There is no way I expect this post to completely cover the topic of gay marriage and the impact it has on Christian parenting.
I hope you’re not expecting that.
What I am hoping is that my comments here can open up a very candid conversation between you and me and the LORD.
It’s a conversation between CHRISTIAN PEOPLE. Please understand that. I’m speaking to fellow Christ-followers here.
In this post I want to challenge you as a Christian parent: Take the time to deeply consider how the recent SCOTUS ruling regarding gay marriage impacts the future – and the way you need to go about parenting in light of that fast-approaching future.
What I’ve found in over 40 years as a Christ-follower…
Is that we Christians can be a bit simplistic at times.
Granted, we have the simple truth of the gospel, a truth that enables us to blow away all the chaff and see what’s really important. That’s a very good thing indeed.
But I want to use this gay marriage ruling as an example of how we Christians can be TOO simplistic in the way we approach cultural issues.
Our tendency is to say (to ourselves and others)…
God said homosexuality and gay marriage are wrong, so that settles it.
There are a handful of problems when we take such a simplistic approach to the gay marriage issue:1We live in a culture where such a statement, though true, does not settle the issue. The recent Supreme Court ruling is proof of that sad fact. Those being led astray by this and other ungodly beliefs, push and push to get their “relaxed” version of morality imposed on the rest of the society. In this case, they have succeeded with this recent ruling on gay marriage.
Our “God said it, that settles it” mindset will not help us deal with that fact in any way that helps the culture or improves the situation. If anything, it will tend to make us combative when we should be compassionate.2In the months and years to come society as a whole will come to see homosexuality and gay marriage as a “normal” thing, because it’s been legitimized by the law of the land. Think through what that means for the days ahead. It will soon be commonplace to see two men or two women walking hand in hand, kissing in public, acting as if they are a legitimate couple – and society as a whole will accept that they are.
A “God said it, that settles it” attitude does not equip us in any way to deal with that reality. If we remain there, we’ll live in the coming world with scorn in our eyes and contempt etched on our brows. And “those people” (homosexuals) will see it, and feel very justified in their demonization of us, our Savior, and our faith.3The “God said it, that settles it” attitude makes us think we have the issue settled and there’s nothing more to say about the matter. While we may have it settled in terms of personal conviction, it’s not at all settled in terms of practical action based on that conviction.
How are we to live in light of God’s truth and in light of the fact that we rub shoulders every day with people who blatantly reject His truth in such an obvious, public way? How are we to parent our children in light of the fact that our children will grow up in this “new world” where evil is called good, and good is called evil?
Do you see what I mean? The gay marriage issue has complicated implications that our simplistic approach is not equipped to address.
As you can tell from the title of this post, it’s the last line of point #3 where I want to focus our attention, because one of the most important responsibilities we have been given as Christ-followers is the responsibility to raise up the next generation to fear the LORD and obey His word.
And that doesn’t happen by sending them to Awanas and Sunday School and Youth Group (though those are great things to do). It happens when parents take their role seriously enough that they are willing to spend the time to build Christ-centered relationships with their children – relationships strong enough to support the burden of weighty, significant, life-giving conversations about life-in-Christ and the culture we live in.
It’s called “Godly parenting.”
Or you could call it “discipleship.”
And it’s your highest priority as a parent.
So that leaves us with a few questions to ponder in light of the gay marriage issue we’re facing
Are you aware of the fact that this gay marriage ruling MUST be addressed in your parenting?
- Your kids NEED your intervention, your wise counsel, your guidance in order to know what this ruling means for them as a Christ-follower. You can’t assume they will naturally get it. You can’t assume they’ll figure it out. They won’t.[tweetthis]UR #Christian kids will live in a world where same-gender sex is normal. Have U prepared them?[/tweetthis]
- It’s your responsibility to guide your kids through the thinking process, building Godly maturity into them through how you teach them to think about this issue. You’ve got to demonstrate, and talk about, and teach how to respond to such culture-changing events.
- The gay marriage issue is exactly the kind of situation where you must act for the sake of raising kids who are steadfast in godly convictions in the face of a quickly-changing world.
What are the possible outcomes if you don’t address the gay marriage issue with your children on an ongoing basis?
Think this one through.
- If you don’t take the initiative to begin consistently addressing this kind of cultural development, your children will grow up IN that culture without any significant godly direction. They will be like a ship adrift in a hurricane. The natural result is that they will be pushed wherever the cultural storm takes them.
- As a result, your children will likely come to accept gay marriage as “good” just like the world they live in. At the very least they will see gay marriage as “not quite as bad as all that.” As a result, they will hold God’s word in less regard than they should.
- That will have massive impact on the entire spectrum of their lives. Don’t underestimate the significance of this point.
How will you prepare your children to think and act as the light of Christ in an increasingly dark world?
The HOW is often the hardest part because it varies depending on the child, their maturity, their age, and the situations your family is exposed to.
But you can count on one thing: by the time your children are grown, gay marriage WILL be the norm and they WILL have to contend with it.
As parent, you have to do something to prepare them for that future.
Following are my suggestions for a handful of situations. Like I said at the beginning, there’s no way I can address every aspect of this issue.
For Babies and Toddlers
You may be quite surprised that I’m actually bringing up the baby and toddler stage related to an issue like gay marriage. After all, children at this stage aren’t even aware of issues like sexuality.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t foundational steps that can be taken to move toward the time of life when they WILL be aware of those issues.
Here are my thoughts on what you can and should do with children at this stage:
- Pray over them – that God will protect them from the deception of the gay and lesbian mindset. Ask God to preserve them as His own in a culture that is growing increasingly dark.
- Utilize scripture-based music – there are many, many resources available for this. Make use of them. Begin engraining God’s truth on their pliable minds and open hearts by singing to them, learning the songs together, and playing the music when they go down for naps or bedtime.
- Speak often of Jesus’ love for them – Begin building a personal concept of Jesus into their young souls. Teach them that it is natural for Jesus to love them deeply and that following His ways is the best thing they can do.
- Encourage biblical gender roles indirectly through good examples – Use a same-gender parent or relative as an example to help set gender expectations in your child’s heart and mind: “Daddy likes to work in the garage because he’s a boy, like you. You’re like Daddy.”
- Give gender-appropriate gifts to your children – Some of you may think I’m going off the ultra-conservative fundamental deep-end on this one, but that’s OK. Desperate times call for desperate measures. In my thinking we should intentionally buy “gender enhancing” toys for our children – blocks and trucks and balls for boys, baby-dolls, princess dresses, tea party sets, etc. for girls. I’m not saying that children can’t or shouldn’t play with what we think of as “opposite gender toys,” I’m just saying that as a parent you should do your part to help your children act out the proper roles the LORD has given them AS male or female.
- Build a relationship of trust with them – This is truly the foundational piece of every stage of parenting. When your children are young they naturally trust you, depend on you, and look to you for everything. God intends parents to take full advantage of that fact (He built us that way). As much as you are able, demonstrate to your children that you are trustworthy, reliable, loving, and FOR them. Give them no reason to mistrust you so that they will see you as being “in their corner” for the long haul. It begins at this baby/toddler stage of life.
Early elementary and Elementary age children
Everything I mentioned in the previous category applies here as well. You should KEEP ON DOING THOSE THINGS.
You’re involved in an ongoing process of belief-building and character-shaping that requires repetition over years.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking any of this is a “check the boxes and it’s done” solution. You’ll be disappointed and your kids won’t be well served.
As you move into the elementary years your children are much more communicative, can grasp more complex concepts, and are able to interact through questions, etc. This is where you begin verbally addressing issues like gay marriage, keeping it on their level.
The following points should help you sort out what I mean…
- Speak about your marriage / relationships in biblical, godly terms – Say things like, “I love Daddy so much! God wants mommies and daddies to love each other like He loves us. ” In doing that you’re painting the biblical image of the purpose of marriage for your children.
- Take the initiative to define marriage for your children in biblical terms – To your child: “Did you know that God wants men to marry women and women to marry men? That’s what He told us in the Bible. When we obey what God says, our lives will be happier and He will be happy with us.”
- When you see a cultural departure from biblical marriage, address it openly – Don’t become timid at this point. Be bold to call wrong, “wrong” and right, “right.” Your children need that clarity, especially as the culture begins to encourage the opposite. For example: “Do you see those men over there, the ones holding hands at that table? What do you think God thinks about what they’re doing?” Let the child answer. “The Bible tells us that God doesn’t like men to try to marry men or women to try to marry women. It’s sad that people do things God doesn’t like, isn’t it? We should pray for those men and people like them, that they will learn to obey what God wants.” That last part is to help your child maintain a sense of humility and compassion instead of developing a spirit of criticism. You could also add comments like, “Do you ever do things God doesn’t like? I do. I’m thankful God can help us obey Him, just like He can help those men to obey Him.”
- If the gay marriage issue touches your circle of friends or family, address it – It will happen. I guarantee it. What will you do then? Speak to it very similarly to the bullet point above, clearly guiding your kids to think of the issue as God does but maintaining an attitude of compassion. Watch for a judgmental spirit growing in your children and address it with humility any time it appears.
- Refer to gay couples in biblical terms, not cultural terms – Help your children understand that the culture’s ways and laws are not God’s ways and laws. Teach them how the culture will often say things are “OK” that God says are wrong. Never refer to a gay couple as “married.” Instead, explain that they think they are married because some bad laws allowed them to get a marriage license, but in God’s eyes they are not married. If there are gay couples in your family, do not refer to the relative’s gay partner as “aunt” or “uncle” or whatever. Use those circumstances as opportunities to clarify the issues with your children again.
Jr. High and High School age children
Again, everything in both sections above apply to this stage of development as well – only in age appropriate ways (music, conversations, etc.).
Don’t forget the relational foundation in all of this. It’s even more important when you reach this stage. The “teen” years are times where the natural tendencies of the sin-soaked human nature begin to come out in resistance to parental authority, disrespect, and outright rebellion. The relationship you build in the earlier years cannot be allowed to wane at this point. It’s hard, sometimes excruciating work, but work well worth doing for the sake of your child and their future.
Be a bold parent. Engage with your teens regularly.
Don’t let their resistance dictate what you do.
You are the parent and you know best (by God’s grace). Lead them in the way they should go.
- By this time you should have already had “the talk” about sex and sexuality – In fact, it should become an ongoing topic of conversation that you’re comfortable speaking about together. Work toward that end.
- Talk openly about the gay-related issues that are happening in society – Don’t be afraid to bring up the issue. Your kids are probably better connected than you (technologically speaking), so you can be sure they know about the issues happening in the world. Address them calmly, biblically, with a heart of compassion toward those involved. You’ll be demonstrating the heart of Christ toward people He loves deeply and your children will notice. Be sure to ask your kids what they are thinking about the issues around them. Listen for the signs that Christ has a firm grasp on their heart and mind so you can encourage it. Or listen for signs that they are straying into the “acceptance” mode the culture is promoting – and respond calmly but with God’s truth.
- Ask about gay issues going on around your teens (school, work, etc.) – You can bet on the fact that your teens will know people who are gay; other teens in their classrooms, on their athletic teams, or in their work environments. Talk with them about those people, amplifying God’s heart of compassion toward them in spite of their sin. Help your kids see that they can make a difference in the lives of those gay kids through their love and bold but compassionate witness to God’s truth.
- Monitor and talk about the media influences that are promoting the gay lifestyle (TV, music, etc.) – You know how influential media is – on you and on your children. Engage with your kids on that level. Get into their world and show interest in their musical and entertainment choices. Help them understand and biblically dissect the media they hear and see. Teach them how to apply God’s wisdom to those areas of life so they are in control of what influences them instead of being gullible sheep, led to the slaughter.
It feels a bit awkward for me to address this area because at the point of this writing I’m just now getting into this stage. But I trust the wisdom of God to guide me as I have all along and I know He will not fail.
What I’ve discovered so far about this stage of parenting is that the relationship my wife and I have developed with our kids over the years is what makes ongoing “parenting” of adult children possible at all.
It doesn’t look the same as the years when they were still living at home, obviously, but the godly respect and care we’ve expressed for them over the years is now returning in the form of them seeking our counsel, and respecting us AS wise counsel they can depend on.
Here are my thoughts about this stage:
- Continue the conversations – Don’t let the very appropriate concern to let your kids “spread their wings” as adults keep you from raising topics about these difficult cultural issues like gay marriage. If they are adults right now, they’re learning how to think about these issues right alongside you, so take advantage of that learning-mode and strike up the conversations. Maybe begin by sharing what you’ve been learning or thinking about the issue, then see where they are in their thinking.
- Ask about their plans to teach the grandkids about these issues – Any parent can easily bring up an issue of concern in a gentle, careful way. “I’ve been thinking a lot about this ‘gay marriage’ stuff going on in our country. It’s going to have serious consequences for our world, the world your kids are going to be growing up in. What have you thought about how you need to guide them when it comes to that issue?” Enter in to the conversation that follows. Ask lots of questions. Use scripture to stimulate further thinking.
- Keep praying – Through all these steps, lift your children (grown or not) to the throne of God. He is faithful and desires to have their hearts more than you desire for Him to to have their hearts. Pray, pray, pray – with confidence and peace, because God can be trusted even when it comes to world-shaking changes like the gay marriage decision.
What is your plan? How will you engage in proactive parenting relating to the gay marriage issue?
As I said at the beginning of this post, my hope is to open a very candid conversation about this issue, for all of our benefit.
Would you mind sharing your response in the comments below? I’d love to hear from you.by