Speaking to Youth about LGBTQ+ Issues

A few years back, we created a training entitled “Speaking to Youth about LGBTQ+ Issues” at the request of a local church. It’s quickly become our most popular training.

The importance of education around these issues can be seen in this story I was recently reminded of. A popular Christian singer (Lauren Daigle) was asked in an interview if she feels homosexuality is a sin. This was her answer:

“You know I can’t honestly answer on that…I have too many people that I love that, they are homosexual, I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it and I was like ‘I can’t say one way or the other, I’m not God.’ So, when people ask questions like that that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself and when you find out let me know ‘cos I’m learning too.”

While we can applaud Daigle’s openness to being a learner, her answer is telling on several levels.

The church does not teach about sex enough.
The culture at large talks about sex – all the time. It’s in the news, on almost every TV show, and certainly in almost every school classroom. Young people hear about sex in the halls at school, hanging out with their friends, and in movies, comic books, and video games. Even when we as parents do our best to filter the apps our kids use, what they access on the internet, and what they read, they are still receiving an amazing amount of input on what the culture thinks about sex and gender.

A 21-year-old woman, raised in a pastor’s home, told me this: “I clearly remember being in 7th grade and googling ‘Why do I want to be a girl some days and a boy another?’ [Kids] have access to the world wide web that’s gonna teach these identities before the church ever gets the chance to get ahead of it.”

In the training mentioned above, I pose a question, asking for a show of hands: how many of you feel as though your parents gave you a helpful and thorough explanation of sexuality? Rarely does anyone raise a hand. Some people audibly guffaw!

What is taught in church about sex can be incomplete. Most people raised in church heard one thing: don’t have sex until you’re married. And that was often it. There was little shared about the why behind this rule: the beauty of God’s gift of sex and His design for sexuality, and the protection and care behind this one rule. There was very little shared about the emotional and spiritual attachment that comes through sex – or what qualifies as sex.

Those in the church often don’t believe in or practice this one rule. These statistics reveal one result of the lack of discussions around the why behind God’s design for sex:

36% of protestant evangelicals say casual sex – defined in the survey as sex between consenting adults who are not in a committed romantic relationship – is sometimes or always acceptable.
80% of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex.

The younger generations are very concerned with their feelings and the feelings of others. I was speaking with a pastor last week about these issues. We both noted several prominent evangelicals who changed their minds on what biblical sexuality is after a loved one came out as gay. Daigle too has people she cares about who are gay. Many of us struggle to balance the compassion we feel with what Scripture says concerning sexuality and gender. “Many teens rely on their feelings as indicators of truth, so when they observe someone they care about strongly feeling a certain way, they tend to accept that those feelings indicate truth about reality.”

“One-third of teenagers in this research study indicated that gender is how a person feels inside and not the birth sex. Seven out of 10 believe it’s acceptable to be born one gender and feel like another (69%).”

Young people are also very concerned with what they perceive as “fair.” “71% of young people nationwide say they care about LGBTQ rights.” Something I share in our training is that we shouldn’t equate a desire in young people to see equal rights for LGBTQ people with a disbelief in traditional Christian teaching. Young people seem able to compartmentalize their feelings concerning what God’s best is for His followers and what they perceive as universal human rights.

The church, including young people, is in desperate need of clarity. With all of the sources of input on the topics of sexuality and gender, it is understandable that we can become confused!

Years ago, I had a conversation with a woman whose husband had revealed he experiences same-sex attraction. Despite being raised in a Christian home with a father who pastors within a conservative denomination, she believed her only option was to divorce her husband and let him go “be gay” because he was born that way, right?

Alive in Christ would love to assist you in answering these questions and equipping the parents in and leadership of your church on how to speak to youth about LGBTQ+ issues. We as the church have an amazing opportunity to speak into the lives of our young people and to shape the next generation. The question is this: will we use it?