Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. was interviewed recently by Anderson Cooper. In that interview Johnson claimed to be a Christian and yet supports his openly gay son Earvin Johnson III. Johnson is a National Basketball Association legend and a successful business man who retired from professional basketball when he discovered he had HIV in November 1991. He stepped down from his professional sports career to fight AIDS.
In the interview with Anderson Cooper Johnson said, “I go to church, I’m a Christian, but the reality is, my son is gay. That is the reality. And I tell pastors that…he has a right to decide who he wants to be…and who he wants to marry, and he has decided that that’s a man, and that’s okay by us.”
That statement made by such a public figure in an interview with a well known journalist raises several questions. What does it mean to be a Christian parent? What does the Bible say about homosexuality, and what should a Christian parent’s response be to a child claiming to be a homosexual?
I am glad to hear Magic Johnson goes to church, but while church attendance is an important part of the Christian life that alone does not make one a Christian. When the news broke that he had contracted HIV Johnson said he did not know how he had been exposed, but later admitted his infection was the result of multiple sex partners he had during his basketball career. I hope Johnson has repented of his past sins and is living a Christian lifestyle.
Being a Christian means turning from our sins to faith in Christ for forgiveness. Such an act of repentance contemplates living a life in keeping with that decision. When the issue of sexual sin is discussed many point to Jesus’ pardon of the woman taken in adultery. After giving her accusers the opportunity to stone her and they declined, Jesus turned to the woman and said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11). He forgave her and admonished her to “sin no more.” There is no lasting pardon to those who cling to their sin. Jesus must be both Savior and Lord if one is to be a Christian.
In the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus God forbids three sexual practices, adultery in verse 20, homosexuality in verse 22, and bestiality in verse 23. All of these with a number of other sins are collectively called an abomination in verses 26-30. Homosexuality is no greater or no less a sin than cheating on one’s spouse or having intercourse with animals. That is the simple truth. Times may have changed, but morality hasn’t. What was true then is still true now, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality are still sins.
So what are Christian parents to do when their children admit to sexual sin? Christian parents are to love and pray for their children at all times, that is how we support them even when they make poor decisions. But we also as Christian parents have a responsibility to warn them of the dangers of sexual sin.
What Christian parent would say, “I support my son’s right and decision to cheat on his wife” or “I support my daughter’s right and decision to have sex with animals?” The sexual sin of homosexuality is no different just because our culture is blind to the practical and spiritual consequences of homosexuality, or because it has become popular in our society.
In fact, it is the promiscuous practices of heterosexuals that created an atmosphere of acceptance of homosexuality. One can hardly condemn homosexuality while embracing sexual intercourse outside of marriage, and cheating on one’s spouse. We cannot condemn homosexuality without turning the scriptural spotlight on ourselves.
To love and pray for our children who are caught up in sexual sin is what Christian parents are supposed to do. Magic Johnson claims to be a Christian but approves of his son’s gay choices by saying “that’s okay by us,” but in saying that he sounds more confused than Christian. The Scriptures already condemn sexual sin; Christian parents should not compound the problem by condoning it.
No amount of double talk or twisting of biblical truth will change the fact that homosexuality is a sin. Sin does not become acceptable merely because our child does it. If my child were to murder someone it would not suddenly become acceptable because it was my child who did it. And that is good news, because Christ died for all sins, including homosexuality, and there is full and free forgiveness offered to all who are willing to repent.