Do American teenagers now feel like they ‘should’ have an attention-getting sexual orientation?
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GENDER AND ORIENTATION CONFUSION SPREADING AMONG GENERATION Z
TOM LAMPRECHT: In Christianity Today, Kate Shellnut writes an article citing Barna and Gallup studies which are rather alarming for the church today. A new study by these polling firms shed new light on striking social and demographic trends. Teenagers in “Gen Z” are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as LGBT or as atheists.
The latest Gallup poll reported 4.1 percent of Americans and 7.3 percent of millennials identify as LGBT. Barna found that 12 percent of Gen Z teens describe their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual and 7 percent identify as bisexual.
Harry, when you and I were coming up through youth group, it was rare that you ever heard any statistics along these lines and now we have, as I just cited, 12 percent of Gen Z teens describe their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual.
DR. REEDER: Which is very interesting in light of the documented research and reality where approximately 2 to, at the most, 3 percent of the human population have actual documented issues in terms of either homosexual or bisexual claims of orientation. This spiking of it within our youth, why is that there and what does that mean?
WHY ARE THEY CONFUSED AND HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE CHURCH?
This has taken on epic proportions in that you have, in the sexual revolution, the engagement of sexual pedophiles and those who would harass and molest, and so you’ve got to set up all kinds of boundaries and checks in dealing with those who are volunteering to minister, and how they minister, and all kinds of principles and profiles of what can take place.
Then, secondly, how do you train those who now have to deal with not just addictions, but now this plethora of broken homes and children coming into youth ministry out of broken homes — not as in the extension of the home, but they’re almost looking for a family now. How do you do that without assuming that you can become a family for someone?
And then you’ve got this fascination through social media and the youth culture that students find two things. No. 1, “I think I’m supposed to have an issue of sexual confusion, either about gender or orientation,” and it’s almost an obligatory thing that you have that. And, for those in the day of social media, are not getting the attention — “My Facebook page isn’t liked. My Instagram’s not being received. I don’t get any Tweets. My Tweets aren’t liked” — and then people begin to grapple with their significance through the digital age. Well, one of the ways to get significance is to have these issues.
CHURCH MUST HOLD FAST TO BIBLICAL STANDARDS DESPITE PRESSURE
Therefore, all of that is contributing to the issue and then the challenge to the church, Tom, is how do you minister to this? How do you confront this? And then, as you’re having to confront this, and deal with this and respond to this, the culture is putting the pressure on you, “You can’t hold to a fixed point that sex is a gift from God and it belongs within marriage and marriage is a man and a woman and that is what is natural, Biblical and right. You can’t do that. If you do, you’re homophobic, you’re insensitive, you’re all of those challenges.”
And so, for a church to maintain its paradigm of ministry, to maintain its fixed point, to maintain its Biblical ethic and then weather the inevitable criticisms that, if you call sex outside of marriage — whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual — you call it sin and something that needs to be repented of, then some will be charged as being unscientific. “Don’t you know this is scientifically proven that there is a sexual orientation confusion?” Well, actually, there isn’t any science that supports that — it is a behavior choice.
And then, secondly, if you stand against people exercising their own desires as to how they want to be fulfilled sexually, isn’t sex for personal gratification? Then, if there’s consenting adults, why can’t they have sex? Well, then I would tell people, “Why do you impose the paradigm of consent?” In other words, you know there has to be a sexual ethic. What we’re telling you, it’s not just two consenting adults and sex is for personal gratification; sex is a gift from God to initiate, to recreate and procreate in marriage and it is given not simply for gratification, but for ministry and for bringing forth the next generation within a family.
The church has to decide are we going to be defined by the Word of God or are we going to accommodate the culture because our kids are coming to us with the inevitable confusion of the culture and the sense that, “I can be somebody if I have that confusion,” and the sense that, “I ought to have this confusion because the culture is telling me I ought to have it.”
EPISCOPAL CHURCH CAVES ON GENDER PRONOUNS — FOR GOD
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to confound the issue, the Episcopal Church diocese of Washington, D.C. has recently come out and they have voted to stop using masculine pronouns for God. A spokesperson said, “Over the centuries, our language and our understanding of God has continued to change and adapt. Masculine pronouns limit our understanding of God. By expanding our language for God, we’ll expand our image of God and the nature of God.”
DR. REEDER: They have just said that, “God’s Word is untrustworthy. We have now advanced in our society to believe that God’s Word does not accurately reveal God’s desire to communicate to us of who He is by virtue and use of the male pronouns. We’re now a lot smarter than God in His revealed Word, so we are now going to impose our perspective on who God is. We’re going to make a god in our own image, not receive the God who reveals himself in Scripture.”
Why is this important? Well, when you do away with the sanctity of language that communicates the sanctity of gender in the context of who God is, then we, who are made in the image of God, now we lose all semblance of sanity and any framework from which you minister to bring sanity to this gender-sexuality confusion in society that is being flooded into the minds and hearts of our children through the media, performing arts and public-school systems.
For instance, in Staten Island, they just had an entire school system that did away with father-daughter banquets, saying that is injurious, and homophobic, and non-inclusive and insensitive to the gender issue.
Sex outside of marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is never going to bring joy, happiness nor stability to an individual, a family or a society. It is always going to bring brokenness.
The Episcopal Church, by abandoning how God has revealed Himself, has revealed they have no ethical paradigm from which to minister to this youth culture and all of its confusions and challenges because they have abandoned the authority of God’s Word. “We make God’s Word to say what we want it to,” and when you make God’s Word to say what you want it to, then you don’t have the framework of God’s Word whereby people can be shaped in the way God made us, and the way God saves us and the way God sustains us to live. And so, the Episcopal Church, they’re not a player — they are a casualty in the sexual revolution.
INSTEAD, CHURCHES MUST PASS ON BIBLICAL WISDOM AND HOLD FAST
Folks, this isn’t new. It was tried in Sodom and Gomorrah and it was tried among our barbarian forefathers in Europe and in Africa and in Asia. And, if Christianity had not come in to bring civilization, including sexual ethics and family structure, I quote the Psalmist: “Tell the coming generation of who our God is and what our God has done.”
And we must hold fast, “Here is what it means to be a man. Here’s what it means to be a woman. Here’s what it means to have a marriage between a man and a woman — a covenant relationship, not a social contract — and it’s foundational to society. Here is the church that is the family of families that reaches into a broken world and here is the work of the Gospel.”
We must hold fast to the Word of God and fulfill our mission: “Make disciples, teaching them to observe all that the Lord has commanded you and He will be with us, even to the end.”
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.