Love Language Minute ~ Conflicts Over Lifestyle Choices ~ Building Relationships Radio ~ Saturday, August 7, 2010 ~ The Second-Half Adventure by Kay Marshall Strom ~ Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman
Conflicts Over Lifestyle Choices
Dr. Gary Chapman
I am meeting more and more Christian parents who are struggling in their efforts to understand homosexuality. Almost all parents - even those who say we should tolerate all lifestyles - will feel shock and deep pain if one of their children announces that he is homosexual. The initial reaction is that they have failed their child in some critical way.
The fact is that research has failed to discover the causes of homosexuality. We simply don't know why some people have "same sex" attraction. So what's a Christian parent to do? The example of Jesus would lead us to spend time with them, communicate with them, and demonstrate love for them, even though we do not approve of their lifestyle.
When Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote our book: Parenting Your Adult Child, we discovered that many parents are struggling in their efforts to relate positively to children who have declared themselves homosexual. Feelings of confusion, depression, shock, and anxiety are common. Many parents are inclined to reject their children. However, rejection solves nothing.
Keep the doors of communication open. Share your feelings of hurt and frustration, but affirm your love. If your child is open to counseling from a Christian perspective, then get them in touch with such groups as Exodus International. As parents you also may want to visit a Christian counselor to help you sort out your own feelings. Your child's choices need not destroy your life.
In the fifties it was called "shacking up". Today it's "cohabitation," or simply "living together." So what are Christian parents to do when they find themselves in conflict with their child's sexual behavior? Some parents have tried the 'ostrich' approach, denying that it's happening. Others take the 'missile' approach, launching verbal condemnation.
I believe the Christian approach is to speak the truth in love. "I think you know that I don't approve of what you are doing. I think it is detrimental to your future. But I know that you are an adult and I cannot make decisions for you. I do request that you respect our beliefs and not sleep together at our house." Then treat the couple with love and respect. Pray, and give God a chance to work.
Parents often find themselves in conflict with their young adult children. Sometimes these conflicts focus on religion. They become involved in a different religion or a cult. How is the Christian parent to respond? First, let me remind you that the greatest influence you have on your child's religious beliefs happens in the first eighteen years of their lives.
They have heard you and they have watched you. The closer your practice is to your preaching, the more they respect your beliefs. If you have failed, it's time to repent and apologize. Then, it's time to listen and dialogue. The days for preaching are over. They are young adults and you must respect their freedom. It's the same freedom that God gives to all of us.
Young adults often make poor moral choices. Some of these choices result in unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional distress. What role are parents to play in all of this. We obviously cannot control their behavior. Nor, can we undo the results of what has happened. However, we can let them learn from the consequences of wrong choices.
We can love them but not "deliver" them. Be kind and understanding of their pain, but we cannot remove the pain. One of the big lessons in life is that all behavior has consequences. Learning to think before we act is a sign of maturity. Many children learn by experience. As painful as this is for parents, we must not interfere with the process.
Adapted from Parenting Your Adult Child by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
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The featured resources for this broadcast is The Second-Half Adventure by Kay Marshall Strom.