The World Is Busy Promoting Its Catechism—Will We Get Busy Teaching Ours?

Note from Randy: In this article, Kevin DeYoung talks about how our culture is training us—and especially our children—to see sin as normal and to question God’s design for identity and sexuality. He mentions that this was on full display at last summer’s Olympics. I too am a great fan of the Olympics, but there were times when I was watching and felt what Tolkien called “a great shadow” over them. I thought of all the kids watching and being taught to celebrate gender confusion. We are placing ourselves under the judgment of God, and I think it is infecting the church far more than we realize. In fact, I know it is. Many people have given up already or are headed that direction.

Here’s Kevin’s article, and at the end, our staff has put together some suggestions for parents and families related to these issues.

The World Is Catechizing Us Whether We Realize It or Not

I love the Olympics. I got up early and stayed up late to watch whatever I could in real time. As a family, we figured out the various NBC platforms and turned on something from the Olympics almost all the time for two weeks. I’d put our knowledge of Olympic swimming and (especially) track and field up against almost anyone. I’m a big fan of the Olympics.

But something was different this time around. And judging from conversations with many others, I’m not the only one who noticed.

You couldn’t watch two weeks of the Olympics—or at times, even two minutes—without being catechized in the inviolable truths of the sexual revolution. Earlier in the summer, I watched parts of the Euro, and you would have thought the whole event was a commercial for rainbow flags. And yet, the packaging of the Olympics was even more deliberate. Every day we were taught to celebrate men weightlifting as women or to smile as a male diver talked about his husband. Every commercial break was sure to feature a same-sex couple, a man putting on makeup, or a generic ode to expressive individualism. And of course, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird were nearly ubiquitous. If America used to be about motherhood and apple pie, it’s now about birthing persons and lesbian soccer stars hawking Subway sandwiches.

Some will object at this point that the last paragraph is filled with a toxic mix of homophobia, heteronormativity, cisgender privilege and a host of other terms that were virtually unknown until five minutes ago. But those labels are not arguments against biblical sexual morality so much as they represent powerful assumptions that no decent person could possibly believe that homosexuality is sinful behavior, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that switching genders is a sign of confusion more than courage. What NBC presented as heroic and wonderful was considered wrong and troublesome by almost everyone in the Christian West for 2,000 years. Is it possible that instead of deconstructing the beliefs that have marked Christianity for two millennia, we might want to deconstruct the academic jargon our culture has only come to affirm within my lifetime? Remember, it was only in 2008—hardly the dark days of the Middle Ages—that Barack Obama said he did not support marriage for same-sex couples.

I know there are many issues confronting the church today. In some contexts, there may be a lack of love toward outsiders, or a fascination with conspiracy theories, or a temptation toward idolatrous forms of Christian nationalism. You may think that the drumbeat of the advancing sexual revolution is still far off in the distance, a problem in someone else’s village but not in yours.

But no one lives in an isolated village anymore, and the wider world is not tempting young people with the blessings of chastity and church attendance. People older than me may have enough Christian maturity and cultural memory to roll their eyes at the sexual revolution’s round-the-clock bombardment. But if you are a Millennial or Gen Z (or whatever comes next) your first instinct is likely to be more upset with Christians offering criticism of Megan and Sue kissing than with the fact that their kissing is demonstrably not Christian.

It is worth remembering David Well’s famous definition: worldliness is whatever makes righteousness look strange and sin look normal. Here’s the reality facing every Christian in the West: the money, power, and prestige of the mainstream media, big time sports, big business, big tech, and almost all the institutions of education and entertainment are invested in making sin look normal. Make no mistake: no matter how good your church, no matter how strong your family, no matter how gospel-centered your Christian school or homeschool, if your children and grandchildren are even remotely engaged with contemporary culture (and they are), they are being taught by a thousand memes and messages every week to pay homage to the rainbow flag.

The Christian family, Christian church, and Christian school must not assume that the next generations will accept the conclusions that seem so obvious to older generations. We must talk about the things our kids are already talking about among themselves. We must disciple. We must be countercultural. We must prepare them to love and teach them what biblical love really means. We must pass on the right beliefs and the right reasons for those beliefs.

We must prepare our children—and be prepared ourselves—that following Christ comes with a cost (Luke 9:23). The Jesus who affirmed marriage as between a man a woman (Matt. 19:4-6), the Jesus who warned of the porneia within (Mark 7:20-23), the Jesus who warned against living to be liked by others (John 12:43), this Jesus demands our total allegiance (Matt. 28:20).

The world is already busy promoting its catechism. The only question is whether we will get busy promoting ours.

This article originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition and is used with permission of the author.

Further Resources

Here are some resources to help parents know how to guide their children to embrace, cultivate, and find identity and security in their God-given gender:

In his ebook A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Children About Gender: Helping Kids Navigate a Confusing Culture, Jared Kennedy offers basic explanations and step-by-step guidance for parents seeking to understand and address various issues related to gender and sexuality.

Christ-Centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues equips parents to address pressing cultural topics which children of all ages, from preschoolers through young adults, face, including gender issues and same-sex marriage.

Rebecca McLaughlin’s book 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity has two chapters on “Why Can’t We Just Agree That Love Is Love?” and “Who Cares If You’re a Boy or a Girl?”

For younger children, in his book God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender, Marty Machowski shares the simple, clear truth that all of us are made in God's image as either male or female and what God made is very good.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash