Lifestyles of the Unholy
by Andrea Wolfsperger
Two parents get their home ready for the arrival of their teenaged son visiting from his college dorm over winter break. They greet him at the door with warm smiles and hugs. After dinner he announces that he is gay, always has been, and that he has chosen to lead this lifestyle publicly. Their warm smiles fade. The young man's parents know that he is surely confused. Otherwise, how could he choose such an immoral and unnatural lifestyle? Considering this situation, should the parents disown their teenaged son? They absolutely should not. Given the same situation, I would not think of abandoning my child. I believe that a parent should understand that her child knows his own heart and mind better than she does. I do not see the huge moral dilemma with homosexuality that others are so bent on seeing. I also believe that the relationship between parent and child should be one of unconditional love.
First of all, I would give my son the freedom to make his own decisions and have confidence that he will make the choices that are right for him. I do not know everything, and I do not claim to know what is and is not good for other people. I think this is the mindset to keep while raising a child, whatever the childís sexual orientation may be. Many parents seem to think that teens cannot make wise decisions, but I disagree. I think that children are getting smarter and more aware of what is going on around them with each new generation. While teens do need some guidance, parents must identify the line between raising a child and controlling a child's life. I struggled with a father who did not distinguish between the two when I was younger. At age nineteen, I wanted to leave home and move back down South, where I had made friends before my family moved to Ohio after my junior year of high school. My father was very upset by this decision and made up his mind that my life was not going to be up to me at that point. He took it upon himself to plan out the next four years of my life that had to include the college that he chose. I tried to explain to him how I felt and what I wanted with my life, but he would not listen. He actually told me that I was wrong about how I felt, as if he were inside my head and knew my thoughts and feelings better than I. Being told how one feels is a hard pill to swallow at any age, especially for gay teens who are told they are confused and wrong about how they feel about members of the same sex. They should be trusted to figure out their emotions for themselves.
Also, I do not see the immorality of a same-sex relationship. I do not see the wrong in something that does not hurt anyone. A relationship between two people that is based on trust and love should never be deemed immoral. Although others believe that a homosexual lifestyle is unnatural, I disagree. I do agree that it is unconventional, but how does that lead to unnatural or immoral? Even so, there are many situations in life that are unnatural, like Siamese twins or children born with other deformities. Should parents disown these offspring as well? They should not. In fact, I cannot think of any reason a parent should disown her child. Unfortunately, I know of a parent who disowned his son. Years ago, in my high school biology class, a friend of mine had told me about a boy she knew named James who had recently told his parents that he was gay. Both of his parents were very upset, especially his father. His father told him that he forbade his son to be gay as long as he lived under his roof. James moved out of his parentsí house a few years later to live with his partner, and his father never spoke to him again. James also had a brother, Mark, who had an addiction to drugs. Again, both parents were very upset to learn about the addiction, but they worked through it and maintained contact with Mark. I was very surprised to hear this story. I could not understand why a parent would see homosexuality as an immoral and unforgivable act, yet not condemn an addiction to drugs which is very self destructive and hurtful to anyone close to the addict. The same tolerance and understanding shown to Mark should have been given to James.
The most important element of a relationship between parent and child is unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without circumstances or exception. Other parents have disowned their gay sons because they believe it is against Christian morality. To me, this is a huge contradiction. Does the Bible not advocate tolerance, forgiveness, and love? What about "he who is without sin can cast the first stone?" Especially as Christians, these parents should realize the flawed logic in believing that it is not acceptable to be gay, yet it is acceptable to ostracize their own son. A friend I have known for over ten years has been wary of telling his parents about his sexual orientation in the fear that they might have the same flawed logic. He even married a woman and pretended to be happy for an entire year. After they divorced, my friend slowly started to let on to his father that he was gay. He had been extremely terrified of being honest about his homosexuality with his parents because of their adamant Christian values. To his surprise, his father was very calm and understanding about his sonís admission. Although his father did not agree with his choices, he did know that they were his sonís choices to make. My friendís father loved him no matter what his decisions were because he knew his son was a good person and was always going to do what he thought to be right. This is the way I would treat my son if he were to come to me with the same issue. I would give him the same unconditional love that any parent should feel for her child.
There are no reasons I can imagine for disowning a son, especially not because of one part of his personality that does not define who he is as a whole. If I have a son in the future who decided to choose an alternative lifestyle, I would not disown him solely on my beliefs that he should have the freedom to make his own choices and that there is no moral declivity in homosexuality. Mostly, I would love my son no matter what his choices and how wrong I may find them to be. I believe that any parent should love a child with no exceptions. If a mother and father can take one aspect about their child and make that the reason that they would no longer want that child in their life, they should question whether it is their child as a person that they do not agree with or simply one small aspect about the child that our culture tells them to not agree with.
"Lifestyles of the Unholy" was written for Dr. Barbara Murrayís ENGL 1101 class during fall 2004 semester by Andrea Wolfsperger, then a freshman majoring in Psychology.