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Should Children Be Exposed to a Relative's Lifestyle of Sin?

What kind of exposure should my children have to a relative who is in an inappropriate or ungodly lifestyle?
By Dennis and Barbara Rainey


I have a brother who has adopted a homosexual lifestyle. If I allow my kids to interact with him, I am afraid they will assume that his behavior is acceptable to me. But if I keep him from them, I feel like I’m not doing what Jesus would have done in that situation. What kind of exposure should my children have to a relative who is in an inappropriate or ungodly lifestyle?

Barbara: I think it is important for us to allow our children to get to know their extended family. The key to protecting our kids from being damaged by relationships with family members who are in any lifestyle of sin is to communicate clearly with the kids. Talk to the kids about your relative’s lifestyle and why he chose it. As a family, pray for him. Be involved in his life so that you are not rejecting him as a person, but be cautious with the extent of your children’s exposure to his behavior.

Dennis: I agree that we need to be careful in how much detail we share with our children. I have a friend whose homosexual brother was dying of AIDS. Because my friend realized that his children had never experienced a relationship with their uncle, he invited his brother to stay with the family for several days. His children were young at the time, and most did not know anything about the disease or the lifestyle. They were allowed to interact with their uncle in their own home, with their mom and dad present in a normal situation.

Only later, when the uncle died from full-blown AIDS, were the details shared with the older children. In our world today, our children are going to face more and more of these issues, and we have a responsibility to prepare them for the perversions and addictions they will encounter. We need to teach our kids how to love people and how to condemn their sin without condemning them. Our kids need to know what the Bible has to say about issues like homosexuality.

Barbara: I think we need to be very wary of overprotecting our children and limiting what God might want to do through them in a relative’s life. Children have a way of showing love and acceptance that can open communication lines within a family. Yes, we want to protect our children from being in difficult situations and from being harmed. However, we don’t want to cut them off from family members that God might want to influence through our family.

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