Q&A with Chip

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Awkward Conversations

I just listened to part one of “Homosexuality Lifestyle.” My niece in her mid-20s has been in this situation for about five years. She graduated from an all-girls’ college and grew up in a liberal church with a lesbian minister. I decided not to attend her “marriage celebration” but did not tell her it was because I could not celebrate her lifestyle choice.

I felt like I had to choose between supporting family and being true to God. I would like to discuss this with her, but I fear losing a relationship with her and her parents. How do I decide what to do?


Chip's Answer

Nancy, this question is one of the most common and difficult to answer. A number of variables are important to consider.

First, what kind of relationship do you have with your niece and her family? Is there significant history, depth, and ongoing relationship; or is it casual, distant, and rare with regard to your personal interaction with them?

If it is the latter, your comments, no matter how sincere or well intended, will likely not be well received. There simply is not enough trust and relational capital for your perspective to be heard as both truthful and loving.

If, on the other hand, it’s a fairly close relationship, then avoiding the issue creates awkwardness at best, and perceived judgment and disunity at worst.

With those two factors in view, you can prayerfully consider whether or not to speak with them. If God leads you to talk with them, let me provide the following short piece of advice.

Consider scheduling a time with her and her parents to express your concern and care for her as a person and, because of that love and concern, why you have struggled deeply with not attending her “marriage” ceremony. Express your desire to have an ongoing relationship and also your personal conflict. Explain to them that as a matter of personal integrity and your commitment to Jesus Christ, attending that celebration would communicate and condone what you believe is contrary to the will of God.

Allow them to see the depth of your personal struggle and the emotional turmoil that this situation has been you in your heart. Let them know that you may disagree with her decision and lifestyle as a matter of principle, but that you very much care for her and her family and do not want to lose the relationship.

I think you will find this honest expression shared tenderly and from the heart will open the door for a relationship that can continue where you can keep your commitment to God and still love and provide a Christian witness for your niece and her family.