How to Talk to Teens and Young Adults about Gay Marriage
Yesterday on BreakPoint, we discussed talking with younger kids about the Supreme Court decision on marriage: How Jesus Himself referred back to the beginning when talking about marriage; about God’s beautiful a plan for men and women, for marriage, and for families. And that sometimes, governments make bad laws.
I should also add that we need to make sure our young ones know they can always come to us when they encounter something they don’t understand or that makes them feel uncomfortable. We want our kids asking us the questions—even the hard ones. Better that than them getting all their answers from the culture.
Today, we’ll talk about a more difficult assignment: Talking to teens and young adults about same-sex marriage.
It’s more difficult because young adults today are much more likely than us older folks to support same-sex marriage, or to be confused by it. But more difficult is not the same as impossible—that’s because, no matter what the media is telling you, young evangelicals are still much less likely to support same-sex marriage than their non-evangelical peers.
I think a great starting point for young adults is exactly what I said yesterday—but at a deeper level. Just as Jesus did with the Pharisees who questioned Him about marriage and divorce, we should refer our young adults back to the Garden of Eden, to God’s created intent. Marriage is not something that human beings invented—so it is not an institution that we are free to re-invent. As Christians, we believe marriage was given to us by God for the benefit of man (that is, Adam) and woman (Eve). That plan is written into the moral fabric of the universe, which is why marriage between man and woman is known in every human society throughout history. That is certainly what Jesus Himself thought. And as followers of Christ, we have to care about what He said about marriage.
Now, don’t be surprised if your teen or young adult then asks, “Well, how is it right for heterosexuals to be married, but not for those who are same-sex attracted? What about their rights?”
And here is where we have to help them understand the source of human rights. As atheist Friedrich Nietzsche and the postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty admitted, we owe the concept of human rights to Christianity. It was Christianity that taught the world that every human being is made in the image of God and that, therefore, humans have innate dignity and certain rights just because they are human. Therefore, governments do not create or grant human rights. God does. Government can at most recognize those rights, and of course, should defend them. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote about this brilliantly in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
So we can make this point: It’s inconsistent to say, well, we want to give same-sex couple the “right to marriage,” but we don’t care about what the God who made those rights says about marriage.
Another problem you may encounter with teens or young adults is that they are very good at repeating the slogans and hashtags they see every day. When they tell you that holding to traditional marriage is discrimination, take a lesson from Jesus. Respond with a question. You might ask, “What do you mean by discrimination?” Help them go deeper. If they’re convinced that “love is love” and that “love won” thanks to the Supreme Court, ask them what they mean by love? Is it possible that some kinds of “love” should be excluded from marriage? Should a brother and sister or a group of people be able to marry? In other words, do we just green light incest and polyamory?
Yes, these kinds of discussions are really uncomfortable, but our kids are already having them. It’s time we joined in.
If you’re ready to sit down with your teens or young adults, I have one more suggestion for you. I’ve created, along with my friends at Axis, a brief video series on marriage, gender, sexuality and the Bible. I tackle a lot of the questions young people come up with—and I think it will help you discuss these matters with your children. Come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to it.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: Juuly 8, 2015