Parents of adult LGBTQ kids often come to us with all sorts of questions that they’re wrestling with: How can I love my child well whilst disagreeing with their behaviour? How can we talk about things respectfully and compassionately? Should I go to my child’s gay wedding? How can I get support from church? A helpful resource that we have come across is an excellent episode of the Theology in the Raw podcast which tackles these questions and more.
In episode #944, Parenting LGBTQ Kids, Preston Sprinkle interviews Mark Leaverton, the father of a lesbian daughter who came out over a decade ago. Mark holds an orthodox biblical view on sexuality and talks openly and honestly about how God has enabled him to love his daughter and those around her without affirming her decisions about how to respond to her sexuality.
Throughout the interview, Mark speaks so warmly and lovingly about his daughter who is a Christian and an anointed worship leader. He is honest about the pain of discovering that his daughter was in a lesbian relationship and wrestling with how to handle that. He’s also really honest about how God has changed his heart towards gay people.
One of the most striking things throughout the interview is how much Mark loves his daughter and talks candidly about the grace she has extended to him and his wife. He talks honestly about the time that it takes to come to terms with things and that it took two years to be able to tell his daughter’s partner that he loves her. He shares the isolation and difficulty of talking about these things in church, as well as acknowledging some of the wonderful Christians who have helped him grapple with how to love well whilst holding onto the truth.
Mark talks about the mutual respect he and his daughter have for their differing theological viewpoints. When she came out, he read some books that his daughter gave him with an open mind, prepared to be corrected in his theological thinking on sexuality, but came to the conclusion that the traditional biblical viewpoint on sexuality is the right perspective. It’s striking that his daughter didn’t demand that her parents agree with her affirming viewpoint in order to have a relationship with her. Their relationship isn’t based on agreement on everything, but on a deep love for one another.
Mark doesn’t shy away from talking about the hard conversations he had with his daughter about her same-sex marriage and adoption of two children and subsequent divorce and remarriage. He’s clear that he wouldn’t have chosen the life for her that she’s chosen, but his commitment to love his daughter, her partner and her children shines through. Loving doesn’t mean condoning and it means setting boundaries, but it also means surrendering control of your adult child to God.
This is an emotional, raw interview where Mark gives us the privilege of seeing how God has changed his heart from judgementalism to love. This podcast episode is extremely helpful for all of us who have gay family and friends and want to know how to love them well.
For those wanting more support, the Center For Faith, Sexuality and Gender has a Parenting LGBTQ kids course.