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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Talking to My Child About Same Sex Marriage - We are different

I'm not a stranger to having difficult discussions with my children, even more so as they mature and face the different views and people in our culture.  There are many voices talking to my child and I want my voice to speak the most clearly.  I will not be silent, even when I wish the topic wasn't relevant.  So, I asked my eleven-year-old son if he was aware of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision last week giving marriage rights to same sex couples.

He was very much in the know.

"I know all about this, mom."  He shared that the upcoming decision had been discussed several times in class at school.  He knew that sometimes people of the same gender wanted to get married, but that didn't make sense to him.  "I don't understand why?" he said.  "I think they should have the right, even though I don't want to," he continued.  Yes, he was more in the know than I realized and he had opinions that he was happy to share.  I'm grateful that the lines of communication remain open.

I used the opportunity to talk about fairness and where we get our information to decide what is right and wrong.  For our family, the Bible is our source of truth.  It is where we turn when we aren't sure which way is right and we pray - for ourselves and for others to make wise choices.

"We are different," I said.  This is becoming a motto for him and for each of us as we are surrounded by a culture that is polarized by each demanding his or her own way.  I talked about a Christ-centered world view.  I talked about the ways others make choices based on feelings, science, control/power, finances and intellect.  We came back to the way we make choices, based on Scripture.  There may have been a time in America where the majority of the population used the Bible as a sort of plumb line for truth, but that time has passed and so, we are different.

But, this is far from the first time that government has granted rights to something that goes against scripture.  It is another area in which we will be set apart and that is okay. As Christians, we should be set apart and different.  I think it may be a gift that we will get to identify as distinctly different from our culture.

So much has been written on the subject and the opinions firing up around this issue have been so intense.  I was not surprised by the decision.  I am disappointed at the normalization of a different kind of union, but recognize that it is for the sake of freedom that such rights are mine and theirs.  Others get to be different, too.

The conversation with my son will continue.  It is a privilege to discuss these deep matters with him and so important for me to keep the lines of communication open.  To my fellow humans, I will respect you when we disagree, also, and hope that you can do the same.

Can we allow each other to be different while remaining true to our core beliefs?

I believe it's important to talk to our children about these matters, but maybe it is hard to get started.

Here Are Some Simple Points to Talk About Same Sex Relationships and Marriage with Children from a Christian World View:
  • Don't wait for your child to ask questions, take the lead in opening a conversation.  Communicate that all topics are open to discussion, and establish that you are basing your truth on the Bible.
  • It's alright to use the word "gay."  This may be a good opening comment to ask your child what that word means to him or her?
  • From the beginning, God put together a man and a woman (Genesis).  Even with very young children, you can identify that male and females are created differently.
  • Each gender is uniquely needed for reproduction, so logically it makes sense they are intended to work together.
  • It is never okay to ridicule or be hurtful/mean/rude to someone, even more so when the person is different.  In these cases we are representatives of a differing view and others will be judged by our actions.  It's our goal live peaceably with all people, as much as we are able.
  • It's okay to love family members or friends who are GLTB, because each of us fall short of God's ideals in some way.  It's why we need Him.
  • There is no need to get into details.  Be age appropriate as you explain that sometimes a man loves another man (or woman loves another woman) and choose to form a family.
  • Keep talking, engage your child by asking if they have any friends who call themselves gay?  Assure your child that he or she will be loved by you no matter what. This won't be one "talk" and the discussion will hopefully continue throughout your child's lifetime.
  • Be confident in the Lord, don't allow fear to dominate the conversation.  You don't want your child to hide his or her questions, feelings and thoughts. 
  • Again, remind your children that these are not your thoughts, but God's ways that have been established for thousands of years because He knows that is how life works best and what will honor Him.  He desires what is what is good for us and He knows best.  He can be trusted.
My son was recently on a class trip to Washington DC - decisions made here will affect his entire generation.
My step daughters are both out of the country right now and I haven't been able to have long talks with them.  One said she had several friends who were very excited.  When I asked why, she said it was because they consider themselves gay and want that choice for their future.  My younger two aren't very aware.  By speaking about these matters with the children in my home, I want to let them know that I do not support gay marriage, but I do support treating those who are different than me with human courtesy.  I'm still confused and working out the way those core values line up in me so I'll keep listening, keep sharing and keep communicating.

Note: I write from a Christian World View and my thoughts are based on this premise which guides my decision making and direction.  I understand that not everyone shares this perspective.