Countless people have seen the letter written by the father of a homosexual man. In which the father disowns his son. Perhaps as retribution, his son uploaded a scan of the letter to the internet and has now been seen by well over one million people. Here is the letter:
Many will respond in outrage to this letter. Words like heartless and hateful have been bandied around to describe the father's note. This letter goes too far. The father by ostracising his son both reinforces the son's lifestyle and devastates any chance of the father causing change in his son's life. We must be careful not to read too much from this letter (as we have little context) nor can we suppose this letter is actually legitimate (even though it is certain not inconceivable that a parent may respond in such a way). Frank Turk, over at Pyromaniacs has written up a great letter that would be a much better substitute for the scanned letter above:
You've made a confession to me that you do not expect me to receive well, and I admit that what you have said has wounded me, because it is not what I wanted for you. In fact, it is not what I still want for you, which is only the best personally, mentally, and spiritually. While it took some sort of single-mindedness on your part to admit this to me, I think it was difficult in part because you knew it would hurt me. I am not going to lie to you: I am, in fact, hurt.
What puzzles me is that you want me to accept this for you and from you when you know I don't think this is what's best for you. I can accept that this is what you want for yourself, and that it seems good to you right now, and that in some sense you cannot help yourself but feel this way. But let's face it: there are many things we know we want which are not even good for us, let alone right or worthwhile.
Since you have made your confession about your situation, let me confess mine: I have never really been a good man at all. I could make a list here of all the times I have failed you, and your mother, and your siblings, and my employer, and the elders at church, and so on -- but I'll bet you can make that list also. You may remember some things I have forgotten, and I'll simply stipulate to the entire exercise. I want you to know that I know I am not a good man, and I come to this problem we now face as a man who, at the end of the day, can't advise you from the moral high ground.
I can only advise you, my son, as a man who has spent his life utterly at the mercy of Jesus Christ.
You know: in some sense, I feel like I love you, so it's easy for me to have done things for you all our life together like buy you clothes and give you a house to live in and feed you and play games with you. But let's face it: every day has not been a day full of duckies and puppies of paternal love overflowing from me to you. Some days I was angry at you, or tired of your shenanigans, or just tired from work and marriage, and I didn't feel loving toward you -- I just felt sort of numb, or worse: burdened by you because you were a handful (as any human being is). In those moments, I was what I know I am, and I didn't want to do what I knew otherwise was right. The difference between those moments and this moment, with you, is that in those moments, I knew that my feelings and urges and dissatisfaction were wrong, and did not justify failing to do the right thing.
Having said that, let me make a confession: there were a lot of those days. That's not because you were especially bad, but because I am. And when I knew my own sin, my own weakness, my own unwillingness to do what I would do if I were full of emotions to point me in a direction that looks so good to other people, I knew that I needed a savior for more than just some kind of final victory: I needed him for a victory today, minute by minute, to become a person grateful for what he has done for me. In some way, I had to remember that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
So I didn't just accept that Jesus loved me, or even that he died for me -- as if that kind of story really means anything except as a spectacle anyone could watch in a movie. I accepted that his obedience made out of love, which caused him to want to die on a cross for a person like me, was so that I would know how to obey when I was personally out of love, and out of strength, and out of patience, and all that was left was the way I felt when I felt like I wasn't made to do any of this stuff.
Now: so what? What does that have to do with your confession that this is who you really are? It is my answer back to you, which I think somehow you do not expect: this is also who I really am. The difference between you and me is that I think I need to be saved from it, and you think you do not need to be saved, but rather accepted, so that other people's acceptance of your problem is substituted for real redemption and real resolution.
I love you. I want what is best for you. What you are committing to right now is not it. I am willing, after all these years, to die for you, or die with you, in pursuit of putting the sinful things we both face here and now to death. But I cannot tell you that your decision today is the right decision, and I can't tell you that your confession is anything but a resignation to do what is right in your own eyes in spite of what you know to be true about the moral and spiritual order of the world. We both have a problem -- and it is the same problem. Thank God, we both have a solution, and it is the same solution. Please do not toss out the solution, because it is the only one for you. I am praying for you, and will pray for you, and until you accept the solution, I am also weeping for you.
With love in spite of disappointment,