I was driving to church on Turtle Creek Boulevard this past Sunday when traffic came to a screeching halt: the Gay Pride Parade had taken over the streets. Men and women experiencing varying degrees of inebriation were jaywalking, cheering, laughing and showing off their hairy chests (only the men did that). It was all the hoopla you could expect from any festival, but I was struck by one thing in particular: the young kids who were caught in the overflow of the sea of drunken people.
There were boys who looked like they were 12 years old prancing up and down the streets with grown men. Tough little girls who might make it into pg-13 movies were flexing their arms and taking pictures. These young teens had already embraced an identity that would shape the way they view everything else in the world. While their minds are still growing and their bodies still developing, they’ve already accepted a label that will be the foundation on which they build the rest of their lives. Most young people question their sexuality at some point during their development – puberty is a confusing time. When I was 14 years old, I didn’t know how to distinguish between friendship, emotional desire, sexual attraction and love. I needed some adults to come alongside me to help me figure out who I was and how to relate the world around me. When polarizing labels are placed on teenagers before they truly understand what’s driving their various sexual desires, they are prematurely locked into an unhealthy path that they might not have chosen had they received better counsel. Then their newfound “family” and sexual experiences will further solidify their identity in their brains, thus rooting them deeply into a homosexual identity that will simultaneously close other doors they might have wished to walk through had they known there was another option.
My heart didn’t necessarily break for the kids because they’re making poor behavioral decisions, I would imagine we all make poor choices from time to time and that’s part of growing up. My heart broke for them because they’re embracing an identity that shouldn’t even exist. There are men and there are women. We’re all created human beings that run the gamut of expressions of masculinity and femininity. There was no such thing as a heterosexual or homosexual identity up until the 19th century. It was understood there were two gender identities (man or woman). If someone participated in a homosexual act or had a homosexual lover on the side, it was recognized as a behavior they engaged in rather than the foundation for their identity. When someone’s identity doesn’t revolve around their sexuality, it leaves the door open for sexual fluidity to occur, as it does for a number of people during different seasons of their lives.
My prayer for these young kids who are questioning their sexuality would be for them to base their identities on one thing: a boy or a girl who is deeply loved by God. Even if they feel attraction to the same gender, I hope they will know they’re not defined by their feelings or inclinations. Such an identity would keep them from being bound to an unhealthy path for their entire lives which might not even be what they most deeply desire.
If we, as a Christian community, could come alongside “gay” or questioning teenagers and help them navigate the confusion, I think we could guide them toward a life of wholeness they won’t find at the Gay Pride Parade. Regardless of how they’re feeling or behaving, we must encourage them to define themselves by Christ and Him alone. Everyone experiences broken sexuality in one form or another. Everyone needs to learn about God’s design for sexual expression and all of us are missing it in one way or another! We’ve got to see the “gay” identity as a sign of confusion that needs to be redirected toward Jesus. We’ve got to bring them in closer and deeper rather than pushing them away, thereby affirming their false identity as a solidified, life-long choice. I believe they’ll be blown away by the grace and mercy of genuine Christ-followers who point them to the Savior as we work together to ensure that all our sexual identities are conformed more and more to His image. That’s the kind of love and intimacy they were looking for when they joined the masses at the Pride Parade on Sunday. My prayer is that they’re desire to be known and loved will send them to the doors of our churches instead of the streets at Pride Parade.Julie , 26, is part of the leadership team at LHM where she has been involved for over ten years. She is presently on staff at Mercy Street, an inner city ministry in Dallas as the High School Mentor Coordinator and is working on the completion of her Masters degree in Literature. Julie is a featured speaker for Love Won Out, an Exodus International event.