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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Jones, Connexions Manager

The LGBTQ Question

I grew up in a conservative Christian home that adhered to standard biblical principles and, in some ways, religiosity. I was sheltered and trained unintentionally to fear the unknown. So, imagine my surprise when in my late 20's I was placed in a management position overseeing a team of 90 artists – 25% of which identified with the LGBTQIA+ community and had no idea how to connect or empathize with them; let alone lead them well. Over time, the connections and friendships I made encouraged me to think critically about embracing and loving those within this community. Over time, my husband's and my dinner table became the place to discuss, process, and put into action the beliefs and practices we valued as a family and a couple. We both learned to navigate and communicate what we believed and love the LGBTQIA+ people we interact with every day. I'm immensely grateful for this non-judgmental time as it allowed me to think and question this subject and shaped my worldview to be different from the one I inherited.

While I now am more comfortable interacting with those from a community different from those I grew up with, I understand the trepidation entirely. I fear many parents know they need to talk to their kids but are unsure how to do so. Suppose you want to encourage kids and their friends to take a biblical worldview regarding all topics and couple compassion with grace for those within the LGBTQIA+ community. For many, these conversations are scary, uncomfortable, and they would rather avoid them entirely. In doing so, we do more harm than good. So then, what is our solution to engaging this very raw and challenging topic?

My answer is that we MUST start talking about this consistently with our kids and their community. The world is talking about this every day, and we need to be doing this as well. One look at Sex Education (Netflix), Elite (Netflix), or Ru Paul's Drag Race (Hulu), and it's clear that this is a hot topic for youth as they navigate this time in their lives. How do we communicate the truth of the Bible while creating a culture of inclusivity and acceptance for all? We need to stop holding a shield in front of our kids for these conversations because it prevents them from maturing in their faith and infers we are on opposing sides. This mentality can create a culture of fear and shame regarding any discussion surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community, be it for themselves or someone else.

Instead, we counter this by creating an inclusive and non-judgmental space for our kids to process and walk through whatever they struggle with. We encourage them to navigate these tough questions by being open and engaging with authentic conversations that come from a place of love and acceptance.

When you examine Paul's approach to preaching the gospel, you can see that he intentionally reached out to the Gentiles. This group previously was excluded from a relationship with God until Christ's death and resurrection on the cross. Paul clarified that loving and reaching this group of people was something he felt God placed before him and called him to do. Paul stated as much in Galatians 1:15-16 (MSG): "Even then God had his eye on me. Why, when I was still in my mother's womb, he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him." Paul intentionally was a missionary to the Gentiles, a group otherwise excluded and discounted in the past. He took time and cared to understand their history, be mindful of their culture, and learn their language.

As parents, pastors, and leaders, we need to do the same and be missionaries to our students and children. We need to be mindful of our language and the gaps we create when discussing LGBTQIA+ topics. We need to drop clichés (hate the sin, love the sinner, lifestyle choice, homosexual or gay as they are triggering for many people) and respond with empathy and understanding. Taking time to understand the culture and history behind responses to the church from this community will demonstrate care and compassion that could build a bridge with your child if they are questioning or struggling.

Finally, if you have a child struggling with or navigating this, remember you do not need permission from the church or the Christian community to love your child no matter what. You can and should love your child no matter what they go through, have their back as their parent, and treat them with compassion, even if you don't see eye to eye all the time. Most of our kid's struggle with a deep fear of rejection, so responding with loving and accepting language and an understanding of culture and what's happening around them can significantly impact their lives and the way they go. Understand that even if you disagree, taking time to show you care and love them and want to help them navigate can be immensely helpful and will allow you to be an impactful voice in their life.

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