As we argue and complain about the recent sex-change operation by former Olympian Bruce Jenner and the recent SCOTUS ruling regarding homosexual marriage, our teens are listening. And making judgments of their own — judgments both about LGBT lifestyles and about us. Do they see us as judgmental and hateful? Does the mantra of “love wins” make sense to them?
As they grow up in a world in which biblical ideals are far less accepted than they have been for previous generations, how can we guide them to make sense of what’s going on and be both salt and light in this dark world? First of all, we need to be willing to model biblical love ourselves — both as we interact with others who disagree and as we discuss them out in public, on social media, and within our homes.
Why Does It Bother Us?
Anger can certainly be righteous, but it isn’t always. Often, Christians fail to get a hearing from unbelievers for the same reason God sometimes ignores our prayers: we’re being selfish. If we’re simply afraid that our rights will be diminished, we’re failing to love our neighbors. If we believe it’s ultimately a problem that will threaten our society and that it’s damaging to kids as well as adults, perhaps we’d be more grieved than angry over the changes. We’d become more passionate about “redeeming the time” as we see increasingly needy people who make it clear they need a Savior. And we’d realize that being angry isn’t going to help draw them toward Christ.
Are We Willing To Engage with Others?
If we simply “use the Bible as a punctuation mark” to end a discussion, (as Rosaria Butterfield describes in the video here) we’re not going to convince anyone of anything. Sometimes Christians do that out of fear or insecurity because we don’t really know what the Bible says well enough to answer those who disagree or ask us questions. Other times, we simply don’t care. We have our positions, and we’re content with that. We don’t really care about others enough to listen to those who disagree. Teens can sense our lack of love when we fail to interact with those most in need of God’s love.
Do We Communicate Compassion?
As you read about Bruce Jenner and meet others with similar backstories, what emotions come to the surface? No doubt, there are many, but is compassion even one of them? The details mentioned in this account include someone discontent with his appearance who feels inferior to others within his family. Yes, he was a one-time Olympian, but that success has been followed by other failed careers as well as a broken marriage. His recent operation has earned him his mother’s pride along with accolades of many who now herald him as “brave.”
Does your heart resonate with the ache of his, at all? His quest for approval, for feeling accepted and fulfilled? Your teen needs to know that “we all experience unfulfilled longings and the ache of living in a fallen world” (LifeHurts).
Continue reading with Part 2.