Tag Archive - Family

What Bothers Me Most About the Scout Debate

280px Boy Scouts of America corporate trademark

In the past forty-eight hours, my email inbox has been flooded with alarming warnings about the historic implications of the decision by Boy Scouts of America leaders to admit young men who openly claim to be homosexual. To be fair, I share the concern of many Americans that the sweeping change in public opinion is bringing forth swift and at times irrational decisions in this area. Still, I think the seemingly sudden shift in sentiment for all things related to gay rights has revealed a flaw in much of Christian thinking:

We shouldn’t be against gay rights because we are against homosexuals. We should question gay rights because we don’t believe homosexual tendencies or lifestyle define any person. Period.

When it comes to the Boy Scouts, just because a young man believes himself to “be gay” doesn’t mean parents, Scout leaders, or others should believe him to be so. He may have some tendency to be attracted to young men, or something in his past that drew him away from the heterosexual norm (and by norm – for the sake of this blog – I mean the lifestyle that over 98% of the population claims, according to a recent study.) According to Scripture, God’s plan for everyone is either to enjoy a single life or to marry someone of the opposite gender. So why do so many in the Church seem to be identifying people solely on this particular preference – as if we agree that they were born this way? Instead, why wouldn’t we treat homosexual tendencies as one variable of a person’s choices rather than his or her core identity? When we exclude someone from a congregation, or family, or Scout troop, because they claim to be “gay,” aren’t we acknowledging the lie that they are who they are and cannot change?

With all of the publicity over the gay agenda in the past six months, I think a lot of people are missing the point: in at least a half century of attempting to do so, no one has offered any substantive evidence that anyone is born a homosexual. No one.

In fact, one recent headline grabber related to gay rights unintentionally makes my point about the myth of the homosexual identity. It came from the announcement of NBA player Jason Collins that he was gay. Ironically, he might have been more honest to say he had chosen the homosexual lifestyle, since he actually had been engaged to a woman as recently as four years ago. Of course, he instead argued that it was his heterosexual behavior that was the choice, and his homosexual behavior was his true identity. But lost in the story was what I would deem the most important part: that Jason Collins has a straight twin brother. If homosexuality was a genetic part of one’s nature, after all, wouldn’t one’s genetic twin have the exact same nature? This is exactly why homosexuality twin studies have been a consistent “best kept secret” among the homosexual population: they consistently disprove a genetic factor. (See Schacter, Daniel L., Gilbert, Daniel T., and Wegner, Daniel M. (2009) “Psychology”. Worth Publishers: 435.)

I believe that much of the current debate is the result of decades of mistakes in the American Church. Instead of facing the issue of homosexuality with healthy conversation and an honest look at the factors that may have led people into this lifestyle, many reacted with anger, rejection, and cruel jokes. It’s as though we – and not them – really believed that participation in such activity completely defined who they were, and left them beyond redemption.

I also fear we will make the same mistake again with Boy Scouts. Our church hosts a troop, and has for many years. If a young man wanted to participate who was struggling with his sexual identity, I hope our leaders would welcome him with open arms – and refuse to accept that this is the only aspect of the young man’s identity. I’m not talking about coercive reparative therapy happening during Scout meetings. I’m talking about sharing the love of Christ with a young man. And I have tremendous confidence in the powerful influence of Godly male mentors.

When the next Scout debate comes along – the one over allowing Scout Leaders who participate in the homosexual lifestyle – I will be far more interested in the outcome. This is not because I hate anybody, or I am falling into the trap of core identity based on choice. It is because, apart from all of the PR efforts thrust upon us to the contrary, there is evidence that this could be a risk to children.

In the meantime, I challenge you to join me in looking beyond the labels and see the people all around us who are longing to hear about the love of Christ – regardless of the choices they have made or are making.

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Dad and Kids Hugging Small
Newton, Connecticut. Boston, Massachusetts.  West, Texas.  Moore, Oklahoma. Recent tragedies have  broken our hearts as so many others before, but some of these have been different. They invaded the lives of young children – little ones that looked a lot like our little ones. And because there were children involved, our kids are going to be asking a lot of questions.

As parents, one of our primary roles is to be constantly teaching. When it comes to “Life 101,” class is always in session. This doesn’t change in the midst of tragedy, as awkward as the role may be. Most kids are asking the same innocent question that we all ask – “Why?” – and our ability to respond correctly can help turn a terrible situation into an opportunity to talk about some tough-but-necessary topics.

As a father of three and a pastor and author who has dedicated two decades to helping parents, I am still left wanting for the right words to say in such an awful situation. Still, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and hopefully these ideas will help you navigate this difficult road with your children:

• Remind them that they can trust God – even in tough times. Consider saying, “Sometimes things happen that we can’t completely understand. We know that bad things happen in this world because there are bad people. But it doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about those little children. In fact, that’s why Jesus came – so He could rescue us from evil and be with Him some day in a perfect place!”

• Pray for everyone involved. We do this, most importantly, because God hears our prayers and answers them. But prayer also does something else: it reminds us that God is with us, and that He can help in ways that no one else can.

• Don’t act like you have all the answers. They won’t believe you anyway if you start making stuff up. It’s okay to say, “You know what? That’s a good question, but a hard one. I’ve wondered that too.” But follow it up by sharing something that you DO know. You don’t have to pretend to be certain about everything if you can demonstrate that they can be certain about many things: your love for them, God’s love for them, the fact that you will do everything you can to protect them, that their schools are safe – and will be even safer – after this, etc.

• Listen and don’t ignore questions or inquiries. Pay attention to even the most passing comments. If your child knows anything about what happened, you can count on the fact that he’s thinking about it, and you want to be ready to talk when he is.

• Keep life normal and routine. Young children always fare better when life is as stable as possible.

• Sharply limit media exposure in young children, and be there to explain what is seen. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that “overexposure to the media can be traumatizing. It’s unwise to let children or adolescents view footage of traumatic events over and over. Children and adolescents should not watch these events alone.” Kids may have a hard time discerning that only one gunman went into only one school, for example, when they see reports for hours on end on different channels as they’re looking over your shoulder.

After you take those initial steps, you have an opportunity to proactively use a tough situation as a teachable moment. Point out the good things that can happen:

• Place emphasis on the heroes of the events – emergency personnel, teachers, and other students. Perhaps write a letter of encouragement to people who worked to help from the area police departments.

• Seek out stories about the people who are working to help the families who have been hurt by this tragedy – churches, doctors, and even school personnel. Talk about how wonderful it is that people are willing to help others.

• Share the ways that your local schools have announced they are working to improve security. Almost every school district made some sort of statement about the tragedy. You can find most of these statements online at your school’s or school district’s website.

Help kids find ways to help – let them come up with creative ways!

Finally, look for any signs that might indicate high levels of anxiety in your child. Remember: what we see as replay footage or something horrific that happened in another town, our children may interpret as something that keeps happening very close to home. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology points to the following symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in kids:

o Refusal to return to school and “clinging” behavior
o Persistent fears related to the catastrophe
o Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting.
o Abnormal behavior problems.
o Withdrawal from family and friends.

If you start to see any of these behaviors in the following week, it might be worth a call to your doctor, pastor, or school counselor to inquire about some additional help.

It is almost overwhelming to take in the magnitude of the tragedy that has taken place in multiple locations over the past few months. It’s even more challenging when children hear that it involved children just like them. It makes me angry that such conversations have to take place. As a Christian, I’m grateful for the promises of something better – because Christ has overcome the evil in the world and will one day eradicate evil, sin, sickness, war, and death from this earth. In the meantime, God has put moms, dads, grandparents, and mentors like you in their path to remind them everything will be okay.

This Just In… Family Devotions are Not the Answer.

Maybe we’ve been telling people the wrong answer to success at home all along.  Wouldn’t it be just like Americans to over-categorize our answer to the most pressing problem in our culture?

Deuteronomy 6 is an oft-quoted verse by many pro-family speakers – including myself.  However, I must admit that we all might have taken some of these words a bit off the path of their original destination.

Verses six through nine of this dynamic chapter challenge the families of Israel as to how the wonderful book of the law should be used: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”(NKJV)  In other words, the Word of God should be taught at all times!

Now, here’s where most of us take a bit of a wrong turn.  I can almost hear myself tell a group of families, “Now, don’t you see?  God is making it clear that we should have a specific time of family devotions every day in our homes!  If it’s that important, shouldn’t we set aside a time every day to spend as a family in the Word?”  While the PROMISE of that statement will always be very positive for any family, the PREMISE of it is not the content of those key verses of Scripture.

Continue Reading…

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The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
1 of 48
I worry about the problems that the future holds.
2 of 48
I worry that God is angry with me.
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I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
4 of 48
The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
5 of 48
I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
6 of 48
I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
7 of 48
I think God cares about the details of my life.
8 of 48
I believe God is loving and kind.
9 of 48
My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
10 of 48
I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
11 of 48
I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
12 of 48
When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
13 of 48
I am amazed at God's power.
14 of 48
People would describe me as a giving person.
15 of 48
People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
16 of 48
It humbles me to think I can know God.
17 of 48
I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
18 of 48
I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
19 of 48
I look forward to good things in my future.
20 of 48
I feel I can turn to God for direction.
21 of 48
I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
22 of 48
When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
23 of 48
When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
24 of 48
I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
25 of 48
I have a hard time trusting people.
26 of 48
It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
27 of 48
I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
28 of 48
I am grateful for the things I have been given.
29 of 48
I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
30 of 48
I believe God wants what is best for me.
31 of 48
When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
32 of 48
I believe truth is the same for everyone.
33 of 48
I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
34 of 48
I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
35 of 48
I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
36 of 48
I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
37 of 48
I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
38 of 48
I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
39 of 48
I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
40 of 48
I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
41 of 48
I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
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I tend to expect the worst to happen.
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I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
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I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
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I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
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I think that God will meet all my needs.
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I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
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I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
Great you have finished the evaluation.
Ready to see the results?