This morning, I decided to follow-up a conversation I had last weekend with a concerned mom by penning a response for the April 2010 edition of our CPYU Parent Page. Here's what I wrote. . . . and I'd love to get some dialouge going on this. . .
A few days ago I was speaking on youth culture at a church that sits directly across the street from the local high school. I had challenged those in attendance to reach out to the large population of broken and confused kids who walked the halls of that school each and every day. Afterwards, a woman shared a concern and asked a question. She explained that she was part of a group of Christians who were working to get the school to ban the upcoming “Day of Silence.” “What can we do to stop it?” she asked.
If you’re in the dark regarding the “Day of Silence,” here’s an explanation: Founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia, the “Day of Silence” is billed by organizers as the largest student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Scheduled to be held on Friday, April 16, hundreds of thousands of students in middle schools, high schools, and colleges across America will take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage their schools and peers to address the problem of anti lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender behavior. The event is now officially sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
After pondering the woman’s question for a few moments, I offered a response that I think surprised her. My response was rooted in a couple of realities. First, but not foremost, there’s my own experience of harassing people during my high school years, something rooted in my own adolescent insecurities. You know – putting others down to feel better about myself. While I’m ashamed to admit it, my behavior included harassment of peers who were rumored to be homosexuals. Second, and foremost, is my understanding of who God is, who He’s made people to be, and who He’s called His followers to be. . . especially to those who, like you and me, are sinners desperately in need of God’s saving grace.
And so I told her this. . . First, I believe that God has established sexuality as a good and wonderful gift that is to be experienced and celebrated with great freedom within the bounds of His order and design. Because our world is fallen and broken, there will be sinful distortions of that plan that we are to avoid including adultery, fornication, pornography, sexual abuse, lust, and homosexuality. . . among other things. We are to teach these truths to our children without hesitation.
Second, banning the “Day of Silence” only deals with symptoms of deeper issues. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the hearts from which the issues come? And while we’re talking about hearts from which the issues come, what about the hearts from which hate and ignorance flow. . . . especially when those hearts belong to those who claim to follow Christ?
Third, we can’t force anyone to follow Jesus. Only God’s Spirit is able to draw people to Himself. While we can’t strong-arm people into the Kingdom of God, we can and must choose to follow Jesus ourselves. Following Jesus means facing our Pharisaical tendencies/sins head-on, while loving sinners as Jesus has loved them (and us!. . . because we’re in that group too). Loving on sinners is our calling, just as our calling is to hate and avoid sin.
Finally, I asked her this question: “Have you ever thought about acting on your rightful concern by sitting down and spending some time getting to know and listening to the kids who are planning the ‘Day of Silence’ at your school?” She paused. . . as I guess most of us would. . . and said “no.” I then challenged her to find out the names of the kids, invite them out to Starbucks, and then sit with no agenda other than to listen and love.
What would happen if we would stop working so hard to “protect” our kids by legislating morality, and start “providing spiritually” for our kids by modeling how to take the Gospel to those who are hungry for Heaven? I’m learning that while it’s easier to wish and work away differences I might not like, Jesus is calling me to go as His ambassador to people He’s called me to love. Then, He’ll take care of the rest.