Children have a way of surprising us with innocent awkward questions at equally awkward moments . . . especially in public. While shopping with his mom, one six-year-old boy spotted a rather large woman nearby. “Mom, is that lady pregnant?” he asked loud enough for the woman to hear. Most of us dread such impromptu cringe-worthy queries, and some of us try to have a general response ready to buy us some time for an appropriate answer.
Over the past decade a new area of curiosity has entered every youngster’s radar. . . this area consists of bold “alternatives” to God’s design for sex and marriage. In recent months, highly publicized events have unfolded to expand our children’s awareness of these “alternatives” and prompt exceptionally difficult questions for parents to answer.
As you know, on June 26th the Supreme Court handed down its decision extending the definition of marriage to include same sex couples. Five justices overturned the laws of the remaining states that hadn’t already had this definition imposed on them primarily by state courts.
It wasn’t a surprise . . . we knew national legalization was coming. Eleven years earlier, the push for same sex “marriage” (SSM) began picking up steam after Massachusetts–through its own supreme judicial court in 2004–became the first state to legalize this departure from God’s design (Genesis 2:21-24 & Matthew 19:4-6). The homosexual agenda gained popularity throughout the subsequent decade, and its symbols such as the rainbow flag, seemed to appear everywhere, including in many public & private schools and numerous churches. It became virtually impossible to shield even the youngest children from exposure to symbols, slogans and edgy behaviors that could arouse their curiosity, sow confusion, and interfere with their age-appropriate sequenced learning about God’s pattern for marriage & family relationships.
So what should Christians tell their children about gender issues in general and SSM specifically? Parents must be ready to answer inevitable questions with biblical truth geared to a child’s age/maturity level. Even better is to initiate conversations rather than wait for questions. . . some children never ask, and they might uncritically absorb what they see and hear elsewhere. What follows is a set of appropriate, simple “talking points” that parents can present to little ones up through age 6 or 7. In several future posts, I’ll continue to offer discussion ideas for progressively older kids.
For the youngest it’s best to start by teaching what is right & good . . . God’s creation and His plan for marriage. Use a children’s story-style bible or your own simple paraphrase of the bible’s account. Cover and reinforce these points:
- In the beginning God created only male & female people (Genesis 1:27), and created them in His image. This is the first step in building kids’ understanding that all people are intrinsically equals whose true identity and inherent value are rooted in their omnipotent, eternal Creator. Consequently, we are commanded to love & respect even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45) even as we disapprove of sinful behaviors, because we are co-equals of inestimable worth.
- God loves us unconditionally in spite of our sin, but He does not love our sin. He commands and helps His people to live in obedience to His laws for our benefit & His glory in this world, and the next.
- Marriage is the first institution God created. He designed it as the lifelong union of one man and one woman through which to reflect His love, and to bear and raise children. Contrary to the Supreme Court decision, no other kind of coupling is marriage. Older children will later learn that sexual relations in marriage embody the meaning of becoming one flesh and serve as a symbol of God’s perfect union with His people (Ephesians 5:31-32). God condemns all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman (Hebrews 13:4).
- Share age-appropriate picture books with preschoolers that reinforce God’s design for male & female, marriage and birth. Two Christian publishers have picture books that tastefully introduce these topics for the preschooler/kindergartner: “The Story of Me” by Stan & Brenna Jones (Navpress), and “Why Boys & Girls are Different” by Carol Greene (Concordia Press).
- So far, the only Christian picture book that sensitively & respectfully broaches the subject of same sex relationships is “Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies?” by Sheila Butt (Apologetics Press); it’s best suited to children in first or second grade.
- God made rainbows to symbolize His promise to Noah. Read/reread the story of Noah’s ark (a kid favorite) to link the rainbow to God in your child’s mind. Look for rainbows together after a storm and create indoor rainbows anytime with a prism and a sunny window to build appreciation for this beautiful phenomenon. Children must first learn that the rainbow is God’s gift to represent an ongoing sacred covenant, not sinful “sexual diversity.”
As I’ve stressed all along on this blog, teaching our children God’s word from an early age provides a lifelong moral compass with which to evaluate all sorts of human behavior. See especially Reason #9 http://www.hearttohearttalks.com/Blog/?p=683 of my Top Ten Reasons to Do Sex Ed at Home series.