Our churches need to be the places who can receive the refugees from the sexual revolution – those who have been hurt and harmed by it. We can’t do that if we give up the Gospel… And we can’t do that if we’re angry at our neighbors and screaming at them rather than loving them…” – Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
Russell Moore’s article (highly recommended) from the Washington Post addressed an issues I’ve been struggling with…
Some Christians will be tempted to anger, lashing out at the world around us with a narrative of decline. That temptation is wrong. God decided when we would be born, and when we would be born again. We have the Spirit and the gospel. To think that we deserve to live in different times is to tell God that we deserve a better mission field than the one he has given us. Let’s joyfully march to Zion.
I recognize I need to do some spiritual work on the anger and selfishness that comes from fear of the the extraordinary transformation of our culture. But some of our anger as Christians is godly anger. I’m angry at the injustice of kids having to grow up in a postmodern culture increasingly hostile to those who reject the civil religion of moral relativism and seek both publicly and privately to live in accordance with the teachings of Scripture. From my front row seat to the culture as a child and adolescent psychiatrist I can attest that God’s way works. Dr. Moore is spot-on in his call to the church to prepare to receive the next wave of young casualties of the sexual revolution.
How shall we prepare? Here are six ideas from someone who has treated far too many of the wounded…
- As child-rearing becomes increasingly disconnected from marriage, we need to get much better at caring for kids come from divorced or non-traditional families. Only 46% of children under the age of 18 in the U.S. live in a “traditional” family, defined as living in a home with two heterosexual parents in their first marriage. We know on the basis of the New Families Structure Study (NFSS) that kids raised by parents involved in a same-sex relationship didn’t fare as well in terms of mental health status or substance use outcomes when compared to kids raised in more traditional families…
When compared with children who grew up in biologically (still) intact, mother– father families, the children of women who reported a same-sex relationship look markedly different on numerous outcomes, including many that are obviously suboptimal (such as education, depression, employment status, or marijuana use). On 25 of 40 outcomes (or 63%) evaluated here, there are bivariate statistically-significant (p < 0.05) differences between children from still-intact, mother/father families and those whose mother reported a lesbian relationship. On 11 of 40 outcomes (or 28%) evaluated here, there are bivariate statistically-significant (p < 0.05) differences between children from still-intact, mother/father families and those whose father reported a gay relationship. Hence, there are differences in both comparisons, but there are many more differences by any method of analysis in comparisons between young-adult children of IBFs and LMs than between IBFs and GFs.
While the NFSS may best capture what might be called an ‘‘earlier generation’’ of children of same-sex parents, and includes among them many who witnessed a failed heterosexual union, the basic statistical comparisons between this group and those of others, especially biologically-intact, mother/father families, suggests that notable differences on many outcomes do in fact exist. This is inconsistent with claims of ‘‘no differences’’ generated by studies that have commonly employed far more narrow samples than this one.
We have reason to suspect from this study in England as well as this study from Scandinavia that same-sex marriages may turn out to be less stable than traditional marriages. The bottom line is that it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that kids raised in homes in which parents of the same sex are married to one another are more likely to present with more challenges. Editor’s note: Divorce Care for Kids is an excellent resource for churches seeking to minister with kids from non-traditional families.
- We need to get much more serious about coming alongside families seeking to raise their children with a Biblical perspective of sexuality, right, wrong and “self-determination.” Where else will families be able to turn?
- We in the church need to get our own house in order in addressing our ongoing struggles with sexual brokenness and challenging more couples to live out the picture of marriage portrayed in the Bible.
- As faith-based organizations are facing increasing pressure to compromise their values or abandoning their roles in the social services, we will need leaders of faith to infiltrate the adoption and foster care systems and individual families to step up to care for the youngest victims of the sexual revolution both here in the U.S. and abroad.
- While it troubles me greatly to suggest this, youth who struggle with gender identity or with to resist the urge to act upon same-sex attraction may need very well-trained Christian counselors exempt from licensure by the state. We’ll talk more about this topic in a future post, but vaguely worded laws prohibiting “conversion therapy” have been enacted in California and New Jersey and a nationwide movement seeks to pass preventing…
“any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex. “
“Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a patient under 18 years of age by a mental health provider shall be considered unprofessional conduct and shall subject a mental health provider to discipline by the licensing entity for that mental health provider.”
Where will parents be able to take their kids for help when their attractions or behaviors are “ego-dystonic?” Surely, any Christian licensed as a mental health professional who seeks to adhere to traditional Biblical teaching on sexuality and chooses to treat kids with same-sex attraction will become a potential target for censure (or worse) in our current environment.
- We have to represent a radical alternative to the culture the victims of the sexual revolution are leaving behind. From Dr. Moore…
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.
We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.
We know how this battle is going to turn out. Let’s get ready to care for the victims.
This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. We see that we are strangers and exiles in American culture. We are on the wrong side of history, just like we started. We should have been all along.
Let’s seek the kingdom. Let’s stand with the gospel. Let’s fear our God. But let’s not fear our mission field.
Updated March 1, 2016
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