(See link below for our Thought Factory podcast episode about how to address the topic of sexuality)
When we don’t know what to say, we typically say nothing. When it comes to the topic of sexuality, we as parents/youth workers CANNOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE.
Many churches aren’t talking about it.
Many youth ministries aren’t talking about it.
Many families aren’t talking about it.
It’s time we change this.
Let’s talk about how you can have this conversation with your students.
BEFORE: KEEP THE TRUTH IN MIND
Whether or not someone is born with a propensity for same-sex attraction is irrelevant in the sense that we are all born with some sort of bent for specific sins and temptations. Just because someone is tempted in an area sexually doesn’t mean that they should succumb to this temptation or that it even defines them. If you’re tempted to commit adultery, it doesn’t mean you are an adulterer.
A 2020 Gallup poll tracking America’s self-identifying sexual orientation reports the following percentages:
Gay 1.4% Lesbian 0.7% Bisexual 3.1% Trans 0.6% Other 0.2% Heterosexual 94%
Watch shows, movies, commercials, and you might think it’s much higher.
But the numbers are changing. A recent Gallup survey notes that 1 in 6 of “Gen Z’ers” identify as LGBT.
HOW DO WE LOVINGLY HAVE THIS CONVERSATION WITH STUDENTS?
If we want to reach this generation with God and the Gospel, we must recognize that this is one of the primary conversations that we MUST have with them.
Here are a few ways to approach this conversation:
1. HELP THEM UNDERSTAND YOU CAN LOVE OTHERS AND ALSO DISAGREE WITH THEM
Many of our students have a conflicted nature about this topic. To many students, it is mutually exclusive to reconcile having a traditional, biblical view of marriage and sexuality and love anyone who has a different view. They believe that you cannot have a differing view about sexuality and still love someone. In case you didn’t know this already, THIS IS NOT TRUE. You can disagree and still love.
Our culture loudly says, “If you disagree with me, you hate me.” We must destroy this premise. Imagine you have a grandparent who is racist. It would be right to disagree with him. But in your disagreement, does this automatically mean you don’t love them? Of course not. You can strongly disagree (and in this case, you should) but also still love them.
Students need to hear us say to them: “You can love your friends that you may disagree with on issues of sexuality.”
2. DON’T BE EMOTIONAL IN YOUR APPROACH (Help them separate feelings from facts)
Feelings change. Facts don’t.
In the arena of ideas, we are on dangerous grounds as a society right now. So many believe that feelings trump logic and facts. But we know feelings come and go. Feelings can even betray facts and truth. Our world is so consumed by feelings that it seems they take priority over everything.
But we must help our students understand that they are two separate things. Just because we feel something doesn’t mean its true. Students need permission to recognize their feelings while also leaning into facts and logic.
Because the further you get away from binary sexuality, the quicker the logic breaks down. While we can’t deny people that say they “feel” like a different gender, that doesn’t mean this feeling is fact. All of the logical arguments here have been heard, but it still remains that my feeling won’t change my biology.
It’s a fact that things like male and female muscle hormones and body structure are fundamentally different. Sports are one of the easiest and clearest examples of how males and females are different biologically. I often will cite males who compete in female sports because they claim to be a different gender, and ask about fairness. (There are many examples of this in real life, I’m sure you’ve seen many that you can cite on your own) Is it fair in these instances for a boy to take first place from a girl who has worked for years to win? The answer is obvious.
Logic is on the side of binary sexuality. Some would talk of the exceptions, “Not true. What about people born with both genitalia?” The answer: what about people born with extra fingers and/or toes? Is that normative? The answer is no, that is not normative for people to be born with more than ten fingers and toes. Ten fingers and toes are normative. And male and female are normative. We are wired hormonally and built physically in two basic categories. Just because there are very, very rare exceptions does not mean that biological sexual differences should not exist in all of us.
3. ON SECOND THOUGHT…BE EMOTIONAL IN YOUR APPROACH (Show them you care about all people)
Let me speak on the other side of my mouth for a second. While facts ultimately should triumph over feelings, the fact is, feelings are a part of who we are and how we make decisions. Invoking emotion on the other side of the world’s view of sexuality will go a long way to helping win people over to the biblical side of the argument.
Speaking plainly here: don’t ignore the emotional side of the conversation with a purely, facts-only approach to the dialogue with your student. Address the issue embracing the fact that as humans (and especially as adolescents) that we all approach life and opinions with emotions a part of the equation.
Generally speaking, students more than adults KNOW someone who is thinking about or living a view of sexuality that is not the traditional, biblical view. Because of this, it is easier for adults to emotionally remove themselves from real people with real stories.
Think of it this way: do you know someone who is divorced? Of course you do, we all do. Do we believe that divorce is wrong according to biblical standards? Yes. And yet it’s a different argument to talk about an issue that’s emotionally charged, like divorce, when you KNOW someone in that situation.
This generation of students is much more inclined to have a face and a name of someone they love connected to this issue of biblical sexuality. Therefore, keep this in mind and put yourself in their shoes when you have this discussion. It doesn’t change our stance, but it brings another layer of perspective to it. We must acknowledge and address it as an emotional situation as well.
WE MUST BE TALKING ABOUT THIS. Silence is only moving us in reverse. It’s time to be as proactive as we can when it comes to having this conversation.
Listen to our podcast episode with Michelle Rewa about Godly sexuality. (latter half of this episode)
Geoff Eckart, CEO
Never The Same
© 2021, Never The Same