“Ask a Priest: Should I Ostracize My Gay Son?”

Q: I dearly love my son, and when he said that he was homosexual although a Christian, I tried to accept him, all the while believing God has told me he will be healed and God will use this experience of his to help others know the Lord (Genesis 50:20). Now, four years after my son came out as gay, I feel as though God wants me to explain to him that he can’t call himself a Christian and be homosexual. He needs to renounce homosexuality because it is the way of death and rebellion. This means if he won’t repent, which he doesn’t seem to want to, I believe I will have to ostracize him so that he will know how serious his choice is. This is something God has given me a dream about. I believe it is an act of faith, hoping he will return to Christ. Please help me understand this dream I feel from God. Thank you. – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear about the situation with your son. It is becoming a common problem nowadays.

It is good to remember that Jesus loves your son, and that Our Lord suffered and died on a cross for him. This could be a reminder that your basic approach to your son must continue to be one motivated by love.

It is good, too, to remember a key distinction. Having same-sex attractions is not sinful in itself. It is only when a person acts on those attractions, either in thought or deed, that they become sinful. Here, I infer from your question that your son is engaging in homosexual behavior.

It seems that you indeed love your son, and that you are considering ostracism as a kind of tough love to shock him into action and renouncing his homosexual lifestyle.

Perhaps this approach might work. Or perhaps it will alienate him further from the family and from a chance at conversion. Remember the words from the Book of Isaiah that were applied to Jesus: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench” (42:3).

You might want to consider keeping a channel of communication open with your son. If you want to exclude him and his “friends” from family events, that is understandable.

But it might be good to keep at least a discreet dialogue going with him. Eventually, many people tire of a gay lifestyle, and when they look for alternatives, it helps them if someone they love has been in contact with them.

There are three resources might help you.

One is the video “The Third Way.”

The second is the book “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.”

Obviously, it is a book designed for prevention, but its principles might give you helpful insights.

Third is the essay “Homosexuality and Hope.”

Whatever you do, keep praying for your son. Your work as his mom is something of a lifelong task.

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2 Comments
  1. Dear Father:
    Your last sentence, “Your work as his mom is something of a lifelong task”, is the take-away here. Except I would omit the words, “something of”.

    We know from even a glance at the life of Our Lady how filled with unexpected joy and sorrow the life of a loving mother is, even one whose Son is divine. I feel deeply for the woman who wrote about her sorrow with her son’s “lifestyle choice,” and can sense her anxiety, concern, and love for him in every word she writes.

    As the mother of three young adults, I believe that ostracizing one’s child is never a good answer. I assume any adult child of a devout Catholic mother already knows her position on the choices they might make. They are adults and have the freedom to choose their path whether the family (and the Church) approves or not. We can remember that “all who wander are not lost,” and primarily that Our Lord never tires of seeking all His lambs.

    However, we mothers can and do tire of trying to manage, fix, heal, and save those children we so deeply love. Our spiritual and physical health will suffer if we struggle to control something we cannot. Her son’s situation may persist for the rest of her life, dreams and inspirations aside. Of course she desires her son’s conversion and salvation, but that is clearly in Our Lord’s hands, not in hers. And she may never see it in this life.

    This good mother, and all mothers who care deeply about their adult children, are well advised to try growing in trust in Our Lord and His promises. She needs to step back and hand him over to the arms of Our Lady and Our Lord, and keep handing him to them, even if a thousand times a day! And she needs to try to rest a little, too, turning her focus to the thing she can control, namely her own life. A mother’s prayers for her adult children must beg for her own growth in trust and in God’s good Providence. To realize at last how little we can control is the beginning of deeper dependence on God’s loving care.

    If she can relax a little, her son will notice, and far from assuming she is suddenly in agreement with his choices, will instead feel that she continues to love and accept him for the person he is.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to weigh in!

  2. I guess the best thing this person can do is to be patient. I have learned God works in a very slow fashion. I have another and different cross to bear and it comes and goes but I think keeps getting better. I think God will give us the time necessary to come back to him and his ways if we keep perseverance and focus on what we all know He wants from each of us. Keep praying and never lose hope.

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