Sue* and her husband, Steve* are committed Christians who attended their local church and built their home on gospel principles. They excitedly moved their family to another state when an opportunity presented itself for Steve to advance in his career. Little did they know how important the move would be to counteract the destructive gender ideology their fifteen-year-old daughter Britney* had embraced.
At school, Britney identified as transgender, had changed her name and pronouns, and was considering hormone replacement therapy to begin medically transitioning—all unbeknownst to her parents. This was possible due to a law in their home state which allowed minors privacy and medical services without their parent’s consent.
The new state’s laws required parental consent for medical transition, which slowed Britney’s process. But her continued internet and social media access reinforced her gender dysphoria. On her phone, Britney’s parents discovered hundreds of LGBTQ+ images and activity on several forums. They took away her phone, put control software on her computer that limited her internet access, and heavily monitored all attempts on social media. Still, she often found ways to set up accounts without their knowledge. Regardless, they wisely and prayerfully persisted.
What is fueling the rapid rise in LGBTQ+-identifying youth?
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ALPHA NEWS reports, “A study published in the scientific journal Plos One surveyed 256 parents whose children experienced rapid onset of gender dysphoria. The vast majority (86.7%) of adolescents either started spending more time online or were in a friend group with at least one other transgender person prior to identifying as transgender, according to the study.”
Though gender dysphoria does exist, there is a contagious quality to the rising trend of transgender youth that is more than a coincidence. Children who identify in this social sphere have strong peer influences and an overpowering media presence, celebrating and even urging kids to wear any label but heterosexual or cisgender (a person whose gender identity corresponds with their biological sex). A listener of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD once wrote to say that without her knowledge, her daughter had been lured into a school club and was given a form with 50+ identities to choose from. A heterosexual/cisgender person was given the label “basic.”
What school-age child wants to be known as “basic” when there are dozens of exotic and celebrated identities to choose from?
The pressure to conform to our culture’s definition of sexuality is ever-present and pervasive.
As parents, the thought of how to counteract the prevailing gender ideologies and influences can often feel scary and overwhelming. That’s why in episodes 47 and 48 of Christian Parent/Crazy World, Catherine Segars and I discuss in detail how our culture is distorting sexuality and harming our children. Here, we will touch upon some of the core ideologies that are thoroughly discussed in the podcasts. At the end of the article, you will find suggestions for parents to circumvent the harmful messages being directed at our children.
Presuppositions are the building blocks of our worldview.
Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a worldview, a lens through which we interpret the world. The basic building blocks of a worldview are presuppositions.
Francis Schaeffer, in his classic book How Should We Then Live, explains:
“People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world view, the grid through which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions. ‘As a man thinketh, so is he,’ is really most profound.” (pg. 19)
When talking with your children, do you notice that their ideas conflict with biblical beliefs?
If so, it may be because their starting point is not biblical. It is based on an opposite premise, conflicting presuppositions creating an opposing worldview.
We are tempted to deal only with the conclusions, but we must go to the root and understand the beliefs guiding our children’s thoughts and actions. If we don’t, the bitter root of a false worldview will continue to produce bitter fruit in other areas.
What are the prevailing presuppositions of our culture?
Clarence Haynes Jr. expounds upon the nature of the truth that our culture embraces: “Relative truth is the belief truth changes based on the individual’s understanding of it. With relative truth, there are no absolutes and what may be true for you is simply not true for me.”
Whereas objective truth is unchanging truth. It stands outside of personal feelings, interpretations, and circumstances.
An ever-changing truth presents a massive problem for the next generation. Without solid, objective grounds to base beliefs, each person must decide what is true. Today’s constant mantra to “follow your heart” falsely leads people to believe that everyone decides the truth for themselves.
For today’s youth, feelings dictate, and truth follows. Parents and grandparents need to understand that feelings are foundational for this generation.
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The Axis Parent’s guide to LGBTQ+ and Your Teen notes, “Today’s teens tend to make judgments based not on what the Bible or their parents say, but on their own feelings, their empathy for others, what their friends think, the internet, and pop culture. Many teens rely on their feelings as indicators of truth, so when they observe someone they care about strongly feeling a certain way, they tend to accept that those feelings indicate truth about reality.”
When this philosophy is applied to sexuality, every choice is “lovingly” affirmed and embraced. Love whenever, wherever, however, and whoever you wish. And you can be whoever you wish. If your feelings tell you that your body is wrong, change your body—not your feelings; even though your feelings often change, but surgery is permanent—our culture rallies to support any form of sexual identity and expression.
As spiritual mentors for Gen Z and beyond, we must lovingly and logically challenge this relativistic mindset because it cannot bear the weight of scrutiny. Feelings provide a faulty foundation. Though empathy for others is admirable, accepting only feelings as truth indicators contradicts Scripture.
Scripture tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV) And “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26, NKJV)
Feelings are not wise decision-makers.
Feelings can lie.
Feelings can be subjective.
Feelings can change.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The Bible recognizes the value of our emotions but instructs us to align them with God’s truth, not give them undue power. Scripture is the lens that should be shaping our presuppositions because it is inspired by God and reveals His will, wisdom, and ways that He has given us to walk in.
So, what can we do to help the next generation?
Addressing sexual concerns with your children? Use these seven guidelines:
1. Love, listen, lead.
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God’s love is unconditional, and ours must be as well. We must let our kids know that nothing can separate them from God’s love or ours. (See Romans 8:31-39)
Listen and provide a safe space for your children to process. Don’t panic if your youth expresses sexual confusion. Adolescence is a turbulent time of figuring out who we are and how we fit in. Walk alongside your kids and lead them to God by example and by directing them to Scripture as their foundation for truth.
2. Be the parent.
God has given parents the responsibility of nurturing, training, and protecting their children.
Remember, you are your child’s strongest, most consistent influence. Do not be afraid to set boundaries or say no to medical transition. Don’t believe the threat that if you don’t affirm your child’s new identity, they will commit suicide.
In fact, “The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over 30 years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers,” according to Dr. Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.
So regardless of what the culture is saying, be the parent and stand your ground.
3. Remove dangerous influences.
Look at the influences in your child’s life. Attend your school board meetings, find out what is being taught, and, if necessary, fight for change. Monitor your youth’s apps and social media accounts. Consider their friendship circles, and don’t be afraid to limit and/or remove access to all negative influences and environments.
Your children may fight these steps, but parenting is about providing wisdom and protection that they aren’t mature enough to seek or understand on their own.
4. Help them build healthy community.
Many young people feel more disconnected and lonelier than ever. Their social media may boast hundreds or even thousands of followers, but they lack physical friends to hang out with on Friday night. Actively help them find community and a sense of belonging in healthy friendships through sports, clubs, and church.
5. Use sound logic.
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Discuss the illogical nature of relative truth with your kids. William Lane Craig addressed the post-modern/relativistic worldview embraced by our culture with startling clarity: “Nobody is a post-modernist [i.e., a relativist] when it comes to reading the labels on a medicine bottle versus a box of rat poison. (If you’ve got a headache, you better believe that texts have objective meaning!).”
We accept objective truth scientifically (in our medicine cabinet), but today many people pick and choose what is true morally. Scripture teaches that moral truth is objective, and it is defined by the God who made us. (For more discussion on the nature of truth, see EPISODE 23: What Is the Biggest Threat To Our Faith and Our Culture Today?)
6. Know that there is nothing new under the sun.
Don’t allow yourself to feel defeated. Remember that though these ideologies may seem new to some people, they are not new to man or God. Since the beginning, humanity has sought fulfillment outside of God. Consider the customs of ancient Rome and Greece, or that of Egypt and even Israel, where the worship of false gods, like Ishtar, included indecent sexual fertility rites.
But God’s wise standards have stood the test of time and are still the answer for our children today. Our job is to help the next generation see the truth, wisdom, and ultimate freedom that comes when we live according to God’s design.
7. Remember that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.
When you get discouraged, know that time can be your friend. In her groundbreaking book Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier reports, “Several studies indicate that nearly 70 percent of kids who experience childhood gender dysphoria—and are not affirmed or socially transitioned—eventually outgrow it.”
Kids like Britney.
Due to her dad’s job change, Britney was naturally removed from her friendship circle and the affirming school counselors. As a result, she was exposed to different people and choices. She joined a volleyball club, and a teammate invited her to a church youth group where she found friends and a sense of belonging.
Today at age nineteen, Britney no longer identifies as transgender, nor does she seek to transition medically. Britney is not alone in being a young adult who once questioned her gender and has come to terms with her biological sex.
As parents, we must continue lovingly affirming God’s truth, not man’s, knowing that His truth will make us free. (John 8:32)
To hear the full conversation on God’s plan for our sexuality, check out episode 45, episode 46 , episode 47, and episode 48 of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD
This article is co-written with Catherine Segars, an award-winning actress, and playwright—turned stay-at-home-mom—turned author, speaker, podcaster, blogger, and motherhood apologist. This homeschooling mama of five has a master’s degree in communications and is earning a master’s degree in Christian apologetics. As host of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, named the 2022 Best Kids and Family Podcast by Spark Media, Catherine helps parents navigate through dangerous secular landmines to establish a sound Biblical foundation for their kids. You can find Catherine’s blog, dramatic blogcast, and other writings at www.catherinesegars.com and connect with her on Facebook.
Listen to Catherine’s FREE podcast – Christian Parent, Crazy World, available now at LifeAudio.com!
Related Podcast: Identity and Gender: What Should a Christian Think about Gender Ideology?
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Erin A. Barry is an author, speaker, counselor, and educational consultant. With a bachelor’s degree in education and an NCCA master’s of arts in clinical Christian counseling, Erin has an advanced certification in sexual therapy and is working on her doctorate in Christian counseling. She is the author of, Yes, You Can Homeschool! The Terrified Parent’s Companion To Homeschool Success. She and her husband, Brett, are founders of The Home Educated Mind, a Christ-centered community dedicated to providing materials and support for Christian parents.