By / Oct 10

For the last couple of years, the volume has increased over concerns related to parental rights, especially at public schools. What focused for a time as concerns over in-person education and the use of masks during the pandemic has quickly returned to concerns over matters of sexuality and gender. In the wake of these concerns, Florida and Alabama have passed bills limiting discussions of gender identity and sexuality in classrooms with young children. At the same time, some school districts appear to be attempting to hide possible gender identity transitions from parents.

What are we to do as Christians, and especially Christian parents, as we navigate the world of parental rights in a pro-LGBTQ culture? How do we speak truth into the school systems in our communities and effect change where it is needed?

Let’s begin with a few affirmations.

Affirmations about God’s design for sexuality

God created humans male and female. Genesis 1:26-27 functions as God’s opening statement regarding anthropology. While the focus is often (rightly) placed on the fact that humans are made in God’s image, the second statement of that passage is sometimes overlooked. At the end of v. 27 we read, “He created them male and female.” These words in the opening chapter of the Bible are now considered controversial, but they are not unclear. In an age where distinctions between male and female are blurred, we find the clear testimony of Scripture to be that God created male and female as distinct expressions of humanity.

God created males and females as complementary in nature. Complementarity between male and female is a multifaceted concept, but I want to focus on just one aspect here—sexual complementarity. God designed male and female to be a complementary pair sexually. This idea first appears in Scripture in Genesis 1:28 where we read, “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth. . . .’” With this pronouncement following on the heels of the declaration that God created humans as male and female, we rightly surmise that the process through which mankind would be fruitful and multiply was the sexual relationship that God designed to take place between a man and a woman in the context of marriage (see Genesis 2).

God created the human body as part of his good creation. On five different occasions in Genesis 1, we see that God declared his creation to be good, culminating with the words in verse 31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” As part of the discussion revolving around gender identity, we sometimes hear the discussion turn to demeaning the body and elevating the mind so that the body must be changed. But we cannot forget that the physical body is part of God’s good creation.

With these theological affirmations in place, how do we engage our schools on matters of sexuality and protect parental rights in the process?

How to equip your children and engage with your school

Teach your children the truth of God’s Word on matters of sexuality. Conversations with our children about sexuality can be awkward—let’s just admit it. But we can’t allow the awkwardness of the conversation to prevent us from having them. We have found, especially with our older children, that they are confronted with unbiblical models of gender and sexuality on a regular basis at school. Thus, it is crucial that they have been taught a biblical model and home and church. We need to teach them how to engage in conversations at school so they can speak knowledgably and are able to communicate with their parents when something different is being taught or promoted at school.

Be an involved parent. We cannot clamor for protecting parental rights in the schools if we are not involved in the life of the school. Volunteer in the classroom. Serve on a committee. Provide support for teachers and staff. Go to school board meetings. By getting involved, we build relationships. Most changes that we want to see come to fruition are best accomplished on the basis of a relationship with a teacher, principal, or school board member. If we are not involved, we will generally not be heard.

Vote in local elections. We tend to get excited about national elections with potential far-reaching ramifications, but most of the politics that affect our daily lives happen on the local level. High profile school board elections in districts that have already experienced controversy make the national news, but the controversial policies enacted in those districts most likely came as a result of years of inattention to local politics by the average citizen. We need to get out and vote in these local elections, and some of us may even need to run for office.

Promote biblical convictions for sexuality and gender. The biblical vision for gender and sexuality—gender identity that corresponds to biological sex and sexual expression through the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman—was not controversial just 15-20 years ago. The culture is not so far gone that we cannot restore this vision through faithful teaching and living. Our promotion of biblical convictions begins in our homes and then extends into our communities.

Protecting parental rights in a pro-LGBTQ culture begins by exercising those rights. When the world says our vision for sexuality and gender is out of date or harmful, we demonstrate it through our lives and proclaim it unashamedly.

By / Jun 10

In 1999, President Bill Clinton declared June to be “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” The official sanctioning of the month fell away during the years of George H. W. Bush’s presidency, but returned in 2009 when President Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. Since then, the month has been celebrated by President Trump and President Biden. 

When even U.S. presidents are celebrating “pride” in the LGBT identity, it shouldn’t be surprising that the label is taken up as a badge of honor. That seems to be the message that young adults are receiving. For example, a poll taken by Gallup earlier this year finds that the percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than heterosexual in 2021 has increased to a new high of 7.1%. That figure is a 21% increase since 2020, and double the percentage from 2012. 

Since Gallup began measuring LGBT identification in 2012, the percentage of traditionalists (those born before 1946), baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), and Generation X adults (born between 1965 and 1980) who identify as LGBT has held relatively steady. In contrast, the LGBT identification among millennials almost doubled, from 5.8% in 2012 to 10.5% in 2021. 

In 2017, the percentage of Gen Z who identified as LGBT was already twice that of any other generation—10.5%. But in the next five years, that number would nearly double, to 20.8%. This means that 1 in 5 Gen Z adults currently identifies as LGBT. As Gallup notes, “Should that trend within Gen Z continue, the proportion of U.S. adults in that generation who say they are LGBT will grow even higher once all members of the generation reach adulthood.” 

Most LGBT Americans identify as bisexual

The most common identification of LGBT among Americans is bisexual. More than half of LGBT Americans (57%) and 4.0% of all U.S. adults say they are bisexual. Overall, 15% of Gen Z adults say they are bisexual, as do 6% of millennials and slightly less than 2% of Gen X.

In comparison, 21% of those who identify as LGBT say they are gay, 14% say they are lesbian, 10% say they are transgender, and 4% identify as “something else.” Each of these categories accounts for less than 2% of U.S. adults. 

Women (6.0%) are much more likely than men (2.0%) to say they are bisexual, while men are more likely to identify as gay (2.5%) than as bisexual, and women are much more likely to identify as bisexual than as lesbian (1.9%). 

There has also been an explosion of transgenderism among Millenials and Gen Z adults. While only 0.1% of all Baby Boomers and 0.6% of all Gen Xers identify as transgender, 1% of all Millenials and 2.1% of all Gen Z adults embrace that gender identity. 

From “born this way” to hero status

A decade ago, the LGBT community was still claiming that sexual orientation was primarily genetic, and ​​that those inclined to same-sex behavior were—as one popular song claimed—“born this way.” But subsequent research “suggests genetics may have a limited contribution to sexual orientation.” What then can be driving the increase in identification?

While still a complex topic with no clear-cut explanation, it’s possible that such polls based on self-identification are being skewed by social-desirability bias. In social science research, social-desirability bias is a type of response bias in which respondents to surveys answer questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others. LGBT identification is a prime example of such favorable status. Young adults have lived their entire lives in an era when identifying as LGBT is considered progressive and laudatory. Answering that they are “bisexual” in an anoymous poll is a cost-free way to signal one’s own socially approved “virtue” while not actually having to change one’s sexual behavior. 

But even if this bias is skewing Gallup’s self-reported poll figures, the reality is that many young people believe that it is preferable to identify as LGBT than as heterosexual. This preference may be part of or encompass the motivation to emulate those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender since culture deems them worthy of our admiration.

The moral philosopher Linda Zagzebski says that admiration is an emotion toward someone who exhibits, upon reflection, a human power in a high degree of acquired excellence leading to the behavior of emulation, or imitation. Zagzebski proposes that our admired figures tend to fall into three categories: heroes, saints, and sages. Heroes exhibit strength and courage, in either physical or social acts. Saints exhibit self-denying love for God and others. Sages exhibit great wisdom and insight.

As applied to LGBT propaganda, young adults have been conditioned to see those in the LGBT movement as “heroes”—people who exhibit great courage in “living out their truth.” The reality, of course, is that it takes almost no courage for a young person to identify as LGBT in modern America, especially in urban areas or on college campuses. Indeed, as the promotion of Pride Month by corporations and the White House reveals, in many parts of our nation being LGBT is awarded a higher status than being heterosexual.

Millennial and Gen Z adults are given the impression that they are emulating heroic behavior that goes against cultural norms when the reality is they’re conforming to an identification that has become trendy and popular. 

How churches offer a truly “alternative” identity

The trend is likely to increase for the foreseeable future. As Gallup notes, “The proportion of U.S. adults who consider themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has grown at a faster pace over the past year than in prior years.” But the rate of increase is likely to plateau relatively soon. 

The reason for the rapid increase in LGBT identification—its trendiness and trappings of nonconformity—is likely to lead to its eventual decline. The culture will soon hit a tipping point where identifying as LGBT, and especially as bisexual, will be seen as an insincere pose to fit in rather than as an actual expression of a minority sexual orientation. Besides, the current trend cannot—mathematically speaking—last for much longer.

This trend—whether because of peer pressure or a genuine struggle with same-sex attraction— provides an opportunity for evangelical churches to reach young adults who are exhausted by the broader culture’s over-emphasis on sexual identity. Churches that hold to the biblical standard of sexuality will increasingly be the only area of culture where young people can hear the truth that their sexuality is not the most important aspect of their identity. 

Such churches will be able to provide a safe haven for those who sincerely wrestle with gender identity issues and for those who will feel increasingly coerced to identify as LGBT even when they are not interested in changing their gender idenity or pretending they have same-sex attractions. It is only in biblically faithful churches that Millenials and Gen Z adults will learn that truth that the identity they’ve been searching for—the most important thing about themselves and what they are at the deepest level—can only be found in being a disciple of Jesus, the one by whom all things were created and whose authority over us leads to our ultimate flourishing (Col. 1:16). 

By / Aug 11

Sandra grew up in a Christian home. She was a good girl in church — read the Bible, prayed, did her quiet time. She was homeschooled by solid parents. She never snuck out or did anything crazy. She’d never even been to a high school prom. On the outside, it looked like Sandra had a sheltered and safe Christian childhood, but on the inside, there was a lot more going on.

During her freshman year of college, Sandra met June, a girl who quickly became her best friend. They spent hours each day together, and, over time, their worlds began to revolve around each other. Their emotional closeness became codependent and inappropriately physical. One day it happened, and they freaked out. They cried and prayed and asked God to help nothing like that happen again. But it did. And Sandra and June never told anyone. They even promised one another they’d never tell their future husbands.

A kid like Sandra should feel safe confessing her sins to Christian parents and her church community. But there’s understandable shame for a kid confessing same-sex attraction or transgender feelings, especially if that child has grown up around coarse gay jokes or politically charged opinions about the LGBTQ movement. It’s understandable for a kid who grows up in that context to fear losing friendships if they allow their struggles to become public knowledge.

What can a parent or a church leader do in the face of such shame? What does it look like to show love and compassion for a child who experiences the discord of gender confusion or same-sex attraction?

First, cultivate empathy. If we’re honest, we know kids’ fears about confessing disordered desires are not unfounded. Many parents don’t react well. Some parents’ first instincts are to run from the situation and ignore it. Some become overwhelmed emotionally and get angry, whether with God or with their child: “How can this be happening? You were raised better than this!” These kinds of responses only create more distance between parents and their children. Like the Pharisees, many Christian communities sometimes teach true doctrine all the while judging and marginalizing those who publicly confess sin that makes us particularly uncomfortable or is socially unacceptable (Luke 18:9–14). We must remember that those who experience gender confusion or same-sex attraction are not unique in battling brokenness or sinful desires. Cooper Pinson asks:

Can you relate to a student who wants to follow Christ, but finds strong, competing, sinful tendencies within himself that moves him in destructive directions?1Cooper Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction: Guidance for Parents and Youth Leaders, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2017), 8.

If so, you’re more like your child than you may have originally thought. When we acknowledge what we have in common and move toward kids who struggle rather than away from them, we reflect the kind of love with which Jesus loved us (1 John 4:19).

Second, acknowledge the courage it took to be honest.2Adapted from Tim Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2013), 8–9. Even if your child’s confession is hard to hear, thank them for being honest enough to tell you the truth. Acknowledge how hard it must have been for your child to speak this secret and get it out in the open. Thank them for trusting you, reaffirm your love for them, and assure them that your relationship will not end because of this confession. Affirming your love for your child and expressing gratitude for their truthfulness will help you cultivate an ongoing relationship that is built on authenticity.

Third, listen before you speak or act. If your child begins the conversation, respect their initiative by allowing the dialogue to be about what you can learn from them and not what you feel they need to hear from you. When seeking to understand, the most important thing is to ask comfortable open-ended questions.3Brian Hambrick, “Talking to My Boys after the Transgender Talk at Their Public School” (May 16, 2016), accessed online at http://bradhambrick.com/talking-to-my-boys-after-the-transgender-talk-at-their-public-school/. If your child says, “I’m gay,” “lesbian,” or “I want to transition,” for instance, it’s important to understand what they mean by that. Ask your child how they came to this understanding, how long they have been considering this, how certain they feel it is true, and why. Ask whether or not your child is content with this expressed identity, or if this is something they don’t want. Don’t assume your child or their friends understand these terms in the same way you do. 

It may be that your child is confessing a sinful experiment with a new gender identity or same-sex sexual intimacy in the same way a cheating husband who wants to turn away from unfaithfulness confesses, “I’m an adulterer.” When a Christian owns his or her identity as a sinner in this way, it should never be discouraged (1 Tim. 1:15). Your child is most likely describing an ongoing battle in which they feel oppressed and helpless. As Tim Geiger observes, “He might really be saying, ‘I’ve been struggling with these feelings for years, and the only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that I must be gay.’”4Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay,21.

Fourth, acknowledge your child’s suffering. Kids who struggle with gender confusion or same-sex attraction may have heard many times from the church that homosexuality is wrong. But rarely have we acknowledged their unique form of suffering and intense temptations. Students who experience same-sex attraction “often contend with intense loneliness, confusion, fear, and even despair as they wrestle with something that seems as if it’s an essential part of who they are.”5Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction, 14. The same is true for kids who experience gender dysphoria.

Having disordered desires, whether these desires consist in same-sex sexual lust or gender confusion, is not the same thing as giving in to these sinful desires, that is, dwelling on those desires and acting upon them. Both are sinful, but the kind of repentance required and the kind of change we can expect is different. We must turn from all sinful behavior. But where we can repent and refrain from sinful actions related to sexual temptation, disordered desires — while they should be resisted, confessed, and put to death — may nevertheless remain throughout our lives. Sharing your own struggles — how you may not always feel at home or comfortable in your own body, or, as appropriate, your own ongoing battles with lust and temptation — will demonstrate that brokenness and sexual sin is not unique to your child.

Fifth, pray for your child. We can educate our children as much as we want, have conversations, and teach them the biblical point of view. But in the end, their hearts must be in submission to God or these words will fall on deaf ears. A child’s repentance ultimately depends on the Holy Spirit’s work in their heart and not on a parent’s actions. Some things only come out by prayer (Mark 9:29). So, as parents, we must appeal to God to act on behalf of our children. 

The parents of Sandra or June may be in for a long journey. Sometimes it seems that we do and say all the right things, but our hearts break because our children continue to choose the wrong path. In these times, one of the best ways to care for our children is to advocate for them while on our knees.

Finally, gently communicate what it looks like to follow Jesus. By adopting an empathetic posture and listening carefully, you set the stage for speaking redemptive truth. If your child is determined to pursue an intimate same-gender, sexual relationship or transition their gender, there may be no way of avoiding defensiveness on their part. Remember that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Your child needs kindness too. It’s doubtful that arguments will convince your child their perspective is wrong. But if they are open to dialogue, share sensitively a biblical and compassionate perspective on suffering with sexual brokenness. We can encourage a child who experiences besetting and persistent trials with the truth that all Christians are called to suffer. As Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matt. 16:24–25).

Following Christ while enduring gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction will involve taking up crosses. It will mean rejecting impulses that run counter to God’s created design. It may mean that your child remains single and celibate into adulthood or resists temptation while their psychological distress increases. You should never gloss over or minimize these hard realities, but you can remind your children that they have a high priest who can sympathize with them in their weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). As Andrew Walker observes, “No one ever experienced greater dysphoria than the perfect Son of God being treated as a sinner.”6Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 89. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24).

As you encourage your child to persevere, keep in mind that this most likely will be a long journey. Change is slow. A girl like Sandra, whose story I told above, may gain confidence to confess her sins and grow both to live a life in obedience to the Bible’s commands and even to disciple others who experience same-sex attraction. But that same girl may still struggle to discern whether or not missing one of her girlfriends who is out of town is just a normal part of friendship or evidence that she’s still battling a sinful pull toward codependence. As Chris Torchia writes:

We all appreciate the success stories of someone coming to Christ and experiencing complete freedom from ingrained sin patterns, but God doesn’t always work that way. A more accurate picture of repentance is a gradual process of turning away from sin and turning to God more and more, usually with many bumps along the way.Chris Torchia, “Coming Out as Gay or Transgender: Five things parents must do—part 4,” The Student Outreach, (Sept. 21, 2017), accessed online at http://thestudentoutreach.org/2017/09/21/coming-gay-transgender-five-things-parents-must-part-4/.

Parents, you should find the kind of support network that will stick with you through the long haul. Don’t hide your weakness from your Christian friends. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your pastors and biblical counselors like those at Harvest USA (www.harvestusa.org).

We can be confident that Christ is ready, willing, and waiting to meet us even where brokenness seems profound and irreparable. We can persevere with faith, knowing that we share in Christ’s sufferings so we may also share in his glory (Rom. 8:17). For those who do not shrink back, God has prepared a great reward. We do not belong to those who shrink back to destruction but to those who persevere and are saved (Heb. 10:36-39).

This article was adapted from A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: Helping Kids Navigate a Confusing Culture.

  • 1
    Cooper Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction: Guidance for Parents and Youth Leaders, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2017), 8.
  • 2
    Adapted from Tim Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay, (Greensboro: New Growth, 2013), 8–9.
  • 3
    Brian Hambrick, “Talking to My Boys after the Transgender Talk at Their Public School” (May 16, 2016), accessed online at http://bradhambrick.com/talking-to-my-boys-after-the-transgender-talk-at-their-public-school/.
  • 4
    Geiger, Your Child Says, “I’m Gay,21.
  • 5
    Pinson, Helping Students with Same-Sex Attraction, 14.
  • 6
    Walker, God and the Transgender Debate, 89.
By / Jun 4

President Joe Biden recently issued an official proclamation declaring June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. “I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Biden, “to celebrate the great diversity of the American people, and to wave their flags of pride high.”

The sexual identities “Pride Month” intends to celebrate run contrary to the pattern of God’s design for human sexuality as expressed in Scripture and revealed through nature. According to article 28 of the Baptist Faith & Message, marriage — which is defined as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime” — is the sole biblical “framework for intimate companionship” and “channel of sexual expression.” As witnessed by President Biden’s proclamation, in recent decades the LGBTQ movement has gained wide acceptance in our culture.

Here is what you should know about LGBTQ Pride Month. 

What is Pride Month?

In the United States, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month occurs in the month of June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots, which occurred in New York City from June 28 to July 3, 1969, helped launch the social and political movement known as “gay liberation.” 

The Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, was a tavern operated by the Genovese crime family. The bar lacked a liquor license and violated many of the city’s health and safety codes (it didn’t have running water and the toilets frequently overflowed), which made it the frequent target of law enforcement. The mafia owners reportedly paid almost $9,000 a month (in 2021 dollars) in bribes to the local police, yet were still raided about once a month. 

At 1:20 a.m. on June 28, six police officers attempted to close the bar. About 200 patrons resisted, and a crowd of 500 gathered outside. When the crowd became violent, the police officers barricaded themselves inside the establishment. Rioters threw rocks and bricks and attempted to burn down the building to kill the police inside. A SWAT team quelled that disturbance, but two days later an even more violent riot broke out as thousands of protesters clashed with police. (Despite the violence and attempted murder against police, President Obama made the Stonewall Inn a national monument in 2016, and the NYPD police commissioner issued an apology on behalf of the police force in 2019.)

A year later, gay activists in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles organized marches to honor the riots and promote “gay liberation.” The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm. By 1972 the marches were occurring in more than a dozen cities across the U.S. Since then, they have become ubiquitous in the U.S. and in other Western countries. 

Why is the rainbow flag associated with LGBT Pride?

The rainbow LGBT flag was a creation of Gilbert Baker, a designer and gay rights activist, who created the flag in 1978 as a new symbol for the gay libertarion movement. The original flag had eight colors, each of which had a representative meaning. “Pink is for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun,” said Baker. “Green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity, and purple for the spirit. I like to think of those elements as in every person, everyone shares that.” Most of the flags today have only six colors, with the pink and turquoise removed.

Christians recognize the rainbow as the sign of God’s covenant with Noah. Where the LGBTQ movement has appropriated the sign of the rainbow as a symbol of affirmation or pride, the Bible reveals that the rainbow is meant to be a sign of deliverance from judgement. As Erik Raymond has written: “The God of the Bible owns the distinct honor, as he has long used the rainbow to illustrate his loving demonstration of mercy instead of judgment! God the loving Creator was angered by humanity’s rebellion against his will & so therefore justly demonstrated his judgment upon their sin. In Genesis 6 the Scriptures teach that instead of giving mankind what they deserve for their rebellion, he chose to save some from destruction. The mercy & faithfulness of God was demonstrated by the beautiful rainbow that filled the sky.”

Is Pride Month an official U.S. commemoration?

Three presidents have issued official proclamations commemorating Pride Month: Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000; Barack Obama from 2009 to 2016; and Joe Biden in 2021. Donald Trump became the first Republican president to acknowledge Pride Month in 2019, though he did not issue an official proclamation.

A related commemoration occurs in October, with LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. 

Why has LGBT Pride become embraced by corporations?

During the month of June, it’s nearly impossible to find a large American corporation that is not engaged in promoting Pride Month. There is disagreement about whether the promotional activities are merely attempting to appeal to consumers or if something more nefarious is behind the marketing.

The practice is sometimes criticized as “pinkwashing,” a term used to describe the action of using gay-related issues in positive ways in order to distract attention from negative actions by an organization, country, or government. Regardless, Pride Month has become a massive cultural phenomenon that is impossible to ignore. And those who refuse to acknowledge or affirm LGBTQ causes will likely face even greater social pressure to do so in the years ahead. As Joe Carter has written: “Today, the American people fly a rainbow flag, wear an ‘ally’ pin, or change their social media avatars to show they observe LGBT Pride Month. In doing so, they show they’ve bent the knee to the LGBT cause and will not incur their wrath that will be poured out those who are not ‘affirming.’”

What is the purpose of LGBT Pride Month?

From its inception, the LGBT Pride movement has been about “sexual liberation.” As the prominent LGBT magazine The Advocate wrote in 2018, 

From its roots, Pride was a political act. And so is having the kind of sex we want to have with who we want to have it. That was a rebellion against the institution of monogamy and ideas about women as property. . . . Pride is the antidote to efforts to control and limit sex — which politicians are still trying to do.

For decades, Pride events have been frequently criticized (even by some LGBT activists) for overt displays of sexuality and championing of causal promiscuity. But as Alex Abad-Santos of Vox writes, that’s part of the point of Pride. “Queer history is often about resistance to norms and embracing radical existence,” he writes, “so engaging in respectability politics—the idea that marginalized groups need to behave or act in a certain way to validate the compassion shown toward them—flies in the face of those goals.”

For these reasons, it is all the more important for Christians to prepare their hearts and minds to stand against the tide of the LGBTQ movement. Christians must model Christlikeness as we bear witness to the truth of the gospel and about the beauty of God’s design for humanity. And we must do so without anger or fear, but with love, charity, and grace.

By / Jun 4

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a Christian response to Pride Month, a major leadership change in Israel, and recent news involving the ERLC. They also cover new ERLC content including a critical abortion case headed to the Supreme Court, questions about content moderation on social media, and one city’s approach to combatting abortion through local ordinances.

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. 100 Years since the Tulsa Race Massacre. Churches are leading on racial unity.
  2. June is “Pride” Month. How should Christians think about that?
  3. A major shake-up in Israel’s national leadership. What’s that mean for the Biden Administration?
  4. A leaked letter from Russell Moore sparks conversations within the SBC about race and sexual abuse.

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By / Feb 26

As a husband, pastor, and the father of eight children, five of whom are daughters, there are many reasons I am deeply troubled by H.R. 5, legislation ironically named the Equality Act. In this article, I want to focus on my concerns as a girl dad who loves sports.  

As a girl dad, I am concerned about the Equality Act because it will undermine female equality by negating the biological reality of sex. Erasing biological sex as a legal category will negatively affect all of us, but it will disproportionately harm women.

Women and Title IX

Under H.R. 5, vital laws protecting women from discrimination on the basis of “sex” would be upended. A person’s sex would no longer be a matter of biology, but of one’s internal sense of “gender identity.” Title IX is a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, designed to ensure equal opportunities in programs and activities for biological females. The amendment is probably best known for its impact on high school and college athletics. Title IX reads,

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Of course, when Title IX was adopted, “sex” merely indicated whether a person was biologically male or female. If the legal definition of “sex” is expanded to include non-verifiable gender identities, which H.R. would do, then what is the purpose of Title IX? How can you have an anti-discrimination law in place to protect women if there is no objective way to determine who is male and female? Any attempt to enforce such regulations would be nonsensical.

Impossible standards

In athletics, a refusal to account for biological, sex-dependent differences will legally enshrine inequality in sports. In addition to being unfair, it is insulting and demeaning to females when we proceed as if biological males are the standard by which they ought to evaluate themselves. Acknowledging biological differences in athletic competition is as necessary as acknowledging differences in age.

This is not hyperbole. 

Female athletes nationwide are already experiencing the unjust effects of our cultural gender chaos. In Texas, a 17-year-old female student transitioning to male and undergoing testosterone treatments won the girl’s state championship in wrestling. Performance-enhancing drugs are banned in most sports competitions but not if allowing them accommodates the student to “transition.” In Connecticut, biological males competing as females combined to win 15 girls state outdoor or indoor championship races. And how should we respond if a male who self-identifies as a female seriously injures a female while wrestling? It is not inconceivable that such issues portend the end of public school athletics.

Even tennis champion, long-time gay rights activist, and open lesbian Martina Navratilova responded with shock and outrage when she heard about biological transgender males competing against females. She penned a February 2019 article titled, “The rules on trans athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent.”

Navratilova asserted, “It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.” She continued, “To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.” Of course, she was pilloried for her common sense comments and walked them back a bit.

Level playing field

My oldest daughter has enough talent as a tennis player, competing against other girls, to earn an athletic college scholarship to an excellent school. Would that be the case if she had to compete against biological males? No. Not even close. 

Let’s be honest; legislation like the Equality Act is not about protecting people who have been unfairly excluded from participation in sports. It is about politicizing everything in our culture, including sports, in service of the sexual revolution. 

I have no plans to turn my back on the reality of biological science. Nor to accept the new sexual orthodoxy. Still, I am gutted when I think about the implications of this legislative assault on my five daughters. There are far worse ramifications of H.R. 5 than the end of female sports, but as a dad who fiercely loves his daughters and has spent a lifetime enjoying sports, I grieve the thought of that loss in particular. 

The truth is found on the opening page of Scripture. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). I cannot wait until the weather warms, to watch my daughters compete against other girls on a tennis court. The beauty of competition taking place on a level playing field brings me great joy. I plan to enjoy it as long as I can.

By / Mar 11

What happened?

On Feb. 19, Brigham Young University (BYU) announced a wide array of changes to its Honor Code, which included removing a section on “Homosexual Behavior.” BYU is the flagship university of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormons.

The previous honor code had a section on “Homosexual Behavior” which stated the following:

“One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an honor code issue. However, the honor code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the honor code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

The new honor code has removed this section in favor of using more generic language. The summary of the Church Educational System Honor Code explains that students must:

“Live a chaste and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.”

The Church Educational System Honor Code Related Policies, which gives more details, says

“Students must abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances and from the intentional misuse or abuse of any substance. Sexual misconduct; obscene or indecent conduct or expressions; disorderly or disruptive conduct; participation in gambling activities; involvement with pornographic, erotic, indecent, or offensive material; and any other conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.”

However, this notably left many students, faculty, and alumni on both sides of the issue confused as to what now constitutes acceptable behavior or expression for students who identify as LGBTQ. Though the Honor code still includes “abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman” in accordance with the church’s teachings on marriage, it remains unclear whether students can now engage in public displays of same-sex expression such as dating, kissing, and hand holding, or whether such acts constitute “obscene or indecent conduct or expressions.”

This lack of clarity has led to various interpretations of the changes. Some students, upon hearing of the changes, rushed to take a picture of themselves kissing in front of a statue of Brigham Young on BYU’s campus. Others have contacted the Honor Code Office, which supposedly told them that gay dating, kissing, and hand holding is okay. 

On the other hand, the school remains firm that nothing significant has really changed. Through their Twitter account, BYU initially acknowledged that there may have been some “miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean,” but maintains that “even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same. The Honor Code Office will handle questions that arise on a case-by-case basis. For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with students individually.” However, this still left the issue unclear. 

Christians need to strive toward the biblical ethic of love, which can simultaneously uphold the truths of Scripture about human sexuality, call all sinners to repentance, and maintain a caring and compassionate response toward those who have these particular temptations.

On March 4, BYU tweeted a letter from Elder Paul V. Johnson, the Commissioner of the Church Educational System, which finally appeared to offer clarity. In the letter, he reaffirmed the church’s stance on marriage: “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” He added that “same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.” 

What does this mean for Christians?

The struggle that we see here at BYU is not new. Though BYU is not a theologically orthodox Christian school and the Mormon faith is considered by faithful Christians to be heterodox (Here is a helpful explainer on the differences between Mormons and Christians), the Mormon church has largely upheld moral standards concerning marriage and the family that are in line with orthodox Christianity. As such, the parallels here between BYU and what has been witnessed at other Christian institutions are uncanny.

Take, for instance, Azusa Pacific University (APU) in southern California, a Christian school founded on the Wesleyan Holiness Tradition. From August 2018 through March 2019, APU went through a series of flip-flops on the very same issue of whether students could openly engage in LGBTQ relationships and public displays of affection. While APU maintains that sex should be between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage, it now, unfortunately, maintains a neutral or open stance on the romantic (or explicitly non-sexual) aspects of LGBTQ relationships.

The cultural pressure to change stances on the vast array of LGBTQ issues is being brought to bear on every Christian institution, and it won’t stop. Because of this, Christians need to know how to think through these issues well.

How should Christians think about this?

Christian schools and institutions are struggling with the pressure from our culture to embrace the entire LGBTQ agenda while still trying to maintain biblical standards about sexuality and gender and being pastoral toward those with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria. Unfortunately, this has led some Christian institutions like APU to compromise on this aspect of LGBTQ romantic relationships and public displays of affection. Yet, as Albert Mohler explains, this is not consistent with a biblical understanding of human sexuality.

“The biblical worldview does not allow for same-sex or LGBTQ romantic relationships. APU has adopted an explicit contradiction of the scriptural understanding of marriage, sexuality, gender, and romantic relationships between men and women. You cannot compartmentalize romance. Romantic relationships are themselves deeply moral and they imply the fulfillment of the sexual. Any construct contrary to the Bible’s clear teachings about sex, gender, and romance is by definition unbiblical. No Christian can live in logical consistency with the biblical teachings regarding marriage and simultaneously celebrate same-sex couples and homosexual displays of affection.”

Christians need to strive toward the biblical ethic of love, which can simultaneously uphold the truths of Scripture about human sexuality, call all sinners to repentance, and maintain a caring and compassionate response toward those who have these particular temptations. The gospel demands it of us.

By / Jun 22

Over the summer, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and speak to high school and college students about topics that bring about no small amount of cultural controversy. Whether the topic be on sexuality or gender, there’s a noticeable tension that overtakes the room and grips students as I explain the Bible’s teaching on such topics. That tension results from the Scriptures declaring the opposite of what the culture teaches on what it means to be male and female, and how sexual relations are to be governed.

The temptation is to view such occasions as merely an academic exercise—like discussing a theology of creation, how general and special revelation interact with one another, biology, and ideas like complementarity.

After a recent speaking opportunity, though, I was reminded that academic discussions are not merely academic abstractions. Pastoral implications always abound.

As I was about to leave the room after my talk, a young man in his teens came up to me to ask me advice on how to relate faithfully to his family, which is both anti-Christian and pro-LGBT. He told me that his parents have no understanding of his faith. In the course of our discussion, he also confided in me that he too struggles with same-sex attraction.

My heart went out for this teen. Barely old enough to drive, he is trying to live faithfully amid a family and a culture that says the very opposite of the hope he is clinging to in the Scriptures. I did not need to tell him that homosexuality is sinful; he knew it already. More than anything, he was wondering what faithful discipleship means for a situation like his.

I tell this story because there’s a conference that has generated a lot of online conversation—the Revoice Conference. It’s a conference that purports to be about the task of “Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”

That’s a laudable aim. Christians should support any same-sex attracted Christian or gender-confused Christian that is trying to find their identity in Christ (Gal. 2:20).

But I have pastoral concerns about how the conference is being framed and the potential confusion it might sow among impressionable audiences.

On the one hand, the Revoice Conference has not yet even occurred, so speculation about the conference could potentially be unwarranted. I would welcome being wrong were I confident that the voices behind the conference were offering a clear biblical viewpoint on such matters. But on the other hand, the conference’s programming and the casual embrace of finding one’s identity in what the Scriptures prohibit, seems to be an enormous miscalculation with real-world implications.

When looking at the programming, one finds topics such as “redeeming queer culture,” “queer visibility,” and a whole host of other topics where the determining factor in shaping one’s identity and response to the world seems to be whether one is a sexual or gender minority. To be clear, Revoice is appropriating the language of sexual and gender progressives who have zero interest in maintaining any semblance of Christian teaching. This raises important questions: Why does Revoice find it useful to appropriate secular identity theory? How does this help recalibrate a Christian’s identity toward union with Christ (Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:6; Col. 3:1-11)? Why valorize a past-tense category of sinfulness that Scripture considers a vice (1 Cor. 6:9-11)?

Here’s why I am deeply skeptical about what will happen at Revoice: The Revoice Conference is a flashpoint in a much larger and longstanding conversation. Many speakers and presenters at Revoice have made alarming arguments in the past. While attempting to esteem the Christian tradition’s teaching on sexuality and gender, the shift toward finding an identity in what should be mortified according to Scripture is unambiguously problematic.

I’m sure this conference aims for both pastoral and academic discussion. But what are the pastoral implications of this conference for the teen I met who is trying to live faithfully?

Imagine being this teenager I mentioned at the beginning. You understand and accept what the Bible teaches about your sexual desires, but then you hear about a conference that esteems being a sexual or gender minority while at the same time being Christian. “I can have a gay identity and be Christian,” the teen tells himself. “Maybe the cultural narrative is not that far from where Christians can find themselves as well,” the teen happily considers. Inch by inch, the teen finds less and less conflict between their desires and their faith until this newfound compatibility gives birth to sexual sin. For a teen such as this, it will be exponentially more difficult for he or she to offer their body as a living sacrifice when the mind is clouded with confusion sown by thinking one can identify with prohibited desires and not end up forfeiting faithfulness (Rom. 12:1-2).

Any discussion on gender and sexuality has as its proper end the pastoral care of persons who may be gripped by homosexual desire or confused distress over their gender. Any activity, academic or not, that does not have greater conformity with Christ as its ultimate purpose fails to be authentically Christian (Rom. 8:29). I cannot understand how seeing one’s self as a gender and sexual minority—a class-like status that seeks to amplify and legitimize one’s sexual experiences—helps a sinful or fallen desire or self-perception recede, and affection for Christlikeness grow.

By / Jun 21

Jesus teaches us to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength” (Mark 12:30). Furthermore, he teaches us to “love our neighbor as ourself” (Mark 12:31). This command to love our neighbor is rooted in God’s love for us. We take our cues from God when it comes to how we demonstrate love to others. Therefore, when it comes to loving those with whom we disagree or with whose lifestyles we cannot condone, we must look to God for our example.

The following points represent a brief survey of some biblical truths from the writings of the apostle Paul that will help us love our gay neighbors well:

1. Love your gay neighbor fearlessly

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Timothy was a young, timid minister who needed encouragement from the seasoned, mature Paul. Just like us, Timothy had to be reminded that God had given him a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Regardless of the circumstances, we are called to love our gay neighbor in the strength of God’s power, which drives out fear and increases our faith. Fearless love takes risks. It steps outside of its comfort zone. It breaks down stereotypes and demonstrates trust in God.

God’s compassion serves as the paradigm for Christian compassion.

2. Love your gay neighbor compassionately

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:12-13).

God’s compassion serves as the paradigm for Christian compassion. When we seek to show compassion to others, we begin by considering how God showed compassion to us. When it comes to our gay neighbor, we show compassion and offer forgiveness on the basis of what God has done in Christ to redeem us and demonstrate his love toward us. Compassion is the clothing of the Christian. It is the scent that should linger when a Christian comes around.

3. Love your gay neighbor truthfully

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).

Biblical love is inextricably related to the truth. If the source of love is God himself, then our expressions of love must not neglect the truth of God. Love and truth are the two sides of the Gospel we share with others. People will never see how loved they truly are until they understand who they are apart from God’s love and redemption. When Christians conceal the truth about sin from their neighbor, it may appear loving, but it is not loving at all. Loving our gay neighbor in the truth means not only addressing the reality and consequence of the sin, but it also means faithfully declaring the grace and freedom that are found in Christ Jesus. Christians should speak the whole truth to their gay neighbor, which means truthful speech about both God’s just holiness and God’s redemptive mercy.

4. Love your gay neighbor redemptively

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7).

The “loving kindness of God our Savior appeared” to save us! In other words, God’s love has a salvific purpose. The end goal of his love is the redemption of the sinner. We are told this in no uncertain terms in John 3:16, where we read that God’s love for us compelled him to send his Son, Jesus, into the world for the salvation of sinners. He does not love for love’s sake, but for the sake of his glory in salvation. Our love for our gay neighbor is incomplete if its end goal is not their full redemption. We are called to adorn the gospel with our good works, but we must be careful that we do not neglect the gospel on account of our busyness.

5. Love your gay neighbor patiently

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

“And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25).

Very few people respond to the gospel the first time that they hear it. As those who have been saved by a patient God, we need to be patient with our gay neighbor. Furthermore, while our love must be redemptive, it must not be dehumanizing. What I mean by this is that our gay neighbor is not some salvific notch in our evangelistic belt. We must not view our neighbor as a threat to be neutralized, but as a human being created in the image of a loving and patient God. We should demonstrate love to our gay neighbor regardless if they ever attend our church meetings. So when we start loving our neighbors redemptively, we must do so with patience and longsuffering. Often, repentance will be messy and we must be willing to walk alongside them, discipling them to follow Jesus. We must not give up on the gospel. In due season, God’s message will bear fruit if we do not grow weary in doing good.

In conclusion, God’s Word is clear that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. This necessarily includes even those with whom we disagree and whose lifestyles conflict with God’s Word. God’s intention is to use Christians to demonstrate a love for their gay neighbor that is marked by a fearless hope in the transforming truth of the gospel, which declares the compassion of God toward all sinners with the aim of bringing about their full redemption. This love is a patient love that rests in the sovereign kindness of a loving God. It is a love that looks strikingly similar to the love that God has poured out on us through Jesus Christ.

By / Aug 9

In 2014 the ERLC hosted it’s first national conference, titled, “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” Christopher Yuan shared an inspiring message of redemption, grace and transformation, as he told the story of how the Lord worked through his mother’s persevering prayers.