Just Because He Breathes


Thanks to Linda Robinson for sharing the heart-wrenching narrative Just Because He Breathes, the story of her son’s struggle to reconcile his faith with the dawning realization that he was gay. Not the least bit sugarcoated, she tells the tale with regret but not self-recrimination, giving an unsparing account of their mistakes as parents without plummeting into overwhelming guilt. They said and did things I might have done or said; things I might have wanted my parents to do or say:

Ryan says: I am gay
Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you

Mom says: Are you joking?

Ryan says: no
Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don

Mom says: of course I would
Mom says: but what makes you think you are?

Ryan says: i know i am
Ryan says: i don’t like hannah
Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up

Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…

And then this:

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible, the Word of God, should say:

We love you. We will always love you. And this is hard. Really hard. But we know what God says about this, so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books; you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you are gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay; it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is not an option.

And finally this:

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.

Parents, if you have a child who is gay, PLEASE don’t set up this noxious and false dichotomy. Listen to them and learn. Accept them for who they are. Love them profoundly and unconditionally. And look for God to change YOU rather than your child.


  1. It all just breaks my heart, even if “outside of God’s will” is the implication (as opposed to “going to hell,” which I’ve never heard someone actually say they believe will happen as a result of sexuality). My best friend from the time I was 2 was raised in the same church with me, and she wasn’t able to be open with her mother until last year, at age 48, in the months before her mother died. Again, my heart breaks.


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  3. Heartbreaking. I am chatting with a friend right now online… He knows my story and how I have finally come to peace with my sexuality. He is telling me about a mutual friend of ours, a high school senior, who is gay but in denial about it and trying to change… It’s breaking my heart. He’s trying to tell him that there *are* alternate views on Christianity and sexuality and that he should at least try to read some, but he (the student) is adamant that he doesn’t want to be gay and that he can pray and work to avoid these “temptations.” It’s breaking my heart. That was me 26 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was me too. I often think “if I could only go back in time and talk to that younger me…” but then of course younger me would never have listened to a heretic like me. He would have been unfailingly kind and would have prayed for my soul. Stupid younger me.

      Well, back then there weren’t really any role models of gay Christians that I could have found. These days there are plenty. So even though he’s not interested in hearing their views, it’s likely he won’t be able to avoid them entirely. And perhaps along the way he may find that his own experience is not quite matching up with what he longs to believe.

      Is it any wonder, though, how many young LGBT people suffer depression and anxiety – and all the more when they are growing up in religious environments?

      Liked by 1 person

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