by Brian Dollar/ June 30, 2015
On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that marriage between homosexual couples would be legally recognized in all fifty states. No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground. It’s hard for any parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.
Many Christian parents have struggled with the question, “How do I talk to my kids about this?” Likewise, many children’s pastors have struggled with the question, “What is my responsibility in this? Should I discuss ‘gay marriage’ with the children in my kids’ church?”
Here are some thoughts for children’s pastors:
I think you have to be careful about the issues you address “as a group.” So many children are at different points in the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity. When you address something as weighty and serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.
In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids. I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids. That’s unfortunate. However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids. This should be something that parents include in their general talks about biblical sexuality with their kids.
Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it—treat it just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality. Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject. Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up. Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.” Then, follow the cues of the parent. If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead. Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.
An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or discussion group and allow parents to sign up their kids to attend. Encourage parents to attend with their children. Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner, discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality: “God created male and female to complement one another. Marriage is the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman.”
The topic of “gay marriage” and homosexuality is a difficult one for kids. Yes, it is becoming much more commonplace and a topic that they are hearing more and more about, but it is also very polarizing. While we don’t ever shy away from the truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us. We want clarity, not confusion.
Some thoughts for Christian parents:
Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not be aware of the Supreme Court decision. They may or may not be aware of the subject of “gay marriage” at all. Don’t feel pressure to bring up the topic to your child simply because it is in the news, all over social media, etc.
If your child asks you a question about it, address it. However, if your child is in the fourth grade or above—they are GOING to hear about it. Kids love to talk about things that seem “taboo,” so it is better for you to be the FIRST one to speak with your children about this issue. It’s a lot harder to deal with when you have to UNDO the misinformation your child may have already received from friends or the media.
As you have this conversation, remember:
A reminder for us all:
Children are watching you during this critical time. In fact, THE WORLD is watching Christians during this time. If they see you addressing this issue with anger, bitterness, or (God forbid) hatred in your words or tone of voice, that will send a confusing message to them. After all, God is love.
Remember that Ephesians 4:14–15 (NLT) states, “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
That is our mandate as the Church—to speak God’s truth with love. Just because the truth of God’s Word is different from the beliefs of others doesn’t mean we should join with those who choose to resort to name-calling, picketing, belittling, and hate. As children of God, we need to be careful that our speech, tweets, and posts are speaking the truth in love. We need to T.H.I.N.K. before we tweet.
The Church should respond in the same way that God instructed the children of Israel to respond: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT).
We can’t force others to be humble—but we can be humble.
We can’t make people pray and seek His face—but we can.
We can’t force people to turn from their wicked ways—but we can and should clean up our own lives.
When we do our part, God promises He will hear from heaven and restore our land.
The answer to this world’s problems and the United States’ problems is Jesus. Share Jesus. Share His love. Share the difference He has made in your life. Trust that when people encounter His grace—they, too, will be changed!