“I’m so troubled and confused. There are so many mixed messages being generated about homosexuality.”
The above quote reflects a statement I hear frequently from youth. The statement grieves me because it reflects the desperate crisis that we face with regard to youth struggling with and combating same-gender attraction. To compound the crisis, many of the youth are Christians, each having been raised in Church and reared in a Christian home. Once again, we find “the elephant” in the room that very, very few want to talk about.
Christian youth often find themselves caught in the middle. Do they hold to the instructions of Scripture, church, and parents or do they reject their faith convictions as outdated and accept a “new morality?”
When our path crosses with a struggling youth, we need to be open to partnering with the Lord to help turn the tide in his or her life. During adolescence most people determine the morals and personal identity they will embrace for the remainder of their life. Likewise, much confusion and challenges will take place before any semblance of clarity comes. This is all the more true for youth deciding their sexual identity.
Studies have shown that vast numbers of youth entering adolescence are uncertain about their sexual orientation, but few exiting the teenage years remain ambiguous. Therefore, the teenage years are a crucial period for the Church of Jesus Christ to speak to youth tempted by homosexuality and educate each young person regarding the Truth of Scripture regarding the practice of homosexuality. Without a doubt, offering a right and true perspective will not only make a difference to a struggling youth, it will distinguish Christians quite a bit from others he or she will encounter.
While it is true that the number of teens embracing homosexuality is alarming, that should not minimize nor dismiss the incredible opportunity we have to reach out to youth with the message of salvation and sexual redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Same-sex attraction is a symptom of a spiritual and relational problem. Therefore, simply stopping the behavior is not really getting to the root of what is making the person “feel different.” For the Christian trying to minister to a gay youth, consider asking these questions:
Does the young person experience a lot of rejection by others? Is the teen uncomfortable with his/her gender? Does he spurn others of the same sex, refusing to hang out with anyone other than a gay friend? Is the youth afraid of meeting new people, attending social gatherings, etc.? Is she overly critical or fearful of men? Is the teen envious of certain characteristics which others of the same-sex have that he does not?
As Christ-followers embracing the truth and totality of Scripture, don’t ever think we have to defend or apologize for what Scripture has clearly said about purity nor must we be enticed to debate or argue with the individual. Recognize it is not really a struggle between “us and them,” it is ultimately between them and the Word of God.
Today, a multitude struggling with various addictions, compulsive behaviors, and habits, are all asking the same question: How long will change take? For any individual, youth or adult struggling with homosexuality, the good news is that homosexual activity may stop as soon as the decision is made to no longer participate. The underlying issues that fuel same-gender attraction take time to work through. Herein lies, I believe, why so many youth have become influenced and bought into the notion that even homosexual feelings and desires cannot be resolved.
It is imperative that we inspire faith in those to whom we desire to reach. In my experience, the ones I have known who have successfully left homosexuality are those who have relinquished control of their lives to the Holy Spirit. Clearly, there is a level of surrender required to resolve any form of sexual and relational brokenness, including homosexuality, that many are unwilling to offer. Only God can bring about the changes the youth desires.
While I have met and continue to meet with youth who are determined to resolve the issues of their sexuality, most feel too inadequate, lack motivation and do not have an individual structured in their life to help them through the process of healing and wholeness. Any Christian can emphasize to the hurting there is hidden need within the heart of everyone that an intimate relationship with God can fill. Reaching gay youth is something we all can do and must do to help searching youth understand God’s abundant plans for their lives and to counteract the pro-gay agenda that desires to ruin all hope for the youth. No one is doomed to be gay, and we may be the only person that will have the courage to share the Good News with a youth struggling with same-gender attraction.
- Keep the consequence of sin in context. We have all fallen short of the glory of God.
- Accepting and loving a teenager without conditions has noting to do with condoning their behavior/lifestyle.
- Offer to serve as an accountability and prayer partner.
- Clearly distinguish the difference between temptation and sin.
- Don’t overreact – be prepared for the ‘born gay’ argument.
- You are not expected to have all the answers.
- Never, ever water down the Word of God.
- Be patient and trust God completely.
- Emphasize the key to overcoming homosexuality is in Christ Jesus.
Finally, please consider that a youth or an adult for that matter, just might learn a thing or two from you but you may also learn a thing or three from them.