— Audio Player —
Responding to Sexual Sin with Conviction and Compassion, with Laura Perry
How do you call your children to biblical truth while still showing them unconditional love? Today on Grounded, you'll hear from parents trying to find that balance. You'll also hear from Laura Perry, a woman who formerly identified as transgender. God used her mother's love and prayers to call Laura back to Himself.
Connect with Laura:
Erin Davis: Hello and Happy Labor Day. You might be hearing the sound of my voice as burgers a sizzling on the grill or you are preparing to head to the lake. Our team actually wants to take the day off as well, so we are going to reair an episode of Grounded that is really important. It features an interview with Laura Perry. If you don't know Laura's story, take my word for it. It is a powerful story of redemption. And she offers a lot of …
How do you call your children to biblical truth while still showing them unconditional love? Today on Grounded, you'll hear from parents trying to find that balance. You'll also hear from Laura Perry, a woman who formerly identified as transgender. God used her mother's love and prayers to call Laura back to Himself.
Connect with Laura:
Erin Davis: Hello and Happy Labor Day. You might be hearing the sound of my voice as burgers a sizzling on the grill or you are preparing to head to the lake. Our team actually wants to take the day off as well, so we are going to reair an episode of Grounded that is really important. It features an interview with Laura Perry. If you don't know Laura's story, take my word for it. It is a powerful story of redemption. And she offers a lot of biblical wisdom into the current cultural moment where LBGTQ, transgender, changing pronouns are going on. She has some really practical and rich wisdom to offer. Let's listen.
Erin: Sin is so devastating. It wreaks horrible devestation on our lives.
Laura Perry: I was caught in so many lies and my life became a living hell.
Robyn McKelvey: I think it is so important that my son understands what lifestyle he chooses, I love him.
Erin: The gospel is for sinners. It was His kindness that led me to repentance.
Laura: I got radically saved. I was so completely transformed. I was never the same. I knew my life had changed.
Erin: Welcome back to Grounded. We are glad you are here. This is a videocast and a podcast recorded live every Monday morning from Revive Our Hearts. I'm Erin Davis.
Alejandra Slemin: And I'm Alejandra Slemin. You know what? You're going to need two things handy today. So, Erin, maybe get ready, because you might need to go get them too.
Erin: Okay, I want to be ready.
Alejandra: Yes, please, you're gonna need a notebook, which I normally have when we are doing Grounded because we have so many guests that fill our hearts and our minds with lots of wisdom. So I take little notes, and I keep them here. And let me tell, you getting those little hints on a Monday morning goes a long way for the whole week.
Erin: Yes, they do. They're like gold nuggets.
Alejandra: That's right. So you're gonna need your notebook, and you're gonna need some tissues, too, because we're going to hear stories this morning that are going to touch our hearts and are also going to make us think.
Erin: I'm ready. I want to set the tone. I want to invite our co-hosts to join us for a second. Good morning, Dannah. Good morning, Portia.
Dannah Gresh: Morning, guys. Happy Monday morning to you.
Portia Collins: Good morning.
Erin: Happy Monday morning. Hey, let's use our imaginations this morning. This is easy for me to imagine because I wish this were the case. But let's imagine we're not joining each other remotely via Zoom, but we're together for a Monday morning women's Bible study group. Man, wouldn't that be great?
Dannah: I know I'm already happier.
Erin: I know.
Dannah: I’m automatically already happier. Sign me up.
Erin: I know the cooks you are. I know that you would be like bringing scones and muffins and it would be so delightful to be together. But I want us to imagine that we're also joined by other women, women that we've known for a long time, women that we've prayed with for a long time. And then let's imagine this through tears. Someone in the group asks for prayers for their daughter, because that daughter has decided to have gender reassignment surgery. How do we respond in that moment? Dannah? What do you think?
Dannah: Well, Erin, having done this maybe the wrong way a lot of times, I think I have learned on the hot, hard pavement of life that that's not a time to really say much of anything. It's a time to listen. It's a time to hold a friend. It is the time to drop to your knees and maybe even not know what to say and just sit in the silence of God's presence. Because sometimes His spirit is interceding in ways we can't. So I think I would listen and probably not say a whole lot and just let that sweet friend say what she needs to say.
Erin: Yeah. Portia if you're imagining that sister and you know I just got to imagine that comes with it comes with embarrassment, might come with some shame. Don't all of us mamas wonder what did we do wrong? And so, you're with that friend of yours and she is making that announcement or need for prayer? How do you respond?
Portia: The first word that comes to mind is compassion and just like you said, she may feel embarrassed or shamed. I probably would share some of my own experiences. You guys know, I've opened up my heart, I haven't shared with everybody with the world yet, but you guys know that this is a tender subject for me. I would just share and let her know that you are not alone. I know what it feels like to be a praying family member who is concerned about a sister, brother, daughter, whatever. And so, I would just join link arms with her in prayer and just comfort her because it's kind of a grief process.
Erin: Sure, sure.
Portia: We just go to the throne, baby, we'd go to the throne.
Erin: It’s safest place to be, isn't it?
Alejandra: It is so, so true. I'd definitely do everything that Dannah said everything that Portia said. I would probably share something like this. We have a testimony today; we have a guest today. Her name is Laura Perry. She had gender reassignment surgery. She lived as a transgender man for a decade. But during that time, her mom never stopped loving and engaging with her.
So probably to that friend, I will say, you know what, let's watch something that God can do. And let's pray.
Erin: You know, her mom never stopped loving and praying for her, and neither did her mom's Bible study group. I can't wait for you to hear her tell the story in her own words about how some praying women shone the light of the gospel like a white-hot spotlight, right into Laura's life, even as she fully embraced a transgendered lifestyle.
Alejandra: And you might be thinking this is not for you. But I mean, Erin, you and I both have four young children.
Erin: We do.
Alejandra: It's hard for me, it is hard right now. They're little to imagine the heartbreak of hearing one of my girls or one of my sons to tell me that they had decided to abandon God's design for their body, for their manhood or for their womanhood. Because I know, I know what God's plan is for them. I know that God's plan is perfect, it’s best.
But I also know that I need to show the beauty of the gospel to my kids in those difficult situations. And not just to my kids, but also even to other people around me, even when they rebel against God's plan for their lives.
Erin: Yeah, and I need reminders about how to do that over and over and over. Because frankly, in my flesh, I don't respond to other people's sin well. I can count on both hands. instances in my life very recently, where I haven't shown the light of the gospel or thought through someone else's sin to the grid of the gospel.
Ray and Robyn McKelvy are with us also this morning, We love the McKelvys. They are walking a very difficult road with one of their children.
Now his prodigal road is quite different from Laura's. Again, you're going to hear them tell the story in their own words. But they're here to share how they are showing this child that they love so much. How are they showing him love without compromising on the truth of God's Word? How are they looking at him through gospel lenses? Even as they're waiting, this story has not got a pretty bow on it yet as they're waiting for him to turn from his sin.
And if you love a prodigal, and we all love a prodigal, you are not going to want to miss a nanosecond of this episode. Everybody loves a prodigal. I'm just gonna ask you, beg you to share this episode, because I know there are a lot of people who are going to need to hear it.
Alejandra: Share it, share it, share it now.
Alejandra: Email it to people. You know what? Last week, Erin, hope was so tangible on Grounded that Amanda told us, “Thank you for sharing hope.” This is why we have Grounded. Today as we talk about transgender issues, homosexuality, and loving prodigals, we know that these issues are complicated, and we can't fully unpack them in one single episode of Grounded. But we want to start the conversation. We want to give you hope and a biblical perspective on these situations.
Erin: We do. That is why we're here. Maybe you're watching this live this morning, or maybe you're going to listen to it somewhere down the road. And for you, you're questioning “Was I born the wrong gender?” Or maybe you find the cultural message that gender is fluid, confusing? Or maybe you find it inviting? I want you to hear us say it again over and over in this episode. The reason we're here is because we love you. The reason we're here is because we believe this book never ceases to offer hope and perspective, and we want to hand it out. But first, we've got some good news this morning.
Dannah: We should do Erin. We've been saving this one for just the right episode. As we consider shining the light of the beautiful gospel and to some issues that sometimes can feel pretty dark. We felt like today was the day to bring this one out.
Portia: Absolutely. I am so excited to share this. So today's good news story is about Christmas lights. Did y'all see my face light up when I said? I'm so excited.
Dannah: Yeah, I like that.
Portia: I love Christmas lights. And yes, we know it's April. Okay. But one woman in New York. named Sarah couldn't take down her Christmas lights. She couldn't take them down this year.
Dannah: She couldn't bear to. I understand that to some degree. Mine went up last August, and I just took them down a couple of weeks ago. But somebody noticed Sarah's, and they left a note a not so nice note in the woman's mailbox. Embarrassed, Sarah decided to post a picture of the note on Facebook, along with an explanation. And here's what it was. Her father and her aunt had both died from COVID-19. It was her dad who'd hung those Christmas lights. In the midst of her grief, Sarah just couldn't bring herself to take them down.
Portia: I know how that feels. I often tell people look, listen, we never know what people are dealing with behind closed doors. Kindness is key. But guess what? Something really amazing happened next, and this inspires me to love my neighbor's well.
Even though Christmas had long passed, twinkly lights started popping up all over this New York neighborhood. Sarah's neighbors put their own Christmas lights back up as a sign of solidarity.
Dannah: Look at that beautiful picture. Neighbors climbed back into their attics and down into their basements to retrieve their Christmas decorations that they packed up just a few months earlier, and they redecorated their homes for Christmas. One neighbor said, “We heard about the letter and that night we turned our lights back on. No one's going to tell us to turn them off.”
Portia: Oh, I love that. I love that. Well, today's episode is really an invitation to you to plug your lights back in to show the light of Christ to a world that can feel so very dark. You know, it reminds me of this song I grew up singing: “This little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine
Dannah: Go Portia. You should sing for us every Monday.
Portia: Fun fact, I love to sing actually, me and my husband. But it comes straight from Matthew, the fifth chapter, verses 15 and 16, where Jesus commanded us, “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Dannah: That's right, and the gospel, the hope of Jesus Christ, that love of Jesus Christ is the light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” He's the light that can shine hope on the hurting. And for that reason, we think this story is good news.
Dannah: Well, speaking of news, a headline I've been seeing a lot of lately has to do with transgenderism. In fact, Sports Illustrated is making news once again with another first as they announced the models for their upcoming annual swimsuit model edition, including the first black transgendered woman to be featured in the magazine. Now she's not the first transgendered woman. That title went to a model last year, but it sure has people talking about the trans community again.
So how do we do that? How do we talk about and engage with the trans community in a way that offers both compassion but doesn't sacrifice conviction? Here to help us is a woman who lived for nearly a decade as a transgender man named Jake before she says she realized the deception of the transgender lifestyle and left it all behind. Please welcome Laura Perry.
Laura Perry: Thank you so much for having me on. I'm excited.
Dannah: Oh, we're so glad to have you, Laura. We spent some time together just recently. I feel like we're friends now. I absolutely adore you. Help us understand—grow our compassion. What led you . . .? You were born biologically female. But you wanted to live as a man, what caused that, do you think?
Laura: There were a variety of things in childhood. I can see some things I believed very early on that were just lies from the enemy, things that had been said that were hurtful. But I think what happened is I: I got this filter put on my life. It's like every little thing would get put through that filter. So other comments that were said that would reinforce that. Part of it was just a misunderstanding with my relationship with my mom, and I don't blame her at all. I love her so much now.
But as a child, she was always doing a lot for me, but not spending as much time with me like my dad was. Then every little thing would happen. It was like, she doesn't love you. She loves your brother more.
Dannah: So if she loved your brother more, if I'm hearing you correctly . . . You wanted to be loved. You started to believe that as a little girl, very little girl. Maybe it would be better if I was a boy. Is that right?
Laura: Yeah. And then I started acting a little bit more like a boy. And then the other girls would reject me because I wasn't like them. And so, it just snowballed.
Dannah: Yeah, I'm sure if we sat down with each person who struggled with gender dysphoria, their story would sound a little bit differently. But they probably all started with a child misinterpreting something that was very real and really impacted their heart. How far did your transition to Jake go?
Laura: Well, I lived that lifestyle for almost nine years. I didn't transition until I was 25. I think if I'd grown up in the culture now, I would have started much younger. I would have been one of those kids screaming to transition as a child. But I lived nine years, and I took all the hormones and all the legal changes. I had two major surgeries. I had a double mastectomy and all the female organs removed.
Dannah: So you were willing to go to some pretty great lengths to be able to live as a man. So, you're living as a man; you're an adult. You said you did it for nearly a decade. Were you happy?
Laura: You know, there was a lot of happy times. But it was always this perceived happiness. For the most part, it was always like, one day, I'm going to be happy, one day when this is real. There was this excitement in this anticipation of what it was going to be one day, because I knew it was kind of fake at the time. But it was like, well, one day, this is all going to be real. And then I'm going to have this happiness and this freedom that I want. But the more I transitioned the less freedom I found, actually.
I really became a slave to that identity. It became bondage. Especially one day, when I had a new job, where I was only known as male. I remember having to cover up my entire life. I'd be talking about a story from childhood. And it's like, oh, wait a minute, you know, I couldn't have been in Girl Scouts. I had to have been in Boy Scouts. I couldn't have played softball. I had to have played baseball. I was saying that I was a straight man. I had a wife. I would accidentally talk about an ex-boyfriend once, you know. So, it's like I was caught in so many lives and my life became a living hell.
Dannah: So you were in pretty deep.
Laura: I was.
Dannah: Take us to a moment when you realized you were in a place where you really didn't want to be. Take us to the room, the day when were you kind of like, this is a wake-up call moment for me.
Laura: It was after I had had the first two surgeries. I had really planned to have the final surgery and I was always cut. I was already realizing that these surgeries were fake and they weren't providing the confirmation that I needed. The dysphoria wasn't going away. But I thought well, that's just because other women have breasts removed for whatever reason, and the female organs removed. I thought that once I had the genital reassignment, I thought everything was going to be fine. I kept trying to convince myself, but when I started looking at those surgeries, I didn't realize how horrific these surgeries were. If anybody out there is listening, please run from this. These surgeries absolutely maim people, and they have caused so many problems. I know one girl that has had 31 corrective surgeries. Not only that, but they likely would lose all sexual feeling or at least some sexual feeling. They are just major, major problems. And then on top of that, it would have cost about $100,000. There was no way I was ever going to have that kind of money. I was devastated because I realized that everything that I had been working so hard for for five years at that point, was not ever going to happen.
I felt like some kind of freak in-between because I was like halfway transitioned. And yet, I'm gonna have to live like this the rest of my life, waking up every single day and being faced with the reality that this was not true.
Dannah: You and I just spent a few hours talking about the details in the Revive Our Hearts studio. It's a whole series of conversations with you that we'll be releasing very soon. I remember just coming to understand how deeply painful every single stage of this journey was for you, as a little girl, who wanted to be loved, and felt like she might feel that better as a boy. Then as a woman in process of transitioning and hoping that would be the solution. And then as a woman living as a man, and finding that you weren't, you were still lonely.
You've really helped me build some compassion and understanding. We didn't say this yet, but you grew up in a Christian home. You grew up in a home with a mom and a dad who loved the Lord were actively involved in church. How did your mom and dad respond? And how did that impact you?
Laura: At the time, I would have told everybody and I probably did, that they were extremely hateful. They kind of blew up at me, and they were so mean. But I look back on it now that the Lord has begun to heal me. What I really remember is the tears. They were sobbing and begging me not to do this. I had forgotten this at the time. But I remember clearly thinking, I wish they didn't love me so much, because I just wanted to go do what I wanted to do without all the guilt.
But I remember how much they loved me. They were not willing to give in to my every demand. They were just begging me, and they said, “We will do anything for you.” Not in the way that I wanted, but they would have gotten in counseling, whatever I needed to get help.
Dannah: Yeah, you know, I think it's interesting that their conviction was a part of what made you feel loved. But also, there was a lot of compassion and how they approached things. For example, one of the things people talk about a lot is the use of pronouns, and what should we call someone who's in the transgender lifestyle. I had a conversation with your mom, who told me you didn't really want to be called Laura anymore. Which, as a mom, that breaks my heart if one of my children told me that, but she also wanted to love and honor you. She wouldn't call you Jake, but she called you Honey during some of those years,
Laura: Yeah, it was interesting, because I would get so mad at her and I blow up at her. A lot of times I would go months without talking to them. I wanted so desperately for them to call me Jake, to use male pronouns, and to really see me as their son. But I eventually I would kind of get over it. I would kind of come back to the conversation. Once in a while, she wouldn't do it on purpose, she would even call me, Laura. She'd say, “I'm sorry. I've known you as Laura your whole life. I gave birth to you; you're my daughter.” She said, “I love you. And I will always know you as Laura.”
And I remember as much as I hated it, I just I wanted her to stop doing it so badly. But at the same time, there was something in it that was grounding. It was like a tether to reality to me, that kept me grounded on who I was. I was trying so desperately to cut it off. Yet it would tap something so deep inside me as to who I really was. Because the reality is with transgenderism, they're trying desperately to recreate themselves and to be their “authentic self.” But no matter how much we want to change that, the reality is we can never be anybody but who God created us to be.
Dannah: Yeah, true. So, Laura, again, I'd love to unpack this more slowly. But I want to go to, I guess the significant turning point, because God's Word was a big part of what was eventually used to bring your heart back. Your mom who was praying for you had friends praying for you all through this 9- to 10-year journey as Jake. She decided to ask you to help her build a website for Bible studies she was teaching. Tell us how that impacted your heart.
Laura: She had asked me to make the website, and people have since asked her if she did this on purpose. Like did she come up with some plan. She had tried to do that all my life to fix me. She honestly just needed the website. This was not some ulterior motive. She knew that I could do it. As I began to work on it, I had this brilliant idea that I was going to summarize each lesson. And I didn't realize this was the Lord intervening in my life. As I began to read the lessons, because I didn't believe in the power of the Word of God, I was just reading something. But as I began to read it, the Word of God just begin to penetrate my heart. One of my life verses is Psalm 107:20, that says, “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
I just love that. I think that's what God began to do. It wasn't even specific verses at first that begin to convict. It really was just that I began for the first time in my life to see the heart and the character of God. I really just began to long for this God that I was hearing about in these lessons. All I knew about the Bible was God's rules. And these dusty, old stories that didn't have any meaning to my life.
But as I began to read this, it just began to penetrate my heart over about six months. I went from almost never calling her. I only called them when I felt absolutely obligated. And I started calling her every day and asking questions about this Bible study. And about six months later, I gave my life to Jesus. I just I got radically saved. I was so completely transformed, and I was never the same. I knew my life had changed.
I knew the Spirit of God had come in me. I really have not looked back since. I really thought I was going to be a man of God. I really didn't know what to do about my gender identity, because I felt like I couldn't fix it. And I was like, well, God saved me. He must be okay with this. I'm just going to be a man of God. But He began to convict me slowly over the next year and a half. He was so patient and so gentle and long suffering with me. He just began to draw me out of it, little by little, and I would be convicted. And it was like, “Well, what am I supposed to do about it now?”
Dannah: You said a moment ago you were married. You were living with a partner; you had a wife. I think we lose perspective on the heart issues that are associated with all the relationships when we're in any kind of lifestyle. We have friends, we have loves, we have passions. You had to choose to leave all of that. The sacrifice of picking up your cross was really big. And when you finally did that, your mom had someone praying for you. In fact, not just one someone but a whole group, her Bible study group had been praying for you. What role did they play in your story as you came home to the Father?
Laura: It was it was unbelievable. It's like God had built in everything that I would need in these women. I really needed them for the healing of my soul. I needed to feel the love of these women. God had been preparing them for years, because they wouldn't have known what to do with a transgender. But as they were praying over these years, God really began to give them a heart for me. When I came home, these women embraced me with so much love and compassion. I remember them just almost falling. I mean, it talks about Jesus when He was talking about the father of the Prodigal Son. He fell on him and kissed him. These women were just kissing me on the cheek. And like, I remember the joy in their faces and them praising God.
They not only really poured into my life; they've raised over $1,600 to buy me a new wardrobe. Then they kept supporting me after that. As I would travel around and share my story, they kept supporting me financially, but also just an incredible support network of loving me. It's like I had like 100 grandmas. I did love those women so much.
Dannah: That's so precious. Laura, thank you for being with us today. You have not only reminded us that we never know the depth of someone's hurt when we don't understand what they're walking through, but that we can love them, we can pray for them. We can be there in a compassionate way. I think you've probably also given some hope to those who have a prodigal in their lives. Thank you for being with us.
Laura: Thank you so much for having me on.
Dannah: Laura has written a book that might help you if you're struggling with gender dysphoria, or you know someone who is. It might just be a really good tool for you as you grow in both your compassion and your conviction on this topic. The title is Transgender to Transformed: A Story of Transition That Will Set You Free. It's written by Laura Perry. And of course, we cannot imagine loving those in the transgender community if we were not grounded in God's Word. So, Erin Davis, help us do that just now.
Erin: Wow. Laura just illustrated so beautifully the power of the Word, the Bible, which she didn't even believe to be the inspired Word of God was what began to transform her heart. And so, we want to open our Bibles together this morning. I would love for you to turn to 1 Corinthians 15.
And this morning, if you're like me, your refrigerator is full of leftover ham, at my house, the Easter clothes got quite muddy during the egg hunt, and they're now thrown into laundry baskets. But He is still risen, and that still matters. That's the essence of what Paul is writing here in 1 Corinthians 15. It is such an in-depth, powerful sermon, if you will. Paul wrote it as a letter on the so what of the resurrection; the whole thing is about the resurrection.
So, the what is that we believe we just celebrated that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again. That's the what? What is the “so what”? Why does that matter? How does it impact our ability to live with these two words, we keep saying, conviction, the firm belief that this is true, but also compassion?
I want you to listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1–5. I'll read it to us,
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [there’s the conviction] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
He's reminding them of the gospel. Now, Paul wrote these words within a generation of the resurrection. This congregation who first heard these words probably read aloud. They knew Cephas, he wasn't just a historical name. And they had heard the story that Jesus had appeared him. They knew or were just a little bit removed from the others who saw the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes.
And so, we think, well, there's no way they could forget the resurrection, they were too close to it. Well, even though they were within a generation of it, Paul says, “Hey, let me remind you of the gospel. Remember, Jesus died. Remember, He was buried. Remember, He rose again. Remember, the good news.”
And there's this little phrase in that passage. I'd encourage you to underline it, or circle it, if your Bible is handy, or like I did this morning, I wrote it on a sticky note. And it is this, from verse 3, “For I delivered to you as a first importance,” as a first importance. The gospel is primary.
That impact of how we think about those who are caught in every manner of sin. Let it impact how we pray for those who are stuck in sexual sin, those who are wandering far from the Lord. And it's this, remember, the gospel is a first importance.
We can get so far into the weeds of debating issues and pointing out specific sins, of fighting the culture, which frankly, the culture is never going to embrace the message of this book. But a question for us as we're talking about these issues, does that approach work?
Can hearts be changed by our platitudes? I've never seen it. I have seen hearts changed by the gospel. I am a heart changed by the gospel. I was in sin as a teenager, when someone shared the gospel with me. We all were, the gospel is for sinners.
It was the gospel that wooed me. As Laura talked about the character of Jesus it was, it was His kindness that led me to repentance. And then once I had surrendered myself to Jesus, once I had surrendered myself to Jesus like Laura through His Spirit, by the power of His Word, He began to deal with my sin. He is still dealing with my sin. He is making me more and more like Him. If I had reversed it, if I had tried to deal with my sin first, which I did, if I had tried to just clean myself up and be good enough, it wouldn't have worked.
I wouldn't have had the eyes to see the weight of my sin without the gospel. The gospel puts goggles on my eyes that allows me to see things as they really are. I wouldn't have had the Holy Spirit's help to change. None of us can turn from sin without that help.
So as we love others, it's so easy to focus on the specific ways they're disobeying God. And, frankly, other people's sin should break our hearts, because as Laura has shared with us, sin is so devastating. It wreaks such horrible havoc on our lives.
But in addition to just focusing on maybe a certain area of sin, are we giving them the gospel? It's a first importance. Are we praying that they would know and turn toward the gospel or just that they would turn away from a lifestyle? It's the gospel they need to run to. Is the gospel of first importance? Now, I'm not Paul. But Paul started this chapter by saying, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel . . .”
And this morning, I would say this, but I would remind you sisters of the gospel. It really does have the power to transform lives. I'm a living example of that. I know many of you are, too.
Ray and Robyn McKelvy are with us this morning. They're regulars here on Grounded. And a couple of weeks ago, I reached out to Robyn to ask: Is there anything on your heart about how to serve the people we love—our friends, our neighbors, maybe our children, or cousins, or aunts, or uncles—who are still in the midst of their sin?
Robyn responded enthusiastically and with conviction and compassion, because Ray and Robyn are praying for one of their own precious children to turn from his sexual sin, but not just to turn from his sexual sin, but to run toward the gospel. I want you to hear them tell it in their own words. Every parent, every grandparent needs to hear this. Robyn, welcome. Take it away.
Robyn McKelvy: Thanks. Oh, I've been crying, because Laura's story is so real for us. It's been a long road, and we're still in the thick of it.
Erin asked me two questions. One was how do we show the beauty of the gospel in light of sexual sin or transgender issues? And then the second was, how can we serve those who are in sin and unrepentant? And that's where we are right now Ray. Wouldn't you say?
Ray McKelvy: Yeah.
Robyn: Well, we have kids, and you know, we've got a lot of them. But when we had them, I thought if we did everything the Bible tells us to do that, we would have great kids and no problems or issues or even sin, because I was gonna have perfect kids.
I thought if I prayed for them, that they would always run hard after God. I never anticipated that the world would cause them to stray and wander with all the truth I was living before them. I mean, we even homeschool for crying out loud, because we wanted our kids to have a biblical worldview.
Robyn: And so, I thought . . . This is something I think that the Lord did for me personally. I thought if I did it all right, that I would have the formula for raising righteous children.
I would think then that I had ownership. But I've come to know that every child born is not mine. Every child born in our home, they're not ours. They belong to the Lord.
Ray, would want to add something else?
Ray: This is just talking to our Grounded family. You obviously see Robyn and I are in two different locations. I'm at work, had to drop the kids off this morning to school and couldn't get back in time for both of us to be together. So it's really interesting. Both of us are tackling this very difficult issue of having a child, a son, who came out as gay three years ago, during this time. It was actually around Easter.
I had time to reflect on that and remember it really, really, really well. And so, it's just interesting, having Robyn in another location. I just want to give her a hug, because I know that pain. As she said, it's something that we are still navigating, still working through it. We're talking about marriage. I think Robyn and I are often on Grounded and talking about marriage. And I was thinking, how has this impacted our marital relationship?
I was just thinking about how differently Robyn and I handle even this issue with our son in particular. I'm thinking I'm not ready to talk about this yet. It's still so extremely fresh, and we’re working through it. And Robyn is different. She's very open. I would want to think I'm very open, but with a little bit more processing on the inside. But watching her saying, “Let's share our story.” And it's a story that is still unfolding.
So, I just wanted to give a little bit of context for our Grounded family, just knowing, this is still very tough for us as well. Sorry, Rob, I kind of just took that.
Robyn: That's okay. I think we all need to hear that. I think that these kinds of issues can either bind you together or drive you apart. And so, one of the things as I was preparing for today, I'm saying, “Lord, what do you want people to hear?” Because I want to share, and I want everybody who prays to be praying for this son who was so active in our church, who wanted to be a missionary in Portugal, who’d love the Lord, who'd love this woman.
We had just finished doing premarital counseling with them. We knew his struggle with same-sex attraction. That was real. But we knew what God could do. We anticipated that God would just clean that same-sex attraction out. He will always probably live with that.
And that's not the focus. The focus is, how do we love Him through the process. And so, I believe that the Lord gave me to share with you guys, Ecclesiastes 12:13–14, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil.”
And now I can say I have a son. I have many sons, but one of my sons is living a gay lifestyle right now. It's so hard for us to share because I want Ray to be there sharing with me, and I want people to pray. But I know Ray, and I know how he processes. I know that he wants this to be over so we can give a glowing report of how amazing God is. But how do we do this in the process?
In the meantime, we think that the testing of our faith produces perseverance or steadfastness. Ray and I can say we are living witnesses that. I believe there's a couple of things that we need to do as believers, as Christian, men and Christian women. We really need a pep talk in regards to how to live with joy in the midst of all of the things that enemy keeps trying to come at us with.
Number one, we need to realize all have sinned. Every single one of us, even if we know this Bible backwards and forward, we all have been seeing and falling short of the glory of God. And I believe the world needs to know that we are just like whoever—the LBGT community, Q the non-binary. We all at one time lived a sinful life. But where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.
I think it's so important that my son understands no matter what lifestyle he chooses, I love him. And so, I text him quite a bit. I know sometimes he wishes I wouldn't, but he does text me back. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of sermons being preached. I text him what the sermon is saying. I know he wishes just that I would just leave him alone. But grace much more abounds. It causes me to pray for him. I want to continue to fight this battle with him. And that's the way I can fight it.
And then the third thing is, I fear the Lord, I do. Nothing is impossible with God, nothing. Grounded family, I want you to hear nothing is impossible with God. We just heard an impossible story.
Robyn: I'm sure Laura Perry's mom was bawling some days during that ten-year period. But nothing is impossible with God. So, we live in light of that. We pray, and we encourage in light of that. I'm going to pass some of these other things.
But I think it's important. When our children are living a lifestyle differently than ours, we must love as Christ loved us while we were still sinners, He died for us. We celebrated Resurrection Sunday, yesterday. Christ died for us. Don't do like this world does and cancel your child.
We live in this culture that if they don't like, you cancel that person. But no, what you need to do is you die. You die to not talking to them. You die to not talking about the two other people and slander them. The Bible tells us not to slander, but to love them well and encourage them well. Live so your child can see that in spite of everything, you live to bring glory to God every day of your life. They need to know that you won't change. Just like God doesn't change in their life. They need to know that. And then I'm throwing it back to Ray.
Ray: Hey, I think we're almost out of time. But I want to encourage couples to continue to pray together. Robyn hit on this. Don't allow even the trials that your children will go through to tear you apart. Remain steadfast together as a husband and wife. And just to realize this, you're not going to do it perfectly. God even in His sovereign plan, can rescue that which seems unrescueable
Erin: Well, Ray and Robyn, we really do love you.
Ray: Thank you.
Erin: Your story stirs my heart. What Laura said sticks with me—"I wish they didn't love me so much.” And I hear that in your heart for your boy. And Robyn, I heard you say several times, I want people praying for him. I want to be obedient to do that and to love you. So let me pray for your son and for your family.
Ray: Thank you.
Erin: As we're wrapping up this episode, Jesus, we love You, and You love us. And while we were, as Robyn said, still sinners, You died for us. It is from a place of love, Lord, that we can love others. I pray for this son of the McKelvys. Lord, I pray that he would be established like an oak of righteousness by living waters. Lord, I pray that You would arrest his heart with the gospel. It is only the gospel that allows us to turn from sin. I pray that he would turn and even now right now, though I don't know where he is. But You know where he is. I pray there would be a softening of his heart and that You would woo him.
There are things that his sin offers him, Lord, but You are better. You are brighter; You are more wonderful. We just pray for the wooing to continue. I pray for his parents who love Him, Lord, that You would help them to stand on the gospel and to love him well. We trust him to you. It's the safest place for all of our children to be. We’ve got to put them in the basket over and over and over and into the river of Your love and Your providence in their life. And so, as a Grounded family, we put him in the basket. We ask for his rescue, Lord. We love you. It's in Your holy holy, holy name that we pray. Amen.
Thanks for sharing McKelvys.
Portia: Erin, I got a couple of comments. I'm sorry guys. I am not holding it together today. I can't read all of them. But Kristin, Melissa, and Beverly we see your comments. But I did want to read this one, and I'm not sure who it came from. But it says, “I wish so much I had someone who cared about my relationship with the Lord. It's not just my outward behavior. I've turned for help, but find myself slipping back to sin.
And I think Erin, you could kind of take it home This speaks to what you just taught about. I think that is the response to this. But we want you to know Jesus; run to Jesus. I'm so weeping because I know how God has changed my life. I know the power of God, and He can do all things.
Sorry, I am not holding it together.
Erin: No. I don't think we should hold it together. I really don't. I think if we could hear these stories and not have hearts moved by them, then we didn't hear the stories. We didn't hear the layers underneath—the sorrow of sin and the need for a rescuer.
I'm so grateful for this episode. And whoever wrote that comment, we care. We don't care about your behavior. I don't care about your behavior. I have bad behavior seven days out of seven every week. I hear that you know the gospel.
Erin: Jesus didn't die for your behavior. He did not. He died to rescue you and reconcile you to Himself. So, what a powerful episode. What a tender episode. And we're going to leave it there for the Lord to continue to minister to your hearts as only He can. But we hope you'll come back here next Monday. We hope again that you'll share this episode because people need to hear it. And here's what we can promise you. We're going to be here next week. And the gospel is going to be a first importance. And we're going to wake up with hope. Next week on Grounded.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.