Supporting Homosexual or Transgender Friends: A Biblical Perspective
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How should we guide our children when they're wanting to know how they can be supportive of their friends who say they are homosexual or transgender? In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz looks at this question from a biblical perspective to help define friendship, love, and acceptance.
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 kids 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.
Today's question says, my 15-year-old has friends that have told her they are homosexual or transgender, and she wants to know how to be a supportive friend to them. How is best to handle this? And that's a great question because I think this is a situation that most of the children whom God has placed in our care, either they are in this situation or they will be in this situation. Because we know there have always been people throughout human history who have had sexual desires for the same sex, and there have always been people who have felt like their inner emotional and mental world does not align with their biology. So this has always been the case.
However, acceptance of homosexual behavior or acceptance of a transgender identity has never before been accepted and celebrated like it has been in our culture. And really, when you think of it just with all that teens go through as their bodies are changing and their hormones are raging and they're just in these environments in schools where they're just surrounded by other people who are going through the same awful phase, it's a really terrible idea. And for most of human history, youth have not all been shoved together for eight hours a day in a concentrated area. It's a really bad idea to ever just group ourselves together with people who are just like us and leave everybody else on the outside because really what it is, it's just naval gazing. Woo, couldn't say that. It's just naval gazing. Because it's just everybody has the same issues and the same problems. And so there's nobody to really speak wisdom into that.
So what a lot of our kids are facing is they're facing so many of their classmates, so many of their peers, so many of their friends coming out of the closet and saying that they're homosexual or they're transgender or what's really popular nowadays is to say that you're bi, that you're bisexual or that you're queer or some other alternate form of sexuality, which is really easy to say because saying you're bisexual isn't really saying too much, it's saying that you're just attracted to anyone, and it would be really easy for anyone to say that. And also, it's kind of like the new in thing.
When I was in high school, the in thing was cutting yourself because cutting yourself meant that you had this inner emotional turmoil. It got you attention from your peers, it got you attention from your teachers. While there were some people who genuinely were cutting themselves because they wanted to actually feel some pain because they had just so blocked themselves off from their emotions, the majority of people that I knew in high school who were cutting themselves were just doing it for attention. So while there are people who genuinely do experience sexual attractions to the same sex or genuinely do experience feeling like their inner emotional and mental world does not match their biology, by and large the vast number of teens who are experiencing this today, it's just what they're doing really to cry out for attention because they're in a really difficult space.
So, that's one thing that we have to know is that our kids and our teens, they're going to be faced with so many more relationships with people who are claiming alternate forms of sexuality or gender identity than we ever were when we were growing up, and part of it is just this cultural phenomenon. And then in regards to this specific question, how should we guide our children when they're wanting to know how they can be supportive of their friends. And so what I'm going to recommend that we do now in this situation and in any situation we're facing with the children that God has placed in our care, is that we follow the model of the Apostle Paul in so many of his letters where first he lays out orthodoxy, sound theology or right belief, and then goes into orthopraxy, right living. We can't have right living if we don't first have right believing.
So a lot of times we get this mixed up. Actually, when we are teaching through the epistles, we'll just focus on, okay, here's the list of things you need to do, and here's the list of things you don't need to do. Where, Paul rarely starts off his letters like that. Most of his letters, the first half is all, who is Jesus? What has Jesus done for us? What does that mean for us? And then now that you know this, this is how you're supposed to live in response to this. So this is what we need to make sure we're doing with our kids. We need to make sure they have right believing before we instruct them in right living.
So right believing about friendships I would first ask this teen, well, what is the goal of friendship? What is the goal of friendship? And to talk through that. What is the ultimate goal in being friends with someone? And so when we think through this, if we're friends with Christians, Christian friendship is brotherhood, that our Christian friends are actually our brothers and sisters in Christ. So the goal in Christian friendship is that we would love our brothers and sisters self sacrificially and in so doing, we would show them Jesus and that we would point them more and more towards their relationship with God.
Now, in non-Christian friendship it's a bit different in that our non-Christian friends are not our brothers or our sisters. Even if we feel emotionally closer with non-Christian friends, they're not genuinely our brothers and sisters because they have not yet been reconciled to God. So our goal in non-Christian friendship is somewhat similar, it's still to love that friend and to point them towards Jesus, but we're not pointing them towards a closer relationship with Jesus. We're just pointing them towards a relationship with Jesus, period. So the ultimate goal in friendship is to love others and point them to Jesus.
So then I would ask this teen this, a son or a daughter, what does it mean to love someone? What does it mean to love someone? Because we want to make sure they understand what love is, because our world has a very altered definition of love. Our world views loving others as making them feel good, whether that feeling leads to help or leads to harm. So our culture just thinks that love is making others feel good, where a biblical definition of love is very different. A biblical definition of love is doing what is best for someone, even when it costs us, because we look at that example of Jesus, what did Jesus do? Did Jesus make others feel good about themselves? No. That's what our culture likes to teach. But think about Jesus' interactions with others. I bet many times, most times, Jesus did make others feel cared for. But did he always make others feel good? No. The rich young ruler came to him, and what did Jesus do? Jesus told him to go and sell all that he had, and the young man walked away because he knew that he couldn't do that because he wasn't willing to part with his riches.
Jesus met the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman. She was shunned by her society, that's why she was at the well at midday and not in the morning. But did Jesus tell her, oh, it's okay. Just be you. You having five husbands that's totally fine. The man you're living with right now, it doesn't matter. No, Jesus actually called her out in her sin. And when she kept trying to change the conversation, he kept bringing it back around to her sin and her need for him. I bet in the moment that didn't feel very comfortable, someone telling her all about her sexual sin and her past. Okay, Jesus didn't always make others feel good, but he always loved them. He always did what was best for them. And we see the ultimate example of this in the cross.
Did the disciples feel good about when Jesus went to the cross? No, they were terrified, they fled. The women who followed Jesus to his crucifixion, did they feel good about what was going on? No, they were weeping and mourning, but Jesus was doing for them the most loving thing he could have done. So our children need to understand that our culture's definition of love is very different than the biblical definition of love. Now, if you're working with a teen, a lot of times relationships with teens can be not quite as close as they are with younger kids, just simply because of all that teens are going through as they're growing and developing and changing and trying to figure out who they are. This is where the body of Christ really comes in, that having these conversations with others in the body of Christ who are in our home so that our kids can be part of it, that can be a really helpful thing when we're raising teenagers. So around the dinner table, talking with someone at our church who we know understands the biblical definition of love and being able to say, "We've been having this conversation in our home talking about what love is, how do you define love from a biblical perspective?"
And then we can have these other people who are in the body of Christ speaking truth into our kids' lives. And that's a really powerful thing, which does require that we be actively involved in the body of Christ. And so if you're not, highly recommend you check out some of the other podcasts that we have and webinars on the biblical grace of hospitality, because we talk about that a lot here at Foundation Worldview.
The next thing that I would recommend in the conversation after talking about the goal of friendship and then what love is, talking about what does it look like to love these friends? If these are friends who are coming out as homosexual or transgender claim to be Christians, loving them will involve asking them questions that make them think, how does you know this identity you're taking on as someone who's gay or someone who's lesbian, how does that fit in with your belief in Jesus, with your belief in the Bible? And having these conversations, because we want to point these people to the truth that taking on these false identities that following their sinful desires is not what is best for them, and that's not denying themselves, picking up their cross and following Jesus daily.
If these friends are not Christians, the goal in loving them is not to convince them that homosexuality is wrong. It's not to convince them that transgenderism is a false identity. Because you know what? Even if your son or daughter's friend says, "Oh, you know what? You've convinced me that homosexuality is wrong" and they're not a Christian, they're still on their own to hell. What good is that? We don't want to ask people to clean up their lives on their own. We want to lead them to Jesus because anyone who does not know Jesus, their biggest sin is not homosexuality or drunkenness or gossip or slander or hatred or anything else, anyone who has not yet been reconciled in their relationship to God, their biggest sin is unbelief. That they're not believing in Jesus. They're not trusting him as their savior. So that should be the goal in our kids' friends with non-Christians, that they would point those non-Christian friends toward their need for Jesus. Not that they would clean up their lives so that their behavior would align with Christian ethics, because ethics doesn't save anyone. Once we come to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit begins to sanctify us, and we start to look more like Jesus, and we start to follow Jesus and obey his commands.
Now, in this one important thing that I would talk through, if we're talking about relationships with others who are non-Christians or even relationships with those who are Christians but are claiming just these false identities that contradict scripture, we need to have some serious conversations with our teens about what boundaries are needed so that they are influencing their friends, but their friends are not influencing them. And that might require limiting the amount of time that they're spending with those friends in person. It might be limiting the amount of time that they're texting with that person or on Snapchat or any other social media app because we know that anytime we spend significant amount of time with people, those people influence us. They influence our beliefs, they influence the affections of our heart, they influence our thoughts, they influence our actions. So we want to make sure that our kids are in a place where they're able to reach out to their friends in love, but those friends who are living lifestyles that don't align with the biblical worldview, that those friends are not influencing them.
A lot of times what that looks like is finding another really close Christian friend who can hold them accountable, who's going to be someone who's reading scripture, who's grounded in God's word, who loves God, and having that friend be in social situations with them. Because when two are together, they can stand in a way that usually is much stronger than a way that one person can't stand individually. So even just saying, okay, who's another friend who's solid in their beliefs, who really loves Jesus, they can walk with you in these situations.
Now, those of you who followed Foundation Worldview for a long time, you know that we really seek to reach kids ages 14 and younger. So really kids ages 4 to 14. And this question was about teens. And if you have a teen in your care and you're looking to build just a biblical reality-based view of gender and sexuality, highly recommend you check out the Holy Sexuality curriculum put out by Dr. Christopher Yuan. If you just go to holysexuality.com, you can check that curriculum out. It's a 12 lesson curriculum that will walk your teens through what is the biblical view of sexuality, and how can we understand, embrace, and celebrate God's good design for sexuality. So highly recommend that you check out that resource.
Well, that's a wrap for today. As we head out from this time together, my prayer for you as always 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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