How Do I Talk to My Children About Homosexuality?

Let’s face it. This topic is not something that you could conceal from your children far too long nowadays. Even Disney has slowly introduced homosexuality in their franchises, e.g. Doc McStuffins, which is targeted to preschoolers. As parents, it is one of our God-given roles to think through and address these things to our children in light of Scripture. We teach our children, guide them, and counsel them in these areas. And we pray that the Lord will preserve their hearts and minds from the corrupt influences they are exposed to from day to day.
Here are some of the important things that I have learned about how to teach children about homosexuality from Josh Mulvihill’s book, Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Dating:

Teach Children OF ALL AGES

When I was younger, homosexuality or same-sex partnerships were considered taboo. In our day and age, it is all out in the open, and we have the responsible as parents to address these things sooner, not later.

Children of all ages can be taught the meaning of marriage, the roles of husband and wife, and distortions of marriage such as divorce and homosexuality, as well as what to look for in a future spouse. How children are taught will differ based on age, but it is important to remember that God’s message does not change based on age. Preschoolers and teenagers can both be taught that marriage is between one man and one woman.

THEY NEED TO HEAR IT FROM YOU

What I’ve learned over my short stint of parenting is that it is better that our children hear difficult topics from us first before they hear it from other people.

By not telling your child the truth, you are encouraging him or her to seek the truth from other sources. Logically, if you are not providing a child with real, true, honest answers, why should he or she ask in the first place?

TALK ABOUT IT OPENLY

Don’t be afraid to talk about hard things like death, evolution, sex, and yes, even homosexuality. Talk about it openly, so they can be comfortable in asking questions when they need to.

Because homosexuality has become culturally acceptable, children must know what the Bible teaches on this subject. I encourage you not to be timid on this point with your child. Some parents are tempted to avoid this topic because of cultural pressure. I get it. However, silence on a subject is never the answer. Silence does two things: it communicates agreement and it abdicates to others. Silence teaches plenty. If you don’t provide a clear definition of marriage from the Bible, someone else will, and it likely won’t be biblical.

TEACH THEM THE BIBLE

We need to study the Bible for ourselves in order to properly teach God’s Word to our children.

Teaching children that marriage is between one man and one woman is teaching children to come under the authority of God’s Word. A low view of Scripture will lead to a low view of marriage. Avoid defining marriage based on your personal preference or lifestyle choice; rather, align your lifestyle with God’s design for marriage. The key issue is the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible. What our children believe about the Bible will inform what they believe about marriage. It is important to establish the Bible’s authority (that it tells us how to live), inerrancy (that it has no errors in its original manuscript), and sufficiency (that it is enough) with our children.

Below are some suggested ways from Focus on the Family on addressing homosexuality that is appropriate to preschoolers, school-aged children, and teenagers:

With preschoolers, there’s no need to talk to your children about specific sexual activity. They’re not equipped to understand it. Furthermore, we’d suggest waiting until the kids are older before introducing terms such as “homosexuality,” “heterosexuality,” “gay,” “straight,” or “LGBT.” You can underscore the male-female aspect of God’s design by telling them about Adam and Eve or the animals who came into Noah’s ark two-by-two (both a mommy and a daddy animal). You can also teach from real life by talking about your own marriage and explaining how the union of man and woman is a special gift from God.

With school-age children, you can further point out that there are different kinds of “love” – for instance, our “love” or liking for food, toys, material things, and activities; our love for friends, family, and relatives; and, of course, our love for God. Help them grasp the idea that marital love is unique, and that its purposes and characteristics are distinct from those of every other kind of “love.” Explain that, in the beginning, God separated humanity into male and female and that marriage brings those two components together. Tell them that marriage unites a couple in a special way, and that this is why sexual expression is intended to take place only between a husband and wife. Point out that this union often leads to family by producing new life in the form of children. Open up God’s Word and show them that marriage, in the Bible, is the most common symbol of our relationship with God.

Teens, of course, are capable of dealing with more abstract concepts. When talking with them, it would be helpful to put all of this into the context of a discussion about competing worldviews: on the one hand, the biblical, Judeo-Christian worldview, which states that God created us and designed us for a purpose; and, on the other hand, the worldview of popular contemporary culture, which says that there is no God, that “reality” is whatever I want it to be, and that meaning, value, and purpose are essentially matters of personal preference and choice. According to this second worldview, the individual is free to “customize” sexuality, sexual morality, and marriage in any way he or she sees fit. By way of contrast, the biblical worldview asserts that God’s design is eternally valid, that His plan for human sexuality matters, and that marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, is unique among human relationships, not least because it forms a complete reproductive system – something same-sex marriages can never do.

Related Resources

How to Raise Multilingual Kids in the Philippines

I am a third-generation Chinese Filipino, and I grew up in a multilingual home. Speaking in different languages was something that came naturally because of what my siblings and I have been exposed to. I spoke Amoy (Chinese dialect) to my parents and other relatives, spoke Hiligaynon or Ilonggo (Visayan dialect) to my friends, learned and used Filipino in class, and used English for different occasions. Over the years, I’ve acquired a bit of Mandarin when I was in seminary, and learned to speak in Bisaya or Cebuano while I was working in Cebu.

We’ve used the Amoy dialect to speak to Little Miss for the first three years of her life. But she learned English and Filipino when she started school shortly after that. She now mainly converses in English, although we still try to speak to her in Chinese. She reminds me of my younger self who refused to speak Chinese because none of my peers would ever do so. I guess that is the dilemma most later generation of Chinese immigrants face. Perhaps we fail to see the practical use of speaking Chinese in the Philippines. Little Miss also learned to speak in Filipino by imitating us. Although she has a funny Chinese accent when speaking Filipino, most store clerks are surprised when a Chinese-looking little girl can actually converse in Filipino. She is a local, and she ought to speak the language!

I was asked by a mom in Instagram how to teach a second and third language to children. To be honest, I never really thought about a systematic way of doing so. But here are some practical tips we’ve applied in teaching (whether actively or unconsciously) kids any second or third (even fourth) language.

Define Terms

Once a child learns a certain term in one particular language, try to introduce the very same item using a different language. For example, my two-year old now knows the colors in English. I am now introducing the colors to him in Chinese when he tries to mention the words in English. Classical Education is all about content in the early stages, and it is the same with learning any language. Provide the content by defining animals, colors, places, actions, etc. 

Repetition is Key

You may sound like a broken record. But that’s alright. Children learn by constant repetition. For example, if your child says “eat” you can respond by saying “kain” until they repeat it after you. Pretty soon they will realize that the same word means the same thing.

Mixing Languages is Normal

Don’t worry about them mixing up languages because that usually happens. They’ll learn to determine or categorize the words when they grow older.

Determine Fluency

You have to realize that there are different levels of fluency. It moves from Understanding, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and to Composing. Traditional Filipino schools teach English and Filipino proficiency through reading and writing. My aim for my children is to teach Chinese fluency in speaking or communicating. I don’t really mind if they don’t know how to read and write it. I’ve been schooled in Chinese for most of my school years, but I still cannot read a lot of Chinese. I’d be happy if my children learn to converse in Chinese. You have to decide how far you’d want your kids to learn a certain language. Your decision will also determine the lengths you’ll go to actively teach them proper writing or grammar rules.

Practice by Speaking

My husband and I can communicate in three languages fluently: English, Amoy, and Filipino. We usually interchange these languages at home, and the children are exposed to it. Nothing beats constant exposure and regular practice by speaking the language. The language loses its relevance when it is not being used, so keep using it if you want your children to learn the language. Simply put, if you speak it at home, your children will catch it soon enough.

Did you also grow up in a multilingual home? What are some of the ways that helped you learn different languages? Or how did you teach your own children to learn different languages? 

How to Talk to Children about Death

For the past weeks, our family has mourned the lost our dear grandmother. She was the first Christian in my husband’s family, whose spiritual legacy has resulted to two churches planted, one of which is our own fledgling church community. Our Little Miss also mourned her passing. She did not take it well when I finally told her that her great grandmother went home to be with God in heaven. There were several nights when we was utterly distraught at the thought of not seeing her great grandmother again. The only way she was able to finally sleep at night was to take comfort in God’s promises. I taught her a song based on 1 Peter 5:7 that I also learned when I was a little girl.

I cast all my cares upon You

I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet

And any time I don’t know what to do

I will cast all my cares upon You

One of our biggest parental roles is to impart God’s Word to our children. Even though it can be a tough topic, we should not shy away in talking about death because Scripture clearly addresses it. Opportunities to talk about death would open up when a pet dies or when a family member needs to attend a funeral.

What does the Bible say about Death?

Death Happens

Death makes us upset. Sometimes it makes us sad because we might not see the person we love. Sometimes it makes us angry because we don’t understand why they had to leave. But the Bible tells us that death is real, and it happens to everyone. One day, we will also die.

Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10

Death is NOT NORMAL

But death is not normal. God meant for us to live forever. But sin spoiled everything. Death is a result of sin. Because of sin, we will all die.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

JESUS DESTROYED DEATH

But God sent His Son Jesus to destroy death. He died on the cross, was buried, and on third day, he rose again. Jesus defeated death, and death will die one day. When we trust that Jesus lived, died and became alive again so that our sins can be forgiven, God promises a life in heaven with him forever.

1 Corinthians 15:26; John 3:16; John 11:23-26

DEATH IS TO BE WITH GOD FOREVER

We will still die. And dying could mean that we may no longer be with our earthly families. But if we believe in Jesus, dying means we will be with God forever. We will be happy with God always. We will praise and worship God always. Most of all, we will spend forever with God, and enjoy Him forever.

John 14:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:20-21

Prepare Them Beforehand

A good time to talk about death would be before death ever happens. It is usually more manageable when the child is not upset or distressed. In a way, we prepare them before a distressing event like death occurs. Catechism is a great tool that could do just that. Here are the last 10 questions and answers of the Children’s Catechism that can help address some concerns relating to death. It also provides some simple answers regarding those who do not believe in Jesus.

  1. Did Christ remain in the grave after his crucifixion?
    No. He rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death.
  2. Where is Christ now?
    In heaven, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us.
  3. Will the Lord Jesus come again?
    Yes! He will return to judge the world on the last day.
  4. What happens to believers when they die?
    Our bodies will return to the dust and our souls will go to be with the Lord forever.
  5. What happens to unbelievers when they die?
    Their bodies will return to dust also, but their souls will go to hell.
  6. What is hell?
    Hell is an awful place, where unbelievers are separated from God to suffer for their sins.
  7. Will the bodies of all the dead be raised again?
    Yes. At the last day some will be raised to everlasting life and others to everlasting death.
  8. What will God do to unbelievers at the last day?
    He will judge them, and condemn them to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire with Satan and his angels.
  9. What will God do for believers at the last day?
    He will give them a home with him in the new heaven and the new earth.
  10. What will the new heaven and the new earth be like?
    A glorious and happy place, where the saved will be with Jesus forever.

Not knowing what is going to happen after death is certainly upsetting for anyone, let alone a child. Try not to downplay their emotions when this happens. Instead, recognize that have worries, fear or dread of death, and point them to our everlasting hope in Jesus. But most of all, pray for them and with them. That God would supply His grace upon their hearts, and give them understanding. After all, “Prayer is praising God, giving thanks for all his blessings, and asking him for the things he has promised in the Bible.” (Children’s Catechism A109)

 

Doctrinal Compatibility

Does theology matter when I’m considering marriage with someone?

A lot of couples consider compatibility in terms of culture, education, and interests, before they get married. I propose that Christian couples should also discuss Doctrinal Compatibility when they are prayerfully considering one another.

There are some aspects of the Christian faith that cannot be left to compromise, such as the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus. There are, however, a few instances where there can be a little wiggle room. For example, I’m an infralapsarian who married a supralapsarian. My husband and I used discuss it comprehensively. But we decided to respect each other’s views since there are no clear explanations in Scripture for this one.

I, however, would like to propose these doctrinal essentials where you need to agree on, or at least discuss,  when it comes to finding a spouse:

Pre-Martial Doctrinal Discussions

GOSPEL

A good place to start is to ask whether or not someone truly believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people would like to stop here, but I personally would like to delve deeper. A lot of people reckon themselves as some sort of “Christian” nowadays. So try to see if they believe that a person is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone? These are actually Reformation statements that basically defines the Protestant religion. But please don’t end there. Ask further if they they agree with the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and even the Athanasian Creed? These are doctrinal statements formulated and agreed upon in church history that Christians can use to check whether or not their belief aligns with the historic orthodox Christian faith. You certainly wouldn’t want to marry a heretic now, would you? Being curious about what and why a person believes makes you think about your own doctrinal convictions, or lack thereof.

CHURCH

The church isn’t merely a place where you come to worship on Sundays. On this side of eternity, the church is the visible body of believers whom the Lord has called out together as His witnesses into the world. There are many reasons why people flock to different church communities. Aside from distance or convenience, ask yourself why the person you’re interested in may not be in the same faith community as you are. How do they view the church, her ministries and mission, and her officers or leaders? Are there certain values or practices they believe in, that you don’t? Perhaps, you could also consider whether or not they believe in the continuity or discontinuity of some spiritual gifts? Does their church emphasize responsible membership? Is there some sort of accountability to their pastors and leaders in place? More importantly, is the Gospel faithfully preached, sacraments properly administered, and church discipline exercised in their local congregation? Ecclesiology is a big deal because our local churches are covenant communities where we choose to love and serve other Christians with our time, energy, money, and gifts. Whichever church community we decide to commit ourselves to have direct implications on our own lives, our future spouse, and our future children, D.v.

SACRAMENTS

While this is actually related to Church, I chose to make this a separate topic altogether in order to highlight its importance. Do they see the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace, or merely a remembrance of what Christ has done? Do they celebrate it during the Lord’s Day where it is prime and center or in small groups led by an unordained leader? How about baptism? Is their baptism tied to membership? Will you have your future children baptized, dedicated, or none at all? When your future children come up to you and ask, “Am I a Christian?” What are you going to say to them? As a Presbyterian, I affirm the practice of paedobaptism, and I consider it to be sin for parents to withhold covenant baptism from their children. As someone who was baptized by sprinkling as a child, I wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in some Baptist congregations. If I would have married a Baptist brother, I would have been required to undergo another baptism. As a sign and seal  the covenant, this sacrament is only happens once, and never to be repeated. These things need to be addressed before you commit to one another. Who will be following whom? And if they don’t call it sacraments, why not?

GENDER

If you’re serious about having a Christ-centered marriage, your views on gender will affect both your church life, and home life.  Do they affirm that the offices of the elder—both teaching and ruling—and deacon, are reserved for mature Christian men only? Scripture mandates that women should submit to male leadership—this is the Biblical order. Egalitarianism trumps male leadership in the church and in the home.

Theology Matters

I know that this list may seem unconventional to some people, but I truly believe that theology matters. What a person believes about God, the Scriptures, and the world, is their working theology, and it matters greatly.

The first one matters because it is of eternal significance as it relates to our salvation, and the object of our faith. The second one matters because true worship is something we must aspire to do. The third one matters because it affects our piety, practice, and even our parenting. The fourth one matters because the authority of Scripture is at stake.

Theology and Practice

I used to end with these doctrinal essentials, but I would like to add one last thing. Just because a person knows theology doesn’t necessarily mean they truly believe it in their hearts. The Bible tells us that we will know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). These are also things we constantly need to check on as we journey together in our Christian walk. Do we still believe in the Gospel? Do we still repent of our sins? Do we show forth fruits in our life that reveal a changed heart, e.g. good works?

 

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This is a rehash of an old post that I wrote almost two years ago in my other blog.

Training Children through Song

I write this in the wee hours of the morning after preparing a Sunday School lesson for the kids in our church community. As I was searching for a few songs to teach alongside the Bible lesson, I happened to listen to a lullaby that transported me back to our old apartment more than five years ago, rocking my baby girl to sleep to the tune of “Jesus Loves Zacchaeus” by Rain for Roots. I have listened to their album, Big Stories for Little Ones for a hundred and million times until my daughter was about two years or so. Music has helped her calm down and drift to sleep all those years. I remembered the long nights, and it brought me back to the first few months of being a new mama.

I also remember being a sleepy girl in a church sanctuary on a Sunday morning whenever I listen to Cedarmont Kids, and seeing my own mom right in front teaching all the Sunday School kids how to sing the songs with matching actions. Likewise, I remember being a carefree elementary student sitting in one of the pews inside the hot auditorium of my old alma mater and following along to the lyrics of Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em In Your Heart while the smell of ripe sugarcane permeates the air. I still remember those songs, and I remember the memories well. These songs have helped me in putting Scripture to heart, and the Spirit of God brings them to memory whenever I need them.

I grew up attending Sunday School all my life, and I am also thankful that my parents forced me to attend the Chinese worship service where they only sung hymns. This exposure to Scripture songs and old hymns during my youth has proved useful in the ministry even as I married a Reformed pastor. How wise is God’s providence!

From Music to Memory

The Reformer Martin Luther said it best: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” Luther always emphasized the importance of music in training people in the faith. He went on to writing many hymns, one of which is A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

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Music is an able aid in memorization. Young children, particularly those in the Pre-Grammar and Grammar stage according to Classical Education, can absorb vast amounts of information when taught through song and rhyme. This old practice is often times neglected by modern education. Rote memorization and drill and practice aren’t to be abandoned. They are the essential building blocks of education.

Recommended Resources

If you want to train your children to learn Scripture and theology through music, I would like to recommend the resources listed below. Thanks to wonderful Internet technology, most of these are readily available for streaming on Spotify, Amazon Music or Bandcamp.

Ask Me Whooo

This is a recent discovery, and it easily became my favorite resource. These are beautifully written tunes sung by Diana Beach Batarseh, and are based on the First Catechism. Scripture verses are also recited at the end of each song. I cannot recommend this enough. DOWNLOAD. NOW.

Songs for Saplings

My preschooler started listening to their ABC memory verses album, and pretty soon she memorized them. They also have other music based on the New City Catechism.

Rain for Roots

The Big Stories for Little Ones album is based on Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Baby’s Hug-a-Bible, which in my opinion, is the baby/toddler’s version of the famed Jesus Storybook Bible. These are my favorite lyrics from the song “Jesus Is Born”:

Who was there when time began?
Who came to earth to live as man?
Whose cradle was a cattle stall?
Who is the greatest gift of all?

Judy Rogers

My favorite song is “What is a Sacrament?” from her album Why Can’t I See God? What a way to raise covenant children!

What is a sacrament?
It is a holy ordinance
Given by Christ unto believers
Showing His great love for us.

Baptism was ordained,
And the Lord’s Supper;
Jesus gave them to His church
To keep and to remember.

Sacraments, given us by Christ
To signify and apply God’s covenant to our lives.

Family Devo

These are also songs based on the First Catechism. They are more upbeat than the classic tunes of Ask Me Whooo, which may be more appealing to some people.

Sovereign Grace Kids

I always watch out for whatever new album that Sovereign Grace Music releases. One of my favorite albums from them is The Ology, a companion to the The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New, a storybook theology by Marty Machowsky. Here’s a lyric from the song called “All About Jesus”:

From Genesis to Revelation
There’s one story of Your great salvation
It’s all about Jesus, oh, it’s all about Jesus
Shoutin’ out from every page
There’s one Hero that’ll save the day
It’s all about Jesus, oh, it’s all about Jesus

Getty Kids

If you want your kids to learn old and new hymns, listen to Getty Kids’ albums. Like Sovereign Grace Music, they are blessings to the local church.

Other Classic Resources

What are some of your family favorites? Feel free to share them below.