100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How My Son First Learnt About Homosexuality

My son is five years old, and yesterday at school one of his classmates told him what the term "gay" means. He came home to us a little disturbed by what he'd heard, and this post is about how I, as a Christian parent, handled my son's questions. I want to write about this because to me, this is what my blog is really all about... an honest look at how a Christian views the world. And how I raise my children is of particular interest, as this truly reveals the beliefs we value. My son, prior to yesterday, had never really known anything about homosexuality at all. We don't really know what his friend at school has told him, but the following is an honest transcript of how our conversation went.

Son: Dad, do you know what gay is?

Me: Gay? What do you know about "gay"?

Son: Oliver says it's when a boy likes a boy, or when a girl likes a girl.

Me: … Yeah, that's right. …

<The look on my son's face was as if to say 'Seriously? That can't be right...' So I said...>

Me: Is that ok?

Son: No.

Me: Why not?

Son: I don't know? ... They can't have babies.

<Realizing that this is going to have get serious, I sat down and put my son on my lap.>

Me: Listen... you know that boys marry girls and girls marry boys, right?

Son: Yeah.

Me: But sometimes, something inside a person is broken and instead of liking girls, they like boys. Or something inside a girl is broken and they like girls instead of boys.

Son: Why?

Me: I don't know. But lots of people are broken in different ways... sometimes people are born retarded, like that boy we know; or some people are born blind. For some reason, something inside gets broken. I don't know why. But you know that teacher at your school, Ms. Finn? She's gay... she has a girlfriend.

Son: <Shocked> I don't like her anymore.

Me: Why not?

Son: … I don't know.

Me: Listen to me... some people are very mean to gay people because they're broken. But that's no reason to be mean to someone! We've talked before about that retarded boy, and how it's not nice to be mean to him. It's the same thing. It's not nice to tell him he's retarded, or to make fun of a blind person, or to tell someone they're fat... and it's not nice to make fun of a gay person, or to tell them they're "broken". They don't feel broken, but really we're all broken people in lots of different ways, even if sometimes we don't feel broken. And it's not nice to make fun of people or be mean to anyone.

<My son is deep in thought now, and I think this is where I'll leave him. So I say...>

Me: C'mon, it's bed time...

So this was basically me teaching my son theology, and applying it to homosexuality. It's what I've explained a few times on this site before... that all of Creation is essentially broken, in so far as things are not the way they are supposed to be. But how are things "supposed to be"? To have any notion at all of things having a "way they're supposed to be", you need a God who created with intent...  that is, a God who designed, or intended, for things to work one way and not another. And with Christian theology you have that... God created us to be "in His image". We are supposed to reflect God's character, like an “image”. But none of us do, necessarily, because we are all "broken" in various different ways. Sin has corrupted all of Creation.

Now one might say, "You've compared homosexuality with retardation and obesity... but they're different, at least in the fact that not even the Bible calls it a sin to be retarded or fat." This is true, but no analogy corresponds in every respect. These examples are similar in that all of these are not the way things are supposed to be. Perhaps a better analogy for adults would be promiscuity, which is also considered fairly normal in society, but which, according to the Bible, is actually a sin and a "broken" desire in man. But it also occurs to me that whenever we take what is broken about the world and rejoice in that and glorify it, that is sin. And that would even apply to obesity and possibly retardation. We've all heard of gluttony, and that's sinful. Nobody wants to say "Being fat is cool! Let's all pig out so we can all be fat!" No, we feel sorry for fat people in some sense, as it is not what anyone generally desires to be. The analogy holds true... we love fat people and they're our friends and we make them our husbands or wives, and we treat them equally with anyone (or we ought to). But there is still something to grieve over... nobody wants to be fat, and we would discourage the overeating which feeds the problem. And I suppose we can make a similar parallel to retardation in that nobody wants to be retarded, or thinks being retarded is cool. We love those people afflicted with it, and we shouldn't think less of them, and we ought to befriend them. But there is something to grieve over on their behalf. People can't help being retarded or fat, and I would probably affirm that some people can't help being gay. But society's attitude should change, I think, so that it is seen as an affliction - a part of the brokenness of this world. That's what I think Christian theology has to say about it. And I would say the same about promiscuity, or alcoholism, or any number of different issues which affect our lives, some of which society agrees are a problem, and some of which society takes no issue with. The decider, however, is God; and God has revealed through the Bible various things which are not as they should be.

I've made this point before, but I'll reiterate... where the Bible prohibits homosexuality in Leviticus, it also prohibits bestiality and incest. Without a God who determines the way things are supposed to be, you really can't say, yourself, that "Yes, incest and bestiality are wrong, but homosexuality isn't." Why should there be any distinction at all? An evolutionist has told me that bestiality is wrong because we don't want to share our seed with other species. This seems absurd to me. Why is that an intrinsic rule of the game? What's the worst that can happen in the process of evolution; a mule is born? So what? And when I queried the Internet as to how evolutionists justify homosexuality, the answer seemed to be that "It is good to have men in the community who like to stay at home instead of going out hunting. Men are strong, and it is good to have some of them 'in the village' at all times, guarding the women and children, yet not being a threat to the men who are out hunting, as their wives won't be adulterous with such men." Well, offensive stereotypes aside, this story doesn’t even make any sense... do all the men have to go out hunting at the same time? I’m sure that plenty of straight men will hang around in the village because their talents have to do with repairing houses or, who knows, defending villages? This explanation is thoroughly a product of imagination. It's story-telling as much as any myth you'll ever find.

Now, as I said, this is an honest blog about how one particular Christian views the world. And not all Christians are the same. Some approve of homosexuality, but I don't in so far as I think it should not be practiced; and those who have homosexual feelings ought to seek Christ's help as they struggle against them, recognizing that this is a kind of brokenness in their minds and bodies. This is what I believe the Bible teaches, and if I didn’t care for what the Bible teaches then I wouldn’t care about other people’s sexuality. But I do care because I believe that what the Bible teaches is for our good, and will lead us to the ultimate good of fulfilling the very purpose of our design... to reflect the image of God. And then there are also some Christians that hate homosexuals and throw insults and abuse (even physical abuse) at them. And I hope it came through to you, as well as to my son, that this is not acceptable at all. It's not Biblical or Christ-like in any way.

We live in a broken world, and it is broken in so many ways. And some day my son and I will probably have to have one of these talks about pornography in his web history, or some such thing, and he's going to have to realize that he himself is broken too! But there is One who makes all things new...

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."  (Revelation 21:5) 

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