We know that many parents are dealing with a son or daughter announcing that they are gay. In this episode, Dr. John shares critical insights from “Messy Grace” by Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach, and he’ll offer some biblical strategies to bring together both the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. This episode will speak to those who want to know how to respond to the LGBTQ issue.

Caleb Kaltenbach is a pastor and founder of The Messy Grace Group where he helps churches love and create belonging for those who relate as LGBTQ without sacrificing theological convictions. Find more information at his website.


I. Did You Know. Stats come from the Williams Institute at UCLA. 

II. Caleb Kaltenbach’s 5 Don’ts. When your teen son or daughter announces they are gay, here are five things that author Caleb Kaltenbach says you should not do:

  1. Don’t look disappointed,
  2. Don’t get mad,
  3. Don’t throw out Bible verses,
  4. Don’t compare, and
  5. Don’t try to get them counseling.

III. Dr. John shares insights from his years of counseling and addresses these questions:

  • Have you found in your years of counseling that one of these 5 items is the biggest knee-jerk response of parents? (Dr. John: anger)
  • Which of the 5 don’ts seems to be the most difficult for parents to grasp? (Dr. John: counseling)
  • Are there any don’ts from your experience that you’d add to that list? (Dr. John: shaming)

IV. What if someone gives you an ultimatum, “Either you accept this part of my life or I will have nothing to do with you”? How do we respond in that situation to a friend or family member? Can we accept without condoning them?

  • Ephesians 4:15, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
  • Affirm the value of the relationship.
  • We want to be compassionate without condoning.
  • Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

V. Action Item. As a parent, how should you respond when a son or daughter announces they are gay? Dr. John says there is always one thing for you to do as a parent: Affirm your relationship with your teen.

Here are some other action steps for parents:

  • Recognize you will have strong feelings, but this is not the time to argue or get mad.
  • Seek counseling for yourself.
  • Be respectful and non-reactive. If you have already reacted, you may need to apologize.
  • Do your best to interact well, emulating Christ’s character, and let that guide your attitude and approach.
  • Get on the same page with your spouse as quickly as possible.
  • You may want to round up some support of close, trusted allies.
  • You may have personal faith-questions. This can be a time of confirming your convictions.
  • It’s ok to acknowledge your emotions and the need for time to sort them out.
  • Take the initiative to affirm your son or daughter.
  • Affirm continuing unconditional love.
  • Maintaining the relationship and maintaining godly influence.
  • Be conscious in your choice to approach the matter in a “discovery mode” and encourage your child to do the same, if possible.
  • Ask a few questions: What led you to believe that you might be gay? Have you ever experienced feelings of attraction to the opposite sex? When did you first become aware of your attraction to others of the same sex? What was your initial reaction to those feelings? How persistent are those feelings? Have you talked to someone about them?
  • You will want to know if they still view themselves as a Christian.

Quotes from Caleb:

“Jesus’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ does not have an exception clause for a gay ‘neighbor’—or, for that matter, any other ‘neighbor’ we might find hard to relate to.”

“Messiness is what happens when you try to live out God’s perfect grace as a flawed person in a flawed world.”

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what God thinks.”

“I want you to become a change agent, moving the culture of your local church in the direction of more openness toward people who are different from you.”

“Christians need to stop trying to convert people’s sexuality. It isn’t our job to change someone’s sexual orientation. You and I are not called by God to make gay people straight.”

“Every person in one way or another needs to exchange a false identity he or she has for an identity in the risen Christ.”

Teens, Tech & God is a podcast resource brought to you by Dr. John Thorington, director of Restoring Hearts Counseling in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and author of the book “Pure Teens.” The podcast is dedicated to equipping parents with the tools and knowledge to raise kids committed to God’s purpose for sexuality, the family, and the honorable use of all technology.

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