Navigating a Child's Same Sex Attraction

04-30-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Charlie Goraieb

Dear Friends,

Many of you are familiar with the proverbial “frog in the hot water”. The way the story goes is that if a frog, a cold-blooded amphibian, is placed in a large pot of cold water on top of a stove, it will relax and enjoy the water. If the heat is slowly turned up, the frog will continually adjust to the gradual rising of the temperature until eventually he boils to death.

This story is often used as a parable depicting what happens when we allow sin or error to penetrate our lives. Initially, we may only embrace it to only a limited degree, but unless checked, over time its hold on us will increase to a point that is fatal.

I recently met up with a long-time friend and faithful Catholic that I had not seen in several years. After catching up on a lot of areas, my friend began telling me about her adult children, one of whom was in a same-sex relationship. She was eager to convince me that her son’s situation, which was monogamous, was far better off than many who are living a promiscuous version of that life-style. When she finished and was awaiting my response, I simply asked “when was the last time you warned your son that he was in jeopardy of losing his eternal soul?” A long silence ensued. She had clearly long-ago dismissed the eternal consequences of her son’s behavior.

My friend, like many parents of children with same-sex attraction, are caught in a bind. They love their child and don’t want to lose him or her. And yet they know that the choices their child is making are morally wrong and dangerous. What course should the parent take?

Parents (especially mothers) instinctively love their children unconditionally. In these circumstances the parents should let their child know that they love him/her and will always do so—no matter what. But, on at least one occasion, parents are obliged to make it very clear that their child’s choices grieve them deeply, particularly because of the danger which those choices mean for the eternal disposition of their child’s soul. It would be counterproductive to keep repeating this every time they are together, but there can be no ambiguity about where the parents stand. 

What must be avoided is either extreme of preaching eternal damnation at every opportunity or seemingly approving of what the child is doing. In the first case, it is most likely that the child will find ways to avoid contact with his or her parents. The second extreme will make the parents complicit in their child’s behavior. I have often seen parents follow the example of the frog and go from shock to resignation to acceptance to approval to advocacy.

There is no denying that children with same-sex attraction and behavior pose a very deep challenge for their faithful Catholic parents. There are so many questions: How did she get this way? We raised her the same as her siblings, so what went wrong? Was she born “gay”? Is the Church’s teaching in this area to be trusted? What about our daughter bringing her “friend” over to the house? How do we relate to “them?” These questions can be just the tip of the iceberg.

A concise summary of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality can be found in three short paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (numbers 2357-2359). We also have a great resource in our Diocese called “Encourage” designed to advise and support parents of children with same -sex attraction. For more information about the Phoenix Chapter, contact Fr. John Greb, Priest Director. Phone: (480) 775-5200. E-mail: