How Do You Raise a Gay Mormon Teen?

By Jake Abhau (also published on his blog

First of all, let me say that I am not qualified to raise ANY teen in this world so who am I to say I might know how to raise a Mormon one, or a Gay one, or a Gay Mormon one!  I mean really, who knows?  If anyone knew, there would be one perfect book on the subject instead of thousands!

Let’s work under the understanding that “most” people agree on certain things about raising teenagers.  I mean, the big things like:  DON’T kill anyone, DO hold doors for old ladies, and DON’T get pregnant or get someone pregnant while still in high school.  So let’s assume that we are working with that “norm” in raising children.  We want them to be respectful, come home before curfew, and be kind to others.

But, if you’re a Mormon parent, there are a some unique elements of parenting that apply:

  • Live a life worthy to serve a full time Mormon mission
  • Live a life that will prepare you for a temple marriage
  • Attend church, mutual night, church dances, and other church activities
  • Don’t date until you’re 16.  And when you do, try to do as much group dating as possible.  Don’t pair off.  It’s unnecessary until you are ready to get married.
  • Live your life in a way that you can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to guide you in making good choices.

These are not all but are some things that most Mormon parents expect (thus teach) of their children.

But, if you’re Gay, there are also a few differences.  Most (accepting) parents of Gay children find it important to teach the following.
  • Don’t be embarrassed about who you are.  Don’t feel shame, guilt, or like God doesn’t love you
  • Be patient with those who bully you. Try to be meek and understanding while spreading the love that you so desperately crave (an unfair demand, I admit, of our homosexual teens).
  • Don’t let being Gay define you, let it be just a part of many things that define you.
  • Don’t date before you are ready.  And don’t date the opposite sex because others say it will change you
  • Live your life in a way that you can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to guide you in making good choices.
Listed above are just a few examples that will certainly vary as parents approach this from many different religious, political, or cultural backgrounds.  But, for the most part, supportive parents will want their child to be happy and make good choices.
This brings us to the question:
What do you do if you are the parent of a Gay Mormon?
For me, only one thing makes my list.  It is all encompassing and is something that, Mormon or not, we can all agree on:
Let’s take the lyrics of the Mormon children’s song, Choose The Right:
 Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.
In the right the Holy Spirit guides;
And its light is forever shining o’er you,
When in the right your heart confides.
Personally, as a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, I believe that we are all born “sinners” because of the fall but I also soundly believe that we are all born with the “Light of Christ.”  Or, a conscience.  Whether we are taught the difference between right and wrong, we all have our very own Jiminy Cricket that tells us when we are doing something we shouldn’t be.  Whether you call it you conscience, the Holy Spirit, or a jumping insect, we all have it.  The innate ability to decipher between good and evil.
So, how do you raise a Gay Mormon Teen?
You teach them to Choose The Right.  Let the Holy Spirit guide them.  When making a decision, any decision, trust what your heart tells you to do.  Notice i say heart.  Not your head, not your mind, and not your body… but your heart.  If you are doing what’s right, you allow the Holy Ghost to help you in knowing the difference between right and wrong. In the Mormon faith, we believe that one can rely on this to receive a witness of truth, of making a good decision, or being warned of danger.
If I want to parent my child to be the best person he can possibly be, I can’t imagine being disappointed if he chooses a path for himself that he knows and feels is right.  Make no mistake, a married man who lusts after a woman may “feel” good about fulfilling a carnal desire, adultery is never right.
If choosing a life of celibacy or a having a life of monogamous (gay or straight) love feels right, I would have a hard time denying that from any of God’s children. If a path that makes you happy is a path that feels endorsed by your God, I say go for it!
But, if the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, then either path under this guideline will yield the same result. The Spirit will not confirm an untruth.  It cannot.  So we have decided to teach that basic principle that so many Mormon youth wear on their finger:

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