Q & R: My sons are ministers and won’t allow me to see my grandchildren

Here’s the Q:

Recently I’ve been doing an in=depth research on Biblical text from a historical viewpoint and a study of the spectrum of human sexuality. In my research I felt led to you.

A short bio of me…I am 62 and a Christ-follower. I was an ordained minister for 35 years. Married and divorced. 6 years ago I came out as a lesbian. I have two adult sons who are ministers and have rejected me and will not allow me to see my 6 grandchildren.

I have read many books and watched talks and debates on youtube both sides, affirming and non-affirming. Intellectually, I understand the 6 clobber verses in the Bible and the spectrum of human sexuality.

My prayer everyday is that one day God will allow me and my 2 sons to sit together and have a mutually respecting conversation about this topic. I know they will ask me questions like….What makes you believe God blesses same-sex relationships? God’s intention was 1 man and 1 woman so how do you reconcile 2 of the same? And, the famous ‘man shall leave father and mother and cling to his wife’.

So, from a parents heart…how do I answer my 2 sons questions?

Can you help? Thank you so much for hearing a bit of my story.

Here’s the R:

So heartbreaking … as a grandfather, and a father, I can’t find words to describe how sad this is – infuriating, really.

You might try quoting 1 Timothy 5:8 to them, but I doubt it will do much good.


Or could take one of Jesus’ parables and perhaps adapt it, something like this (from Luke 14):

On one occasion when Jesus* was going to the house of a famous Bible teacher to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 2Just then, in front of him, there was a mother who had come out as lesbian.3And Jesus asked the lawyers and Biblc scholars, ‘Is it lawful to honor your mother who is lesbian, or not?’ 4But they were silent. So Jesus went over to her and embraced her and sent her away. 5Then he said to them, ‘If one of you has a mother or father who is gay who wants to see his or her grandchildren, will you not honor your parents enough to comply?’ 6And they could not reply to this.

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. 8‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and even your lesbian mother. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

But again, I don’t think this will work … but it may contribute in some small way to their theological maturation.

In the terms I use in my book Naked Spirituality, they’re probably deep in Stage 1/Dualist thinking, and usually, only great pain or great love (as Richard Rohr says) will crack open the Stage 1 box so that further growth is possible. I wish I had better news than this, but I’m being realistic based on my experience. This may take time, which is very, very sad.

My suspicion is that your sons are struggling with what I call “multiple belonging.” They belong to a family with you … but they also belong to a fundamentalist denomination or congregation. If they accept you, they will be out of sync with their denomination/congregation, and right now, they are willing to lose you in order to stay in their denomination’s good graces. Arguing theology with them won’t change a thing, unless they decide to leave their denomination/congregation … because in a sense, their rejection of you is integral to their acceptance within their other belonging group.

My recommendation would be to appeal to the on the basis of compassion, not agreement. It might help to show them that acceptance and approval aren’t the same thing. You accept them, even though you don’t approve of their theology. You could invite them to accept you, and assure them that no endorsement of your coming out is implicated.

But they may not even be open to an appeal to compassion because, again, this isn’t about you; it’s about the standards of the group in which they’re finding their primary belonging (and paycheck).


If you do want a great book that addresses “the clobber passages,” I highly recommend Unclobber, by Colby Martin. It’s super readable, really smart, and if a person has an open mind at all, will give them something to think about.