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Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

In This Issue

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Featured Article: Homosexuality - Dividing the Issues
By Jonathan McKee

by Jonathan McKee
March 30, 2004

Will and Grace, the state of Massachusetts allowing same sex marriages, Rosie O'Donnel's wedding ... let's face it, homosexuality is in the limelight. Our students are asking about it ... or worse yet, they aren't because they've already formed their opinions.

How do we address it?

You're not alone. I recently received this email:

Dear Jonathan, How do you approach homosexuality with teens who are active in this lifestyle and who believe they were born this way, mostly young women. It's sad to say it is becoming a trend here. Please Pray for us and give us some insight on how to approach these young people in love. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used to help so many people. - Naomi, Atlanta Georgia

The most important truth we must realize about this issue is that two issues exist:

1. Whether it is okay to be gay or not.

2. Our (Christians) reaction to homosexuals.

Unfortunately number two has begun to interfere with number one. Here's why: As Christians, we have failed miserably in area number two. We have been so unloving ... dare I say hateful, that we have created a distance between the gay community and the Christian church.

Ironically, some of the church has gone about fixing number two by changing our stance on number one, when that isn't the answer at all.

So what's the answer?

Glad you asked.

Whenever I deal with this issue, I start with issue number two, our response to homosexuals.

OUR RESPONSE
When I was a kid I used to sing a camp song around the campfire with the words, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love ..." If only those words were true. Unfortunately, if the secular world were to fill in the appropriate lyrics based on their perception of many of us, that song might sing, "And they'll know we are Christians by our condescending attitude, by our red angry faces and clenched fists ..."

I find it funny how many Christians think that it's our job to condemn unbelievers. Some of us take passages about "rebuking and correcting" and assume that those verses must be referring to the sinner. And not the normal sinner who cheats on his taxes, speeds on the freeway or peeks at naughty web sites every once in a while ... the really bad ones like homosexuals! Yes, it must be our job to correct them. After all, we saw Jesus consistantly confronting the Romans for their ... well ... I'm sure he probably did confront them ... Okay, okay! It's not in the Bible. But we saw him get angry and turn over tables! So he must have done that to people that were going to have an abortion and he must have condemned people that were gay and ...

Sorry. Check your Bible. If Jesus was mad or angry, it was at people in the church who thought that their religion was good enough. And more importantly, if Jesus was showing compassion and grace, it was usually to the worst of sinners: the adulterers, the tax collecters, the prostitutes. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world. (see John 3:17)

We need to focus on the example of Jesus. We need to love others and follow Jesus' example in loving the sinner. Our reaction to the gay community should probably be the same as Jesus' reaction to the sinners of the day. "Love and Grace." (For more reading about this I encourage you to read Yancy's book, "What's so Amazing About Grace." He tackles the issue of grace well. CLICK HERE FOR THAT BOOK)

After dealing with our response, then I move on to issue number one, whether it is okay to be gay or not.

IS GAY OKAY
Before talking about "gay," we must first take a peek at "okay." Statistics vary slightly, but most agree that somewhere between 85 and 93% of teenagers today beleive that truth is relative. In other words, only about 10 percent of kids believe that there actually is a right and wrong. The rest believe "whatever is right for you must be right." That fact makes it more difficult to talk with students today about what is right, because their response just might be, "Right according to who?" (We address this in detail in our "Understanding and Reaching the Unchurched" Training Event. CLICK HERE)

The standard I use is the Bible. Yes, I feel the Bible is clear that homosexuality is wrong. I'm not going to spend time in this article talking about it, feel free to check out the following resources for furthur reading about it: The online article "A Synopsis of John Stott's Booklet, Same-Sex Partnerships?" (CLICK HERE)

The book "Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy," by Marva J. Dawn (CLICK HERE)

The book "Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality," by Stanley J. Grenz (CLICK HERE)

The Bible makes a case against homosexuality just as it does heterosexual sin. And how quickly we, as Christians, forget that. I'll never forget a guy I knew who was so against homosexuality, he would picket gay events with a group of "loving Christians." Yet, this guy's own room-mate would sleep with his girlfriend every weekend. I asked him why he wasn't picketing his room-mate's sin. (Personally, I think we should just put down the picket sign all together.)

But homosexuality is wrong. It's not God's plan. It's not the way He designed it. Health issues testify to this fact. Yet students today are growing up hearing that it's okay to be gay and that it's "natural." "They can't help it."

I explain it like this: Sometimes people make me mad on the freeway. They cut me off. I feel mad. I can't help it, it's like I'm made that way. I just want to kill people that cut me off. Is that so wrong!

Or, heaven forbid, what if I like little girls. I mean ... what if I was sexually attracted to 5 or 6 year old girls. I can't help it ... I just am! (I assure you- I'm not). Sick, huh?

Or what if I'm really attracted to women other than my wife. I can't help it ... when I'm walking down the mall I just see beautiful women and I want them! It can't be wrong when it feels so right!

I think that's where we've gone with homosexuality. People really might have these desires ... but it doesn't make them "natural" and undeniably right.

When dealing with this issue, I use scriptures to talk about God's plan for marriage, a man and a woman. When we go outside of that, pain results.

This is actually a great opportunity to present the Gospel.
  1. God loves us and wants a relationship with us.
  2. But we try things our own way- that's sin. That messes up our relationship with God.
  3. Jesus has forgiven us for our sin and taken punishment for that sin on the cross.
  4. If we believe in Him, believe that His way is best, believe His way of purity, and turn our actions over to Him, then He'll forgive us and start cleaning up our lives. Our relationship with God is restored through Jesus.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHINE
Our reaction to the gay issue is an opportunity for us to shine for Christ. Dr. C. Everett Koop exemplified this to us when he served as the Surgeon General of the United States. Phil Yancey writes about this in his book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?"

In his role as "the nations' doctor," Koop visited AIDS patients. Their bodies skeletal, emaciated, and covered with purplish sores, he began to feel for them a deep compassion, both as a doctor and as a Christian. He had vowed to look out for the weak and disenfranchised, and there was no more weak or disenfranchised group in the nation.

For seven weeks Koop addressed only religious groups, including Jerry Falwell's church, the National Religious Broadcasters' convention, conservative groups within Judaism, and Roman Catholics. In those addresses, delivered in full Public Health Service uniform, Koop affirmed the need for abstinence and monogamous marriage. But he added, "I am the Surgeon General of the heterosexuals and the homosexuals, of the young and the old, of the moral and the immoral." He admonished fellow Christians, "You may hate the sin, but you are to love the sinner."

Koop always expressed his personal abhorrence of sexual promiscuity - consistently he used the word "sodomy" when referring to homosexual acts - but as Surgeon General he lobbied on homosexuals' behalf and cared for them. Koop could hardly believe it when he spoke to twelve thousand gay people in Boston and they chanted, Koop! Koop! Koop! Koop! "They give unbelievable support-in spite of what I say about their practices. I guess it's because I'm the person who came out and said, "I'm the Surgeon General of all the people and I'll meet them where they are. In addition, I've asked for compassion for them, and for volunteers to go and care for them." Koop never compromised his beliefs-even now he persists in using the emotionally charged word "sodomy" - but no evangelical Christian gets a warmer reception among homosexuals.

First, we need to show love and grace. This will be a testimony to the hope that is within us. And as 1 Peter 3:15-18 says, when they see the "hope" that is within us, they may ask us to give a "reason" for that hope. When they ask us for the reason for our hope, we need to be prepared to give an answer.

Unfortunately, too many of us want to blurt out the answer when people aren't even asking. And why should they ask ... they don't see the hope within us. No hope, no ask. That's why we always gotta have the hope!

FEEL FREE TO EMAIL YOUR RESPONSE TO THIS ARTICLE
TO THE SOURCE AT Jon@TheSource4YM.com


FOR MORE ARTICLES BY JONATHAN MCKEE
CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLE ARCHIVES (CLICK HERE),
or OUR HOW DO I ...? page (CLICK HERE)


Our Annual Hideous Heap Contest: Rewarding You for Being a Poor Youth Worker

Hideous Heap Contest Only a couple weeks left of our annual HIDEOUS HEAP CONTEST, A FREE contest where you can earn some great prizes just for being a youth worker and driving a hideous heap!

This year Youth Specialties has kicked in the grand-daddy of cool prizes ... paid admission to their national youth workers convention in one of three U.S. cities. (A $350 value!) I'll be speaking at all three conventions this year, so I'll be looking forward to meeting the winner in person!

Second place will win YS IDEAS CD-ROM 2.0, and third place will win the YS Worship Image Gallery. We'll also be giving away a few honorable mention prizes. Cool stuff!

It's simple. You just submit a picture of your car with a description of what a heap it is, and we'll be choosing the winner April 15th.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE DETAILS

Jonathan's "Understanding & Reaching The Unchurched" Training

Reaching the Unchurched Jonathan's new book "Reaching Unchurched Kids," published by YS, is coming out late this year. Don't wait for the book, get this training now!

This training workshop will be coming to Tampa FL on April 24th, and Southern CA on May 1st. See below for registration information for each city:


TAMPA, FL

April 24, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) for youth workers in the greater Tampa area. If you're a youth worker, barely paid or a volunteer, this is for you!

Here's the details:

WHEN:
    Saturday April 24th , 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
WHERE:
    University Church of God
    10948 Central Avenue
    Tampa, Fl. 33612
COST:
    Two choices:
      $20 at the door (includes lunch)
      ONLY $15 if you pre-register by April 19th (includes lunch)
TO REGISTER:

VENTURA, CA

May 1st, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth workers in the greater Ventura County area. If you're a youth worker, barely paid or a volunteer, this is for you!

Here's the details:

WHEN:
    Saturday May 1st, 9AM to 3PM
WHERE:
COST:
    Two choices:
      $15 after April 24th or at the door (includes lunch)
      ONLY $10 if you pre-register by April 24th (includes lunch)
TO REGISTER:
    CONTACT Jeff Kempton at (805) 484-0530
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS TRAINING CLICK HERE

Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and author of the new book "Do They Run When They See You Coming? Reaching Out to Unchurched Teenagers." (CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK) Jonathan speaks and trains across the country and provides free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at www.TheSource4YM.com



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