This blog post was inspired by reporting done on The Briefing by Al Mohler. The Briefing is a podcast done by the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The transcript can be found here. He is well known as a speaker, pastor, author, and theologian throughout much of conservative evangelicalism. He does an 18-20 minute, daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. It is useful to anyone who is interested in thinking about the major themes that are going on in the world through a biblical lens.
A Wave of Transgender Children's books
An article by Megan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Heather Has Two Genders", suggests that these books are intended to reach the hearts and minds of young children and adolescents with the goal of nudging the needle of the culture one heart at a time in the direction of the acceptance of gender identity issues. (To see article, google the title Heather Has Two Genders)
"Beyond Magenta, Transgender Teens Speak Out" by Susan Kuklin was published last February 2014
-It is a series of first person accounts of teens struggling with sexual dysphoria aka. a profound dissatisfaction with with gender of ones biological DNA.
"I Am Jazz" by Jessica Herthel--the story of a transgender child based on the real-life experiences of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere. In this book she states "I have a girl brain, but a boy body".-Already published Sept. 4, 2014
"Some Assembly Required" by Arin Andrews and "Rethinking Normal" by Katie Rain Hill are two memoirs for adolescents describing either side of an apparently much publicized romance between two transgender teens. Coming out September 30, 2014 according to Amazon.com.
"Gracefully Grayson" by Amy Polansky-- about a 12 yr old boy undergoing sexual transition, set to come out in November-2014
"Alex As Well" by Elyssa Brugman- - a conflicted male/female character, set to come out in January 2015
Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall -about a red crayon with a blue label. a picture book that reads like a fable of gender identity. i.e. inside and outside not matching geared toward young children. Set to come out January 2015
-If you begin looking up transgender children's books on Amazon you will discover quite a few more.
According to Megan Cox Gurdon, there has been a concerted effort over the last 25 years to get these kinds of books into libraries and public school libraries because the publishers understand that stories like this do so much to influence the thinking of young people. She states that publisher are utilizing periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal to create awareness.
These statements are straight from The Briefing transcript and should be seriously considered.
The author of one of these new books, presenting a celebration of the transgender identity – that’s Jessica Herthel – her book is entitled I am Jazz. She writes,
"The window of time in which children are truly open-minded is startlingly small."
In stating the issue just this way, Jessica Herthel is actually stating something that Christian parents should already understand. There is a vulnerability to the hearts of children, there is an openness to the power of the story and the kinds of stories that get read to our children, and are read by our children, they do have an important out-sized influence on the development of their hearts and their minds – and especially of their moral intuitions.
Just consider the fact that as Christian parents we often find ourselves considering a story that we understand is affecting us emotionally in a way that is not consistent with our own biblical worldview. We see something on television, we observe something in the cinema, we read something in a book, or in any other format whereby a narrative comes to us, and we discover that our emotional response, our moral intuitions, are actually responding in a way that is implied by the story, but is inconsistent with our own worldview. We understand at that point that our responsibility is to bring our moral intuitions into accountability to biblical truth.
But that is something that is accessible only to adults, in terms of an ability, and to later adolescence. The development of critical thinking, or abstract thinking, is not generally accessible to children – who find no way of distinguishing carefully between their own emotional response and their moral intuitions and the truths to which they understand themselves to be absolutely committed. They understand that something is wrong because they had been told by a moral authority such as parents that it’s wrong, they may even understand that the Scripture very definitively declares it to be wrong and yet, they find themselves confronting a story in which the opposite claim is made. And the opposite claim is made with the impact of a narrative that grabs them at the heart and creates a very confusing experience.
Let’s be brutally honest – that experience can be difficult enough for adults, much less for children and young teenagers.
Al Mohler ends this section of The Briefing by making this important statement: But the main importance of this article that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal is to remind every single American parent, they’re coming for your children – this time, they’re coming with books.
Don't Forget The Heterosexually Compromised Literature
Make no mistake. There is, and has been, plenty of morally compromised heterosexual material out there. It has been around for much longer and is far more dangerous in many ways. I read a blog post by a well-known Christian blogger named Tim Challies in June that was reviewing "The Fault In Our Stars."
The review makes clear that this book has more than enough profanity, to include G-D, and sexual innuendo, to include the two main characters actually going to bed. There are other aspects of it that are altogether antagonistic to biblical truth.
Though Challies states that, whether his children were allowed to read or watch it would depend upon their age and maturity, I don't think there is any point at which I would condone it for my kids as long as they are under my direct supervision. I may have to make that decision one day because I have seen the cover of the book posted up on the wall of that magnet middle school that my ten year old attends. We each have to know our own children however, I think we as parents are often in danger of thinking we know our children far better than we actually do. Many an unsuspecting, naive parent has been surprised by unknown sinful tendencies in their children.
Don't you have images from video or from the way your imagination was stirred by words that you wish someone had warned you about. I know I do. It did not matter whether I could "handle it" or not. I wish I had avoided many an image or figure of speech that is in my brain unnecessarily. We fool ourselves about what is going to be problematic for us or our children down the line. We just have no way of knowing. If I can do anything to save my children from unnecessary brain porn, etc. then I am going to try.
Through What Lens?
I had a discussion with a teenager about this book briefly this summer. She was not altogether thrilled with my or Challies take on the book. She is a strong Christian girl in many areas but was blinded to the many ways in which this story steals glory from God. She probably has no idea in what ways she will look back with different convictions and wish someone had kept those images from her. She, like so many others was struggling to view this piece of literature through the lens of eternity. If we look honestly at the characters in the book, their thoughts and their actions, it is evident that those characters would have gone to hell. And yet Christians read the book or watch the movie and think it is a beautiful story with a tear-filled ending. It may be sad however, I dare to say it is sad for all the wrong reasons.
How many Christians think through books or movies that way. I admit I do not consistently, but I should. That is what Al Mohler was speaking to in the section that I included from The Briefing above. Too many times we want to shut down and see entertainment through rose-colored glasses. Stories make us prone to respond in ways that do not line up with our own biblical worldview. It is at this point that we are responsible to bring our emotional responses to stories under the scrutiny of scripture i.e. Philippians 4:8 and Psalm 101:3. If we struggle with this as adults, how much more should we anticipate the struggle of our children with such things. Never assume your child is too old to be shepherded through difficult judgement calls.
This Is A Literature/Entertainment-Oriented Spiritual Battlefield
This is simply one topic that is spoken to in this article. We must be aware that there are books both narrative and educational that are being designed to normalize homosexuality and same-sex marriage. And the sex education that is out there in many schools curriculum is borderline porn in written description and pictorial depiction. We must protect our children.
We as Christian parents must not be so naive as to think that our children are beyond the influence of these books. We must be involved in our children's lives, knowing what is out there and not allowing it to be read or watched if it serves no benefit or is inherently dangerous as these books are. We must also have the guts to realize when our children have already been exposed to this material and to bring stern, biblically saturated warnings and teaching regarding it. We cannot simply assume that we have talked to our children once and that they know what the bible says so it is all done. We ALL need reminding and accountability.
There is a battle raging for the hearts and minds of our children and we must be on the front lines fighting for them and equipping them to fight alongside us when they are ready. Never cease putting into action Proverbs 22:6. Teach your children to critique what they read, watch and listen to through Galatians 5:19-24 and ask whether it magnifies the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit. Equip them with a solid understanding of how to utilize their spiritual armor(Ephesians 6:10-20).
The goal is that by the time they leave the roost and head out into this dangerous spiritual battlefield on their own, they will have a solid understanding of what it means to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ(Philippians 1:27), not only externally but internally as well.
May it be so in Jesus name,