Over the last 18 months, Lead Them Home has focused heavily on prevention of bullying and gay teen suicide. This focus has bled into my messages at churches, campuses and conferences. I feel strongly that we must educate ourselves about the dangers facing gay teens. There is work to do here.
In presenting this material, roughly 90% of my audiences – both gay and evangelical – respond incredibly positive to the message. Around the edges of this positive feedback are two other kinds of responses. The first is a complaint from some LGBT+ folks who get angry that gay teens are portrayed as hurting and suicidal. To them, I offer this statement: I am grateful that you are not suicidal but your story is not the only reality out there. Dr. Caitlyn Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project – and notable gay researcher – has found the suicide rate among gay teens to quite elevated compared to heterosexual peers. My concern for gay teens lies largely in the very credible research of Dr. Ryan.
The other kind of response I get is from the evangelical community: some want to know, “where is the scriptural reference to back up my focus on gay teen suicide?” Honestly, this does not come up often but it comes up regularly. I face two opposing problems. First, if I use scripture when teaching about the statistics and risk factors surrounding gay teen suicide, then I get hammered by a few people who claim I am turning God’s Word into a “gay gospel” or otherwise allowing my ministry to be manipulated into promoting the gay agenda. Second, if I do not refer to scripture at all, then people will question on what biblical basis Bill Henson is focusing so much time and energy on gay teen suicide prevention.
The first time this happened, I grieved for the rigidity that prevents Christ-like compassion from coming alive in our witness to LGBT+ friends. At this point, I have concluded that scriptural references are not needed when it comes to matters of life and death. If teens are at risk to suicide, natural revelation demonstrates both spiritually and secularly that seeking to save such lives is the priority. I do not need a scripture to know that Jesus would seek to save those who are considering suicide. He loves them; and so do I.
Thankfully, there is a growing majority who on matters of life and death are willing to work together in order to prevent bullying and gay teen suicide. I celebrate this kind of team work between gay and evangelical people. There is work to be done.
I hope we do not wait on a bible verse to get to it…
But…if you do need a bible verse, my young friend Tim put together a load of them. Check out his scriptural references he posted as a comment to this message. Thanks Tim…
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