*Dear Tamara:

During a recent family gathering, my youngest brother announced that he is gay. The entire family was shocked, including me. I never suspected that my brother was gay. Growing up he had plenty of girlfriends and didn’t show any signs of being gay. I haven’t spoken to him since his big announcement and am really unsure about what to say or how to handle the situation. On one hand I want to support my brother and let him know that I still love him, but on the other I am really worried about him. Our family grew up in the church and this is not the way we were raised. I don’t agree with my brother choosing to live a gay lifestyle, I think homosexuality is a sin and I don’t want him to suffer. What can I do about this?

My Brother’s Keeper

Dear My Brother’s Keeper”

Unfortunately there is nothing that you can do about your brother’s choices. The only thing you can do is love him through this situation and support him. You do not have to like or agree with someone’s personal choices or their lifestyle to continue to show them love and support. I think a lot of times we try to change people or make them act or behave the way we want them to or in a way that we think is right and acceptable only to be frustrated and disappointed.

I usually do not like to get in the middle of people’s faith and religious beliefs because I understand that people have the freedom to practice whatever religion they choose. But you did write to my column so I think I should respond! I too grew up in the church and am married to a preacher, so although I have my own beliefs about what I think and believe are right and wrong, I still cannot judge or punish a person.

I also understand your need to protect your brother from society and moral judgment. But that is something else that you cannot do. Your brother is your brother and will always be your brother regardless of whatever choices he makes in life. I think your concern for your brother is justified. Homosexuals face many challenges in our society and our greatest fear is that someone we love will have to face challenges based solely on their personal decisions and preferences.

Since you expressed that you were raised in the church, I encourage you to pray about the situation and ask for guidance and understanding. Why you cannot control your brother’s choices, you can love him and possibly influence his perspectives.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It, Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.