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?”
Some thoughts for Children’s Pastors:
I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing in Children’s Church “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 that 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” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend. Encourage parents to attend with their children. Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), 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 life-long 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 the topic up to your child simply because it is in the news, all over Social Media, etc. Your child may be too young to even consider the conversation.
If your child asks you a question about it, address it. However, if your child is in the 4th 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 are having to UNDO the misinformation your child may have already received from friends or the media.
As you have this conversation, remember:
- Don’t freak out! – Don’t overreact and freak out! I see too many parents flip out over things like this. Don’t go on a diatribe about the “liberal agenda” and the “LGBT Conspiracy.” Just calmly share with them how, although some people choose to live their lives in contradiction to what God planned and the Bible teaches – our goal should be to pray for them, show them God’s love, and display God’s character in everything we do. Don’t flip out! Children take their emotional cues from you, the parent. Although there is reason to be concerned about our nation and community regarding this issue, God is STILL on the throne. There is no need to panic!
- Don’t only give PART of the story! – Don’t simply say, “We believe that Homosexuality is a sin.” Explain to them what “sin” really is – “CHOOSING to live outside of God’s plan and purpose for your life.” Sin is the willful choice to disobey God’s commands. Revisit the story of Adam and Eve and how sin and temptation has been a problem for human beings since the beginning of time. Remind them that, although people make choices that are the opposite of what God has commanded, Jesus came to die on the cross so that ALL sin can be forgiven. All we must do is admit our sin, receive forgiveness, and CHOOSE to follow Jesus every day!
- Don’t focus on the DON’T! – More important than the fact that “We DON’T believe that ‘Gay Marriage’ is right,” children need to hear what we DO believe. They need to hear that God has a plan for marriage. He created male and female and desires that they come together for a life-long partnership with God as the Head. God wants to bless the family unit with His presence on a daily basis. It is a sacred institution, and no law, decree, or court can change what God has planned since the Creation of the human race.
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. He created EVERY man, woman, boy, and girl. He loves them ALL!
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 or the ruling of a court doesn’t mean we should join with others 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 in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
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, God promises, He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.
The answer to this world’s problems and America’s 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!