Today’s post is part of a series that will answer questions that I often receive from pastors, youth pastors, and youth workers when I speak at Christian camps. I will not be giving all the detail that is perhaps needed. I will only attempt to give an overview and a starting point. As in dealing with any issue that involves the lives of those around us, it is important that we search the Scriptures and research the issues to increase our understanding. It is also imperative that we remember the time factor. Investing in lives means a huge investment of our time. Application and genuine change takes time as well. So here is today’s question:
How do you help young people who are struggling with homosexuality?
As I stated in my previous post, the issues surrounding homosexuality are becoming increasingly important in our churches. As the issue continues to grow and impact our society, we must learn how to respond Biblically and spiritually. If your church has any kind of evangelistic outreach, this is an issue you must face! No one is exempt. So how do you help in this matter?
- We have to begin by understanding the culture in which we live. Many factors are at play but, in my opinion, three seem to be prominent: the breakdown of the home; the plethora of internet pornography; and the mis-information available regarding same-sex-attraction.
- Because of the breakdown of the home many of our young people never receive affirmation or affection from their dad or mom. Every young man longs for both of these from his father or from other males. The same is true for young ladies. God’s plan is that sons would receive affirmation and affection from their dad. “I love you” and “I am proud of you” are huge to the development of a young man’s emotions. The same is true of a young lady’s emotions. It is increasingly the norm for our youth to receive very little of this in the home. Dad is absent or busy or self-focused. Mom is busy and has her own issues. In generations past, such a lack would have been overcome by the affection and affirmation of other men or women who stepped into our lives or with whom our paths would have crossed due to sports, school, jobs, or even grandparents! As our world frantically moves forward, fewer teens are feeling affirmed and loved and are desperately longing for it. And here is part of the problem: the world we live in basically teaches that if you are a guy longing for that from other guys it means you are gay. They say the same to our daughters. This opens the door for our youth to begin to think incorrectly about their sexual orientation.
- We must also understand that the internet has opened the door for our youth to be exposed to homosexuality at a very young age. A young person who accidentally stumbles onto a pornographic and homosexual image will have an opening in his or her thinking that can lead toward homosexuality. Sometimes a young person will simply look up a topic out of curiosity. Once the curiosity is aroused, the internet is designed to pull their attention to the subject and its images over and over and over again. As a result, they are affected negatively and begin to think in patterns that are against the plan God has for their sexuality.
- Same-sex-attraction is another matter we have to understand in light of today’s culture. Every young person has a natural curiosity regarding themselves and their bodies. They wonder if they are normal or if everyone else is like them. A young man may wonder if other guys are like him, for instance, and today will often go to the internet to find out. The world we live in calls it same-sex-attraction and will say that the teen is likely gay and should not fight it. I am amazed at how encouraged a teen is when they discover that those kind of questions don’t mean they are gay but instead are rather quite normal and have always been normal. By removing the lie of the culture we are able to help our youth to see the truth.
So we have to understand the culture if we are going to help our teens with this issue.
- We also have to teach the truth. It is not possible today to ignore these issues. We have to study them, understand them, and teach them! We have to teach them to the parents so they understand. We have to systematically teach them to our teens and even to our pre-teens. We have to be ready to give answers regarding the issues and the errors of our day. All of us must teach the truth to our youth. And remember to teach it in love. Ridiculing those who struggle with or embrace the homosexual lifestyle will ostracize you from a vast portion of your youth because many of them who have never struggled will know someone who does! Just teach the truth and do it in a loving and gentle way. Helping a young person to understand the truths of God’s Word and their own emotions will bring great relief to their internal struggles. The truth really does set us free!
- We have to continually educate our generation about the dangers of porn. Sometimes parents have no idea, but will if we educate them. Parents may also struggle and need your help. Introduce parents to Internet Filters (we use Covenant Eyes on all of our devices and also use Clean Router to access the WIFI in our home). Continually challenge your teens to lives of purity and always, and I mean always, make it clear that they can come to your for help and will get it if they do. And then make sure they do. Be matter-of-fact when they ask for help and always give struggling teens hope and a project. Let them know they can overcome and give them steps they can take to do so. You will have to invest a lot of time and a lot of patience but they need you to walk with them on the road to freedom!
- Finally, we have to address and work to overcome the failure of today’s homes. We have to strengthen the families in our churches and should have series and special events that help them to understand the importance of loving, affirming, and training their kids. We have to mentor our teens who don’t have families and do our part in loving and affirming them as well. Praising a young person for a job well done is vital. Attending their games and shouting for them means a lot to them. Complimenting them genuinely and in an above-reproach way will mean the world to them. Teaching them to do a job well and even helping them to do it provides affirmation and affection all at the same time.
These are huge issues and are also awkward and uncomfortable. However, we must face them with knowledge and Christlikeness. And we need to win!
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,