USA (MNN) — According to Mental Health America, 30% of transgender people report postponing or avoiding medical care when they’re ill to prevent discrimination and disrespect. The Center for Disease Control says 9% of young people in the United States claim to be homosexual or bisexual. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), declaring key components unconstitutional and effectively legalizing same-sex marriage.
Sports and schools are making significant policy changes to accommodate a growing population of transgender young people. Acceptance of the lifestyle is starting earlier, reflecting a profound social change.
Paradigm shifts like this don’t happen overnight. What’s behind the shifting perspective? What is happening concerning Christians and their views on same-sex issues? Where does this leave parents who are trying to disciple their children in the Word of God?
Touching tough issues
The topic is nearly taboo among Christian circles and brings with it strong response from both sides of the issue. Keys For Kids’ Executive Director Greg Yoder says they decided to tackle it in this month’s Unlocked, their teen devotional program. “On August 13 and 14th, we took our first step in addressing the LGBTQ issue. As you can imagine, we’ve been rebuked on both sides of the aisle.”
He explains, “One of the stories that we have in there on the 13th is from this perspective of this young person who has same-sex attractions, even though she’s a follower of Jesus Christ, and how she dealt with it but won victory through Christ alone. Now she’s a mom and a wife and living for Jesus and helping other people that are dealing with these same issues.”
However, “We’ve been called ‘bigots’ because of our stance on homosexuality and other sexual sins. We do believe that the Bible is very clear about that. But we’ve also been (attacked) because we’ve done it from a more loving approach of how to deal with friends when they ‘come out,’ or (dealt with the question) ‘how do you handle the same-sex attractions?'”
Yoder clarifies one point: “Keys For Kids Ministries still believes in the Word of God. That never is going to change. Two, that we love sinners, because we’re all sinners, except by Christ alone, he has redeemed us by His blood.”
Talking through Truth and love
Part of the reason they approached this difficult topic is that Christian camp directors, church leaders, and youth leaders begged Keys For Kids to address the real-life issues their kids face. “Don’t forget to talk about anxiety and depression and suicide and drug abuse, and all those hard issues that the Church sometimes just wants to forget about.”
Deciding to tackle a struggle with sexuality wasn’t easy. The primary motivator, says Yoder, was, “We want to get into their hearts and in their minds and their souls, to encourage them where they’re walking today.”
Acknowledging that some might not be ready to tackle these issues, he noted that Unlocked aims at high school-aged kids, some of whom aren’t coming from Christian families. “They’re already dealing with some of these issues in their home or even within their culture. We need to be ready to equip our kids to be ready for the real world.”
Each of the daily devotional pairs with a Scripture passage—the concept of the Truth of God’s Word, illustrated by the story. “We know that if we can see kids not only come to know Jesus, (and disciple these kids), but also give them tools that can help them be defenders of their faith—apologists– to the Holy Spirit, they’ll become multipliers of their faith.”
Discipleship in training
In tackling this divisive issue, Yoder said the ministry team became even more aware of the spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of young people. “We’re just asking people to be praying for us that we’ll be wise in how we present these devotionals for teenagers, especially with these tough issues, and that God would be glorified through that many, many cases would come to know Jesus because of what we’re doing.”
The final takeaway: Unlocked will still offer biblical direction to teenagers on today’s challenging issues, because, “We want to come alongside young people love on them, tell them how much we care–show them that, we’re all sinners, but we’re saved by grace. Go, and sin no more and tell others about this amazing gift of salvation, this amazing grace that you have so that others can see it and they become multipliers.”
Click here for details on Unlocked.
Headline photo courtesy Keys For Kids/Unlocked