Actually Reaching Kids Experiencing Same Sex Attraction

tough questions“We have a girl in our youth group who has decided she is a lesbian…”

“I want to share what the Bible says about homosexuality, but I’m afraid it’s going to just build walls instead of breaking them down.”

“My son doesn’t want to believe in God if God is against gays.”

The subject of same-sex attraction is probably one of the biggest issues youth ministries and parents are dealing with today. If our kids aren’t experiencing these feelings themselves, then they most likely have friends who are. This cultivates questions, which often are left unanswered in the church because we’re afraid of the backlash.

I understand completely. When I went to write my book Sex Matters for teenagers, I know I needed to address the issue of same-sex attraction, but that put me in a catch-22. No matter how much I emphasized love and grace, if I actually put in print that I think homosexual behavior is a sin… then I know I could be labeled a “hater.”

At the same time, if I caved and changed my theology (as many are doing) to something I didn’t believe, then I know that wouldn’t help anyone. Similarly, I’m not going to start advising heterosexual teenagers to go ahead and just have sex because it feels right at the moment.

So how should we respond? How do we answer these tough questions?

The answer is in the person of Jesus, and the more we get to know him, the more His response will become our response.

I just unveiled a little bit of what this actually looks like in our brand new Youth Culture Window article this week, Reaching Kids Experiencing Same Sex Attraction (posted both on our parents page and on our youth ministry page). This article links other helpful articles with even more research on the subject.

I also addressed this question, along with many other difficult questions, in the final chapter of my two brand new books: Sex Matters (for teenagers) and More Than Just the Talk (for adults), not only addressing our methodology, but providing a deeper look into our theology on the subject.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. 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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10 Responses to Actually Reaching Kids Experiencing Same Sex Attraction

  1. Kate Robinson says:

    Hi
    I found your article about actually reaching same sex attracted kids interesting. I come to you as an adult who hid my sexuality for 45 years of my life because of fear. I have a strong christian faith and work in ministry. I never decided to be a lesbian it was never a choice my only choice has been do I live a lie and pretend to be like the estimated 90 to 95% of people who are the norm or do I accept who I am.

    What I want to know is do you want to attract them same sex attracted kids to let them know God loves them and so the can enter a life long relationship with God , or do you want to attract same sex attracted kids, so you can convert them from their sexual attraction. From the article that is what it sounds like you want to do.

    You use language such as the homosexual lifestyle. Do you really think all homosexual people have the same life style? Do you think all hetrosexual people have the same life style?

    Don’t get me wrong I think it is great you are encouraging people to include same sex attracted kids. But you still call homosexuality a sin. I am homosexual it does not matter that I have never even kissed another woman, I am attracted to the same sex. So by your definition I am sinning. Do you really think these kids are sinning because of an attraction they have no control over?

    Your article actually scares me because you are talking about targeting same sex attracted kids but it does not sound like acceptance for who they are is really what you are saying. Same sex attracted teenager are more likely to commit suicide than any other suicide but a kid from a family who does not accept them for who they are including Christian families is greater again. That you are suggesting attracting kids to the youth group who are same sex attracted yet not willing to accept them as they are and judging them to be all living the same “lifestyle” if they identify as homosexuality scares me because you want to attract these kids to an unsafe place. Please do not encourage churches to reach out same sex attracted kids unless you are going to accept them for who they are. Because it is putting not only their relationship with God in danger but their very lives. I know I fought suicide for decades it was only when I accepted who I was and God loved me that suicide thoughts stopped.

    There are plenty of resources out there may I suggest you read more widely. And better still go to an organisation such as PFlag and listen to peoples stories, or have a conversation with people from the gay Christian network.

    My prayers are with you as you continue on this journey, because just the terms you use and the way you say things show you have quite a way to go.

    • Gabriel says:

      you said…”I have a strong christian faith, and I work in the ministry” , but you also said “I am a lesbian”…Don’t get deceived. You cannot serve God and the devil in the same time.
      “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,”
      1 Corinthians 6:9
      God loves you…your person… BUT he HATES your sin and homosexuality is a sin that God hates! And if we say we are Christians ( like Christ) we need to love what He loves, and hate what he hates.

      • Sean says:

        Jon, you can you this response as a great example of what not to do. 🙂

        • Kate Robinson says:

          Yes Sean I agree, as much as I am tempted to answer Gabriel, It is important that Jon does it as someone who is asking people reach out same sex attracted kids. This is the message Same sex attracted kids get when they go to some churches. So Jon what message do you have for Gabriel, what message do you have for same sex attracted youth, and what message do you have for me?

          • Sean says:

            Jon might answer you, but he also might not. It’s a situation where Jon just doesn’t have an answer. If he sticks to his theology, then he can do nothing but build walls. He sticks strickly to the theology of the Bible, which says homosexuality is a sin. He also believes that he can tell you that you’re a sinner and are participating in practices that are harmful to god while being inviting and loving as Christian. What he doesn’t understand is that just because you say something nice, or clever, it doesn’t mean it hurts any less as if you said it harshly.

            The fact is that Jon believes it is a sin. He believes that by bringing you closer to God, he will enter your heart fully and cure you of your problem. The idea is that God will do the work, because deep down if you are truely a Christian then giving yourself fully to God will help you be washed of all Sin.That’s Jon’s mentality.

            Jon also doesn’t believe that you didn’t have a choice in the matter. He also believes that the sexual practices of the sin are harmful and that homosexuality can be harmful. Yes, that includes gays and lesbians having Children as well. He likes to bring up statistics proving these claims.

            Now, he does believe Christians should condem all sexual sins instead of making out homosexual sin as being the worst one. But even how he words even that shows that homosexaul sin is still a main problem for Christians to deal with. Sodomy is practiced widely amoung straight couples. Yet you’ll never hear a Christian talk about either in relation to straight couples, only gay or lesbian. Now isn’t that interesting? Part of the definition of sodomy itself is oral or anal sex practiced by members of either sex, straight or homosexual. Straight couples aren’t excluded from the definition. So if we talk about the sexual sin of homosexuals then we should also be talking about the sexual sin of a majority of heterosexaul couples, because straight people outnumber gays or lesbians greatly, and you have to be living on the moon to believe that a majority of STRAIGHT couples don’t practice sodomy in one form or another.

            I could go on and on, but me and Jon have been down this road before. And in all honesty, I’ve really never seen him actually debate the subject on here, with anyone. Granted really not the place, since this is a youth site.

            Seems like I really went after you in this post Jon. Sorry, If I’m misinterpreting your feelings on the matter please correct me. I don’t think I am given that you have multiple articles on the site saying or claiming the things I’ve written here.

            As for you Kate, the only thing I can say to you is that time and fate are on your side. My generation(not all obviously) was never really able to see the issue as a problem. I was taught how to swim by a gay man, and my parents encouraged it. They were care takers of a Salvation Army camp in Richardsville Virginia. Both are very religious(I’m not), and I don’t think I’ve ever really heard them have a negative thing to say on the subject. Point here is that I was raised to be accepting of everyone. In fact I don’t think I know many in the millennial generation who weren’t preached that more than they were any bible verse. Some of those parents who drilled that concept into us didn’t know how good of a job they did, and probably found themselves on the otherside of the street opposed to their own children on this issue. This isn’t to say my genertion have been the hero’s who have brought the issue to it’s end, clearly not. Also isn’t to say I myself haven’t been cruel or mean to people who love others of the same sex. I’ve made my jokes in my time. I’m guilty of that.

            I just can’t stop. I’m rambling now.

            Still, if I must say one bad thing to you Kate. It’s that I’m tired of the words Gay and Lesbian. You’re just human beings like everyone else. Nobody goes around saying “straight couples.” Alas, I feel I’m ahead of my time on that. Perhaps the next generation or the one after that will end the labels. 🙂

            Take Care!!!

          • I find it intriguing how Christians are slowly becoming labeled “haters” because of what they believe. You say my theology can only build walls, when my theology is that Jesus loves us all, heterosexual, homosexual… and gave his life for us. Jesus told us, and demonstrated to us, how to love everyone. After all, we’re all sinners. So that’s how I live. And yes, my message might be offensive to some. When I tell teenagers that “sex matters” and that God’s design is to wait for marriage… some kids don’t like that message. “Are you saying if I love my girlfriend, then I shouldn’t make love?” I’ve heard that question many times. But interestingly enough, when I follow Jesus’ example and love people, spend time with them, listen to them… and share them truth… they often respect my opinion, even if I disagree with it. But if I just walk up to someone and say, “God hates your sin!”… it’s not so effective.
            By the way… I do talk about sodomy in my book Sex Matters and address it for heterosexual couples. In fact, I bring up the subject in every one of my MORE THAN JUST THE TALK parent workshops. Sorry to disappoint you.

  2. Sean says:

    You ask the right questions Kate. I think Jon comes to this issue with a good heart. Still, whether it’s misinterpreted or not, the article comes off as indeed “hoping” that by coming to God they will be CURED of this sin.

    • Kate Robinson says:

      Sean it will not let me reply on your other reply to me – maybe there is a limit of replies. Thankyou for your support. I am greatful to the generations younger than me who have made it possible for me to accept myself in latter years in life. I am greatful for the chance to live know that God loves me and accepts me because of the bravery of those younger than me. there are also others older and my age who have come out at later life. Particualy those who have stayed strong in their faith. I hope one day people will not be forced away from God because of who they are. I hope one day the Christians who believe they are persecuted because they stand up against “homosexuality” and are named “haters” recognise God’s love and grace for them too so that they can live in the grace and love of God.
      You have said you are not religious, but I hope that you know Gods love for you.
      By the way you have Said the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. I will disagree with you on that, it is simply not clear. Even the leviticus reading people always quote it is not clearly talking about same sex relationships between to loving adults. if you read the chapter – both what is before it and after it, it is talking about not taking up the practices of other religions. Religions of the time which part of their “worship” included sexual practices. Unfortunately when people read verses out of the Bible and disregard what is written around it they take it out of context. They forget when the Bible was written it did no have verses or chapters like it has now. I do wish people would not use the Bible as a rule or law book to prove their points. One of the things it includes is peoples journeys in discovering God, not just the times they got it right but the times they got it wrong. We can learn from both for our own journeys.
      thankyou for your message of take care. I am one of the fortunate people I belong to a denomination where people are accepted by the grace of God. Within my denomination there are Gay and Lesbian ordained ministers in loving same sex relationships as well some who still teach as Jon does that same sex attraction is a sin. It is an interesting balance. But Gods Grace and Love is there. I have the assurance of Gods Love, and I have many people around me who accept me for who I am, who I was created. I love Psalm 139 it say
      13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
      you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
      14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
      Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
      15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
      intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
      16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written
      all the days that were formed for me,
      when none of them as yet existed.
      17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
      How vast is the sum of them!
      18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
      I come to the end[a]—I am still with you.

      God created me.
      I also like 17 how great is God’s thoughts, how vast, and how many.
      There are few people who would say they understand totally another person, and what they may be thinking , yet so often we do it ourselves. I know I do I use language as though I know what God is thinking about this or that.
      But we can only but God in the Box of our limited human understanding. Sometimes we have to accept what is not understandable.
      Such as the greatness of God’s love and grace.
      Now I am rambling.

      Prayers with you Sean.

  3. Kate Robinson says:

    Jon – your silence here is deafening . You said in this article “So how should we respond? How do we answer these tough questions?” so how are you going to answer these tough questions?
    In what way and how far are you willing to show grace to a young person who is same sex attracted? Or what about 2 adults in a committed same sex relationship? What about 2 Christians in a same sex relationship? What would you say to them wanting to get married? Where is the limit of your grace? What are you saying when you say err on the side of Grace?
    Are you really saying lets reach out to these young people to accept them as who they are or to “cure” them or “save” them.
    I agree totally with you that we are all sinners, I just disagree with you that being attracted to something is a sin. And I know that it is not a choice because I have lived it. I know that God loves me because I live it. I know that God has no problem accepting me as a lesbian because I live it. I know that I am called to ministry by God because I live it. So how far will you extend your God’s grace to me? Would you be happy for me to be in youth ministry in your church?

    • Kate… sorry about my silence. It wasn’t on purpose. I was just monitoring the comments on the article we linked, not in the blog post. I missed these. I never scrolled down past Sean’s novel. As for answering your question “how far am I willing to show grace to someone who is experiencing same sex attraction?” I would treat them the same as someone tempted to sleep with their heterosexual boyfriend or girlfriend. In my 20+ years of youth ministry I’ve encountered young people (and friends my own age) who have all kinds of philosophies and lifestyles, and I’m not condemning to them. I just try to point them to Jesus. Jesus didn’t condemn sinners, so why should I? Are we always going to agree in our theology and philosophy? Not at all. I state what I believe pretty clearly in this article: http://www.thesource4ym.com/trainingtools/article.aspx?id=28 (and you and I differ a bit in our theology). We’ll probably have to just agree to disagree on that point.