Through quiet tears she presented a troubling question, one I’d never heard before.
In traveling and teaching across the country the past 15 years, I’ve heard many questions. And though I saw it coming, this was a first: “My fourth-grade daughter plays with a boy next door named Jeremy. Next year he will return to school as Jenny. What do I tell my daughter?”
The gender revolution is under way, and our children are invited to the revolt.
In Ontario, Canada, the sex-ed curriculum teaches there are six genders: male, female, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, and inter-sexed. In Lincoln, Nebraska, middle-school teachers are told not to call their students boys or girls. A pamphlet reads:
When you find it necessary to reference gender, say “Boy, girl, both or neither.” When asked why, use this as a teachable moment. Emphasize to students that your classroom recognizes and celebrates the gender diversity of all students.
George Barna reports the majority of tweens today believe the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Even if your children aren’t in public education, they’re growing up in a world of children who are. Exactly what do we teach our kids to help them navigate the dangerous cultural waters of gender confusion?
You will have to answer difficult questions, to be sure. But a foundation must be in place before the questions arise. Brief but strategic positive comments—such as telling your preschool daughter, “God chose for you to be a girl! Isn’t that great?”—go a long way in building a truth-filled foundation for sexual theology.
Three Fundamental Truths
Here are three vital truths to teach your kids to help them weather the gender revolution tsunami:
1. Teach your child that his or her purpose is to glorify God.
Our children do not need self-esteem; they need God-esteem. If they esteem him, then they will understand their value without making too much of themselves. The gender revolution, though, puts self on the throne to determine truth. That’s nothing new. It’s been happening since Eden. As one of my former students recently wrote:
The serpent claims “you shall be like God” in Genesis 3:5. Satan’s claim is his true deceit since in Genesis 1:27 God himself reveals he created Adam and Eve in his own image. The serpent sold to Eve something she already possessed: godlike qualities. He made her believe she wasn’t enough. . . . The implication of “you shall be like God” is that God didn’t make her correctly. There is no figure in the current media buzz that personifies the longings Eve felt more than Bruce—now Caitlyn—Jenner.
God made each human for himself and has jealously protected his treasure by sacrificing his Son. This sacrifice motivates us to glorify him—something that requires our bodies. “You were bought with a price,” the apostle Paul writes. “So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20).
2. Teach your child how defined roles of maleness and femaleness enable us to glorify God.
Part of what it means to glorify the Lord is to make him known. Adam and Eve were more than just unique creations; they were crafted in his likeness:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:26–27)
Our maleness and our femaleness are obviously a critical part of how we represent the God of the universe. Genesis 1 places authentic humanity and sexuality in the context of male and female distinctiveness. Our responsibility to reflect our Maker’s image calls us to embrace those differences, not erase them.
3. Teach your children to live as sacrifices to God.
The Bible summons us to lay down our own plans for our bodies and instead make them daily, living, breathing sacrifices that magnify our Maker. This includes how we work, give, spend, and even whom we have sex with—no matter what gender “preference” might tempt us:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:1–2)
There will be many times when obeying God’s plan for sexuality will be a sacrifice for your children. Temptation will come their way, and denying their own sexual desires out of love for God will be deeply painful.
Freedom to Grieve
That brings us back to Jeremy, who entered fourth grade this fall in a new dress and with a new name: Jenny. I told the questioner God would give her the words to explain things to her daughter, just as he has millions of parents before her when difficult issues of sexuality have arisen. And I told her to keep crying. If asked why she cries, she can say: “Jeremy doesn’t understand that he is enough, that God created him according to his image. It must be very painful.”
The Christian heart must be broken by what’s happening. Let’s not merely teach our children the Bible verses, the truth, and the facts. Let’s also teach them to grieve over the things that grieve God’s heart.