Pastor Andy Stanley has compassion for children with same-sex attraction. But sadly, his misinformed attempt to assist these children and their parents is misguided. Andy has unfortunately chosen to use the following label to single out young people who have same-sex attraction: “LGBTQ children.”
This erroneous approach raises an important question: Why spotlight same-sex attracted children in this way as though they have some sort of incurable disease?
Andy’s church has a Parent Connect ministry, which facilitates “groups and events for parents of LGBTQ+ children.” But why do they segregate and single out children with same-sex attraction?
After all, the church does not have a ministry for parents of “Aroused Adolescents,” even though there are probably many teenagers in their church who currently find themselves addicted to the insatiable vice of pornography. (The report, “Teens and Pornography,” found that 73% of teen respondents age 13 to 17 have watched pornography online.)
And, the Church does not hold events for parents of “Fornicating Juveniles,” even though there are probably many teenagers in their church who have suffered tremendous physical, spiritual and emotional consequences as a result of sexual sin.
If there are 100 or more children and teens in this huge church who experience same-sex attraction, there could be well over 1,000 teenagers who wrestle daily with sexual lust, pornography and the temptation to commit fornication. And yet no one would dare to place a “pornography” label or “fornication” label on young Christians who struggle in these areas. It would be abusive and a gross violation of privacy.
You see, there is no good reason for you or your child to advertise their strongest temptation. In fact, it is incredibly harmful to do so.
The world places the labels of “gay,” “lesbian,” and ‘LGBTQ’ on children, teens and adults who choose to tout their same-sex attraction and/or gender dysphoria. But the Bible never promotes such an unhealthy practice, as I pointed out in my recent CP op-ed, “How Andy Stanley Unhitched Himself from New Testament Theology.”
If you encourage a child in your family or church to identify as “LGBTQ,” you are setting them up for spiritual defeat. If your child surprises you one day by telling you that he or she is experiencing same-sex attraction, there are many ways you can express your unconditional love for your child without adopting an unnecessary label that will only intensify their spiritual confusion.
You probably realize that no one with same-sex attraction ever asked to have gay feelings. And by God’s grace, young people are capable of learning that this unwanted predilection is no worse than a person’s penchant for pornography, or someone’s craving to commit fornication.
Some well-meaning parents inadvertently do more harm than good by applying inappropriate labels that divulge their child’s greatest weakness. Everyone has weaknesses, but there is no good reason to broadcast your child’s biggest temptation. It will only set your child up for spiritual setbacks.
It is essential to visit privately and often with your child to address their particular temptations and weaknesses. Develop a warm and loving relationship with your child from an early age. An excellent relationship will assure your child that you will be caring, helpful and extremely sensitive when they share their secret struggles with you.
You will of course find it unsettling if your child ever confesses to having a personal problem with pornography, fornication, or same-sex attraction. But the Lord will help you navigate through this uncomfortable territory with truth, grace and sensitivity.
And since no human being loves your child more than you do, you will discover various ways to assure your child of your unconditional and abiding love. Address any personal family issues privately with your child. It will be far better for their spiritual and mental health if you do not publicize your child’s strongest temptation.
Likewise, pastors should never label children, teens or adults in their churches as “LGBTQ,” “gay,” “lesbian,” or “transgender.” Such labeling is unbiblical and detrimental to those who experience these puzzling proclivities.
In addition, Andy Stanley should stop saying, as he told parents recently, that certain Christians who left the gay and lesbian lifestyle “have nothing helpful to say to parents of LGBTQ kids.” Why in the world would Andy discourage parents from listening to these powerful testimonies?
Andy should be willing to allow the truth about homosexuality to critique and correct his personal opinions and distorted narrative on this complex subject matter. And he must be willing to learn from the witness and courage of those who have experienced real change.
He will need to accept the fact that Christian children do not have to be dominated by any of their ungodly inclinations, including same-sex attraction. Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing Christian testimonies that can provide hope to children and teens who are burdened with unwanted affections.
Andy could follow the biblical pastoral approach that actually helps to set the captives free. And if he decides to hold another conference of this sort, Andy would be wise to invite every parent in his church who is concerned about pornography, sexual lust, fornication and same-sex attraction wreaking havoc in the hearts and lives of their children and teens.
Always remember: It is unwise, and even dangerous, to label or identify yourself by your strongest temptation. Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins and set us free to live a new life, so that we may “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — which is our spiritual worship” (Romans 12:2).
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.
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