By Kate Taylor | TEXAN Correspondent
“Mom, I’m gay.”
These three words can unleash a firestorm in the heart of a parent and the life of a family, shaking foundations to their core. Parents expect to guide their children through many stages of growth and change, hoping to instill basic Christian principles. But when a child adopts a homosexual life, parents are often unprepared emotionally and spiritually.
Although many people might assume that homosexuality only occurs outside the church, it happens in Christian families and can bring shame, embarrassment and frustration to Christian parents who desire a God-honoring life for their children.
However, there is hope for parents and families of those in homosexuality, according to Susan Holt and her daughter, Patricia, who lived through Patricia’s 15-year battle with lesbianism, despite the fact that Patricia’s parents are in the ministry and raised her in a Christian home in Texas.
Patricia first got involved in homosexuality when she was 20, but she said her choices began years earlier. “I will tell you, flat out, that I do believe that it was part of the wiles and schemes of the enemy,” she said. “I believe that when I was very young, he began to set me up for this particular sin.”
Looking back, Patricia realizes the struggle her life had become during this time.
“God allowed me to go through 15 years of literal hell,” Patricia recounted. “Back and forth, back and forth. In the lifestyle, out of the lifestyle. It was very difficult for my family and me.”
That difficulty drove Patricia’s mother to her knees and taught her that even in such a challenging situation, the Lord is still at work—in the life of the parents and the child.
After learning that her daughter was living a lesbian life, Susan found herself in the stages of grief. The first stage she faced was denial.
“We absolutely refused to believe it.” Then Susan said she made a mistake and read her daughter’s journal. “There I saw in black and white what I had been denying. I had to face the reality of what I had been denying.”
Second, Susan moved into the anger phase.
“I was angry at Patricia that she could do such a thing—that she could embarrass us in this way. It was the kind of thing that is shame. You don’t want to share it with anybody else.”
But Susan began to believe that her anger was misplaced and she advises parents to remember where homosexuality originates.
“Turn that anger toward the one who deserves it and that is Satan, your enemy, and don’t turn that anger toward your child,” she said. “I was angry with Patricia. I wasn’t turning my anger toward the devil though he was the one who had brought all of this into her life. So the Lord had to deal in my heart and in my husband’s heart to get rid of that anger toward our precious child so that we would be able to deal with the whole situation.”
Susan said parents often enter the guilt phase next.
“If you’ve been a parent one day, you have made a mistake,” Susan said. “Face it. There is not a perfect parent. The enemy is going to come to you immediately and bring up everything that you have done wrong. If he can’t bring up something specific, he will just bring this cloud of guilt over you to where you feel like it is your fault that your child has made poor choices. Turn your anger toward the enemy who is putting this guilt on you and do not receive it.”
Parents experience grief when a child makes poor choices. “There is a grieving that takes place in your life,” Susan emphasized. “It is not a thing that we need to stuff down. We need to go on and grieve and let God come in and bring healing in that grieving.”
Finally, acceptance of the situation begins to be a part of life.
“Do not accept the sin,” Susan said. “Accept the fact that this is reality and you’re going to have to learn to deal with it. I would encourage you to seek from the Lord—what he wants to teach you in this situation.”
Once the initial shock and grief begin to subside, Susan suggests parents take a few practical steps toward helping their child break the chains of homosexuality:
1) Learn and practice the discipline of fasting, as described in Isaiah 58. “Set aside a day, a week, or a meal,” she noted. “Fast for this child who is out in the world.”
2) Find a prayer partner to come alongside them in this difficult struggle. “You don’t have to announce that your child is out in the world,” she said. “People in this situation are embarrassed and ashamed. You need to have some people that will pray for you. If your child is not walking with God, there are going to be difficult days for you and you are going to need somebody you can call on to pray for you.”
3) Learn how to pray for your wayward child. First, pray for the salvation of your child and for the Lord to deliver him from bondage.
“Pray for their eyes to be opened. The enemy blinds our eyes to the truth. Even if your child is a Christian, their eyes can be blinded to the truth of who they are and what their situation is,” Patricia said. “The enemy convinced me that I was a lesbian. Even after God delivered me, two or three years after that, the Lord showed me God didn’t make me ‘not a lesbian any more.’ I never was a lesbian. The devil told me I was and I believed that I was, but I never was. It was all a lie. You need to pray and ask God to open your child’s eyes to the truth.”
Parents should also pray for brokenness and healing in the life of their child.
“Don’t ever pray for brokenness without praying for healing. You don’t ever want your loved one to be broken without God coming through immediately with healing. It has to be a twofold thing.”
Patricia warned that when parents pray for brokenness, they might be tempted to rescue their child from the situations that bring brokenness, thus interfering with the Lord’s plan. “If you are praying for brokenness and healing, before you rescue, go to the Lord,” Patricia said. “If we run in and rescue and God doesn’t want us to, then God has to bring other situations about to bring that person to the point of brokenness.”
In addition to praying for brokenness, parents should also ask the Lord to change the child’s heart toward himself, as well as praying that the Lord will bring people into the child’s life and Scripture into his mind that will remind him of God. Patricia cited several examples during her struggle when the Lord placed people and situations into her life to remind her of him. These were powerful reminders of his continued presence in her life, despite her rejection of him.
After praying all these things on their child’s behalf, Patricia encourages parents to begin to thank the Lord for what he is going to do. “Hold on to the promises of Scripture,” Patricia urged. “God is always at work in your child’s life even when it looks like he isn’t.”
Also, Patricia suggests parents begin to seek what the Lord might want them to learn through their child’s situation. “God allows things to happen for all sorts of reasons,” she added. “There’s never just one little thing. He has this huge big picture plan. If we will seek him during those times when we are being so hurt and confused, you are going to find him in a way you’ve never found him before.”
Citing the examples of the crossing of the Red Sea and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Patricia noted that God worked in these situations in ways that were probably surprising to those involved. “God knew what he was doing.”
Expressing unconditional love is another challenge parents face in dealing with a homosexual child.
“This is very difficult, especially during periods of anger,” Patricia said. “To love them unconditionally does not mean you have to accept who they are. Stand true to the Word of God. If you think that if you compromise the Word of God it will keep a relationship with your child so maybe you can minister truth to them—that’s a lie. Once you compromise the Word of God, and when you try to go back and tell them the truth, it’s not going to fly. You might be the only Christian who loves your child that he or she sees.”
Patricia also contends that while parents do not have to accept the lifestyle their children are living, they do have to let their children know that they love them, no matter what. “They have to know that no matter what they do, no matter where they go, no matter who finds out and how embarrassed you may get, they’re yours. You’re never letting go of them and you’re going to love them forever. They have to know that. When you love your child unconditionally, they know that when they come back, you will be there. They need to know that when they come back you are ready to welcome them in.”
She also challenges parents to correct their children with humility and without being judgmental. “Respond to them in love like Jesus would.”
Susan also encourages parents to hold the line with their homosexual children in their homes. “Am I saying this is easy? Heavens no,” Susan said. “Anytime there is a hurting child, there is a hurting parent and vice versa. You have the right in your home to set the boundaries.”
As parents continue to fast, pray, and love their children unconditionally, Susan challenges them to continue to move on in their own faith journey. “Rely on the Word of God. Get into God’s Word and find your own personal ‘rhema’ that he will speak to your heart so you can go back and claim those promises.”
No matter how the situation ultimately turns out, trusting the Lord is also essential. “If Patricia had never come back to the Lord, God is still faithful. It does not always end happy, I hate to tell you, but that is reality. God gave us grace through those years to wait and trust and believe him.”
When and if a child comes out of homosexuality, the battle is not over. “Staying away is harder than taking the first step,” Patricia admitted. “Pray more, pray harder, be more specific. Stand against the enemy. Pray a hedge of protection around your child.”
Despite the 15-year battle the Holt family waged, Susan and Patricia both see how the Lord used their struggle not only to change them, but also as a way to minister to others. “Tenderizing comes through situations like this, like nothing I know of,” Susan said. God comforts us so we can comfort others.”
Susan said parents must stay focused on the Lord during the trial.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, despite what is going on. He is always worthy of our praise, no matter what’s happening in life.”
The names of the individuals interviewed have been changed due to the circumstances of their current work. To contact Patricia or Susan, email firstname.lastname@example.org.