Given our culture’s attention to, confusion about, and hostility over issues of sexuality, it’s crucial our students are trained how to think carefully and Christianly about them. Otherwise, they be ill-equipped to engage the world with winsome wisdom from above and they be vulnerable to the world’s conforming work from below (Rom. 12:1-2).
If your students are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves concerning issues of sexuality, they’ll need your intentional, clear-headed, and robustly Biblical help.
A Comfort: God’s Truth & Our World
Thankfully, since all the created world is from God and for God, youth workers can always rest assured that the biblical truth we teach our students will always match up with reality they live in. For instance, see what Sean Nolan says concerning a recent statement from the American College of Pediatricians about the harmfulness of transgenderism:
When it comes to biblical manhood and womanhood, my new favorite source from outside the circle is the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). You will not find any reference to the Bible on their website. The authority to which they submit is purely scientific. Yet, their recent statement titled, Gender Ideology Harms Children affirms what those who trust the Bible have claimed all along: human beings are created both male and female and these distinctions are assigned at birth.
What God reveals in Scripture to be immoral, science is now finding to be destructive. ACPeds research corroborates what God has stated from old: it is dangerous to encourage humans to embrace a sex other than the one assigned to them at birth. It offends God, mars the imago dei, and leads to further human suffering as sin is always guaranteed to do.
Since all truth is God’s truth, no matter where is comes from, it will never contradict itself. In fact, those who initially ignore Scriptures often come to realize the truth it teaches through honest study of the world we live in. And this forms an immense comfort for all engaged in youth ministry: what our students learn in God’s word will match up with what they’ll experience in God’s world.
But, in the case of transgenderism, what must we teach our students and how can we do it using truth from God’s world and God’s word?
A Challenge: Thinking Christianly About Transgenderism
Taking both the Bible and the ACPeds’ statement, Sean Nolan offers five truths to share with students concerning a Christian view of human sexuality generally and transgenderism specifically. To serve you as a brief resource, I have paraphrased his points and offered select quotes of explanation, but I highly encourage you to read his whole post here.
1) God Does Make Humans Male or Female
“While there is increasing hostility to this view, our biology cannot be changed… Meet confused students with compassion and grace, while challenging them to think deeply about who God has made us to be biologically.”
2) No One is Exempt From Believing Lies
“Currently there are massively popular lies about our sexual identities and our bodies that we cannot inoculate our teenagers from. Let us steep ourselves in God’s Word while keeping abreast of the changing climates of culture and medicine and the insights they will provide us.”
3) Puberty Is An Awkward Time for Everyone With Many Insecurities
“The physical and hormonal changes are only compounded by the rhetoric that states we can choose our gender. Appropriately (use caution as there are many inappropriate ways) affirm and encourage students that despite the transition their body goes through God made it and ordains its transformation, he sees them as “very good” (Gen 1:31) and they are his workmanship (Eph 2:10).”
4) Never Tell Students Struggling With Sexual Identity That It’s “Just a Phase”
“While the statement from ACPeds research suggests that it is, this sort of comment is unhelpful for those in the midst of the confusion. All you will achieve by bringing this up to those in the midst of the confusion is invalidating their struggles and feelings. This will shut down conversation and eliminate trust.”
5) Equip Christian Students to See Their Friends’ Gender Dysphoria is Most Likely a Phase
“It can be encouraging for students that are praying for hope and healing for their friends to know that with time it is likely feelings of gender dysphoria will eventually subside. We may also want to remind them that sharing the idea that this “is only a phase” with their friends comes across as dismissive and unhelpful.”
We Have Better News
The gospel behind transgenderism teaches that one’s problem is their external (i.e. their body is wrong) and salvation will come by following their internal (i.e. whatever identity they feel). The gospel of Christ teaches that one’s problem is internal (i.e. our sinful hearts living in rebellion against God) and our only hope is external (i.e. Christ dying and rising for us.). The former is the prison cell (even science is beginning to agree). The latter is the key. The world has salt water for thirsty souls. But the church, through the message of Christ, has living water (John 7:37-39).
Our students are growing up in a culture filled with passionate, hostile, and never-silent preachers of sexual liberty and self-actualizing autonomy. The sermons of the world are ubiquitous and unceasing and will result in increasing hopelessness and chaos. Cruelly, the world sells salt water to the thirsting. In love for neighbor, may the world’s preaching not be met Church’s silence. Our truth is better, fresh and life-giving. in love and courage, let’s show how fresh water is better than salt.
I heartily encourage you to read Sean’s whole post here.