Jesus said “Let the children come to me.”
Yesterday, I was watching a news story on bullying in school. The report featured a few bullies and a few victims. The victim who got the most airtime was a gay male student. He had come out to his family and classmates. He displayed unmistakably effeminate mannerisms.
Now, I felt like a complete jerk saying to myself that it’s no wonder that a skinny, lisping, openly gay student would be the target of bullies. I had a tough enough time with bullies. Even if I had been gay, I knew I didn’t need to announce it and add fuel to the fire. And far be it from me, as a pastor and teacher to mock an obviously bright and compassionate child who must surely have a tough road ahead of him.
It was the fact of a twelve-year-old who has come out as gay that got me thinking. We live in a time when the church is deeply divided over what rights adult gay men and women have. Two-thousand years ago, the disciples tried to keep the little children away from Jesus. Makes me wonder how today’s disciples would treat the children trying to see Jesus…if the children were gay.
When I was twelve, I loved “Legos.”
The first thing I asked myself when I saw this kid was, what would I say if he were my kid. I mean, he’s twelve. His decision to come out seemed…premature. Sure, we had kids who came out…at my high school. But this kid’s voice hasn’t even dropped. How many chances has he had to see if he really is gay before he announces it? I can say I’m a football player, but it doesn’t mean much if I haven’t actually ever picked up a football. I loved Legos when I was twelve, (and didn’t know much about sex). But that doesn’t mean I love Legos today, just because I did when I was twelve.
Maybe you think this kid’s an anomaly. A one-of-a-kind, confused kid. But as surprised as I was, I don’t think he’s that unusual.
The Wave of the Future
First of all, we seem to be in a big rush to get kids all grown up, don’t we? By the time you’re a teenager, you’d better have a career picked out, and apparently, a sexual orientation. I think the pressure’s on kids to “find themselves,” as early as possible, and that means more kids coming out, and at an earlier age. I guess Christians do that too. How many of us became Christians as kids before we really understood the sins Jesus was saving us from? How many kids later grow out of their “Christian” phase?
Second, now that being gay is becoming more acceptable, mainstream, and very fashionable, and lots of impressionable kids are surrounded by gay culture, I believe we’re going to see a lot more kids curiously exploring homosexuality as just another thing to do, even going by the “gay” label the way other kids are “jocks” or “goths.” For many kids, being gay will be the normal starting point, rather than being straight.
We also now have 41% of children being born outside of marriage. A good chunk of those kids will never have a steady father figure. There is tentative evidence that a lack of relationship between dads and sons affects homosexual tendencies. If that’s true, get ready to see a lot more gay children, or at least children going through a “gay” phase. It’s ironic that so many people are worried that gay adoption will spawn a wave of gay children, when a much bigger cause might be the failures of heterosexual families. How many children are raised by gay parents? Now, how many children are raised by broken up heterosexuals? You do the math.
Let the children come to me…except for that one.
The debate inside the church over homosexuality has been how do we treat these people. I think the most vehement Christians and gays, those who claim to “hate” the other, are comfortable with such a heated debate, because after all, we’re all adults. We can stand up and defend ourselves. We’re comfortable throwing barbs back and forth, saying one group are bigots and the others are going to hell.
But are we comfortable being that vehement, that harsh toward a child in the youth group who believes he is gay? How is the church going to handle this issue with sensitivity, rather then telling a generation of gay twelve-year-olds that God hates them?
I made a prediction for the new decade a couple of weeks ago that gay marriage would be settled as an issue, making way for something else for Christians to argue about. Maybe this is the next evolutionary step in the issue. The church doesn’t have a history of handling the issue gracefully. I wonder what church’s response will be over the next ten years.
What do you think? Is this the next issue the church faces? If it is, what do you think the cause is? What should the church do about it?