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Homosexuality in Kids Media
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In this episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses a parent's question about responding to same-sex marriage portrayed in a children's show. Listen in as she provides guidance on discussing feelings, desires, and the concept of truth with children, while encouraging them to evaluate ideas against the biblical worldview. Join us as we help you navigate these complex issues with your children.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question says, "my son noticed a same sex marriage in the show Odd Squad on PBS. In the episode, the actress said, we have loved each other so long and have been waiting for this moment. I'm sure our children are going to hear that a lot, unfortunately. What is your response to this when a child hears, 'I can't help it, I love them, it's just the way I am'?" Now, that's a really good question, especially in this current cultural context in which we find ourselves, and that's the question we're going to dive down deep into today.
But before we do that, if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial, we ask that you would consider liking and subscribing to make sure that you never miss a future episode, and also that you consider writing a review and sharing this content with those within your sphere of influence so we can continue equipping more parents and educators and church leaders to get our kids carefully evaluating every idea they encounter.
Now, this question is one that I'm sure that's on a lot of people's minds these days because we know that in our current cultural context, especially in the media, there is such a push to look at sexuality from all different angles, both angles that align with God's good design, but usually angles that do not align with God's good design. And what I loved about this question is I think specifically with what this question asks, it highlights an opportunity that we have not just to teach our children about marriage and sexuality, but also about desires and emotions and the concept of truth in general.
So my response to this parent would be, first, the first thing that I would encourage you to do is to affirm and celebrate your son's recognition that an idea that he was presented with through the media does not align with the biblical worldview. That's always an exciting thing when our children recognize something as not aligning with the biblical worldview, and that's really half the battle, just having them recognize that not everything that they encounter is true. So that's the first thing I would say. Just celebrate and say, "Hey buddy, you know what? I am so proud of you that you weren't just sitting on the sofa and watching that show and not thinking that you were actually thinking through what you saw and you were asking yourself the question, is this true? Does this line up with what God has revealed in his word?" So I would really encourage you just to affirm that first.
After that, what you can do next is ask some questions that are going to get him to think about what he just saw or what he just heard. So I think a great question, anytime our children encounter a claim like this or any other claim that we want them to evaluate is to ask, what was that character really saying? So when that character says like, "I can't help it, I love them, this is just the way that I am." What was that character really saying? And give your son an opportunity to think through that and to articulate what he thinks that character was really saying. And some of the things you're going to want to guide him to if he doesn't get there on his own, is that that character is saying, I have no control over my actions. I'm not the one that's responsible for how I act, it's just my desires that are leading me.
So we want our kids to see that that is going to be a constant theme that they're going to face is that I'm really not responsible for my actions. It's just these desires inside of me that I have no control over that are guiding me. Another thing you're going to want to make sure he sees is that this character is really claiming that his or her feelings are the most reliable guide to truth. That how do I know it's true? Well, I look deep inside of myself and I say, okay, what are these desires that I have? And then a third thing that you're going to want your son to see is that this character is really claiming when he or she says, it's just the way that I am. This character is claiming that my feelings, my emotional world that's subjective and inside of me, those feelings are my identity. That's actually who I am.
So those are three things we're going to want to make sure that our children in any context understand when they hear a claim like this, that the first claim is I have no control over my actions. It's just these desires inside of me that are pulling me in one direction or another, and my responsibility is just to follow these desires. The second thing is that our subjective feelings are emotions are the most reliable guide to reality that how do we know the truth? We look deep inside of us. And then the third thing that's said by that claim is that my feelings, my inner subjective world is my identity. So we want to first have them just identify what actually is this character saying?
Then the next question we want to ask is, are these claims true? Now, it's really easy when we're in a situation like this and we're like, oh my goodness, what did my son or daughter, this child in my care, what did they just see? What were they just exposed to? We can ask a question, are these claims true? And if they say no, then we can feel like, oh, this huge sigh of relief. Oh, good, they understand the truth. Well, do they really understand the truth? Because they might just be saying no to appease us because they know that that's what we would like to hear. Or they might just be saying no because they don't really want to get into a conversation they're thinking "I was just watching the odd squad. I wanted to give myself a little brain break. I don't want to get into this intense discussion right now with mom or dad or grandma or whoever it is." So we want to make sure that we're asking our kids, are these claims true? And then asking them to explain why. Because if they just give us a quick no, we might breathe a sigh of relief right now, but chances are they don't really understand why these claims either are true or are not true.
Now, if you're thinking, I have no idea how to evaluate whether or not an idea is true, I don't know how to do this, would highly encourage you if you're working with kids ages 10 on up, that you check out our Careful Thinking Curriculum at Foundation Worldview. It's a curriculum that just systematically teaches kids how to say, pause, what was this idea that I just heard? How do I know whether or not it's true? How do I look up good information to make sure I'm seeking out whether or not a claim is true? It's a really intense curriculum because it's really getting them to think in really deep ways. But if you're thinking, I don't know how to guide my child through this, highly recommend you check out our Careful Thinking Curriculum.
So when we talk with our kids about these three things, these three claims, I have no control over my actions. My feelings are the most reliable guide to reality and my feelings are my identity. We want to get into discussions about these with our kids. Say, okay, so let's look at that first claim. Let's look at that first claim that I have no control over my actions. Have you ever felt like that before? I think that's a really good question to ask because I think all of us as humans have felt at certain times these feelings inside of me are so strong. If I don't act on this, I'm just going to burst. And so to talk through, have you ever felt like that? Because probably your son or your daughter or whoever you're working with has felt like that before. I can't control this. It's just a really strong desire. And then to talk about, okay, let's think, is that the way our world works? Is that the way we just think, well, you know what? We have no control over our actions. Well, no, that's actually not true, and that's not the way that our world works because I mean, look at our justice system.
Our entire justice system is set up on the belief that there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong, that there's actually moral truths that exist and that humans have the capability of making choices to either act in a way that aligns with what is right or to act in a way that does not align what is right. Now in today's cultural context. Many people disagree over what is actually right and wrong, but we still live in a world in which there's the assumption that we do have some measure of control over our actions and that we are morally responsible for those actions. And you can talk with your son or daughter, what would actually be the consequences if we actually believed that that was true, that we just needed to follow everyone of our desires, talk through what that would look like, talk through what it would look like if somebody actually lived at all of their desires.
You can talk about that with your child. What are some things that you've desired that you knew were wrong and so you chose not to do them? What would happen if every single child decided they were going to follow their desire to hit their siblings or that they were going to run away from home? Or what if every parent followed his or her desire to yell at their children or when their child misbehaved to hurt them physically? What would be the outcome of that? That we as humans, we might have really, really strong desires, but if those desires do not line up with what is true and with what is right, then we are responsible for following not our desires, but what we know to be true and we know to be right. And this is something especially in the area of sex and sexuality that just boggles the minds of those in our culture because we live in a culture post Freud post the Sexual Revolution, and there's just this prevailing belief in our culture that if we don't act out on all of our sexual desires, that we are somehow stifling our true selves.
I remember just the situation that I was in where it was, it kind of makes me laugh now because just remembering the looks on people's faces that several years ago when I used to live just outside of Chicago, I was part of this ministry that my church ran where we'd meet every other Saturday with skeptics at Barnes and Noble and we'd just have conversations about the deeper topics of life, just with the hope of gently pushing them to see how their worldviews did not align with reality. And so one of the conversations was just about do humans have souls? Are we more than just our physical bodies? And a lot of the atheist friends there were arguing that we were just our physical bodies and were just saying "people go crazy if they don't follow their animal instincts. It's just been scientifically proven if people are not sexually active that they go crazy."
And so I just quietly raised my hand and I knew most of the people in the group and I said, do you think that from what you know about me that I'm mentally unstable or that I'm living a life that just seems like I'm falling apart? And of course, everybody's like, no. I was like, well, I'm a Christian, which means I believe the Bible is true and I follow the teachings of Jesus, which means that I believe that sex is reserved for marriage between one marriage, between a man and a woman for life. I said, so I'm not married. I've never been married, so that means I have never been sexually active in my life and I'm in my thirties. Do you think that I am going crazy? And nobody knew what to do with that because they knew me. They knew that I'm not a crazy person, that I'm not unstable, that I'm living a happy, healthy life. And yet their Worldview is kind of a little bit falling apart because they realize, oh, Elizabeth's not crazy. And Elizabeth also is not living out this Worldview that we're claiming. So it's just so interesting in our culture. So if we can help our kids see that we are not just slaves to our desires, that we have responsibilities to act in a way that aligns with what is true and what is good.
The the second question or the second claim, my feelings are the most reliable guide to reality. This is a question we want to ask our kids. Can you ever think of a time when your feelings told you one thing, but then you learned that the truth was just the opposite of what your feelings were telling you? Those of you who have gone through our early childhood Worldview curriculum here at Foundation, that whole first unit, we are helping kids distinguish the difference between truths and feelings.
And one of our lessons in that unit is sometimes feelings trick us. So when our kids are really young, if we can train them to discern the difference between truths and feelings, when we ask them this question when they're 10 years old, are our feelings the best guide for truth they'll already know? No. Sometimes feelings trick us. Yes, sometimes feelings do point us to truth. Sometimes feelings point us away from truth, and we have to evaluate when is this feeling pointing me away from the truth? When is it pointing me towards the truth? Something that you can do here is just be honest with your kids about sometimes when you have strong feelings that are not true, talk about times when you're frustrated with them and you feel like yelling at them. But that is not what is the right thing to do. So you choose to follow truth rather than your emotions.
Or if you've chosen to follow your emotions at times we all have rather than truth, confess that to them. "Remember when? Remember when mommy did this? Remember when daddy did this? I was following my feelings instead of truth. Was that what was best for our family? No, it wasn't because I was following my feelings instead of truth."
Now with older kids at Foundation Worldview, we really stop our curriculums at around age 14. But if you're working with a child who is 12 or up, a really great example, if they push back against this and they're like, "yeah, our feelings are the best guide for reality, our feelings do always point to truth." A great thing to point them to is a situation where they have a friend who's experiencing depression or a friend who's experiencing an eating disorder and say, okay, your friend who's depressed feels like he or she is worthless. There's no point to them getting up in the morning. You know that they're not contributing anything to the world. Is that true? When your friend feels worthless, is it true that your friend is worthless? No. So our feelings don't always point to reality. Same with somebody who's struggling with anorexia or bulimia. They feel like they are fat, even though their body might be wasting away. Is their feeling like they are overweight? Is that in line with reality? No, it's not. Their reality is their body needs more nutrition, their body needs more fat on it to stay healthy. So with older kids, those can be great examples.
And then the third question is, are our feelings truly our identity? Everything you feel inside, is that the total of who you are? So when I'm feeling happy, is my identity happy? When I'm feeling depressed, is my identity depressed? If I'm feeling confident, is my identity confident? If I'm feeling in love with someone, is my identity in love? And we want to ask him these questions to get them thinking because on this side of Freud, our culture just really believes that our, and those of you who are listening can't see that I'm putting up air quotes, putting up air quotes for "sexual orientation." So our culture views are "sexual orientation" as our identity. And the reason I put that in air quote is because the concept of being homosexual or heterosexual as an identity or as a way of being that was really just coined by Freud. Others had talked about it before him, but he's the one that really popularized that idea that before Freud, the idea was just sexuality is behavior, not identity. So we want to help our kids see that our feelings are not identical to our identity.
And a great way to do this, just take them through the biblical view of identity. You can do this in the first three chapters of Genesis, just read through the first chapter of Genesis. It talks about humans being God's image bearers. The second chapter of Genesis, it just goes into more detail about creation and the creation of Adam and Eve. The third chapter talks about the fall that we are all fallen, humans separated from God. Therefore we don't always have a correct understanding of reality, and our emotions don't always line up with reality. So we want to give them this biblical view that we are all humans, our god's image bear and are inherently valuable. All humans are also affected by the fall of mankind. So therefore, we're going to have all sorts of desires that don't align with our true identity, which is as image bearers of God.
Also discuss the folly of this belief of believing that our feelings are our identity. There's a really great video that was put out. The Joseph Backholm who does, what would you say, project for the Colson Center. Before he was doing that, he put out this great video that got a lot of views on YouTube. I think it's just called Six Foot Chinese Woman. And he goes on a college campus and he asks the students there, if I said I was a woman, what would you say? And everybody's like, "yeah, great for you. That's wonderful." And he's like, "what if I told you I was six feet tall?" He's very obviously under six feet. And the students are kind of like, "well, maybe you know, believe that." And then he's like, "what if I told you I was a six foot Chinese woman?" And all of a sudden, students are starting to have struggles with that, and he's like, "so I can be a woman, but I can't be a Chinese woman?"
And so it's a great video just to show the folly of that. This was just a great question that I think is so important for us to think through that as our children encounter these claims, know that we can't, can't help who we love, it's just the way that we are. We should follow our desires that it's so important. We first celebrate them recognizing those claims, and then we ask them to pause and evaluate what was this person actually saying? And then dive into, okay, are those claims true or do they sound good? But they're not rooted in reality. If we can train our kids with this format, they're going to be equipped then even when we're not there, to carefully evaluate every idea that they encounter in the media and beyond.
Well, that's a wrap for today's episode. As always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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