A question I often ponder
“I’m gay, and there is nothing you can do about it. I was born this way, and you just need to accept it.” With those words the lives of Cathy and Mike Blount and their family were forever changed.
In her book There’s No Place Like Home–How I Found My Way Back (Tate, 2008), Cathy relates the incredible pain and confusion she experienced when her teenage son spoke those words:
“When someone you love is gay, the pain and sadness never leave. Just when you think you have come to terms with the issue, a bigger, stronger wave of grief washes over you, knocks you down, and pulls you under. As you sink deeper and deeper, you struggle to reach out and grab on to something that will save you, but nothing is there…You just want the pain to go away.”
As I read the book I thought of the many times I’ve heard this story from people in our churches. Mike and Cathy have served as staff in several churches, and Mike is currently on staff at a Southern Baptist church in Georgia. But when the crisis came, they could find no answers. “Why are there no support groups available for grieving moms and dads?” Cathy asked. It is a question I often ponder.
It is a problem with which Joe and Marion Allen can identify. When their son disclosed his struggle they discovered what so many others have–no one really knew what to tell them. They found that no church in their area offered help, either for the one struggling or those affected by the struggle. Eventually they drove 6-10 hours each week to find a Christian support group for parents. Joe would leave work early on that day, pick up Marion, drive 5-6 hours, attend the support group, drive home, sleep a few hours and go back to work.
Both the Blounts and the Allens sought help from Christian therapists. Unfortunately even some Christian therapists aren’t prepared to deal with this struggle. In the case of the Allens’ son, the advice given led to his being murdered by his ex-partner.
At a recent conference at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss., I met several parents, including a pastor and his wife, who are dealing with this issue. I find myself wondering what it will take before we begin to methodically address this problem on national, state and local levels. My heart aches for the Blounts and the Allens, but also for their children and others who are impacted by a struggle they did not seek and do not understand.
I often find myself wondering, “What if solid, trained help had been available when these families needed it?” How many families have we lost to gay activist groups because they were there when families were in crisis–and we were not?
Many homosexual activists say if these families had only been loving and accepting, there wouldn’t be a problem. Having spent much time listening to these families and reading their letters, I can assure you a lack of love or acceptance is not the problem. Nor is there a lack of understanding of what the Bible teaches about the issue.
The problem is a lack of understanding of how to help both parents and children apply the clear teaching of Scripture.
When Julie first came to Living Hope Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, she wasn’t excited about being there. Ricky Chelette, the director at LHM, normally does not spend more than one session with a person opposed to being there. But as he explained many of the issues underlying her struggle, she grudgingly began to see that he made sense.
Ultimately it was the fact that Julie loved Jesus and wanted an intimate walk with Him that motivated her to continue to participate. Today she is a delightful young woman who has recently received her college degree. She has been a great asset to the ministry and frequently shares her love for Jesus and her story of freedom.
When I look at Julie today and hear her speak, I wonder what would have happened if there hadn’t been a proven ministry nearby. I wonder what would have happened if her mother hadn’t brought her to the Living Hope offices.
I also wonder how many other Julies are out there. How many others, like the children of the Blounts and the Allens, are in our churches? How many could find freedom from their struggle if that help was available when they needed it? How many incredible gifts have been lost to the Kingdom? Cathy Blount said, “If only God’s people could listen to the silent cries of those who are lost and confused.”
As a pastor for many years, I felt confident that my knowledge of Scripture and the many courses I had taken in Christian counseling had prepared me for any eventuality. After all, the answer to the struggle is the truth of Scripture and the power of Christ. Unfortunately, I’ve met many people who have been wounded and discouraged by simplistic applications of those truths.
Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who had one lost sheep. He left the ninety-nine to go after the one who was lost. When He found it, He brought it home with much rejoicing. Then Jesus spoke of the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:4-7).
Is your church prepared to be there for the Blounts, the Allens, the Julies of the world? Do you know where to direct them to find help and healing? Together we can make a difference. We can contribute to great joy in heaven over the one who finds his way home. But the hour is late.
Bob Stith is the SBC’s National Strategist for Gender Issues.