A question came up recently from a concerned parent: “How might a homosexual friend influence my child?” This has been an issue in a number of situations we’ve encountered over the past few years, in discussions with both parents and students.
While we recognize that young people who have homosexual feelings are really in need of heterosexual friends, and it’s a delicate matter to try to split up friendships once they form, there are very real risks if the friendship is a close one. The first line of defense is to separate your child from the friend, if you can do it without open rebellion. Sometimes this isn’t possible if your son or daughter is an older teen or in college, so other alternatives need to be considered. There may be some things that you can make your own son or daughter aware of if they are open to the discussion.
Because there are increasing numbers of kids who are “out,” I am advising every parent to prepare a student in advance when—not if—they have a relatively close association with someone who is a declared homosexual. A situation may arise tomorrow where the resident of the dorm room next door, or a lab partner, or the person who works the same shift at the pizza parlor, or the brother of your child’s best friend, may announce he or she is “gay.” What are the risks? And, are there any opportunities as well?
Sexual involvement. The first thing you need to decide is whether there is any risk of sexual involvement, and rule this out (hopefully). If it’s a same sex friend this is of course more risky, because the friend who confesses a “crush” on your son or daughter may really mess with his or her mind or emotions, particularly if it’s a vulnerable time in your child’s life. The relationship may start as an attempt to “help” the homosexual friend, or may mask an attempt to demonstrate sophistication and a lack of bigotry among peers.
But depending on how close the friendship is, some real dangers exist, particularly if your child is not a Christian or is not well-grounded in the faith. Several parents have called us and tearfully related their experiences about a child who was eventually drawn into a homosexual relationship this way, when there was no previous sign of same sex attraction. There is even more vulnerability if the homosexual is a few years older and viewed as a mentor of some kind. And of course, you should never allow your child to become close to an adult who is a homosexual, even if that person is a relative. The role modeling alone sets a poor example.
However, even if the homosexual friend is of the opposite sex, there are still some very serious dangers. Some women, for instance, are drawn to homosexual men as friends. There’s even a name for women who have lots of male homosexual friends in the “gay” community— the “fag hag.” Men with gender identity issues are sometimes drawn to women as friends, and your daughter may be the tender-hearted person who responds. However, just because a guy declares himself to be attracted to men does not mean he is incapable of having sex with women. In fact, ex-homosexuals I know relate that it’s extremely common for “gay” men to sometimes have sex with women, either “straight” or lesbian. (This is just one more of the many testimonies to the fact that no one is “born” gay).
Why does this happen? The reasons could be loneliness, or his “once last chance” attempt to prove masculinity, or an attempt by the female to “save” him from these desires by her intense love. And your son or daughter may have a secret crush on this person, believing that eventually the “gay” friend will love them in the same way. Alcohol is often a factor that may suddenly transform the friendship into a hook-up, just like it’s happening among heterosexual students.
But the issues with a “gay-straight” encounter are enormous. Not just the usual pregnancy concern, but the sexually transmitted disease risks can be great. Young men who have homosexual attractions have usually done something about it by late high school and certainly by college. This may have involved casual sex readily available at “gay” bars, or even encounters in public parks or restrooms. The encounter may have been with an older, possibly HIV-infected male. Girls who have lesbian feelings may have already had sex with both males and females, since early sexual initiation is common among lesbians. For your son who may be infatuated with this person, she may have an STD or could become pregnant.
Gender Identity. But let’s say you are very sure that no sexual attraction or risk exists in this friendship. Still, there are other reasons to be wary. A casual relationship may pose little risk, but the closer the friendship, the more influence this person will have on your son or daughter’s beliefs about homosexuality, and about masculinity and femininity. I have talked with many teens in youth groups, high school classes, etc. and have been told by loyal friends of homosexuals that they really believe their friends’ claim that he or she was “born that way.” The heartfelt assertion that this is just “who I am” may make your child doubt anything you may tell him or her. Particularly for girls, it may influence your daughter to buy into some very negative feminist ideology as well and may influence her concept of her own femininity.
Being close friends with an opposite sex homosexual may begin to influence the type of members of the opposite sex your son or daughter chooses to date. Will your son begin to choose more aggressive women? Will your daughter prefer more passive or feminized males? Spending time with a gender-confused person may create very distorted ideals and expectations in your child that may not be readily apparent.
Christian Faith. The biggest danger is what this friendship will do to genuine Christian faith. Your child will hear the assertion over and over that the friend is not only well-adjusted, but sure that he could never be anything other than homosexual. This is certainly a firm belief, but it’s not based on reality. The long-term evidence is that homosexuality arises out of dysfunction, including experiences like child sexual abuse, poor relationships with parents (especially the same sex parent), and peer difficulties. An introspective personality, and the availability of pornography may then turn a slight attraction into obsessive fantasies.
The claim once made about the elusive “gay gene” has been quietly dropped by most of the pro-homosexual organizations, because it can’t be supported by science. Instead, the approach has begun to be, “Well, it doesn’t matter—if this is what we want, it must be natural and okay.” But dangerous behavior that arises out of unhappy, unhealthy circumstances does not call for affirmation. It cries out for a solution. Rather than blessing anal sex between 14- year- old boys—which is what the homosexual advocacy groups support—most parents readily see that this is tantamount to insanity.
The Bible informs us that homosexual behavior is common among paganized cultures, along with lots of other very destructive things. We are becoming a paganized society and, sure enough, all types of sexual (and other) bad behavior is more commonplace. Rather than being just a set percentage of people, homosexuality is instead one of a cafeteria selection of behaviors that adolescents especially are now trying. As we grow further separated from the truth of God, we are “exchanging the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25) and worshipping ourselves and our own instincts, wherever they take us.
The homosexually-inclined teen or college student invariably has a distorted version of faith. Sometimes it’s a New Age philosophy, sometimes lately even wicca or witchcraft. More commonly, it’s a compromised “christianity” that doesn’t believe Christ was our Saviour and maintains that there are many versions of truth. They will often have adopted the convoluted justifications for homosexuality that have been recently developed by homosexual-friendly churches. Along with this is usually an ample dose of hostility toward Christians who believe the truth, including you as your child’s hateful, repressed and obviously uninformed parents. Is this what you want your child to hear over and over?
This friend may do this all the while they are smiling in their encounters with you. My daughter had a friend who is not (to my knowledge) a lesbian, but has very pro-homosexual attitudes. She would call our house and very perkily ask for my daughter and was always greet me very pleasantly. On one occasion, I remember one such friendly call from her to my daughter. I was therefore quite surprised when I opened our local paper the next day, to see a letter to the editor from her discussing me by name and calling me a bigot. This was my first clue about what she really believed. My daughter then reported to me that this friend never missed an opportunity to mock my beliefs to my daughter and in front of others. Luckily, this friend did not have much influence on my child or the damage could have been disastrous.
Yet such a friendship can be an opportunity for witnessing to your child and teaching them the truth of the Gospel. First it’s important to do the research. Learn a lot about homosexuality and then how it is really presented in the Bible. The more I researched the current trends about what actually goes on among homosexuals and what their claims are, the more clear the Gospel became. Its timeless truth became evident and that much more hopeful and beautiful for all of us.
This can be an opportunity for your child to reach out—but only if he/she is very, very strong in faith and otherwise in a secure place along the rocky road of adolescence. And, only older teens should be allowed this option. Younger children are still at too much risk in those formative years. But older, strongly –grounded students can share the Gospel with a homosexual friend, being careful not to condone their behavior, nor to discredit other Christians who believe what God’s Word teaches.
Even the strong desires of homosexuals are not beyond the power of God to change, completely. First, though, we must trust Him, believe Him, and not put ourselves— nor our children — needlessly in harm’s way.