Youth Ministry’s Transgender Moment. . . Some Helps. . .

As the school year gets started and we begin another season of youth ministry, the kids will be coming back. And they will be bringing with them, more than ever before, a host of unfolding beliefs and behaviors on sexuality and gender that most of us have never had to think about or address as youth workers or parents. Here at CPYU, we’ve been working to track with these specific gender and sexuality trends for as long as they’ve been developing, and what I’ve learned personally is that this these are complex, sensitive, and difficult issues that involve God’s deeply-valued Divine image-bearers.

Part of my own journey on the gender issue has involved not only seeking to understand and remain faithful to God’s design for gender as put forth His revelation of Himself in Scripture, but to hear the stories of those who choose to act on either long-felt personal inclinations or the current cultural script, resulting in assimilating beliefs and acting through behaviors that embrace the current transgender narrative. To put it bluntly, you will be seeing more and more of your kids taking steps to transition. And for those who aren’t questioning their gender, there are more and more of your kids who are embracing the cultural narrative and thereby encouraging their peers into “authenticity” to gender preferences and desires.

This week, I read the new book from Paul Stone Williams, As A Woman. It’s a transgender memoir written by someone of my vintage who, like me, grew up in the world of the evangelical church and spent adulthood working in the world of ministry. I didn’t know of Williams until recently. We didn’t run in the same ministry circles. Williams’ story is one that was extremely difficult to read for several reasons. I feel a bit beat up by what I read. . . a combination of feeling sorry for someone who has dealt with so much confusion, and concern for how we’ve chosen in the church to lead, nurture, and love those who need, I deeply believe, an understanding of God’s will and way for matters of gender.

To youthworkers, parents, and all others I would humbly say this. . . this is an issue that we must study, reckon with, and address. So much hangs in the balance. Our kids need voices that will point them to – not away from – the life-giving freedom that comes with denying self, taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus. We want our kids to live in the redemptive narrative of the Gospel. . . Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. . . a narrative that clearly sets God’s agenda for matters of gender. (If you are unfamiliar with this four-chapter way of looking at the redemptive flow of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, check out the David Arms’ “God’s Story” painting in the header at the top of this page, and read the narrative for the painting written by Scotty Smith. In addition, you can listen to three youthworkers discuss this story of Scripture and how they teach it on the latest edition of our The Word In Youth Ministry podcast, which I’ve posted at the bottom of this page.)

To get you started on your study and response to this transgender moment, we’ve  this week revisited a very helpful and informative episode of our Youth Culture Matters podcast (embedded below) which features a conversation Duffy Robbins and I had with our friend Peter Lynas, who has put together some very helpful and theologically-sound resources on transgender for youth workers, parents, and pastors.

In addition, take just one-minute to listen to today’s episode of our daily Youth Culture Today podcast (embedded below) which offers some insights into what’s happening regarding the transgender agenda and how it is effecting our schools and sports.

As I read Paula Stone Williams’ words in As A Woman, I was struck by how Williams justified transitioning by saying that the truth sets us free. I totally agree. But whose truth? Is it my truth or your truth. . . as we so often say in today’s world? Or, is it the Creator’s truth? To those of us called to parent, teach, and lead in today’s world, the answer is found in the words of Jesus. . . who was present at Creation. . . who established and wills the gender standard. . . and who is our Redeemer: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Preach the Word, love your kids, and lead them to freedom in Christ.

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