-in girlfriend and their baby to your home for dinner, if it’s possible to still continue to love and welcome your divorced sister who’s living with another man into your home, shouldn’t we be equally welcoming to someone involved in a same-sex relationship?

    I saw a quote recently by Rick Warren that I think fits this discussion perfectly: “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means that you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

    • Jenn

      @zKatherine

      I wholeheartedly agree with this and believe that as a church community we should be discussing these “real life” scenarios more. It is so easy to make our “theoretical” responses neat and tidy but when faced with real people who Christ loves things become more complex. Certainly we should never compromise on truth but we also should be seeking to live out the gospel in front of those we come into contact with. Instead of shutting lost people out of our lives because we disapprove of their lifestyle choices let’s welcome them in, love them and pray for opportunities to share Christ’s love and forgiveness.

    • Megan

      “How do we handle same-sex parenting situations at our children’s school? Are they welcome in our home? Do they get invited to birthday parties? Are same-sex partners welcome at family events? We need to be wrestling with these questions…”

      Thanks, zKatherine. I share your questions here. To stray off topic a bit, do you or anyone else have reading resources that really address these issues and how to handle them with with a liberality of grace, compassion and truth?

      • zKatherine

        Megan, I have not come across any printed resources that delve into these sticky, real life situations. I’m hoping David Murray and others may have some suggestions.

        • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

          Megan: I don’t know of any other resources that deal with the details of handling these situations. The best we can do just now is to try something like this exercise and look for wisdom from the wider Christian community, especially those who have real life experience. I hope this will kick-start such discussions.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      zKatherine: You’re so right. It’s easy to state principles but the actual outworking of them is so messy. Some of your questions are the daily reality for many. So, yes, let’s keep trying to help one another find the practical ethics that flow out of our moral principles.

  • buddyglass

    What I’d change:

    1. The requirement that the son attend family devotions and/or church when staying in the dad’s home. He’s an adult. If my adult son weren’t a believer I certainly wouldn’t force him to attend in-home devotions or to attend church with me as a prerequisite for staying at my house.

    2. I’d use the term “partner” instead of “male friend” to describe the son’s lover. Clearly the relationship between the son and this other guy is something other than “male friendship”. Calling him a “male friend” is somewhat patronizing.

    3. Instead of saying something like, “I will not allow PDAs under my roof,” I’d come at it more like, “When you and your partner visit, my expectation is that you’ll relate to each other only in a platonic way while here. I acknowledge this is an imposition, but it’s one I feel I must ask of you for your younger siblings’ sake if nothing else.”

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Thanks for your suggestions, Buddy.

  • http://harvestoc.net James

    Dear Son,

    I cannot believe how much God loves me.

    Even while I lived for my own pleasure and my own praise, hating others and being hated, breaking all of His law, including being filled with all manner of lust, He made His sun to shine for me and His rain to fall for me.

    While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. Christ died for the ungodly, and God even justifies the ungodly.

    God didn’t have to send His son into the world to condemn the world. For that, the Father simply places all things beneath His Son’s feet and in His Son’s hands. But He did send His Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it.

    God appointed to me the boundaries of where and when I would live, and He put evidence of Himself in the world around me, and knowledge of Himself even within me, to the point that in Him I live and move and have my being–and I had still pushed down on that knowledge, desiring to live for and enjoy pretty much anything but Him. Yet, the Son by whom He would have judged me for that, He sent ahead as a Savior, to grant the chance for repentance in a small window of opportunity.

    I didn’t just need to repent of some of my works. I needed to repent of all of them. When matched against the law of God and the holiness of God, even my best deeds were shown to be like filthy rags. Those things that I had done that I thought were the most life-giving and life-getting, were just dead works. With my heart laid open before God’s Word, I discovered that except for God’s salvation, every intention of the thoughts of my heart was only evil, and that continually.

    So God had sent His Son to atone for sin, and no one needed that atonement more than I. But it could only be applied to me if I turned from sin to trust in Christ. And then, He gave me three more wonderful gifts.

    He granted repentance, that I might turn from my sin. He granted faith, that I might turn to His Son and be saved–not for turning from my sin, but only as a gift in His Son. I had to have both gifts, repentance and faith, because no one can simultaneously cling to his sin and to His Son. But, only through faith did He give me His Son’s righteous life and atoning death.

    But I said there were three gifts. The last is that He gave me good works to walk in. He gave my life purpose in everything, even eating, and drinking, and all my labor is a good work now. Not because I think it is. Not because others look at what I do and approve. But because it is according to His Word, His instruction, His law. Thanks only to His grace, this is how I now measure everything in my life. Before He measured me against it as an external standard to condemn me, He satisfied His law’s condemnation of my sin upon His Son, and re-gave it to me as an external standard to live by–and I have found that it is full of life. More than that, He is even writing it on my heart–reprogramming me for a sinless world by the renewing of my mind. In fact, I am a new creature and eager to participate in His new creation, where no unholy thing will dwell.

    This may be the furthest thing from what you expected in response to your “coming out.” Perhaps you expected a great drama. There certainly will be a great drama, when all sin and sinners are outed at the judgment! But, I believe that what I have described above is an even greater drama still. Almost every line of it is from Scripture. And, I cannot wait to open up all of those Scriptures with you again! When are you available? Now? In an hour? Tonight? I’d rather go through these Scriptures with you than sleep, if you are willing. The Heavenly Father has put in writing exactly what you and I need for this situation, rather than abandon us both to confusion and shame.

    Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.

    Love, your earthly father,

  • Laura

    Suppose that your son were addicted to gossip. He loves to spread the latest rumor he has heard to everyone he can think of, the racier and juicier the better; completely disregarding whether or not it’s true, or anybody’s business, or who it might hurt. You’ve heard him do this from the phone in your house. What kind of letter would you write to your son?

  • sinner

    We would have to write a letter or address or children nomatter what sin they are in. So if he was addicted to gossip then tears and love and calling him to Christ and repentance would be necessary.the only difference with homosexuality I see is that it and many other sins are lifestyle sins. A born again believer can be caught in lifestyle sins however there heart at times would be vexed and so distraught at their sinfulness. Calling toplay the doctrine of the preservation of the saints god will not allow us to live in a lake of son. Look at 1 john as a book. If you say you are in the light but walk in darkness you are not. So the fact that homosexuality is asin is fact when dealing honestly and logically with the word of god. We must agree, however because homosexuality is a soon someone deals with does not make them more evil.we are all evil…however with all sin we weep at the destruction it brings in us and others and with sins that characterize a lifestyle and there is no agreement owith the word of god on that sin and no repentance if they claim to be a Christian and truly are a child of god we can be assure they will soon repent. However if we see the contrary we weep and plead for them to come to Christ,where in his lift we cannot live him and keep any life of son.we will soon don’t get me wrong…but our life won’t be characterized by sin and the claming that sin is not sin.

    • sinner

      Sorry I wrote on a smartphone without proofreading…

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  • Michael

    David, your letter is a good start. I think Biblical love would demand you add more Biblical language regarding the trajectory of this lifestyle and how it equates to eternal punishment. Also you may need to prove Biblically that homosexuality is a sin and leads to hell, if your son doesn’t agree with that fact. Both of these things you would do for someone under your pastoral care who is apostasizing. Why not for your own son, who has tasted the fruit of the gospel in your home?

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  • Christine

    It seems like what those that believe the 2nd letter is saying is still wrong. They want complete acceptance of their “lifestyle choice.” So, in theory, the meth addict son/daughter should be able do meth and even set up the equipment to make it in the parents house…that’s their “lifestyle choice” right?

  • Clare De Graaf

    Well done! The boundaries you set were reasonable and the tone loving. However, it’s very unlikely that it will be received that way, but that’s not our responsibility. Speak truth as clearly and graciously as possible and leave the rest to God.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Thanks Clare. I too am pessimistic about the actual result in the short-term. But long-term faith is required.

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  • http://staffoftheshepherd.com/ Robert Gates

    Dr. Murray,

    Thank you for your thoughtful, loving, and biblical response to this father’s incredibly unloving, unbiblical, and Gospel-blinded letter to his gay son.

    I fear that too many letters have been written like this father’s letter to his son, rather than the kind of letter you have proposed in its place.

    God Bless!

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Yes, way too many, Robert.

  • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I know my letter wasn’t perfect and a number of the suggestions have been helpful for getting better tone and content.

    Thanks especially for those who responded with their own letters. They’ve made me reflect not just on what I would want to say, but on how I would want to be heard.

    Even the commenters who oppose any idea of limits and boundaries in relationships, have, on the whole responded in a reasonable tone. Grateful for that.

    F0ley and Bemused, I appreciate your clarity re the core of the disagreement really being about whether leading a homosexual lifestyle is wrong.

    I find it hard to believe the very few who say that they can’t see any difference at all between the first letter and mine.

    The scenario does lack some context. I assumed the son was not a professing Christian, and I assumed from the first letter that the son was not just struggling with temptation, was actively living a homosexual lifestyle with no intention of changing.

    Maybe it was unwise to discuss boundaries in a first letter. However, I hope the inclusion of them may help us to begin to look at the actual practicalities of loving an erring son, without compromising our loyalty to God, our witness, or our duties to other family members.

  • desperate

    I know you said that you didn’t have any advice to give about this situation a few weeks ago….but I was wondering if you have gleaned any experience since then. What do you recommend Christian parents to do when the son professes to be a Christian, but is openly practicing homosexuality and very proud of it? When he regularly attends a “church,” and they don’t have any problem at all with his lifestyle? When he blatantly still wants to be included in family get togethers as if he were married and starting a normal family?? I know you said to ask him if he would be willing to discuss the Scriptures…but how do you even do that without being hypocritical about sin in your own life? What if he’s just pushing and pushing his views on you, knowing that he has the power to rip your family apart if you don’t accept him for who he is???

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Dear desperate,
      I am so sorry to read about this painful turmoil. It truly is a desperate situation. I’m dealing with a similar trying to help someone else in a similar position too. As parents you have a spiritual responsibility to care for your son. However, there does come a point when we should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). It is perfectly reasonable to insist on certain boundaries and limitations on your son’s conduct when he is with you. We do that with everybody to some extent or another. If he does not accept the most basic of boundaries then the responsibility for the rift in relationship lies with him not you.

      The presence of sin in our own life is no reason for not addressing the sin in his. The difference between you and him is that you hate your sin and seek to repent daily of it. I would certainly not treat him as a Christian while living openly and militantly in sin.

      I would not bring young children into contact with open homosexual relationships. It is better that they remain ignorant of these things until they are of an age to discuss and understand them. That means that other siblings are well within their rights to refuse to attend family gatherings where such behavior is demonstrated. Their first duty is to their own children not to their brother.

      Do what is right, trust the Lord, and leave the consequences with Him.

      I’ll be praying,

      David.

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  • Soldus

    I think both letters fall short. The first one for obvious reasons, but for the second letter, I feel there’s the message of “love”, but it’s only thinly veiling the father’s dissatisfaction. This letter seems to be saying, “I love you, but you’re a disgrace and an embarrassment to me. I’m allowing you to be gay, but don’t you dare be gay when there are other people around.”

  • Vince

    An helpful autobiography on this topic
    “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Yes, Vince, Tim Challies and I are hoping to interview her next week.

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  • Anon

    Hi just read your letter and as mother who is really struggling that my 26year old son told us three weeks go that he us gay. This letter is all I would like to say to my son but cannot for at this moment I feel I no longer know my son. I keep praying things will get easier because I know in my heart and soul he is not gay.

  • http://michaelcoughlin.net/ Michael Coughlin

    That is great. That can be applied to any sin a child engages in. Thanks, David.

  • Biblical Shortcomings

    First, I would like to let everyone know that what I say next may offend some people and I truthfully never have tried to in my life.
    My real name is Ed and want to let you know a couple things about me. I am a white male, A disabled Marine Corps Infantry Veteran, I have Complete Faith that their is a God/Higher Power, A Completely heterosexual, I speak my mind, and Most of all I Hate Bullies and Radical Religious “Folks”…

    That first letter was an abomination of human rights and whoever wrote it should go where they think their son is going, if it actually exists. That is a terrible thing to say to you child in any situation. The second letter showed some restraint and effort but not at all good enough. God said ” Be Fruitful and Multiply” but I never read him say, or should I say all the people over a couple thousand years who changed/rewrote the bible for their own reasons, “be fruitful and multiply and then if something is different with him THAT HE IS BORN WITH, LIKE BEING GAY, Send him hate mail, try to scare the shit out of him with threats of Satan’s Olympic sized swimming pool of fire, and then excommunicate him or her. (Sorry Ladies). Nope, I have never read that.
    Let me tell you something. If God hates gay people and they’re an abomination then why would he create them? God creates all people and things correct? Believe me and deep down even you know this but you hide behind an idea that has killed 10′s of millions of people if not 100′s of millions. When I and most likely you too, were in kindergarten and middle school there was always a kid or two that was just different and at first you didn’t know why. Then you figured it out and said to yourself ” That kids guuna grow up to be a faggot” which by the way was not at all what I said but I knew that they would grow up gay. SO let me ask, do you think 4-11 year old children just CHOOSE to turn gay cuz it’s cool or more fun or the socially way to become accepted? No, I think not, most 4-5 year old’s cant even pour cereal properly or tie their shoes, but you think they are making a lifestyle choice at the very same time? There have even been scientific research noting that some animals engage in “gay mating rituals”. So, people, my friend do not choose to be gay they are born gay. Now, just so when you read this you don’t melt down some heterosexual men and women do choose to turn gay but that is like 1% of the gay population and the one’s; that I know who have switched by choice did it because they went through abusive/terrible straight partners over and over and over and then they just decided to go in a new direction.
    Next topic: Now i’m sure that one of your lame questions would be if I had a child and they turned out to be a homosexual wouldn’t I be mad? Well surprisingly to some, yes It would make me feel very upset! However, I would be upset and feel like Sh*# but not for me. I would feel terrible that my child had to deal with other people like you and the rest of “The Fanatic Flock” and he would be teased and bullied or worse until he or she did something drastic. I read a study once that most gay people under 25 commit suicide within 6 months to a year of “coming out to their parents” That is a terrible thing to think, except its real! So maybe when your child is ready to tell you the hardest thing that they will ever have to tell you, as a parent you should show some support. If you love your child but somehow love an imaginary/invisible person even more, you can still say “hey I have loved you since you were born and now that I know the truth I still love you the same because you are my child. I am happy that you felt comfortable enough to share your secret with me. I know that holding that secret in for so long must have almost killed you. However, I don’t agree with your decision (leave it at that) but you’re still my blood and nothing has to change.” If you are an even a little more tolerant you might even want to say that “I would like to know this other side of my son/daughter that I have never known about but keep your private details private, and then give them the biggest hug you have ever given them because they’ll need it and your kid deserves a hug anyways. Give them a huge in my first scenario too for the same reasons.
    I wrote this because of a few reasons.First, I absolutely hate bullying and cyber bullying is even worse and has even been lethal in some cases. Second, while in Iraq I lost 4 people close to me all to suicide and 3 of them happened in the U.S.A so that doesn’t include all the death we have seen in Iraq but anyway..Those 4 people were my Aunt (Intentional Medication Overdose because she had Cancer), My Marine buddy (Who shot himself in the bathroom on Camp , Iraq for a reason unknown) My Absolute Best Friend ( who hung himself from a water pipe in my basement at my apartment building on November 2nd, 2007), and Lastly My Father who was a great man and father and I love him and miss him everyday (He shot himself in a house he owned 4 days after my best friend committed suicide: My Dad died on November 6th, 2007) So the point is that I know EXACTLY what suicide does to families and even what it would do to you if your son took his own life after you completely crushed him and then said u pretty much didn’t ever want to see him again. So reconsider because you can only commit suicide once and then it’s just pain and guilt!
    The third and final reason for speaking up for gay people and against bullies/Religious Fanatics is that in the Bible it also say only “God can give life or take it away”. So most Religious cowards say that if you take your own life you will burn in Hell. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. For example: My Father was the strongest person i have ever met both mentally and physically, and remember I was a Marine Corps Grunt. I won’t get into specifics but he was forced to have surgery and the Dr. partially cut his spinal cord and almost completely severed it. After the surgery my fater could really walk or stand or even sit down, he was always in tremendous pain. But he could take the pain and refused meds until the Dr. said he had to take them a year later. However, during that year and the next couple my dad and our family lost everything from our house that he built by himself, the cars his money, and he owned two successful businesses, one trucking company and he was a Fully certified Building Contractor with licences for plumbing, electricity, H.V.A.C, He also had every license that you could have to run any type of heavy machinery. Besides his family his home and work were all he ever cared about and he lost it all. Combine all of that with a progressing pill addiction and there was only one way out for him and I don’t blame him anymore for taking it. So do not tell me suicide is the easy or cowards way out because sometimes its the only way out. And a 39 year old man who came from less than nothing and accomplished all of that including a good family and also had a huge heart for helping others is never going to end up in any place that the temperature goes about 70 degrees let alone a fictitious place called hell with Adolf Hitler and an ugly A*# dude with horns and a sheep’s rear-end. The bible is a scary nighttime story literally written by men from all over the world at different times and used as an excuse to kill and acquire what the church wants. So stop judging gay people who do not bother anyone and start judging yourself because your God is the only one who is supposed to be judging souls.

    P.S. In the 1970′s and 80′s when A.I.D.S was running rampant all over do you still think people chose to be gay then too? Food for thought….The End

    I am sorry if I have offended anyone that I did not mean to and I hope this helps our causes!