Please Don’t Say “Gay”

My daughter’s friend Paige attends a public school and recently had a teacher who came out of the closet. A few weeks after announcing he was gay, the teacher asked a noble request of his students. He worded it like this:

“Can I ask you a favor? A lot of you use the word ‘gay’ a lot in the context of being ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb.’ You say, ‘That’s gay’ when something is stupid. I think that’s really offensive. I would hope that you would please stop using ‘gay’ as a synonym for these negative terms.”

Paige, a Christian, walked up to her teacher after class when he was alone and asked him:

“Can I ask you a similar favor? You use the term ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Oh my God’ all the time, especially when you’re mad at something or expressing dissatisfaction about an issue. That’s really offensive to me because I have a relationship with Jesus, my God, and I have utter respect for his name.”

Paige’s teacher thought about it for a moment. He finally responded, “I’ll try my best to not say Jesus Christ. But I’m not going to stop saying ‘Oh my God.'”

It’s getting more and more difficult to be a teenage Christian today. And heaven forbid if we disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. Those young people that do are in the minority.

I appreciate Paige’s boldness for a couple reasons:

1. Her approach was bold, but humble. Paige didn’t confront her teacher in front of the whole class. She didn’t do it for attention. Paige approached him because she really felt that he was being unfair to her and other believers. Paige has no problem with people who engage in homosexual acts, any more than those who gossip or engage in premarital sex. But she doesn’t think it’s fair for her teacher to ask for a consideration that he’s not willing to provide to believers.

Paige’s humble approach could have been costly. This is the man who is going to give her a grade that will be on her transcript forever. Sometime standing up for truth has a cost. A local Presbyterian church just spend 1.2 Million to remove themselves from a denomination that is going to allow gay clergy. I know the leaders in this church and some of the other pastors quoted in this article. These are godly, compassionate people who are standing firm on their beliefs… and the cost is great.

2. Paige just wants an even playing field. I don’t know if she would call it that, but Paige is experiencing something that most Christians are beginning to face today. We are being teased for our beliefs.

Yes, as Christians we need to understand a little history here. For as long as I remember, people have been unfair to homosexuals. Think about it. The homosexuals are a group who, I believe, struggle with a sexual sin. For years people have laughed, teased and made fun of homosexuals. Why haven’t we done the same with gossips? Why haven’t we teased those who have premarital sex? Why haven’t we teased those who cheat on their taxes?

Homosexuals have been mocked, ridiculed and bullied. It’s one of the great blemishes in our history.

But in the last few years the tables have turned. Over half of America now thinks that homosexuality is fine. More and more states are beginning to legalize gay marriage. And now… Christians are the ones being mocked.

Let me ask you a question: when you see a Christian portrayed on TV today… how are they portrayed? What about when you see a homosexual portrayed on TV (on every show)?

If someone makes fun of a Christian in the media, everyone laughs. If someone makes the slightest jest about gays, apologies have to be issued, and people are fired.

June is gay pride month. When is it okay to be proud about loving Jesus?

Now, even if Christians, in their freedom of speech, practice their first amendment rights to voice their disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle, they have to be EXTREMELY careful voicing their beliefs. I’m not talking about condemning homosexuals- that’s not cool. I’m talking about if a Christian just says, “I think homosexual acts are wrong.” If we simply state that belief, we’re deemed “hateful.”

I respect Paige for standing up for her belief.

What would you do in that situation?

How can we follow a Biblical model, showing compassion and love, while not compromising truth?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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18 Responses to Please Don’t Say “Gay”

  1. Carrie says:

    Paige is my hero! I’m not sure I would have had the guts to do that when I was younger – especially to a teacher. What she was asking was very reasonable and it’s too bad he couldn’t see the correlation.

    I recently had a conversation with a childhood friend who is gay. I told him that although I didn’t believe God was ok with homosexuality (just like he wasn’t ok with my past sins), I didn’t hate him or find him disgusting. I loved him as a fellow child of God. We agreed to disagree…and that’s ok.

  2. “the cost is great.” I don’t want to sound morbid or depressing, but I want to be real. These are the words that stuck out to me and these are the words that continue to plague me as a youth pastor and as a father of three children. With the changes we are seeing in our society I believe that the time has come for all youth pastors and Christian parents to begin teaching about true sacrifice and the cost of discipleship. Up until this point the cost has been minimal for Christians here in the land of milk and honey, but I believe this generation of students and the generations coming up behind it will be the first generations of Christian young people whose faith and love of Jesus Christ will be put to the test and confronted with real cost, real sacrifice and maybe even by real levels of persecution. We must begin now to prepare students to stand boldly and humbly for Jesus Christ as Paige did and yet prepare them to give everything up for Christ. “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13 Thanks for this great post. Great story and good advice! Will share Paige’s story with my oldest daughter tonight for our bedtime discussion. blessings.

  3. Mark says:

    This blog post is “gay”.

    I seriously doubt anything in this post ever actually occurred. Why would a public school teacher, which is a difficult enough of a job, come out to his students and open himself up to ridicule? I also highly doubt that this fictional teacher in a real life scenario would use the term “Jesus Christ” in an offensive manner.

    This is obviously a made up story to garner sympathy for individuals that condemn homosexuals. Homosexuals are the ones being persecuted in this country not Christians. There are more of us “Christians” in this country today than there have ever been before. In a 18 year period, there were about 22,177,000 more Christians in the U.S. from 1990 to 2008 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States).

    Unless we’re persecuting ourselves, this misconception is complete and utter nonsense.

    . . . and going on about this is hurting christianity and not helping it.

  4. Darin says:

    Paige is gutsy, and I don’t think she’s entirely wrong in her approach. But I wonder if it might not have been more effective to take an even more humble, less confrontational approach. She could have said:

    “I am glad that you asked people to stop using words in hurtful and offensive ways. I am not really comfortable with people saying “gay,” “retarded,” “nigger,” or any other term that reduces a people group to a negative term. As a Christian, I often have the same reaction to people saying “Jesus” or “Oh My God” in negative ways. It hurts me because I know Jesus and respect Him and don’t want to see his name used in the same way as people use “gay”. I won’t use gay in that way in my speech because I wouldn’t want you or any other homosexual person to feel like I do when people uses Jesus and OMG in that way.”

    Granted, probably a little more articulated than I could have pulled off in high school, but that’s how me at 30 would react.

    I wish we would all spend less time talking to non-believers about their behavior and spend more time connecting with them, getting to know their hearts, and introducing them to the only Person who has the right to talk to them about their behavior.

  5. Thanks for an insightful and compassionate perspective Jonathan. While many within the Church have responded to this issue with contempt, ridicule, and fear, there are many Believers who desire to lovingly reach out to those affected by same-sex attractions. I am witnessing the increasing resistance to Christians who voice their religious beliefs on this issue and I’m afraid it is only getting worse. Blessings to you and your ministry!

    Jeff Buchanan
    Vice President
    Exodus International

  6. Wow. Mark, I’m really sorry about whatever happened to you that made you so bitter about this issue, so much that you are willing to accuse me of lying when I share a personal experience. (That’s actually kind of funny) I guess that’s your prerogative. I’ll simply say this: I know Paige well, and the incident happened at a school about 8 miles from my house just a few weeks before school ended. The simple fact that you don’t believe a school teacher would “come out” in California, reveals how unaware you are about the way things are today. The rest of what I posted is obvious to anyone who ever turns on a TV. No need for me to even try to justify it.

    I wish people weren’t so divisive on this issue. This isn’t a “we” vs. “them” situation. The fact is, I’m a sinner, my heterosexual neighbor that is living with his girlfriend is a sinner, and someone engaged in homosexual behavior is a sinner. We’re in this together and we all need Jesus really badly. Sadly, it’s getting hard for Christians to even just “disagree” with homosexual behavior anymore without being deemed “hateful.” I hope that people on both sides can show more love, compassion and grace in the matter.

  7. Selina Tabet says:

    My kids are in public school and they have teachers who are openly gay, have partners and adopted children. They also have teachers who use profanity & take God’s name in vain in class. There is no reason for me to think this is an unrealistic situation.
    I do think Jonathan lying is an unrealistic situation, tho! =)

  8. Ha… thanks for your confidence in me Selina. I wish I never have lied! 🙂 But yes, this story and all that I post in my blogs are true. (I just have a tough time when my friend asks me, “How’s my wife’s cooking?”)

  9. Jason says:

    Jonathan, thanks for continuing to put the truth of what is happening in our society and to our teens out to the public. It is frustrating to hear Mark’s comments. It might mean he does not frequent your blog or website enough to know how truly connected you are to teens and the culture we live in.

    I live in upstate NY and have had a hard time with the past decision by our government to allow gay marriage. I understand why the vote was in the affirmative. It only takes a trip to the High School to see that many teens have adopted this lifestyle and have been encouraged about it. I have many teens telling me about their friends homosexual tendencies and new lifestyles. I also have had a few teens come to our ministry that are homosexual. In every situation I feel sad and frustrated with the choices they are making, but unfortunately i see where our society has endorsed it and so they are responding to what has been told to them is ok.

    I never have looked at this issue as a “Us vs. them” issue. I too am a sinner saved by grace that still has a lot of work needed. I too have a past that if was shown on the screen on Sunday morning at church than many people would never listen to me again when teaching. Thank God for His mercy and Grace. 1 Cor. 6 does not only point at homosexuals, it also talks about liars, idolators, drunkards,thieves,sexually imorral (meaning heterosexuals also)and more. Then it points out that that is what they once were, meaning redemption and forgiveness is for all!

    Anyone who stands in judgment of a homosexual will also be judged by their own sin. We are not to judge the sinner but the sin. Homosexuality is wrong. So is lying, cheating, and heterosexual sex outside of marriage. Sorry if that offends you, but it is not I that say that, but God. He also says to Love your neighbor as you love yourself. I love “Gay” people. I do not love their lifestyle. The same as I love alcoholics, but do not love their alcoholism.

    Anyone that wants to rip this apart and tell me i am wrong or something go ahead. I honestly have been at a loss recently for how to deal with this issue as i see it overtaking many souls. It is an issue that is seen throughout the Bible that tore people away from God and brought judgment. I am saddened by our lawmakers and our culture that they are unable to see what this is doing to our children and the future of our society. They are my heart and this is why I got into ministry.

  10. Sean says:

    Ecuse the grammer and spelling.

    As the only athiest I figured I chime in……..Why is an athiest here you ask? I keep getting emails from thie site, and so every so often I will take a look around and sometimes take an interest in what Jonathan is talking about, or read his movie reviews. John I wonder about your taste in movies sometimes. 🙂

    On the topic at hand. I think PAIGE did a wonderful job. She stood up for her religion, which is good. I don’t think the teacher did anything wrong however. He said he’d stop saying Jesus Christ since it was offencive. I gather him saying OMG will still irritate some here, but the word GOD is subjective(is that right?). Many people have their own version of God. Even Christians have different views on what their god actually is or does.

    As for the tables turning and it now being the Christians who are going to be rediculed over the gays. That’s just logical. You have a reputation. A very BAD ONE when it comes to the topic of gays and lesbians. It’s not going to go away, and it’s probably not something that can be fixed. Just the way it is. Should everyone show compassion and love? ABSOLUTELY. Problem here is that Christians see homosexuality as a desease. Everyone else doesn’t. I don’t think you’ll be able to embrace the Homosexuals or non-believers with that mind set. There won’t be much crossing the isle so to speak. It seems to me, the new way of embracing gays in lesbians is the same as it was before, only without the hate and death. Christians can’t just tolerate gays or lesbians. The bible says they can’t. So instead of leaving them be and everyone living in peace. You love them and try to HELP them. Help being the key word. You say there are teens who struggle with being gay,and that they need to be helped so they don’t fall into sin. We say there are teens who struggle with being gay, because they fear how they’ll be treated. They’re already gay. Any help they recieve will do nothing but try to stop them from being what they already are.

    You help a gay kid see the light. Then for the rest of his life he does his best to supress his feelings. He gets married and has kids. Is he happy? Perhaps, and atleast he won’t go to hell. Then again maybe he’s dieing inside little by little. Maybe he leaves his wife’s bed at night, goes to the bathroom, and trys to pound his head in. Perhaps he will seek gods help again, but what if he doesn’t find the answers he seeks? This is of course just one example. One that’s probably happened countless time, but just one. I’m sure their are “People who struggle with homosexuality” who defeat the urge and live happy lives, atleast that’s what we see on the surface. Still as long as this person is saved from his sin, nothing else matters.

    I also need to add that Christians can deal with gays and lesbians in peaceful manners all they won’t, but it only takes one man on FOX saying he hates gays to ruin it for everyone.

    Of course I have no answers.Yall have your own, and I guess we’ll see how far that gets you. I’m the athiest. I just believe human beings should love each other. I don’t care in what way. I’m glad they are getting equal rights, and I’m glad they have finally come into an age where they’re more accepted. If your sad that tides have changes and it’s now your turn to face redicule and hate….Well, I guess you now know how they felt. But trust me the world won’t end. I’m sure you might think it will, but in truth times will change and life will go on.

  11. Sean, thanks for your candid response. Although many might not agree with all that you had to say, I think you offer a really good perspective that we need to hear.

  12. Madison Osborn says:

    As a younger Christian here i would like to throw another voice into this conversation of homosexuals and believers.. I am definitly a christian and always have been since i was very young because i have many reasons to believe what my parents and elders have told me about this belief but even so i dont share nearly the same outlook on the gay and lesbian sins. To me a gay can be a christian just as much as a straight believer. Just because they sin by being attracted to the opposite sex doesnt mean they dont have faith or believe. I mean think about it another way all christians sin in one way or another and more than once. I mean why is it okay for a straight christian to ask for forgiveness for lying or sinning in other ways and then do it again after that, but not okay for a gay or lesbian christian to ask for forgivness but still be gay? “they” as some put it sin the same as other christians. I have voiced this argument with my best friend whom I have been friends with since i was 3. She strongly disagrees with me but our friendship doesnt keep this argument from coming back. Actaually when i was younger I wanted a gay best friend because the gays i had met or knew were always kind and weren’t judgmental. They knew wat it was like to be different or bullied and tht helped even though we weren’t bullied for the same reasons. I am almost thirteen and this is my very strong opinion on the relationships between the same sex. I am also very much intreged by this topic for I have an aunt who is in a relationship with another women and They have two sons and two daughters and they are the nicest family anyone could dare imagine.

  13. Jason says:

    @Madison: I agree that a person that is attracted to the same sex can also be a Christian. I hope my comment did not infer that anyone that is Gay will be in hell. Then that would discount Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6:11. The issue at hand is NOT whether or not someone that is gay can be a Christian, it is whether or not a person that continues to practice or is involved in a same sex relationship can say that they have repented.

    Repentance and forgiveness are 2 different things. Forgiveness is for something I did just now. I constantly ask forgiveness for my selfishness and pride. Repentance means I no longer am doing that which once kept me from relationship with God. Jesus said we need to Repent. This happens at once when we recognize our sin as sin, and then continually through sanctification as we obey God’s teachings. Again 1 Corinthians 6:11 talks about this.

    Your temptation towards the same sex are the same type of temptations i have towards the opposite sex. Jesus called all lust sin. even if it is just with our eyes, we have sinned in our hearts. I am not to give in to those temptations. Especially if i am convicted about them. This is like saying to God “I am going to sin now, but you can just forgive me later. Ok? Thanks” Instead we are called to repent of these sins, turn from them and surrender our temptations to the Holy Spirit and He will “work in you to will and act according to his good purpose” (Eph 2:13)

    So all of us, straight or gay, have fallen short of the glory of God as said in Romans 3:23. We are all called to repentance and forgiveness that only can be offered through Jesus Christ, and than the Holy Spirit can take residency in us and convict us toward consistent obedience to God’s will. None of us are less guilty of certain sin, or more entitled to forgiveness.

    My prayer for you Madison and all those that struggle with ANY sexual sin is that you will constantly seek the Holy Spirit’s power and surrender to God’s will for you when you are tempted. Matthew 4 shows us the best way to defeat the temptations that face us each day: God’s Word. We need to constantly be reading it and applying it to our lives. But remember to do this with a humble heart and a desire for God to work in you.

  14. williamson says:

    Jon, I appreciate your honesty – like most thing in the news today, I don’t think you can make up stuff like this! It is amazing what kids face in their schools – and after 30 years youth in ministry, I am even more amazed to see the correct responses that students like your daughter present. It is students, like Paige that will send a respectful message through their culture – not because they are bashing any particular issue or person, but because they dare to take a stand for what THEY believe.

    By the way, obviously, Paige’s parents took some time to instill great values into a young life.

  15. Chris Childs says:

    Madison,
    I think it is great that you are thinking through these issues so critically as a teenager. Some people just follow what other people teach them rather than thinking it through themselves.
    You brought up the point that living a gay life can’t keep us from God more than lying or sinning in other ways. And you are right. The hard part is that Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey his commands. Later in the Bible, the apostle Paul is writing to people saying that even though we are given grace and forgiveness, we can’t go on sinning. A life following God needs to be a changed life. We need to turn away from our sin. So in the same way that I need to turn away from gossiping, if someone is tempted to sin in homosexual ways, they would need to turn away from that too, as an act of love towards God.

    The problem I am running into, is that as I learn more about how to interpret the bible by understanding the original language, the historical and cultural context it was written in, as well as the big picture of God’s story, I have a great deal of difficulty making a compelling argument that homosexuality is truly sinnful. As a youth pastor, I have tried to find convincing arguements because I want to support the Christian Church’s position. Sadly, the only arguments I can find are based soley on the words of the English translation of the bible and completely leave out questions like, “Is this an accurate translations of the word as it was originally written in Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew?” “What was the situation that this was a response to?” “Was homosexuality the central point that God inspired the writer to teach about or was it more of an analogy the writer used to make a point?” Since I haven’t been able to find any, I am wondering if this is a time when God’s Spirit is moving us in a new direction, to understand this differently than we have in the past. I don’t know the answer. If anyone does have any great resources for me to look at, please comment and link to them. I am still wrestling with this.

  16. Sarelle says:

    Asking young people to stop using hurtful offensive words should never be a problem or religious issue. This story has opening up the disucssion on gay and lesbian issues, when it seems the issue the teacher brough up to his class was to stop using offensive words. When would it ever be ok for teens to use put downs. There is so much bulling amongst young people, encouraging them to not call names is a basic issue of respecting each other.
    I agree that a teacher also should not be saying “Jesus Christ” or Oh God” in negative ways either that too is an issue of respect. But I doubt a teacher would acutally use such words in a public setting.
    The issue is all people who claim to be Christian should be not be name calling to begin with and could be models to their peers on how to treat others regardless of whether it is an issue of someone being “Stupid”, a “nerd” or “gay”.

    • Chris says:

      Sarelle, You are right. This topic was more about the use of offensive words than about the docrine of homosexuality. I got distracted. Thanks for refocusing us.

      I’m not surprised that a teacher would say, “Jesus Christ” or “Oh God”. I remember several of my teachers using this as slang in high school (though that was 7 years ago).

      I think it is great that Paige was able to make that request respectfully. Apparently, it was at least somewhat successful, because the teacher decided to refrain from using “Jesus Christ” to express dissatisfation with something.