How Could God?

A Response to our current Nov/Dec issue:

I really appreciate your recent issue on sexual orientation.  Thank you for bringing together so many perspectives in a gracious and thought-provoking way.  I was touched and challenged.

When I learned that my teenage daughter, the youngest of my three children, was attracted to other girls, my first thought was,

“No, God, this is completely unfair!  We’ve been through enough already!”

Our oldest child is mildly autistic; we had spent years helping her get the services she needs.  Our middle child, my son, had been on anti-depressants since middle school.  The youngest—this child–had been seeing a counselor because she’d been cutting herself on and off throughout high school.  How could God add another crisis to our overloaded family?

I was also very confused.  In my limited experience I was unaware that Christians ever experienced same-sex attractions.  I sought help from a Christian counselor who assured us our daughter could be healed.  I devoured the books she recommended and others like them.  Unfortunately they all blamed me, the “distant mother,” for my daughter’s seeking romantic feminine relationships.  The counselor believed I had neglected my younger daughter as I focused on my older daughter’s special needs.

By now she was living in another state, but I determined to proactively reach out to her with assurances of how special she is to me. I apologized to her for not spending enough time with her during her younger years, when I was exhausted from dealing with her sister.  Our relationship improved, but her orientation didn’t waver.  My hope for her “healing” began to wane.

She was also rejecting the Christian faith she had professed until late high school.  The first gay friends she made had ridiculed Christians as ignorant anti-gay hypocrites.  They, and she, delighted in pointing out examples in current and recent events.  I would agree, sadly, that she was right to condemn their behavior and that her outrage was justified.

Watching her faith flounder troubled me far more than her sexual orientation did.  I was determined to convince her that being gay and Christian are not mutually exclusive and that she didn’t have to choose between the two. Searching online I discovered the Gay Christian Network (GCN), an organization that provides a welcoming space for people to figure out how God wants them to live as Christians who happen to be gay.  I was impressed with their gracious spirit.  My daughter and I attended their annual conference together, and I was overwhelmed with the sense of God’s presence in their worship and teaching.

My daughter made some friends, and she briefly showed some openness to renewing her relationship with God.  At this time, however, she is in a close relationship with a young woman who identifies as atheist, so she has pulled back from those Christian friendships and apparently, for the time being anyway, from seeking God.

Meeting the Christians at the GCN conference mostly resolved my concerns about her orientation per se.  Sadly, she continues to have significant emotional issues, which have interfered with her education and her ability to hold a job.  She has made unwise relationship choices and is not thinking realistically about the future.  Most profoundly, I long for her to renew her relationship with Christ.  When I think now about what “healing” I desire for her, these are the things that I pray for.

Patricia Carroll. A graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., Patricia Carroll teaches mathematics at a secular university.

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