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Parents, you are NOT the cause of your children’s homosexuality!!!!!

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

JohnSmidPensiveB&W#1I just saw a post that there is an upcoming one day conference in Arkansas stating its for people struggling with same sex attractions and their parents. They say they will answer questions for pastors, leaders, and parents. The brochure states these questions for parents:

What could we have done differently?

What did we do wrong?

How did this happen and why didn’t I see it sooner?

For over two decades I taught that homosexuality was developed based on life experience and poor parental relationships. Several years ago I discovered I was wrong, dead wrong. I evaluated my experience and was shocked, and ashamed that what I had believed, and taught for over 20 years was deceptive and caused tremendous harm in the lives of LBGT people as well as their families. This teaching added to the shame parents already felt about having gay kids and very often created an even wider chasm between them and their children.

Several years ago a former client of Love In Action told me that after his mother died his dad gave him a letter she’d written to him before her death. In it she said, “I’m so sorry I was such a bad mother.” The depth of his pain was great and he realized she was referring to what she’d believed about him being gay and the role she thought she’d played in causing it. Story after story of broken family relationships have come from this false teaching. I’m not sure I know of any positive effects from parents believing their parental relationships with their kids caused them to be gay. Time and time again, I’ve heard LGBT people trying to tell their parents they didn’t cause this and in far too many cases the parents have believed their pastor’s sermons and other Christian literature over the heart of their child.

I’d like to quote from one of my friends’ story:

“When I came out to my parents in 2003 as someone who “struggled with same sex attractions” as I began participating in an intensive weekly support / recovery program, I told my parents not to blame themselves; however, as I went through that program and as I read a ton of books afterwards, I found myself desiring a closer relationship with my father (a good thing) and found myself distancing myself from my mother (a bad thing) because I subconsciously believed that my relationships with my parents had some sort of impact on  me having same sex attractions. So I was doing whatever I thought necessary in order to “meet those unmet emotional needs that caused me to be attracted to my own gender.”

As I began accepting the fact that I am gay in 2012, and after reading “The Velvet Rage”, by Alan Downs, I began to see that I had the type of relationship with my parents that I did growing up *because* I AM gay. They didn’t know about my growing same gender attractions, but they were relating to me the best way they knew how as the parents of a gay son. The ex-gay world taught me the opposite; that I was “attracted to men” because of the type of relationship I had with my parents. Coming to this new realization was life-changing and life-giving to me.”

Thankfully, his story has a good ending as far as his relationships with his parents goes. But not all end up well, and certainly not without the pain they all endured during the time they believed homosexuality was developed from bad family relationships.

Questions like the ones promoted by this upcoming conference do nothing but add to the misbeliefs. Regardless of how this conference handles those questions, bringing them up smack in the face of every parent who hasn’t gotten free from the shame and guilt.

I’m FURIOUS that this harmful deception continues today in 2017!!!!

Exodus International, a very large coalition of ExGay ministries, shut down several years ago. As they evaluated the success and failures of the 40 year run of the ministry they realized that no one had changed their sexual orientation and that many, if not most, were struggling with their faith, their sexuality, and their family relationships. The leaders, including myself,  now spend a tremendous amount of time apologizing and making amends for our part in promoting the lie of child development theories.

Rob and Linda Robertson, parents of a gay son, created a documentary, Just Because He Breathes, about how ExGay theories and child development causation of homosexuality led to the untimely death of their son. He had believed he had shamed his parents and the division in their relationships led him to self medicate through chemical addictions and he passed away from the effects.  Rob and Linda went through a hellish evaluation of their family relationships and have now come to realize their son was gay, period. Their story is a glaring example of the extremely harmful results of this shame-based teaching.

A couple of years before their son passed away they attended an Exodus conference where there was a strong emphasis on youth. While the young kids were meeting with the leaders I met with the parents in a space just outside the door to the auditorium where their kids were hearing lectures. When I met them again recently, my heart dropped realizing that I was in part responsible for their false beliefs about the development of their son’s homosexuality. This stuff is extremely dangerous!

I’ve known parents who have separated from their LBGT kids as a result of religious based teaching that they needed to see the harm of homosexuality and practice tough love and stringent boundaries with their kids. Thousands of LGBT youth have become homeless from the division with their parents, arguing, fighting, and alienation. LGBT youth shelters have risen up all over the country in an attempt to meet the needs of the homeless teens who are gay.

I’ve personally attended over 35 conferences produced by Focus on the Family called Love Won Out. These conferences promoted the deception that people can see change in their sexual orientation, taught child development theories on the causation of homosexuality and scared people into believing that there is a homosexual agenda that is attempting to breed into our school system. Each conference had an attendance of over 800 – 1000 people primarily comprised of parents. The oceans of tears from the audience did not appear to come from hope, rather it was a manifestation of the grief producing teaching that came from the facilitators of this horrific display of false doctrines and theories.  For several years I helped facilitate the Q & A after the parents sessions. In my position I held to their general presuppositions, but in my heart I wanted more to show the parents how to love their kids unconditionally. After a season, I was no longer asked to help. I was considered to edgy and far too loose on my standards for their comfort. Something inside me was deeply challenged but at the time I didn’t know what it was.

As the leader of Love In Action for twenty two years as well as my service on the board of directors for Exodus International for eleven of those years, I’ve seen thousands who have begged God, pleaded, wept and searched their hearts deeply while looking for change in their sexual orientation. I’ve experience parents who have cried until there are no tears left in the hope they’d see the miracle of change in their kids’ lives. After I resigned from Love In Action in 2008 I began my own search for truth. I finally looked back with honesty and realized I had not seen anyone’s sexual orientation change and got in touch with the wreckage that had occurred in many men and women’s lives.

Over the years I was asked many times about the success of our programs. I knew I could never talk about sexual orientation change so I just kept my responses on God. “Oh, people here leave with a better relationship with God, and that is success in my opinion. That’s what is most important.” I always had that conflict in my heart. Most people came with a desire for change and parents support their loved ones’ decisions because they too hoped for change. That was not the reality of the outcome of our ministry work.

But honestly, the only real healing I’ve seen take place has occurred when LGBT people find grace and peace in accepting themselves as they are and for parents who have come to realize they did NOT cause their kids to be gay. The real peace comes when they finally accepted their kids while no longer expecting them to seek change. I’ve now seen tremendous healing when families come back together with more honest expectations and real unconditional love for one another!

I’m speaking out once again! Far too many still believe these things. Families must be reunited in love, acceptance, and support for one another.

THIS MUST STOP!!!!! The lies must no longer be acceptable to people of faith!

Parents, you are NOT the cause of your children’s homosexuality!!!!!


My Loved One Is Gay! Joy, or Horror?

Friday, May 15th, 2015

The Joy and the Horror

Families with LGBT Members,

A while back, I got this phone call. “John, I never thought I’d be calling you about this, we just found out that my brother is gay. My whole family is devastated.” At the time, I believed someone being gay was a sinful invasion of a family’s sanctity. If the person was repentant and didn’t accept a gay identity and remained celibate or faithful to their marriage if they were married, then there could be hope for a future of peace within their family.

Best we know, about 3 to 8% of the population is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This means that way more than double that number of people has a loved one or friend that is LGB or T. And, it’s highly possible that the percentages are much higher because of secrecy and shame.

For over twenty years I worked full time in ministry to LGBT people and their families. Those if us working in our ministry could see that this was a terrible burden to bear for any family, especially those who held to a conservative religious belief that being LGBT was sinful and therefore destructive to the people involved. We could only hold to the belief that destruction would be at the end of a dark tunnel. This caused endless grief and anxiety to those who were parents, siblings or extended family members. We had little hope that the majority of these loved ones would cease to continue on their path of destruction because that is largely what we saw.

homosexuality is not a family valueMany Christian organizations publicized horrifying stories of the deadly disease of HIV. They posted lists of extreme and dangerous behaviors describing what gay people do. I received an email from a counseling pastor at a church I formerly attended. It contained an informational sheet on homosexuality written by Focus on the Family. It was a horrifying list of what they believed about homosexuals and their lifestyles. I can only imagine who may have received his email that may have just found out about their homosexual child!

Radio broadcasts profoundly negatively impacted the moms and dads who had just found out their children may be gay. But they often concluded with messages of hope for change saying that if their children wanted to, they could eradicate homosexuality from their lives. They taught that homosexuality came from childhood experiences and negative parental relationships such as an absent dad or an overbearing mom.

A Vaccine to prevent HomosexualityFocus on the Family produced a one-day conference called Love Won Out. Produced five times a year in cities all around the country with an average attendance of close to one thousand people. Their curriculum included: teaching that poor child development causes homosexuality, scary statistics of how homosexuality was invading our schools through LGBT affirming curriculums, and powerful and emotional testimonies of men and women who had changed their sexuality saying they were living “free” from homosexuality. Parents gave testimonies about the terribly negative impacts of their children’s homosexuality. Over the long period of time these conferences were presented, many thousands of grieving parents clung to the belief that if only their kids would be obedient, repent, and change, then their lives would be free and their homes peaceful again.

A regular question at the Q & A session was, “What do you do when your son or daughter wants to bring their partners home for a visit?” This was also the topic of many holiday newsletters. The advice was typically to draw boundaries against their LGBT kids, which usually resulted in heartbreak. Celebrations and holidays were especially painful. Many families remained in an endless cycle of grief, which they could not resolve as long as their children remained LGBT. This created huge problems and often lead to long-term estrangement and ongoing pain for all concerned.

Even while I was still working in ExGay ministry, I began to see a change in some of these families as they made their way to peace and acceptance of their LGBT kids. No more grief-laden conversations. No more Bible scriptures in letters and telephone conversations about homosexuality or discussions about God’s intended will for sexuality. Those who could do this found peace, but peace did not come from their loved one’s repentance as they’d been taught in their ExGay ministry support groups.

Families appeared to be coming around. Perhaps they realized it was fruitless to expect repentance or a sexual orientation change. Some families actually changed their long-held beliefs and came to accept same-gender relationships – many began supporting their loved ones decision to date or even to marry. Some families chose to no longer allow homosexuality to divide them and learned how to love one another between the lines of their disagreement.

failed as a parentOther families couldn’t accept their children’s sexuality and they could never find that same peace. Year after year, they remained convicted that anything other than a straight marriage, or a choice to be celibate, was evil and destructive. Some parents – or siblings – continued to look at their LGBT loved ones with fear, distance, and trepidation. They attempted to uphold boundaries as they would with a troubled alcoholic family member or another addiction problem. They believed to even fudge a little on their boundaries would allow danger and evil to invade their sanctuary of life.

These situations meant arguments, ongoing negative conversations, and estrangement from their LGBT loved ones. These families usually blamed the gay one for the problems between them, calling them “selfish” and “stubborn” for refusing to do what the rest of the family wanted. Kind of ironic to call someone selfish for not doing what you want them to.

Because the LGBT person felt such frustration with their family, they grew increasingly sensitive and resistant to their family’s badgering about right and wrong and “choices” about their sexuality. This would often lead to ongoing arguments and so it became easy to place the blame on them.

Some conservative religious families used these arguments as proof that homosexuality causes evil to invade their lives and divide their relationships. But is it really the influence of homosexuality? Or is it caused by the rigidity of the people involved? It seems either side could be saying, “No, I’m not going to change.” “I’m not going to diminish my values,” or “I’m not going to live any differently.” Perhaps the discord came from the ongoing battle between someone wanting to live as they see fit and others not wanting them to do that. It might be a combination of all of the above.

But as I look at those who find peace, it seems that the changes came from the non-LGBT family members finding a way to accept their loved ones. If there is no destruction, or abusive behavior, then where does the problem really lie? And maybe some of the appearance of destruction stems from frustration of not being accepted as they are. If either party could show some acceptance, this could actually diminish.

“But John, my daughter isn’t the same person she always was before this came out. She seems so different when we are around her, it ‘s not good.”

I know one woman whose family continues to reject her and keep up boundaries against her, with no indication that they have changed. This is a tremendous burden for her. She’s talked with me about how frustrated she is when she goes home. She’s continues to be tense, afraid the “subject” will come up yet again, even though it hasn’t for a long time. No wonder her parents don’t see the joyful little girl they once knew. She has now been married to her partner for three years. But, she is afraid to broach the subject of bringing her wife home for a holiday. Naturally, when she visits her family, she is lonely for her wife. Can you imagine a straight couple choosing to leave their spouse home for Christmas just because their family disapproves? I’m afraid I would choose to no longer to go home for a holiday. I’d choose to spend it with my spouse. She loves her family, but this is putting an undue burden on her to have to leave her wife at home at Christmas.

What I’ve seen is the families that are the healthiest and enjoy the best relationships are those who have chosen to embrace their LGBT loved one. This doesn’t mean they have to compromise their values. They can choose to continue to uphold whatever belief they have regarding homosexual relationships. But this doesn’t have to create separation with their family member. They can still love them. In fact, if they do that, I bet they will find something surprising. There will be some barriers with these relationships of the parents continue to hold to their belief that gay behavior is sinful. However, this doesn’t have to prevent loving involvement in each other’s lives.

It’s highly possible that they’ll discover a new and vibrant relationship with their son or daughter.

It’s possible that years of anxiety in their lives will diminish and peace will actually become a reality in their family.

It’s possible they’ll find that to welcome their son and his husband of five years does not expose their family to devastating evil, but instead will find they are a tremendous blessing. They may find a new person to embrace, to love, and to glean wonderful new things from in this unexpected relationship.

One man that I know has decided that he will no longer choose his family over his partner; he will no longer visit family for holidays and birthdays without his husband. Though he loves his family, his husband takes precedence. His husband is the one he will spend the rest of his life with. It is not a display of love when they ask him to give him up.

This family may be living in denial that all is well as they welcome their son but keep the danger of homosexuality outside their home. But what will they do when the son no longer comes without his husband? Will they choose to continue their steadfast position, and reignite the anxiety and arguments? Or, will they take this a step further and accept that their son has a wonderful man in his life that is decent, loving, and kind and choose to accept him in as family. I hope they do that latter.

complicated love

Some helpful resources:

Liz Dyer has a regular blog for parents with gay kids.

Sererdipitydodah, A place of unexpected discoveries and fortuitous happenstance.

Liz also has a private Facebook support group for moms of LGBT kids. If you are interested in joining the group email her at with Mom’s Facebook Group as the subject.

This article about Liz tells her story and refers you to her helpful online resources.

“Mom, I’m Gay” by Susan Cottrell

Written by a wonderful woman who with her husband, spend their entire lives supporting and encouraging parents with gay kids.

“When our child told us they were attracted to the same sex, we were shocked. The usual questions flooded us: what would this mean for their life? Would they be safe? Would they ever have children? We truly had no idea what lay ahead. But here’s the realization that smacked us: we were now the ‘others.’ Over the three years following our child’s revelation, we met many Christian parents of gay kids, and realized we were not the only ones to see that the emperor had no clothes. I believe that God is shaking the church until what’s left is the unshakable: God. There IS a way to love your LGBTQ child without sacrificing your faith. We can have more peace than we ever knew possible, and joy beyond our wildest dreams, as our children flourish in God’s inexhaustible love for them. I hope you will join me on this quest.” – Susan Cottrell

Susan and her husband also provide a private secret Facebook support group of Moms of LGBTQ kids – and also a similar group or Moms of Trans kids. AND Rob Cottrell runs a similar group or DADS of LGBTQ kids. People can email me at for the Moms groups – and for the Dads group.

“The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs

One of the best books available to better understand just why there is such a high incidence of addiction and life problems among gay men. I highly recommend this book to better grasp the real reasons behind destructive behavior!

Today’s gay man enjoys unprecedented, hard-won social acceptance. Despite this victory, however, serious problems still exist. Substance abuse, depression, suicide, and sex addiction among gay men are at an all-time high, causing many to ask, “Are we really better off?” Drawing on contemporary research, psychologist Alan Downs’s own struggle with shame and anger, and stories from his patients, The Velvet Rage passionately describes the stages of a gay man’s journey out of shame and offers practical and inspired strategies to stop the cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior. Updated to reflect the effects of the many recent social, cultural, and political changes, The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that has already changed the public discourse on gay culture and helped shape the identity of an entire generation of gay men.

“Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate”, by Justin Lee

A great book to listen to the heart of a really good guy who happens to be Christian and gay, his struggle and his victory.

As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed “God Boy” by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events–his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the “ex-gay” movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible–that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance.

“A Time To Embrace”, by William Stacy Johnson

If you really want to read and study contemporary culture, the church, and homosexuality, this book, written by a straight man, is one of the best!

In A Time to Embrace William Stacy Johnson brilliantly analyzes the religious, legal, and political debates about gay marriage, civil unions, and committed gay couples. This new edition includes updates that reflect the many changes in laws pertaining to civil unions / same-sex marriage since 2006.