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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

Protect the Kids Who Need Protection

Lord, I’m troubled by so much that is being done in your name. Things that it doesn’t seem you would bless. Requiring gay kids to be kicked out of a Christian school (and requiring teachers to 'out' them). Banning books that might help make these kids a little less alone. Forbidding the discussion of transgender matters. Limiting discussions of race, especially slavery. Limiting the details taught in American history. All of this and more, done in your name and for the protection of children.

But which children are being protected? And from what? In my experience with the youth of today, kids don’t care about other people’s sexuality as much as we did as middle-schoolers (and sometimes still do). But parents seem much more concerned about their kids being ‘infected,’ ‘groomed’ or ‘indoctrinated’ by some malevolent, gay underworld, disguised as teachers and librarians.

In most instances, parents don’t hate. They fear. That ‘someone’ will come along and take their kids innocence and lead them in a detrimental direction. Fear drives their words and actions, and their children see and hear them. Imagine being a kid who thinks they might be gay. Along with their internal turmoil, they hear and see the protesting and the angry words – even from their own parents! How much will that contribute to them feeling awful about themselves? Does it surprise anyone when one of these kids purposely harm themselves? Is that child being protected?

Parenting is setting boundaries for your kids. If you don’t want a book about a gay character in your home, you don’t have to have one. If your church tells you that homosexuality is immoral or that transgender is not real, they are entitled to those opinions. You can ban any media or content you want to in your home. That is your right. Do what you think is best for your children.

It gets dicey when parents press their beliefs onto others, which leads to schools, sports leagues, boy and girl scouts, and other organizations being pressured and threatened. Some parents will agree and feel empowered in their thinking. But other parents, who have chosen differently for their families may be cowed by the loud, the opinionated, and the angry. Especially if those factions are well-funded and backed by pandering political leaders.

If you don’t want your kids to associate with kids who are gay, you can try to keep them apart. And it may work to some degree. But might it be better to let them get to know these kids? To interact with them reasonably as humans, not primarily as sexual beings? To learn that there are good and bad people in all subgroups and that we should deal with all people one-to-one?

As someone who entered the education profession later in life, I am struck by how many kids struggle with these issues. But the reason we know about them is because kids feel safe to share who they are and what they are feeling. They are supported and welcomed.

It was never that way when I was growing up. I look back and see people I knew then, who have since come out as gay and it’s heartbreaking to remember how much angry and mocking talk was directed toward the idea of homosexuality. If a kid had any question about whether to share their feelings, the unanimous vote against it by others was obvious and reinforced constantly.

The malicious, hateful rhetoric of some activists is a hard pushback against the more open, supportive environments found in many schools. As extremists will do, they take gentleness, kindness, and compassion and see weakness, indoctrination, crime, and brainwashing. They make those they oppose sound like the worst kind of predators, preying on their children with their harmful, deviant ways.

Having known some of these kids personally, both now and when I was in school, I feel badly for them. Not because of who they are, but because of the world’s reaction. I pray for their protection and safety, for their acceptance as people, as beloved children of God, created by and loved unconditionally by God.

I am not knowledgeable about God's specific feelings about these matters. They were not explicitly discussed in the Bible, so those who choose a hateful, exclusive path interpret the Word that way.

I prefer to look at Jesus' command that we love one another. Without exception. Some seem to blow past this very clear, unequivocal direction, or assign bizarre, self-serving interpretations to it.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

-Matthew 22:36-40

But it is simple. God created all people. We are all sinners who need forgiveness. When Jesus said we are to love one another as ourselves, that, too, is very clear. It means everyone. And it certainly means those who are different from or new to a community. At a bare minimum, Jesus' command to love means to accept. Accept the other person as a child of God, just like we are. And as a child of God, we are all worthy of respect, love, and compassion.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

-Colossians 3:12-14

All that said, God, alone, determines what is sin and what is not. Scripture wisely avoids detailing every last thing a human being could ever do, and instead provides guidance that can apply to myriad situations. God requires no assistance from us for anything, including judgment. We need not and are not to judge and condemn our fellow human being. We may disagree with what they do, but it’s not ours to judge them as people or punish or shun them as sinners. Because we are all sinners.

Lord, thank you for blessing us with a wide world of diverse, interesting people. The endless variety of people ensures that we can always learn something new, and we can always teach others what we know. We have the free will to decide when and whether to partake of or share our wisdom with others. Let us use that free will to share and receive new people with wisdom and openness.

In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.



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