My boyfriend and I have been together for only a bit over a year, we have a very strong relationship and share mostly all of the same values. We have different political views, which I feel I can accept, but the conversation came up about the LGBTQ community and my boyfriend told me he doesn’t believe that being gay or trans is normal and doesn’t want to influence our future children in any way. He is stern on the fact that we will bring up our children to believe that being gay is not normal and I don’t know what to do. He said that if one of our children came out as gay or trans that he would cut them out of his life completely! I don’t know how to react especially with my sister being gay. He believes gay people come from unstable homes and aren’t born that way and it hurts my heart.
Your situation is a good example of why it’s important to ask good questions and be thorough in the dating process. Every marriage has plenty of unexpected surprises, so if you can identify areas of significant conflict early on, you can make a more informed decision about who you’re marrying. You’ve discovered a significant area of disagreement that not only impacts your relationship, but also your extended family and future children. Let’s talk about how you can address this challenging new discovery.
You have some serious reflection to do regarding the kind of person you want to marry. Do you want someone who is kind or someone who is cruel? Do you want someone who tries to see others as fellow humans or someone who dehumanizes those who are different than him? Do you want someone who can be open to other perspectives or someone who is forceful and adamant with his position?
Instead of reacting to the specific topics of disagreement, I suggest you pay attention to the kind of person he becomes when someone disagrees with him. While everyone has a right to their opinion about every topic, his opinion is manifesting in behaviors that have serious relational and emotional consequences for you and your hypothetical unborn children. More important than his particular beliefs about others, his treatment of others doesn’t appear to show any compassion or consideration.
This is just one of countless areas where you or your children will likely disagree with how he sees things. Family life is full of conflicting ideas as each person grows and develops their own preferences, desires, and opinions. Healthy families are constantly growing, adapting, and supporting the changing needs of each individual. Are you comfortable with him demanding compliance from a situation that hasn’t even happened yet? Do you detect any willingness to adjust and adapt to the potential challenges and conflicts that will most assuredly arise in your future family?
Elder Mark E. Peterson taught, “It is indeed remarkable that the nature of our dealings with our fellowmen will determine, in large measure, our status in the kingdom of heaven….We may attend to rites and rituals and yet overlook the weightier matters such as brotherly kindness, honesty, mercy, virtue, and integrity.”[i] The Savior didn’t agree with everyone he encountered, but he was always kind. He showed respect and consideration for every person he encountered. In fact, his plan is called the “plan of mercy.”[ii] I love Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s eloquent description of how this plan of mercy blesses all of us:
“In ways we cannot now fully understand, perfect justice is possible because an omniscient God truly knows what we know. Furthermore, He also knows the intents of our minds and hearts. He likewise knows our conceptual as well as our environmental limitations. He knows our genetic endowments. He knows the circumstantial interplay of opportunities and limitations. Reassuringly, He also knows our infirmities, sicknesses, pains, and sins. God thus can make all the necessary allowances, as He judges ever so justly our mortal performance. He gives us space or time in which not only to choose but also to repent and to change. In fact, in His plan, finally mercy “overpowereth justice” (Alma 34:15).”[iii]
Even though we all have difficulty setting aside our snap judgements and uninformed reactions to those who are different than us, it’s a relief to be in the company of someone who is generous and merciful. Notice how you feel when your boyfriend harshly disagrees with others who think differently than him. It’s unlikely that this feeling will improve without some intentional work on his part to create safer conditions. If he’s not interested in doing that work, does that change anything for you?
While it may be important for you to find someone who believes the same things as you, I believe it’s important to be with someone who is willing to learn, shows care for others, and doesn’t treat any group of people as second-class citizens. I have no doubt your boyfriend has many redeeming qualities, but you have identified a particular area that, left unchallenged, will have significant consequences for your immediate and extended family. The work of dating and engagement is to lean into these important conversations to make sure you’re working with someone who will learn and grow with you. If he fights back on this and won’t change his mind, this is important information for you to consider as you decide if he’s the one for you.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, Utah specializes in rebuilding relationships from crisis to connection. Geoff is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, the host of the Illuminate podcast, and creates online relationship courses available at www.geoffsteurer.com. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
[i] Mark E. Petersen, “Do Unto Others”, Ensign, May 1977, 73
[ii] Alma 42:15
[iii] Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “The Promise of Discipleship”, p. 60