The worldview about homosexuality is changing. Homosexuality used to be a subject we did not talk about with kids. People understood it is important to protect the innocence of children, but things have changed.
Yesterday the Nickelodeon Channel broadcast a half hour special entitled, “Coming Out.” In this documentary, gay kids talk about knowing they are different from an early age. They openly discussed the scary prospect of coming out to family amid possible rejection, and the bullying they’ve experienced at school.
I do not agree with Nickelodeon broadcasting a show about gay teens on a kid’s channel, but the fact is, it is happening and we are going to see more shows like this from the secular media.
Here are some questions that christian parents are asking:
- How do I respond to family shows on Disney and Nickelodeon with gay characters?
- Do I pull my kids from school if they are teaching a gay rights curriculum?
- What do I do if I am at a restaurant with my kids and we see two gay men kissing?
- We can pull our kids from public school, ban them from watching all TV shows, and stop going out to eat in public places, or we can begin to talk to our kids about homosexuality.
Admittedly, this is an emotional topic. There are strong opinions on both sides. You may disagree with me, and I’m OK with that. You can share your opinions in the comments section below.
If you are not a Christian you may get offended by this article, but please understand I am not speaking to you. I am talking to parents who have made a commitment to the authority of scripture.
My purpose in writing this article is not to stir up emotion, but to help Christian parents talk to their kids about a challenging issue.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Treat everyone with respect. The truth is that gay teens have been picked on and bullied for years. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kids to respect everyone, even those who are different. Respect should be given unconditionally, just like love is given unconditionally. I choose to be respectful based on who I am, not based on how others act. Words like “faggot” and “pervert” should not be part of our vocabulary.
2. Turn down the emotion. Do not freak out if your child asks a question about something he or she saw on TV, or something that was said at school. You want to keep the communication lines open. When you get angry, you are telling your kids, “don’t talk to me about this.”
3. Talk to your kids about their future. If your kids are under eight, do not initiate a conversation about homosexuality, but you can still be proactive by casting vision. Kids love to use their imagination to think about the future. You can encourage this by asking questions. What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you going to get married? Do you want to be a daddy? Do you want to be a mommy? How many kids do you want to have? The goal here is help them imagine the road map of their life. Don’t tell them what to do. Just steer the conversation.
4. Ask questions. If your kids are older than eight, they have some ideas about gay people. Their ideas come from TV shows, movies, friends, school, siblings and their parents. You can start the conversation by simply asking questions: What does the word “gay” mean? What do you think about when you hear the word “gay”? What does a gay person look like? The goal here is to find out what your kids are thinking so you can talk about it.
5. Answer their questions. You want your kids to come to you with questions about homosexuality. Let’s imagine that you see two men kissing at a restaurant. What do you say to your kids? Instead of running away or freaking out, use this as an opportunity to talk about homosexuality. (After you leave the restaurant) Make sure to talk about both sides of the issue – the sin issue and the respect issue. I would start out by asking, “Did you see the two men in the restaurant? Was that awkward? How did it make you feel?” At some point they may ask, “Why were those two guys kissing?” I would respond by reading the Bible. (See point #6)
6. Read the Bible with your kids. Take turns reading the scriptures with your children so they are reading it too. Read Genesis 1:27-28, 2:19-25, Matthew 19:5-6. Many people say that Jesus did not say anything about homosexuality, but he did say a lot about marriage. This is how Jesus defines marriage, “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.”
7. Keep the fire in the fireplace. I like the analogy of the fireplace. Fire is a good thing as long as it stays in the fireplace. Fire can warm you up and bring enjoyment, but if it gets out of the fireplace, it can create problems. If I start lighting fires in places that fire does not belong, it can destroy my life. (Think of marriage as the fireplace) Talk to your kids about how God created sex for marriage, and Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Sex is good if you do it God’s way. Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed.
8. Talk to your kids about making wise choices. Many people say that being gay is not a choice. I get what they are saying, but I do not agree. Even if they are attracted to the same sex they still have a choice.
This is one way to explain the concept of choice to our kids.
Everybody makes decisions. God gives us the privilege and ability to make choices, even if they are wrong choices. Christians have the personal responsibility to make decisions that please God. Sometimes we feel like doing things, but that does not mean that the things we feel like doing are the right decision. My “feelings” can lie to me and get me in trouble. God gives us a good pattern to follow in scripture–one man with one woman. Some people are confused about that. That doesn’t mean they are bad people–it means they are confused about this.
9) Homosexual sex is a sin. When your kids turn ten, you should have “the talk” with them about the birds and the bees. (Do this before they hit puberty or they won’t want to talk to you about it.) At this time talk to them about the various kinds of sexual sin, adultery, fornication and homosexuality. Read Romans 1:21-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I Corinthians 6:9-10
When having this talk about sin, it is important that you not put down gay people. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do. One way to do this is to talk about your sin or a time when your son or daughter sinned.
Ask your kids about something they struggle with or a time in their life when they sinned. Maybe they have a problem with anger or lying. Ask them what they did when they sinned. Did you repent? Did God forgive you? Will God forgive homosexuals?
10) Repent of your own sin. I want to turn the tables at this point. People do not receive truth if it is not spoken in love. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we have been pretty good at speaking truth to the LGBT community but not extending the love of Christ. Jesus was a master at both. Loving people and speaking truth.
Allow me to be transparent for a minute.
The following story does not paint me in a very good light, but I’m willing to take the risk.
A few months ago I went to get my hair cut at Fantastic Sam’s. A man that appeared to be gay approached the counter and said, “Can I help you?” I thought to myself, “I don’t want this guy cutting my hair.”
Then I realized, “this is a horrible thought.” Do I think I’m going to turn gay because a gay man cuts my hair?”
Jesus spent time with tax collectors and sinners. When the Pharisees saw this they said, “This man welcomes sinners.” The Pharisees meant this as a criticism, but for the rest of us this is good news.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. This includes gay people and straight people.
As followers of Christ, we are called to minister to all people. Many times gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons are broken people. To make matters worse, they are often alienated from the Church.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we have failed in communicating the love of Christ to the LGBT community. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that the healing begins with the Church. We need to repent of the sin of rejecting gay people.