Christians need to be prepared to answer the myriad questions we hear in today’s increasingly pro homosexual culture. This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue we face in our culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared.
In his new book Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, author Tom Gilson crafts a well-written apologetic for the morality of Christianity.
He cautions, “Let’s not be fooled here: The big question isn’t whether homosexual behavior or same-sex marriage is moral. The big question is whether Christianity is credible. Gay activists have tried to tear down Christianity’s believability. The more they succeed, the harder it will be for anyone to put their faith in Jesus Christ.”
He added, “The point of my book is to say that Christianity is good, came from a good God, expresses the goodness of our God — always has and still does.”
Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short time span, leaving Christians scrambling for answers. Some of his thoughts are excerpted in the following interview.
Q: Christians are often painted as being prejudiced and out of touch for their beliefs. Is there a way to speak truth about homosexuality without being perceived as hateful or homophobic?
A: There are actually a couple of questions that come before that one. Can we speak out about it without actually being hateful or homophobic? The answer to that is yes, certainly. We disagree with LGBT advocates, sure. But that isn’t automatically hateful or phobic. If it were, then they would also be automatically hateful and phobic for disagreeing with us. I don’t think they think that’s true of ourselves, and I don’t think that’s usually true of them, either.
The second question is whether we can speak out without being perceived as hateful or homophobic. I think in personal friendships we can often do this. In larger contexts, we’ll probably be perceived in all kinds of bad ways, and the best thing we can do about it is to make sure we’re living in Christian integrity no matter what people say about us. We can also make our case for our position respectfully, knowledgeably and with conviction.
Q: Why is it such a popular belief that Christians hate homosexuals simply because they disagree with their lifestyle?
A:There has been an intentional, concerted campaign by homosexual activists to paint Christianity that way. This is not paranoia or conspiracy theorizing. It’s documented in their own strategy documents, which they have followed quite effectively. (I detail this in the book.)
Q: If you had to simplify your argument in support of biblical marriage into a few sentences, what would they be?
A: God gave us plenty of good reasons in both the Old and New Testament to know that he designed sex to be for a married couple, and that he designed marriage to be for a man and a woman.
Marriage between a man and a woman is good. It’s a comprehensive human good that supports the nurturance of children and the growth of strong communities. Because children come out of marriages (normally), marital love is an outward-looking form of love, in contrast to the inward-looking and comparatively self-focused “just you and me, babe,” form of relationship found in non-marital sexual relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Children thrive in homes with a mom and a dad.
Q: Describe the “Bible brush-off” and how parents can avoid it during discussions with their teens.
A: “The Bible says it. Believe it.” That’s the Bible brush-off. That’s not much help: You can’t command belief. You can’t make a person believe by telling them to. Parents need to help their teens understand how to know the Bible is true and how to know the Bible’s teaching is good too.
Q: How should parents coach teens on being wise in manner and timing when making a stand for their convictions? For example, when and where is the appropriate time and place?
A: It’s hard to advise on this from a distance. The more important thing, in my view, is for teens to have a solid, almost easy sort of confidence in what they know to be true. Then they can speak their convictions authentically when the pressure is off — in everyday conversation with friends, for example — or when the pressure is on, and their faith is being challenged. It’s a whole lot easier for any of us to assess a situation and respond to it appropriately if we’re confident in our ability to respond when the time comes.
Q: What are some ways parents can prepare their children for the possibility they could be bullied for their beliefs?
A: Kids need to be confident in their beliefs, and they need to see their parents living in confidence too. That’s the main thing. It’s great if they can be part of a group of friends who share that confidence; it’s the best protection possible for them at school, and of course there’s a biblical principle of mutual support and encouragement involved there.
More of Gilson’s writings can be found on his blog at thinkingchristian.net. Gilson is also senior editor of TheStream.org.
Christine Sneeringer is director of Worthy Creations, is a comedian and a frequent conference speaker addressing sexual redemption themes. For more information, visit www.worthycreations.org.