"Mommy, who is Caitlyn Jenner?"

"Mommy, who is Caitlyn Jenner?"
If you haven't heard, the cover of Vanity Fair this month headlines, "Call me Caitlyn." It includes a twenty-page photo shoot and article interviewing Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist in the men's decathlon). Next month ESPN will honor Caitlyn Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community is now firmly rooted in American society. There are lots of ways one could respond. What is the God-honoring response? How will you respond when this issue hits close to home? How will you teach your kids to respond? This is a sensitive issue and a hot topic for many. Some parents live in fear of what their children might say or ask. I have found that thinking through difficult issues in advance helps me feel slightly more prepared when the dreaded day finally arrives. My purpose in this blog is just that. We won't provide all the answers, but rather a starting point for parents to begin thinking through theses issues so they can use Scripture to guide their children as needed in their walk with Christ. I will pose some questions parents may face and lay out some Scriptures to consider. I do not pretend to have all the answers or presume to have it all figured out. The Bible is God's unshakable word of truth and our guide for how to live in a right relationship with Him. He is the One to whom we should turn for the answers. With that in mind, let's just think through this issue a little bit.

The Questions

Has your child started asking questions about what they see around them? If not, they will soon. Are you prepared to answer questions and situations like these?
  • My child's friend has two moms. How do I/we respond to that?
  • My child wants to bring a LGBT friend to church. How do I/we respond to that?
  • My child is asking questions about sexual orientation and/or same-sex attraction. How do I/we respond to that?
  • My child isn't interested in the opposite sex. How do I/we respond to that?
To be honest, I am still working through some of these questions myself. It seems like every time I think I've got it figured out, another question arises. Here are more questions I've heard tossed around quite a bit.
  • What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
  • Are the passages forbidding homosexuality still true or is there reason to believe they no longer apply today?
  • Can a godly Christian be gay or lesbian (or bisexual or transgender)?
  • If a person is not attracted to the opposite sex, it the biblical answer to remain single or a committed gay marriage?
The LGBT issue is now firmly rooted in American society. How will you respond when this issue hits close to home? How will you teach your kids to respond? Most people have heard the famous Old and New Testament passages. If you haven't or want to review, here are two articles by Christian authors which examine these passages from two different viewpoints (article one, article two). These articles are just two of many on both sides of this Christian debate. In this post, let's look at some other important, but less thought of biblical passages.

The Sin-O-Meter

All sin is equal in God's eyes, but we try to make it a scale. This sin rates low on the Sin-O-Meter, but that one pushes the needle way into the "red zone." God's Word doesn't work that way. Sex outside marriage, looking lustfully on someone who is not your spouse (Matthew 5:27-28), lying (Proverbs 12:22), cheating, disobeying your parents (Exodus 20:21; Romans 1:29-30), misusing God's name (Exodus 20:7)... all of these are sins deserving punishment and separation from God. (For example, does God rank the sins listed in Romans 1:26-2:1 in some kind of "relative severity" list?) Can we really say something like this? "Yes, I've sinned, but you've really sinned. I'm ok here, but you've gone too far. You have to leave now."
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. Mark 7:20-22 (ERV)
What about hurting drug addicts, hidden abuse in relationships, pornography, or those with a lying habit? Aren't we called to welcome the broken? Aren't we all broken in one way or another? Is it right to say, "This sin is too much to be worthy of God's love and forgiveness"? Isn't church supposed to be a place for the broken to come for healing, encouragement, and support as we all seek to live more like Christ each day?

The Dirty Dinner Party

Jesus ate with the outcast of society, those considered rejects and unclean. He welcomed them and even asked one to join the inner circle of twelve disciples to follow Him, learn, grow in faith, and eventually teach others.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Matthew 9:9-12 (ESV)

The Limits of Love

If you've been to church for any length of time, you've probably heard this verse at least once:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
Who would you define as your neighbor? Don't give the "church answer." Think about it and answer the question truthfully. Where do you draw the line in loving people? Who is worthy of love? Who is not? Jesus' original audience asked the same question: "Who is my neighbor?" Christ took the person this audience hated the most and used him as the example of how to love your neighbor. Read it yourself.

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’ “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:25-37 (MSG)
Does reading that change how you think about loving your neighbor?

A Game-Changing Choice

Our neighbors include people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. If you don't already know someone who falls into one of those (or similar) categories, you wither will later in life or know someone who knows someone who does. Here's the game-changing question: How will you respond when you meet these neighbors? How will you teach your kids to relate to them? You really have three choices:
  1. Be a person who shows the love of Christ.
  2. Be a person who quotes confronting Scriptures at strangers like a "truth bomb" and leaves.
  3. Be a person who cold-shoulders and ignores everything and everyone close to the LGBT camp.
It's your choice. How will you respond? How will your children?

The Discussion

I welcome comments on all sides of this issue, but please think through the following questions before you post a response:
  1. Would I say what I've written to an actual person's face? If not, it is not appropriate to post.
  2. Am I just mad or does my comment contribute value to this discussion? If you're just mad, please go burn off some steam before posting a question or comment that contributes value.
  3. Does my comment contain hurtful language? Please note that inappropriate language will prevent your post from being approved and added to our comment stream.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I am straight, but have several friends who are gay, lesbian, or struggle with same-sex attraction. I believe the Bible's teachings on homosexuality make acting on same-sex attraction (i.e. intimate relations) to be as much of a sin as sex outside marriage. I believe the biblical answer for those not attracted to the opposite sex is celibate singleness. Yes, I know celibacy is not a popular message in today's culture. As a 35-year-old, straight, single virgin who has long desired marriage, I can tell you that a single, celibate lifestyle is not always easy. Still, there are other ways to fulfill the needs of companionship, affection, support, and family. There are also unexpected blessings to living a single life to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Thank you for your "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" ("...find out what it means to me...") as we explore this issue together.
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