Love Your Children—Unconditionally
Yes, that includes your LGBT/SSA children
by Becky Mackintosh
I am thrilled to be part of Northern Lights as a parent blogger. I share what I have experienced and seen since the “coming out” of my son almost three years ago. My desire is to help individuals, parents and families who struggle with issues surrounding homosexuality.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I grew up thinking homosexuality was something they chose and was an abomination to God. I couldn’t imagine a more difficult trial that a mother could experience, other than to lose a child, than to have a child “choose” to be gay. It was something I couldn’t fathom and wanted neither.
There it was in black and white – a message from my son, “I’m gay”.
WHAT? How could that be possible?
He was a great kid, an outstanding student, he dated girls, and he served an honorable mission, so how could THIS be possible?
Why would he “choose” to be gay?
I stayed up late into the night talking to my son. We cried. We hugged.
As I LISTENed to my son pour out his heart of what it was like growing up trying to make sense out of what he was feeling – feelings that I quickly realized he did NOT “choose” – I could no longer stick my head in the sand – this was the beginning of my journey. Our journey.
As an LDS mother of a “gay” son I embarked on a quest for understanding and direction, I read and read and read along with a lot of time spent on my knees. And what I discovered lead ME to “coming out of my own closet” to speak openly about this sensitive subject for several reasons:
- I was disturbed at the high number of LGBT teens and young adults who believed ending their life was the best and only answer. Heart-wrenching.
- I was disturbed by the high number of LDS parents and family members who rejected their LGBT sons and daughters. Too many are living on the street—homeless. Senseless.
- I was disturbed at the high number of homophobic people reacting unkindly out of FEAR from misconceptions surrounding homosexuality. Needless.
I was disturbed enough that I could no longer sit HOPING things improved. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve Apostles said,
“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
This lead to…
Coming out of my own closet – no longer silent.
In January of 2014, my son Sean and I made a video on our own accord with no script or professional guidance. We shared from our heart hoping our story with the message of love would touch hearts and reunite families.
A Very REAL Matter: Same-Sex Attraction
We received an outpouring of emails, messages and phone calls from all over the world from young men and young women identifying themselves as same gender-attracted, gay, homosexual, LGBT, along with all the other letters and titles. Most of the people reaching out were LDS, and many confessed I was the first person they had ever told. Many claimed it gave them hope that perhaps their mother would react as loving when and if they dared to tell their secret.
Just knowing their parents loved them seemed to make a HUGE difference in their self worth, happiness and self-confidence.
When LDS parents and individuals seek my guidance and listening ear, I first ask if they are familiar with the church’s official website MormonsandGays.org. To my surprise, most LDS are not aware of the church’s website that was launched December of 2012.
What seems to be one of the most surprising facts to LDS members surrounding homosexuality is that the church clearly states on their website that same-gender attraction is NOT a choice …
Where the Church stands:
“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
I have raised seven children and perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face as parents is allowing our children their agency. We may feel like forcing our children to do what we feel is right, but Heavenly Father does not force us to obey His commandments. He lovingly guides and directs us with patience and love unfeigned.
What I have experienced and seen is that when we love unconditionally it has a powerful ripple effect; hearts are healed, families are strengthened, and lives are saved.
Today, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other. It has brought me closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior as I have grown in faith, patience, compassion, hope and unconditional love.
Bottom line is this: Love – love unconditionally. That’s a choice!