By Summer Stevens
Reprinted with permission from GES. Link to the article online HERE.
From Tolerance to Forced Approval
There is an intentional attempt to indoctrinate your children to the LGBTQ lifestyle, and your church is likely doing nothing about it.
This indoctrination is evident in obvious ways, such as in the mandatory teaching of LGBTQ history in many states across the country and a push for LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. Last year England made LGBTQ-inclusive sex education mandatory in public schools. A Psychology Today article reported that 81% of elementary and 88% of secondary teachers approved of LGBTQ-inclusive education, and 45% of kindergarten teachers felt comfortable addressing the topic with students.
The indoctrination shows up subtly, too, in the quick embrace of a same-sex couple in a TV commercial, on rainbow-colored kids’ cereal boxes during Pride month, and in the quiet introduction of gay characters in almost every Netflix series or Disney movie. Mere tolerance is not acceptable any longer. People must embrace and celebrate LGBTQ practices or be threatened with labels such as homophobe or bigot and risk losing friends and jobs. And in fact, many people are embracing it. In 2001, 53% of Americans thought homosexuality was wrong; by 2021, that number had dropped to 32%.
“Young people today are more accepting of LGBTQ people than ever before. And as acceptance has grown in this country, so too has the number of young people who describe themselves as LGBTQ,” said the 2017 GLAAD’s Accelerating Acceptance study. That is a fascinating quote by GLAAD. The church should pay attention to it because cultural acceptance equals higher numbers of people embracing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles. Homosexuals used to comprise a relatively small percentage of Americans, but this number is rising fast. A Gallup Poll revealed that in 2012, 3.5% of the population identified as LGBT; that number climbed to 5.6% in 2020, and the youth of America are leading the charge with LGBTQ identification by almost 10% of teens aged 13-17 and a whopping 20% of millennials according to a GLAAD study.
Let’s put Biblical morality aside for a moment and focus just on the mental health of LGBTQ youth. Every other year the CDC conducts a large Youth Risk Behavior Study that monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among young people. In 2015, the study began collecting data for those students who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Several surprising facts began to emerge—namely, the drastic mental health concerns for LGB youth specifically. For the 2019 data, those in this group had experienced daily sadness or hopelessness for two straight weeks or more (66.3%), seriously considered suicide (46.8%), attempted suicide (23.4%), and had been forced to have sex against their will (19.4%) at much higher rates than their peers who identified as heterosexual (32.2, 14.5, 6.4, and 5.5%, respectively).
Transgender teens are almost six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
For a lifestyle that is so prone to hopelessness and suicide, it is a wonder that our culture continues to recommend it to our youth.
Watching the Storm
Sadly, the church has sat back and watched the storm, out of touch with the real struggles youth face, and has done little to affirm God-given gender identity in children. Elementary and middle school children are asking these questions and making sexual identity determinations.
A high school youth group series on waiting for marriage is too little, too late. Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy children with precision and calculation (John 10:10). How much more should the church seek to preserve, protect, and guard children against the lies and devastation barreling through our world in the realm of sexual identity.
Christians are not exempt from these statistics. At one of my previous churches, about half of the youth group struggled with sexual identity. Many of these were kids who had grown up in the church. The answer, then, is to start early in affirming biological gender and sexual identity. Because, as the statistics clearly reveal, teens are embracing homosexuality at drastically higher rates than ever before. Sexual preferences are being offered like a smorgasbord, with very young children encouraged to sample whatever looks appealing. Naturally, more and more children are trying out homosexuality and transgenderism with devastating results like depression, anxiety, and suicide. We are told that this is because of a lack of acceptance for these youth, and the answer is simply to celebrate the lifestyle even more, but God’s Word reveals that when we break from God’s design and pursue our own will, we will experience heartache and grief (Rom 1:28-32; 8:6).
The church must lead the charge. We cannot look to another organization. Each week the church has a unique opportunity to teach God’s truth to children and equip youth with firm confidence in their sexuality and gender identity. If you have any influence in your church as a pastor, pastor’s wife, elder, children’s volunteer, or even a parent or grandparent who is willing to schedule a meeting with the leaders, I cannot urge you strongly enough to seriously consider this issue and come up with a plan. Please prayerfully consider what you can do in your home or your church to prepare children to live confident, honorable lives for God.
Here are five ideas to get you started.
1 Incorporate sexual identity-affirming statements into Sunday school classes on a regular basis. If you have teachers or administrators who attend your church, enlist them to help create short, age-appropriate lessons beginning with toddlers. That may sound very young, but if your children are watching Disney, then you need to begin these conversations.
These can be very simple for preschool children, like, “Raise your hand if you’re a boy. Who made you a boy? Yes, God! Does God ever make mistakes? No! God meant for you to be a boy, and it’s good to be a boy! If you are a boy, can you ever not be a boy? Nope. You will always, forever, 100% be a boy because that’s how God made you. God made you a boy because the world needs brave, kind boys like you!” And repeat a similar statement for girls.
Elementary students can understand Biblical teaching on God’s creation of Adam and Eve and His design for marriage between men and women, and questions like, “So did God design men to marry other men? Or women to marry other women? No, He didn’t. God calls that sin.”
Many public elementary school teachers read picture books about homosexual families to indoctrinate students to the LGBTQ agenda; the church must indoctrinate students to God’s plan.
2 Affirm the authority of Scripture to young people. I’ve been surprised in recent years how adult Christians whom I considered mature could willfully embrace a lifestyle of sexual sin. I’ve concluded that these are Christians with a low view of Scripture.
As Free Grace proponents, we hold that someone can live a homosexual lifestyle and still be a Christian because our salvation does not depend on our sin; it depends on our belief in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. Homosexuality is not a special sin, though Paul does say sexual sin in general is of the category that is “against their own body” (1 Cor 6:18), and therefore more central to our identity and can be more damaging to ourselves than other types of sin. If a homosexual has believed in Jesus for eternal life, his salvation is secure, just like it is for anyone else.
However, a sinning Christian will miss out on fellowship with Jesus, experience earthly consequences of his or her sin, and suffer a loss of rewards.
This is where the authority of Scripture comes in. A very firm foundation in, and reverence for, God’s Word protects us from sin. Parents and church leaders must model obedience to the Scriptures and do everything possible to extol its value and relevance to speak into our lives. We must not only be hearers of the word but doers (Jas 1:22). Therefore, when youth come across passages of Scripture where God commands abstinence from sexual sin, they will respect and obey it, even if their feelings are confused for a time.
3 Address rebellion, pride, and arrogance in children through parenting classes. I believe there are two primary reasons children and teens veer toward homosexuality or transgenderism.
The first is trauma due to loss, abuse, or neglect, causing the child to fail to make appropriate and healthy connections with parents or peers. This child needs love, compassion, and counseling.
The second is a product of our smorgasbord culture that encourages children to sample sexual identities and choose what feels good at the time.
Today’s philosophy governing the education system is that the child’s unhindered self-expression is the purest and greatest path to self-realization and ultimate happiness. Parents must reject that philosophy and instead promote God’s standards as the path to joy and satisfaction. When Christian parents fail to set Biblical standards for their child in all areas of life, that child learns that her or she has no actual standards. This inevitably crosses over into the child’s sexual preference. “I can be attracted to anyone I want. It’s my choice. I set the rules.”
Parents must teach their children, “You cannot have what you want all the time. Some things are off-limits to you.” When children understand that they must stay within God’s standards, they
will better comprehend this principle as they get older and remain within their sexual parameters, including heterosexual preferences or celibacy. An indulged child is more likely to gravitate toward believing that she is the author of her own morality, rather than God.
4 Affirming Biblical gender and sexual identity is not the same as affirming stereotypes. Certainly, boys can like football and girls can like tea parties and that’s fine. Still, those are cultural expressions of masculinity or femininity that are unhelpful when teaching about sexual identity. God created some men to be bakers and poets and some women to be athletes and electricians. Boys can like pink and girls can like blue; however, do not celebrate a boy wearing nail polish or a girl wearing boy’s clothes. Celebrate the correct type of distinctions.
In our family, we take an annual boys’ camping trip with cousins and uncles. Though we sometimes camp as a family, the boys’ trip is special, and the only requirement is that you be a boy.
This fall, my girls will be old enough to take them out for a special girls’ weekend, and we are already planning our trip.
The church should plan activities and events that intentionally promote friendships and bonding within one’s God-given gender. The goal is not to steer youth toward stereotypes. The goal is to firmly root them with confidence and joy in their identity as a biological male or female whom God created. And if they choose to marry, teach them that God has created men for women, and women for men.
5 Create a positive environment for single people. Singles often feel like the third wheel at church gatherings, and “singles groups” tend to be focused on finding someone to marry. With an increasing number of young people identifying as LGBTQ and with the mental health struggles that accompany that, the church needs to offer genuine community for people who have chosen not to embrace the lifestyle. That situation can be very lonely and often shameful, but it shouldn’t be. The church should be the safest place for those struggling with homosexual thoughts and feelings—a place where they can find friendship, love, and people committed to helping them live a purposeful life that is pleasing to God.
It is honorable for a Christian man or woman with same-sex attraction to choose celibacy, but that shouldn’t mean a life of isolation from the Christian community.
Single heterosexual Christian adults must choose celibacy as well. The church must create an environment where being single for any reason and at any age is acceptable and not deemed socially inferior. The Apostle Paul considered singleness the preferable status (1 Cor 7:7-8), and the church should also affirm this. It is also essential for the teens in your church who may struggle with homosexuality or gender confusion to see a thriving church community where they can find friendship so they are less tempted to pursue a lifestyle of sexual sin motivated by loneliness.
Summer Stevens is married to Nathanael and they have five children. She has a Master’s in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and enjoys running (but mostly talking) with friends and reading good books to her kids.