Faith Panel for Public School (background)

Here is background notes I have prepared going into discussion for a faith panel with our public school system. It seems we will have about 2 minutes for each question, with added discussion. Therefore, most of what I’ve prepared will likely not be shared or discussed but hopefully can hit the key highlights. Further, my hope is to communicate for the good of serving students and families in our schools, as well as to possibly share the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to those who will listen or be curious. Prayers appreciated.

RELIGIOUS FAITH PANEL with AACPS Psychologists & Social Workers
December 2, 2016 / 9am-11am / @Severn River Middle School in Arnold, MD.
By David Brown, Pastor @ Severna Park Baptist Church

Introduction

I was asked by Ms. Shira Reicher Levy (MA, CAS, NCSP, MAPP) with SPHS to participate in a religious faith panel to provide the perspective of the Christian-Baptist tradition.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share our faith and practice regarding different issues relating to students in our community’s public school system. Even more, I am thankful for AACPS teachers and staff who give of their time and talents for the important work of investing in the lives of young people and future leaders. Alongside of parents, education and educators are sources of knowledge for which we should all support in both academic freedom as well as academic and moral responsibility (cf. Genesis 1:28; Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Proverbs 3:13-15; Luke 2:40; Colossians 1:17). Christians have a long history of starting and supporting public education. Today likewise, in raising each generation there should be a positive partnership between the home, the school, and the church.

A little about myself: I am born and raised in Maryland. I have a B.A. in Communications from Carson Newman College in TN, and a M.Div. with additional credits toward D.Min. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in NC. I have eleven years of experience in Children & Youth Ministry, and additionally the last seven years I have served as Lead Pastor at Severna Park Baptist Church. Further, I have been married over fifteen years and have four delightful daughters.

One caveat, I am a parent of young daughters (under ten years old) whom are all homeschooled. We have had only one year of experience as a parent with a child in public school. This admission should be acknowledged for whatever limitations may be perceived in my responses to various questions. However, as mentioned I also have almost two decades of experience serving and relating with children, teens, and their families in both public and private education.

Last, I must also say that my prayer for our Severna Park (and beyond) community is to know the grace of Jesus personally Many people hear stereotypes about church, Christians, and God. The most important step a person can take is to do what we are doing today and encounter issues face to face. My encouragement for all is to take steps to encounter Jesus face to face by reading the Bible and perhaps even considering participating in a church. The best way to explore Christianity is by personally seeing for yourself. I believe when you take those steps you will discover profound grace of one who selflessly gave His life and love not to condemn but to save all from our world of confusion and covering shame (John 3:16-17).

QUESTION #1 In a minute-and-a-half, tell us a story of how your personal K-12 school experience interfaced with your religious life. 

My practice of the Christian faith was more passive than active until my senior year of high school. In 1995, at my graduation ceremony I was asked by a group of students to share a word of prayer in our graduation exercises. To my knowledge, there was some minor challenge from school administration to a student voicing a Christian prayer at a public graduation. However, this had been a traditional practice in past years and I was eventually permitted to pray publicly on behalf of our student body.

 

QUESTION #2 You have all worked with families that have children within the public school system, whether it be within AACPS or other systems. What school policies or procedures have presented a conflict for members of your congregation? (For example, if modesty is important to you, or gender segregation is important to you…) 

In terms of school policies and regulations, this is an arduous task that likely only receives feedback when there are problems. The task of honoring freedom with boundaries, even for religious traditions is challenging. Below are a few challenges that I have observed impacting families in our congregation.

1)    Weekly Rhythms: In my view, the predominant impact of school occurs in the weekly rhythms of students rapid-pace. Rightly such, weekly hours during the school day and evenings are spent on maintaining high academic standards and participation with extracurricular activities. Beyond weekday involvement is weekend time being spent to uphold academic or extracurricular activities, and often in long-extended hours. While there may be numerous positive benefits to challenging and cultivating student development in these areas, there is also a certain cost or sacrifice in other areas of development, whether emotionally, socially, or spiritually. In short, I am saying that students are overscheduled but underdeveloped in a holistic understanding of self. The result has left many young people overwhelmed with daily life management and minimally discerning personal identity. Since students are overscheduled they embrace an “identity lockbox” in order to fit in with cultural norms.[1] The identity lockbox stores away important parts of who students are, including but not limited to, religious, racial, political, and spiritual identity. Colleges and other organizations are even offering courses on “adulting”.[2] Observationally, in our attempt to introduce students to a breadth of knowledge and experience, we have left them with little depth of character or competency for life skills. One recommendation for AACPS is to consider monitoring and limiting involvement of student presence required on weekend and summer activities. Again, weekday hours are at a premium spent on school activities and rightly so. Yet, weekend hours often cause students and families to choose between maintaining academic, athletic, or whatever the activity commitments with those in contrast for time with family, social relationships, and spiritual involvement.

2)    PC Tolerance: Today’s politically correct tolerance is biased towards a single view rather than true allowance for multiple viewpoints; exclusion in the name of diversity. A recent case in point was a student who presented a persuasive debate speech on an approved topic by the teacher. The issue was the school’s policy on the topic was different than the students, and the teacher literally said before the entire classroom, “I disagree and am not sure I can grade you objectively.” Thankfully, after a parent-teacher-administrative meeting the issue was cleared, but this is one of multiple similar occurrences that happen regularly each year.

3)    Lowering Expectations: I have heard families, whether parents or students, discuss both high and low expectations in the classroom; however more the latter than the former. One example of a policy that I hear from current teachers is described as the “50% policy”, where students who get lower than 50% are only allowed to be graded at the lowest grade of 50%. Should students be graded on what they achieve or affirmative ratings? In sum, teachers can continue high expectations by teaching growth of individual students rather than teaching for specific tests and meet certain scores.

4)    Christian Holidays: Customarily, AACPS has provided students time off during Christmas & Resurrection Sunday (Easter) holidays for them to recognize according to their family traditions and personal time. Likewise, other religious holidays often fit into the school calendar with school policies to not test students during these times. These sorts of policies are helpful and appreciated.

5)    Identifying Sexuality/Gender: The social concerns of sexuality and gender are addressed in another question. There is specific concern for students to use public bathrooms and locker rooms with students who may identify with a different gender, but have not biologically transformed. If schools allow students to enter bathrooms or locker rooms for identifying factors only, then there should be mutual accommodations made for students who are uncomfortable with that scenario (ex. single room bath/changing).

 

QUESTION # 3 How are mental health disorders viewed in the context of your belief system and what are some common approaches to addressing them? What types of faith based counseling or support systems are available to your families? 

All Christians, and many other religions, have common ground on human dignity of every person. Unfortunately, while this may be true in faith it is not always in practice. Christianity has not always done well in the area of mental health issues. Statistically, those who struggle with mental health is a growing population, and we all can get better at serving these individuals, their families and caretakers. This should be especially true of those who claim to follow Jesus (Matthew 25:40; Luke 14:13-14).

Mental health is important to one’s wellbeing. Jesus modeled growth and health in mind, soul, and relationships (Luke 2:52). Further, Jesus exhorts His followers to love God with the fullness of our being (Matthew 22:37). God’s desire and command is for us to have sound minds without spirits of fear (2Tim 1:7). However, every person is somehow impacted by the Fall of humanity (Genesis 3; Romans 1:21). In the Fall, sin has shaped humanity at every level: ecologically, biologically, sociologically, physiologically, psychologically, epistemologically, and spiritually (Gen 3:14-24). In essence, mental impairment is the result of a combination of factors of our physical bodies, our environmental surroundings, and even our volitional choices.[3]

For the church, advising those who struggle with mental health to just “trust God more” or “keep praying”, or worse telling them they “lack faith” is incomplete and unsatisfactory. A religious and faith-based perspective can provide a source of identity, hope, and in some cases help or relief. However, alongside the faith counsel should also come professional physical and psychological counsel (areas beyond my personal knowledge or sufficient experience).

Some ways our church seeks to help in the area of mental health are as follows:

–        Educate:

o   A person’s worth is not measured by ability but identity made in God’s image.

o   Raising awareness through personalizing statistics and humanizing circumstances. We care for and counsel people who are complex, not fixed labels.

–        Encourage:

o   Mental health and disability are often without a potluck, meaning there is often little ongoing care for these individuals, families and caretakers. So, again we try to raise this awareness of families within our church and how we love and are able to serve them regularly.

o   PALS

  • Presence: “withness” and personal care
  • Assistance: advocating and meeting initial needs
  • Learning Styles: relating to diversity of learning needs
    • Teach people not lessons
    • Ask & Learn & Include
    • Routines & Environment
    • Sensory Quiet Spaces
    • Mobile Zones
  • Support: ongoing friendship and ministry
    • People with disabilities are not objects of a program but subjects of relationships.
    • Friendships with persons affected by mental health issues or disabilities have a profound mutual impact.
    • Support to individuals with disability, family members and for caregivers with respite care; blessing of hands that give…
    • Support events of inclusion & connection; drawing in families to show acceptance and normalcy. Having a holistic family ministry of love and gospel community

–        Equip

o   The gospel and God’s Word addresses our struggles of sin, suffering, and identity in very real and unique ways, but the Christian faith is not opposed to care from “secular” sources, as all truth is God’s truth.

o   Promoting and releasing members’ expertise. SPBC has members involved or relationships with executive boards of NAMI, TACA, and others.

o   Below are a brief list of articles, books, and organizations for a Christian perspective on the topic.

 

QUESTION # 4 In our schools, we frequently work with students who are coming out as LGBTQ. Sometimes this can create an internal conflict with students because of interactions between personal and/or parental or family religious belief systems. Does your faith have a specific view on LGBTQ and do you have any specific suggestions for us so that we can work along side the family and religious faith while maintaining our professional obligations to students?

Again, Christians-Baptists affirm human dignity of every person, but unfortunately have yet again not always practiced this truth well. It should be clear that most Baptist churches would stand in stark contrast with those identified or associated with media-popular Westboro, which are neither truly reflective of a Christian or Baptist Church.

The topic of LGBTQ+ is wide in scope for how Christians voice specific help in this area. Each individual represents a unique context and circumstance for how issues would be addressed and counseled. Yet, below are some general beliefs and guidelines that we would affirm and practice.

–        Human dignity of every person. There is absolutely no room for mocking, bullying, degrading, dehumanizing, or acting in violence towards others based on gender identity or sexual preference.

–        Definitions are helpful to provide clarity for understanding and addressing same-sex attraction (SSA) and same-sex orientation (SSO).[4] If we are not clear on definitions then solutions become that much more of a challenge, as well as stereotyping approaches.

o   SSA: Descriptor of person’s sexual desires; though can be weak, moderate or strong and vary in short-term or longevity. This descriptor says nothing of how a person feels about such desires or how they view themselves as an identity.

  • Approximately 6% men; 4.5% of women report some degree of SSA
  • SSA would biblically be viewed as a temptation to avoid, but not necessarily as sinful of itself. Attraction is not action. The example to consider for heterosexual who lusts for a person whom they are not married is a temptation to avoid dwelling on or much more acting, but the thought or temptation is not sinful.

o   SSO: Descriptor of a person’s sexual desires, which are pre-dominant and persistent.

  • Approximately 2% of men; 1% women report SSO
  • Possible to be SSA/O for an individual person but otherwise hetero-sexual (HSO)
  • SSO would biblically viewed as sinful because of its practice (see below “Historic Views”).

o   L-G: Descriptor of person Lesbian/Gay who has chosen to adopt their SSO as an identity and viewed as morally neutral or positive alternative to HSO.

  • Approximately 1.7% or 4million persons; another 1.8% estimates identification as bi-sexual

John Piper says, “There are not simply three groups: Heterosexual, Homosexual and Bisexual. There are hundreds of variations of impulses that make up our peculiar sexual identities. This means that ‘change’ is not a movement from one of three groups to another of three groups. Rather, it is a totally unpredictable reconfiguration of dozens of impulses and desires. And these desires and impulses are interwoven with dozens of personal and relational and spiritual realities, all of which are moving and shifting as God and his word and his people come to bear on the totality of a person’s life.”[5]

–        Historic Views. For over two-thousand years Christians have affirmed the Bible’s view on gender and human sexuality, namely that God created us male and female, and that God designed and purposed sexual relationships between a male and female in the covenant of marriage (Genesis 2:24).

o   A straight-forward reading of Scripture will lead to the historic-traditional view of gender and sexuality; this is called exegesis (interpreting from/out of textual content) whereas modern interpretation is eisegesis (interpreting culture or bias into textual content).

o   Genesis 2:24 is the essential verse defining marriage in the Bible. It is also quoted 4 times: Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8; 1Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31 and is alluded to indirectly numerous other times. The Genesis 1-2 passage provides a working definition of marriage.

  • Marriage is foundational stewardship for creation (Genesis 1:27-28). It provides the safe environment for pro-creation and nurture of persons in society.
  • Marriage is heterosexual (Leviticus 18:22-23/20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1Corinthians 6:9-11; 1Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 1:6-7). It is for “a man and his wife”. The natural sense of relationships and pro-creation validate heterosexuality. Marriage is not reduced merely to sexual intimacy. It’s a foundational institution pointing to a greater reality of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
  • Marriage is exclusive. “A man will leave father and mother and be united to wife”. – Marriage is exclusive in that of leaving parents. This is not so much location (geography) as it refers to loyalty in a new relationship. – Marriage is also exclusive in terms of monogamous (not polygamous) partners for life (Deuteronomy 17:17; Leviticus 18:18). God expects faithfulness in His worshipers, not adulterous idolaters.
  • Marriage is covenantal and life-long (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 19:6; 1Corinthians 7:10-16). Its union is “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh…shall hold fast… one flesh”. The permanence of marriage provides the security and hopefulness of relationships. It is more than a human contract but a divine covenant. Likewise, God is faithful in His covenant.

 

o    What else does the Bible say about same-sex relationships??

  • Christians affirm many same-sex relationships in Scripture. The many same-sex relationships in the Bible that are commended: father-son, mother-daughter, siblings, extended family, friendships, teacher-student, co-workers, and fellow believers in the church. All of these same-sex relationships are affirmed and encouraged in the church. However, this is not the likely issue discussed as we tend to define relationships increasingly in terms of sexuality.
  • The trend and temptation of modern culture is to define relationships in terms of sexual. This minimizes the value of every other relationship in society. Further, Christians would/should view any sexual activity outside of a marriage covenant as sinful and contrary to God’s will.
  • Genesis 1-2 God the Creator is perfect, good and wise.
  • Genesis 18 Abraham intercedes for Sodom “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city? (v.23-24) Suppose 45… Suppose 40…Suppose 20…Suppose 10? Entire city destroyed for ongoing homosexual practice (Sin of Sodom & Gomorrah is mentioned numerous times. See Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9, 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14, 39:18, 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46-56; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9; Matthew 10:15, 11:23-24; Luke 10:12, 17:29; Romans 9:29; 2Peter 2:6; Jude 7; Revelation 11:8).
  • Genesis 19:4-11 Men of Sodom surround Lot’s house to have sexual relations with Lot’s male visitors.
  • Revisionists scholars have proposed that Sodom’s sin was gang rape (if so then God is unjust in his judgment since the action never actually occurred).
  • Another proposition is that Sodom’s sin was inhospitality (To know them not sexually but cordially.) Yet, context implies the former—see 18:32 that God could not find 10 righteous people in the entire city before this even and then also 19:8 as Lot’s unfortunate response offering his daughters instead of the male guests; and the fact his life was threatened in 19:9. Further, if Lot was responsible for the sin of inhospitality then why was his life spared while the others judged? And why was the entire city destroyed for a sin in which they had no part?
  • Leviticus 18:22/20:13 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination….If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
  • Romans 1:26-27 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
  • 1Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, not men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1Timothy 1:9-10 “understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine”
  • Jude 1:7 “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
  • Gospels, Jesus implicitly condemns homosexuality in his affirmation of the creation (Genesis) design. See Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8. To note an argument of silence that Jesus never explicitly condemns sexuality is non-sense, especially in light of Jesus never addressing pedophilia, bestiality, and other sexual deviations yet there is hardly anyone making claims for this promotion.
  • NT implicitly condemns homosexuality in affirming God’s design for marriage (1Corinthians 7; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-21; 1Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4; 1Peter 3:1-7).

 

–        Southern Baptist Resolutions & LGBTQ+

o   We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ.[6]

o   On Homosexuality[7]

  • 2009-10 – We call our churches to engage in loving, redemptive ministry to homosexuals; and we proclaim that those who practice any unbiblical sexual behavior can be forgiven and changed (1Cor 6:9-11); … and that we consider how we might assist those struggling against same-sex attractions to find spiritual, sexual, and emotional wholeness in Christ.
  • 2012 – We stand against any form of gay-bashing, whether disrespectful attitudes, hateful rhetoric, or hate-incited actions toward persons who engage in acts of homosexuality.
  • 2013 – We call upon the federal, state, and local governing authorities to hold any college or university accountable that discriminates on the basis of religion, violating students’ constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion and association.
  • 2013 – We declare our love in Christ for all young people regardless of their perceived sexual orientation, praying that God will bring all youth into a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

o   On Transgenderism[8]

  • 2007 – We urge all Americans to avoid acts of hatred and violence toward homosexuals and transgendered people, but to instead treat our fellow citizens with the kind of civility we would prefer to receive ourselves (Matthew 7:12); and we encourage all believers to love and show compassion toward homosexuals and transgendered persons, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is able to bring true freedom from error and to set free the captives of sin (John 8:34-36).
  • 2014 – We extend love and compassion to those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity; That we love our transgender neighbors, seek their good always, welcome them to our churches and, as they repent and believe in Christ, receive them into church membership; and we regard our transgender neighbors as image-bearers of Almighty God and therefore condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against them; and we oppose efforts to alter one’s bodily identity (e.g., cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery) to refashion it to conform with one’s perceived gender identity.

 

o   On Gay Marriage

  • 2015 – We love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.
  • 2016 – We dissent from the Obergefell opinion that purports to redefine the institution of marriage created by God; we applaud and encourage our brothers and sisters who struggle with gender identity or same sex attraction, but who have chosen holiness and God’s design instead.

 

–        Cultural Questions

o   Does same-sex marriage really affect society or even Christians?

The short answer is yes. Accepting such a re-definition of marriage radically alters how society views marriage and the expectations placed upon Christians and their marriages. To illustrate: “If the definition of a Ph.D in History were altered to include anyone who watched a documentary on the History Channel, that affects those with a Ph.D in History, even though nothing has been done to their degree specifically.” Further, numerous secular studies have shown that no nation or society has been able to flourish after 3 generations once “strict marital monogamy” was abandoned as the standard (Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, pp.216-217).

 

o   Is homosexuality a civil rights issue?

States regulate marriage in multiple ways: age limits, exclusion of marrying blood relatives and first cousins; exclusion of marrying multiple partners along with exclusion of marrying non-human partners. Further, some states even restrict marriage of people suffering from various venereal diseases. Therefore, homosexuals are not the only people to be excluded from the right to marriage. This does not mean each of these scenarios are equivalent but simply illustrating that marriage has specific regulation and definition for good reason. If the government must redefine and recognize marriage based on the sole basis of individualism, then upon what criteria does it end? Can a person marry multiple partners because they are all in love? Can an adult romance and marry a minor because of personal preference? Can you discern the progression of such a radical redefinition of a sacred institution? In short, gay is not equal to race.[9]

 

o   Is homosexuality a genetic predisposition?

While there is no science to prove this, even if it could it would still not make it morally acceptable. A genetic predisposition toward an action can never be the proper basis for legitimizing such a behavior. To give but one example: a male with a genetic glandular condition resulting in the production of increased testosterone and thus a higher than normal sex drive, could not appeal to his genetic condition to validate the morality of rape, incest or pedophilia.

People may experience same-sex attraction at varying levels or have a same-sex orientation (predominant attraction) without having a gay or lesbian identity (adoption of lifestyle and moral acceptance of behavior). In other words, a person may have an attraction or even an orientation toward homosexuality but not act on it. Sam Williams says of nature vs. nurture[10] “there may be some biological contributions in some persons would not be surprising and does seem consistent with the research. The recognition that biology may play a role need not be resisted by Christians since God has created us as embodied souls, psychosomatic beings, and all things, including our bodies and brains and genes, have been infected by sin. In addition, that something such as the body or the brain is influential, or even formative, does not mean it is morally or spiritually determinative.  It seems reasonable to accept, and clearly consistent with Scripture, that bodies and brains and genes along with parents and peers and cultures all play influential or formative roles in our lives. But that doesn’t mean they are determinative.”

 

–        Christian counsel to youth

o   Listen with empathy. Students need to know we care and it starts with eye to eye, or if need be listening through text messages from a screen.

o   Learn with insight. When students share about their feelings or thoughts they are opening up so we can learn about who they are and want to be. We can learn both presenting problems that lead to deeper identity issues.

o   Love with truth. Loving students does not always mean caving or compromising to their desires or demands. As adults, we can speak truth in loving ways.  

 

  • Christian truth counsel to youth dealing with SSA or SSO should not be a public conversation for a crowd’s ears, but be more personal along with parental involvement when timing and circumstance has been provided. Some helpful advice
  • Avoid culture or media’s drive to compel identity based on sex. Sex is a good gift from a great God, but sex makes a terrible god that will leave you disappointed and damaged if we worship it as our identity. Sexual activity is not a healthy identifying feature of a person because there are numerous individuals either due to disability, disease, age, or a host of other factors that hinder them from participating in such activity. Therefore, sexual preference or activity should not be a foundational factor for self-identification.
  • Avoid the motto “if it feels good and makes me happy, then do it”. Imagine this perspective played out in full of society, and at every level of impulsive moments. Feelings are not always friendly and sometimes can be our foe because of the roller coaster nature of feelings. Feelings must be trained and disciplined to be informed by our beliefs and values, not the reverse.
  • Avoid the motto “I can love whomever I want”. Imagine this perspective played out in full of society. While love is positive, there can also be a dangerous element of so called love. Protective boundaries are in place for how we handle love, even on a voluntary and mutual consent level (age, incest, etc.).
  • Sexuality is curious. We all have fantasies or have wandering minds. Yet, we must be extremely cautious at acting on fantasies. Sexuality involves real experiences with real people that have all sorts of physical, biological, emotional, and spiritual impact. Sexuality is not something for exploration to accumulate experiences and trial by error. Boundaries are provided for our benefit, not as a killjoy.
  • Personally, I’d say something like, “God loves you. He really does. Sex is a powerful gift and not for playful entertainment. In your relationships you should go slow and only treat dating for the purpose of marriage; our hearts are too fragile to date for fun. In terms of your gender preference, God’s design does matter. I’d like to have multiple conversations with you and your parents about this. I’d like to read Scripture with you to help you form a viewpoint based on what God says not what either you or I say. And I will be praying for you as you work through questions and desires. I trust God will show Himself to you. I care about you and am here to listen and talk any time…”

 

  • Christian truth counsel to youth dealing with transgender. Again this should be a personal conversation with parental involvement.
  • Gender is fixed and not fluid. Biology cannot be changed, even regardless of technology or medical practice.
  • Gender dysphoria can be real, like the curiosity and confusion of sexuality.
  • Parental involvement, professional and spiritual counseling are recommended for those struggling with gender dysphoria. However, Christians should be warned against cross-sex hormones, gender modification surgery, along with social and legal transitions to a desired gender.
  • Gender modification is biologically impossible. In spite of introduction and altering a body of chemicals, or altering external aesthetics, a person’s DNA and identity in God’s eyes is permanent.
  • Personally, I’d say something like, “God loves you. He really does. Trying to figure out who we are and who God made us to be can be a great challenge. I want you to know that God did indeed make you unique (Psalm 139). God’s care for you and creation design for your life does matter. I’d like to have multiple conversations with you and your parents about this. I’d like to read Scripture with you to help you form a viewpoint based on what God says not what either you or I say. And I will be praying for you as you work through questions and desires. I trust God will show Himself to you. I care about you and am here to listen and talk any time…”

 

–        Religious liberty should be afforded to all for each faith’s beliefs and practice based on the involvement in ceremonial affirmation or celebration of a value opposed to one’s beliefs. However, religious liberty should not be license for discrimination.

o   The proposed secular option of intolerance equates disagreement with discrimination and is viewed as prejudice rather than principled.

o   Religious liberty should be included for the diversity of “liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative” viewpoints in the classroom.

o   Teachers may introduce concepts and views, but should not force values upon students or likewise discriminate against students with varying views, regardless of how far removed from cultural norms.

o   Schools and teachers must provide a safe environment for the freedom of expression of ideas while simultaneously providing boundaries. Admittedly, this is a challenge and difficult to implement. Therefore, channels and panels for feedback from staff, students, parents, and the faith arena are necessary to these discussions and policies.

 

–        Truth in love. Truth without love is harsh, and love without truth is unhelpful. Christians have the calling to speak truth and love. A church that holds signs of hatred or instigates hostility is far removed from the God who sent His only Son to die on a cross to rescue sinners.

Al Mohler says[11], “As Christians, we are charged with the difficult task of compassionate truth-telling… [it] requires the church to speak from its deepest convictions while demonstrating the love of Christ…Christians must resist the temptation to speak the truth in a manner that falls short of the good, the beautiful and the true. We betray the truth when we speak of it with an ugly spirit, or attach it to base arguments or mean-spirited impulses.”
[1] Tim Clydesdale, The First Year Out (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007)

[2] https://growingleaders.com/blog/adulting-new-course-students-need/

[3] http://www.bradhambrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Towards-a-Christian-Perspective-on-Mental-Illness.pdf

[4] See Dr. Sam Williams lecture “A Christian Psychology of and Response to Homosexuality” http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/resources/christian-psychology-of-and-response-to-homosexuality

[5] http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/same-sex-attraction-and-the-inevitability-of-change

[6] http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/positionstatements.asp

[7] Statements taken in brief. Full resolution statements can be accessed here: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/search/results.asp?query=homosexuality

[8] http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/search/results.asp?query=transgender

[9] See articles: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/gay-is-not-the-new-black; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ernest-owens/no-gay-isnt-the-new-black_b_5567150.html;

[10] Sam Williams, “A Christian Psychology of and Response to Homosexuality”

[11] Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, ed. John Piper. Chapter 5 p.108, Al Mohler “Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections.

One comment

  1. Dear Dave;

    I am so proud of you! I read every single word and am so excited at the opportunity you will have today. I will certainly be keeping you lifted in prayer.

    The college took a survey a few weeks ago on the topic of “micro-aggression”. I wanted to get a copy of it to send to you when you so generously allowed for our input but I haven’t been back to work to retrieve it from our server. (I’m not high enough on the pay scale to access it from home. Ha!) In a nut shell, I stated that I felt that the college is a proponent of “micro-aggression” when they continually place me in a position of, what feels like lowering my standard in the name of diversity, even if only by association because of employment. Or, as you so eloquently put it: The proposed secular option of intolerance equates disagreement with discrimination and is viewed as prejudice rather than principled. Amazing words! Hits that nail right on the head! I pray you will get an opportunity to state this today! Wow!

    Anyway, we (Christians) don’t often get opportunities to be a part of survey’s or such panels as you will be today. Thank you for taking a stand which seems to speak from all our hearts, only I think you will speak the truth in love with much more grace than I would have! You will be an excellent ambassador for our congregation but, most importantly, our Lord!

    Thank you for taking the time to do this and I especially appreciate that you shared all this with us as well!

    Blessings, and go with God as I know you will!

    By Faith, Dee 🙂

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