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How Not to Talk to Your Kids About Sexuality and Sexual Orientation

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Earlier today I came across an article  entitled “How to Talk to Your Kids About Sexuality and Sexual Orientation” on The Huffington Post by research psychologist and gender scholar, Dr. Peggy Drexler. While I appreciate Dr. Drexler’s desire to encourage parents to talk to their kids about sexuality before someone else does, I couldn’t be in more disagreement with the majority of the content that she encourages parents to present to their inquiring kids. I understand that Dr. Drexler is a highly educated person specializing in the areas of sexuality, and that in the world’s eyes — despite my own personal struggle with homosexual desire –my comments or rebuttals don’t carry an ounce of weight. But nonetheless, I’m going to comment and rebut.

Speaking with children about the reality of homosexuality and homosexual relationships is no longer optional. I wish that it was – really, I do. The complexities of same sex attraction and same sex behavior are things that most seven year old minds can’t really get a grip on. But because of the way the presence of and focus on homosexuality has exploded in our culture, the Church is going to have to do its best to prepare young minds for things that they aren’t ready to – and shouldn’t have to – but are going to have to process.

An excerpt from Dr. Drexler’s article:

These days, it’s becoming more and more impossible to define “normal.” That’s a good thing. Go into nearly any classroom and you’ll see the physical landscape of children looks vastly different than it did a generation ago. And that’s before we even meet their parents. Most children these days have friends or neighbors whose families aren’t exactly — or, in some cases, remotely — like their own.

There’s not one “normal.”

And yet, many of the messages children receive through pop culture — whether it’s animated films and television shows, music, or books — continue to enforce one kind of “standard” romantic relationship, and that’s the one between a man and a woman. Many parents question how, and when, to talk to their kids about sexuality, and the fact that despite this, there’s not one “normal.

Dr. Drexler talks about how it’s nearly impossible anymore to define “normal”; and how that is a good thing. I would totally agree with her on some fronts. I am sincerely happy that we live in culture that is growing to celebrate the uniqueness of every individual. I am glad that we live in a culture that is speedily increasing in its views that you don’t have to dress a certain way to be “cool”; or that it’s not “taboo” for guys to enjoy art and music; or that women don’t only “serve their purpose” behind the stove or scrubbing bathroom floors. The changes in our culture’s attitude toward some past definitions of “normal” is good, but – like sinners tend to do – we take a good thing too far and make it a bad thing.

While the many, many differences and peculiarities in people’s styles, tastes, gifts, talents, interests and personalities are ultimately a small picture – a small beautiful picture — of the vast and innumerable glories of God, sexuality does not fall into the category of morally-neutral personality characteristics. There are divinely communicated boundaries surrounding sexuality. Same sex desire is different — like Dr. Drexler points out — than the norm when it comes to sexual desire, but that isn’t a difference that should be celebrated; it is a difference that should be mourned. Now, what I don’t mean that is that homosexuality is “worse” than any other sin or grosser than heterosexual sexual sin. What I mean is that the reality of homosexual desire is a vivid example of how sin has so twisted us, and that should cause us to mourn. We are so far separated from God in our sins that even our instinctive sexual inclinations have been affected. This is cause for weeping, not cause for celebration. And I say this as someone who experiences attraction to men on a daily basis — so please don’t call me insensitive or cruel.

The last thing that parents need to do is communicate to their kids that sexual preference is a morally neutral characteristic like taste in music or furniture. Homosexual desire, as the apostle Paul in Romans 1 shows us, is a direct result of humanity’s continual decision to gaze upon and worship the Creation (the world, ourselves, other people, etc) rather than the Creator – who is incomprehensibly more glorious, pleasurable and satisfying than all of the things we prefer to Him.

Another excerpt from Dr. Drexler’s article:

Some people — particularly proponents of ‘don’t say gay’ legislation in states like Missouri and Tennessee, which aims to forbid public schools from mentioning that homosexuality exists at all — argue that kids are too young to learn about sex. But talking about gay love needn’t include a lesson in the mechanics of sex, gay or otherwise. Instead, it’s a conversation about what it means to have love and friendship and respect for someone else — all those things that you want them to understand about being good people.

I somewhat agree with Dr. Drexler in her statements here. Avoiding reality doesn’t make reality go away; the Church can’t pretend that homosexuality isn’t prevalent, accepted and celebrated today. Although Dr. Drexler and the secular world are obviously going to approach the subject differently than Bible believers, we would do well to follow their example in taking the initiative to start up the conversation with our kids. Like she said, there doesn’t need to be vivid sexual pictures drawn in our explanations. I think it’s wise to stick to the “romantic” aspect of the relationship and refrain from the sexual, if at all possible.

I think a simple, truthful way to explain biblically explain homosexuality to a 6-8-year-old would be something like:

When God created the first two humans, He created them male and female and their relationship was known as marriage; you know, like how mommy and daddy are married? When people reach a certain age, God puts desires in their hearts to want to marry someone of the opposite gender. A boy starts to want to marry a girl, and a girl starts to want to marry a boy. This is God’s good design of how marriage is supposed to work — between grown up males and females. But because of sin and how we have all turned away from God, a thing called “homosexuality” exists. What this means is that instead of someone wanting to marry someone of the opposite gender, they want to marry someone of the same gender. This is what your friends and teachers mean when they say someone is “gay.” What God says is that “gay” people should turn away from their sinful feelings and follow Jesus, enjoy His love, and trust in His plan for their life.

You may disagree with me when it comes to using terms like “gay” in explaining this subject to kids. But it’s a term that they are going to hear from every which way out in the world, so I think it’s wise to equip them to understand the secular world’s language and then be able to interpret it from a biblical perspective.

One more excerpt from Dr. Drexler’s article:

When talking to your kids about their gay friends, neighbors, or relatives; their friends’ gay parents; or your own sexuality, the most important thing to do is keep dialogue open and to keep it light. Sexuality is a big deal. But the principles are the same as any other discussion you’ll have with them about growing up right: Practice kindness and love and treat others as you’d like to be treated. Plain and simple.

I pretty much concur with Dr. Drexler’s concluding thoughts. The conversation about homosexuality with your kids is going to be a continual one. They are going to have interactions with all sorts of people – including gay people – throughout their school years that are going to provoke questions. They are going to be slammed with secular worldviews every day of their lives through TV, social media, teachers, etc. So make sure that your kids know you are open to talking about things like homosexuality – don’t be squeamish or shut down when they bring these subjects up; they will be able to read your facial expressions and will in time stop looking to you for knowledge and perhaps seek it out from other – unbiblical – sources.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it’s vital that you communicate to your kids that we don’t hate “gay” people or find them disgusting. We, being sinners ourselves with our own messed up hearts, should feel great compassion and love for “gay” people and desire that they would come to know the God that redeems all types of sinners through His Son, Jesus. Your kids need to know that what we, as Christians, strongly desire to do is love gay people by embracing them and communicating the truth of God and redemption in Christ available to them. We have all – gay or not – broken God’s good and loving commandments and need to be saved from our guilt; and God’s righteous and just condemnation for our guilt. We all – gay or not – need the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And the good news is that it is available in full to anyone who will believe.

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