My husband and I are committed Christians in a thriving Church who would appreciate your advice concerning our 19-year-old daughter. Lucy (not her real name) told us about a year ago that she was bisexual and was in a relationship with another girl, Jemma. We have talked and prayed over this situation almost daily since we were made aware of it but are struggling to make any headway. Lucy feels she is doing nothing wrong at all in pursuing this relationship (which is sexual) whereas my husband and I and our two other children are repulsed by the whole thing and do not know how to cope with it. We allow Jemma into our home and she stays over sometimes as we live in a rural area with no buses after 6pm. The girls are not allowed to sleep together so Lucy sleeps on the sofa when her girlfriend comes over. We have tried so hard to bring our children up in God’s ways and need guidance, encouragement and help in order to maintain our relationships with her as a daughter and sister. Our church is aware of the problem but Lucy no longer attends and says we are out of touch with modern living.

"I am sorry to say, but you are going to have to accept that you are not going to change Lucy’s sexual orientation and instead focus on changing your response to it. Your daughter is now an adult, albeit a new one, and your relationship as parents has to shift from rule-setters and teachers, to friends and unconditional supporters. The roots of a person’s sexual orientation are made up of profoundly complex drivers. You are exceedingly unlikely to change her through talking it through or making them sleep in separate rooms in your house. Give up trying to influence her, and focus on loving her.

God has given her and us free will. When we walk away from Him and also when we walk with him, we do endless things that He knows are not the best for us. He pays the heart price to give us free will. The reward for Him is the possibility of a true loving relationship with us. The relationship is worth more than the behaviour. He bridges the gap with His overwhelming grace. This is the best model to help you know how to be with your precious daughter. I want to encourage you to focus your love on her as a person, beyond her current sexuality. She needs to know that she is unconditionally accepted and loved. Her bisexuality does not define her. She is so much more than this: she is her dreams, her gifts, her personality. Build relationship with Lucy as a whole person, including but bigger and beyond her sexual preferences.

Once she feels this, take time to understand her. Maybe she feels safer and more relaxed with women for good reasons. Listen and learn.

You need to move on from your repulsion or it will create a barrier between you that could drive her deeper into her sexual identity. Focus your eyes and hearts instead to notice what is beautiful and honourable about Lucy and her girlfriend’s relationship. This may seem a big leap to ask you to take, but it will help for you to see beyond the sexual. Appreciate what is good about their friendship, the way they care for each other and how they make each other happy. If you can allow yourselves to see the heart within their relationship, rather than just focusing on the sexual behaviour, it will help you get beyond your repulsion, and help them grow as human beings defined by much deeper currents than sexual expressions.

As for your decision to make them sleep separately, be honest with yourselves that this is for your sensitivities, it is not achieving anything that is likely to change her or that is for her. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as you are not holding it with an unreal agenda, as this would cause further tension.

We all have dreams and presumptions about our children, but the journey of parenting, having given them roots, is now to give them wings. You are going to have to trust her to fly her own way. One of your biggest challenges now is yourselves rather than Lucy. The good thing about this is that you have the power to change yourself, whereas you do not have this for her. Use the power you do have and trust God to work good in the rest. Ultimately, love and grace are truly enough and have a deeper magic than we realise."