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Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today's increasingly pro homosexual culture. To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues, explaining how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan.
Parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations on this topic with their teens and preteens. Learning together can have relational benefits. The author provides manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue, as well as a guide to further resources.
|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Vendor: Kregel Publications
Publication Date: 2016
Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today's increasingly pro homosexual culture. Why shouldn't gays get married? Who says gay sex is wrong? Does the Bible actually say there's anything wrong with homosexuality? Don't you care that kids are being bullied just for being themselves?
To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan, leaving Christians scrambling for answers.
This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today's culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers has relational benefits.
Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources.
"Tom Gilson is a wise and masterful guide through an emotional and theological minefield, full of wisdom and compassion, scripturally sound and eminently practical. Critical Conversations fills a critically important void."
---Dr. Michael L. Brown, author of Can You Be Gay and Christian?
"A veteran apologist and ministry strategist who delivers realistic plans for imparting biblical truth to this generation, Tom Gilson is one writer whose insights I never miss - and this may just be his most significant work ever."
---Alex McFarland, director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics, North Greenville University
Author Interview from Litfuse Publicity Group▼▲
Q: You describe the content of your new book, Critical Conversations, as the "perfect storm" of awkward parent-child topics. What elements combine for making discussions on homosexuality so difficult?
This topic opens up the threefold potential of intergenerational conflict, young people's sometimes-accurate belief that their parents are out of touch and, of course, the awkward topic of sex. Conflict in particular can arise because young people are frequently far more accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage than people in their parents' generation.
Q: Parents sometimes avoid addressing tough subjects such as homosexuality and gay marriage with their kids. Given how difficult it is to talk about, why would a parent even want to have these "critical conversations"?
Parents sometimes avoid the subject because it's as awkward as it could be, and it's a contentious issue, often with one generation pitted against another. Parents fear it will start out bad and get worse. Above all they're not sure they have what it takes to explain why they believe what they believe.
There's an awful lot at stake. Teens are typically suspicious of the way Christians treat LGBT people, and they see themselves as morally advanced on this topic, compared to their parents' generation. Tragically, for many this separates them from their own church, from their parents and most significantly from belief in Christ himself. However, with proper equipping, these critical conversations can draw teens back into closer relationship with their parents and give them new confidence to stay connected with Christ and Christianity.
Q: How can a tough topic like this one actually help build parents' relationships with teens?
Teens appreciate being taken seriously. If parents will talk with them respectfully about this topic, they'll know they're being treated seriously. If there are hard questions parents can't answer, that's actually OK - as long as the parents stay in the process and seek to uncover the right answer alongside the teen.
This depends, however, on parents being at least moderately well-informed. It's no help at all (and it's not respectful to teens) for parents to launch into a discussion in total ignorance! (Teens can tell.)
Of course, it also depends on the parents maintaining the proper position as parents. Teens still need someone at home to act as their authority person. Their need for that changes a lot as teens grow up, but it usually doesn't go away until after the teen years. But a person who's in authority should know what he or she is talking about - especially on crucial issues like this one.
Putting all that together, parents who are well-equipped on this topic are in a good position to act as real parents while showing genuine relational respect to their teen. That's a great way to build relationships with teens.
Q: In what ways is parenting teens different today than 20 or 30 years ago? How did our culture decline so far, so fast?
There's always been immorality, but never before such moral confusion. We've lost touch with the moral reality that sexual relationships are for a married man and woman, and that this is for our good. Right is now considered wrong, and wrong right.
In some ways the decline has been slower than it might seem, though. Same-sex marriage arose quickly in our culture, yes, but it came as a direct consequence of a long-term decline in heterosexual morality, by which sex - and even marriage - became practiced strictly for the pleasure and happiness of the couple. It was just a short slide from there to accepting gay and lesbian sex and marriage.
Q: What advice do you have for handling this topic in a way that's age-appropriate for teenagers?
There's no need to talk about the sexual mechanics. Most teens know everything they need to know about that already. What teens usually need instead is to be assured that Christianity is still true and still good in spite of the anti-Christian challenges put forth against them on the Internet, in music, on film and TV and even in the classroom. They need to know how to live as faithful Christians and being authentic friends with those who disagree with them, while keeping proper moral boundaries in place.
In short, they need to know what's true with respect to this issue; they need to know why it's true, and they need to know why it's good that it's true, and how to live in light of that truth.
Guidance of this sort can be immensely helpful to pre-teens, too, except they may not be ready for detailed explanations. My best advice in that case is to invite questions - lots of questions - and when an answer seems to be going past the pre-teen's comprehension point, invite another question.
Q: Some parents may even struggle with understanding certain issues themselves. How does Critical Conversations help prepare parents for these difficult conversations?
First, this book explains the biblical and common-experience reasons for keeping sexual relationships within the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman. Through this, parents will know how to answer with more than just, "The Bible says so." They'll know how to explain the Bible's teachings in a way that shows the Bible's teaching is both true and good.
Second, there is an introductory chapter that briefly describes the social history of homosexual activism. It's the kind of background knowledge that helps parents be confident they know what's going on in this issue.
Q: How is the design of Critical Conversations different than other parenting books?
The book is written in three parts:
- Understanding the issues (reasons for biblical morality and a brief social history of gay activism).
- Navigating the rocky relationships: how parents can help teens live in the real relationships they'll find themselves in.
- Practical help in handling the challenges.
This third part is where the book is really unique. It lists more than two dozen anti-Christian challenges and explains briefly where these challenges go wrong. But that's not all. If it were, it would be just another piece of information for parents to absorb. Instead with each one of these challenges I include "Conversation Coaching," advice for parents on specifically what they can say to their teens to help them deal with the challenge. It's extremely parent-friendly and practical in that sense.
Q: To get a better understanding of the third section of the book, could you share a few examples of conversations that are included?
I give advice for parents on how to coach their teens when they're faced with challenges such as:
- "You're homophobic."
- "If you disagree with homosexuality, you're a hater."
- "You're against marriage equality."
- "You're on the wrong side of history."
- "The Bible doesn't even mention gay marriage."
About the Author▼▲
Tom Gilson is the Senior Editor and Ministry Coordinator for the top conservative daily online news and insight website The Stream, and for years he's interacted with those of differing viewpoints on his blog, Thinking Christian. A 36-year veteran of ministry leadership with Cru, BreakPoint and Ratio Christi, Gilson holds a Master's degree in organizational psychology. He's the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, as well as more than 150 articles found in publications such as Discipleship Journal, Touchstone Magazine and Salvo. He also served as the lead editor for True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (Kregel). Gilson speaks regularly on topics relating to faith to national conference audiences.
When not studying or writing, he enjoys canoeing, sailing and long walks in the woods. He lives with wife, Sara, in Lebanon, Ohio. They have two college-aged children.
Parents of teens today may have a tougher job in front of them than parents of any other generation in recent history. While immorality has always existed, the Western world has never seen such a time of moral confusion, especially regarding sexuality, gender and the definition of marriage. To help parents cut through the lies and political correctness and find a way to impart truth to their teens, Tom Gilson has written Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens.
This is one of the most complex issues Christians face today, and it's rife with landmines. In Critical Conversations, Gilson describes the efforts by some to paint Christian beliefs as hateful, making many believers hesitant to speak truth for fear of being seen as homophobic. Even teens growing up in faith-filled homes can be suspicious of how Christians treat LGBT people. Gilson says this can separate them from their church, their parents and most importantly their belief in Christ.
With a foreword by Sean McDowell and endorsements from apologists including Alex McFarland, Critical Conversations is a dependable and highly practical guide that will help parents understand the history of this issue and its far-reaching cultural and spiritual implications. Gilson also uniquely provides clear but compassionate and biblical answers for two dozen anti-Christian objections, enabling parents to counter the questions teens face in the media or even with their classmates at school. Parents will be able to help equip their children with answers to popular arguments such as: "If you disagree with homosexuality, you're a hater," "You're on the wrong side of history," "The Bible doesn't even mention gay marriage," and many others.
Encouraging parents to avoid pat answers or the "Bible brush-off" of "The Bible says it. Believe it," Gilson calls parents to take their teens seriously and do their homework. "If Mom or Dad will talk with them respectfully about this topic, they'll know they're being treated seriously," Gilson advises. "If there are hard questions the parent can't answer, that's actually OK - as long as the parent stays in the process and seeks to uncover the right answer alongside the teen."
The stakes couldn't be higher for moms and dads, and despite it being what Gilson calls the "perfect storm" of awkward parent-child conversations, he believes with proper equipping, parents can navigate these crucial discussions, drawing their teens back into closer relationship with themselves and their family and giving them the confidence they need to stay connected with Christ and Christianity.
Lorin Cooper1 Stars Out Of 5Critical ConversationsJuly 22, 2017Lorin CooperQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Content repetitive and boring to read. Lacking in negative information about LGBT, such as the violent nature of the organization and encouraging friendships with LGBT students without explaining the potential dangers. It also doesn't explain the damage, particularly to the male bodies and the long-term health consequences.
Mark5 Stars Out Of 5Great resource for parents and anyone wanting to understand the issueApril 1, 2016MarkQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book is geared for parents who want to talk to their teenagers about homosexuality, but it would also make a great resource for anyone who wants to better understand the challenges we are facing and how to answer criticisms Christians face for daring to believe homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong.
The book is set up into three sections:
Section one: Essential background. This section covers the rise, acceptance, and takeover by a well planned gay agenda
Section two: Navigating the Rocky relationships. This section deals with how to relate to gay people, and what kids may face in school and college for daring to believe the Bible about homosexuality.
Section three: Practical help in handling the challenges. This section takes up about half of the book and sets up scenarios of questions kids may be asked, and what to say and not to say.
The book is very well done. The author takes a compassionate stance, admitting that many Christians have had the wrong actions and attitudes towards gay people, while still showing how wrong homosexuality is. The book is full of great advice on how to not only help teenagers know how to handle the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage when challenged, but it also helps parents be prepared for what their teens may ask them, and ways to open conversations when their teens may not agree with them on some things.
I highly recommend this to people whose children are in public school especially, but also to all parents or anyone wanting to understand this issue and how to respond to it better.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent resource for teen parentsMarch 27, 2016bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is an essential book for Christian parents. Teens are facing a situation like never before. They are surrounded by pro-LGBT messages. Parents need guidance in helping their teen grow up affirming biblical truths. Gilson has written this book for parents who don't know what to say when their teens have questions about what they are being told and what the Bible says.
He has divided the book into three parts. The first part gives us an overview, the big picture, and how we got here. He also includes the case for marriage between a man and a woman. The second part is about the relationship between parents and teens, such as keeping the conversation healthy with practical suggestions on how to keep the dialog open. Gilson encourages parents to keep God as a priority. He also writes about helping your teens relate to their LGBT friends. I was surprised and impressed with Gilson's explanation of the teen's rights and how to use them wisely. He is honest about the risk involved and advises practicing humility.
The last section contains short and practical ways to deal with the challenges students face. He writes about what a parent might do when their teen is called homophobic or intolerant. He covers many topics, such as God made me this way. He includes proposed dialogs a parent might loosely follow in a discussion with their teen.
I really liked Gilson's answer to Matthew Vines' claim that Paul didn't know about loving, committed homosexual relationships when he wrote Romans. Gilson does an excellent job of showing how Vines' claim is wrong.
I am impressed with this book. Today's Christian teens who want to practice biblical truth are doing so in a hostile culture. They will not receive encouragement from the world and greatly need it from their parents. This book gives parents a way to dialog with their teens and work through many issues. Gilson has added a resource list at the end of the book. He reminds readers that prayer is essential in all these endeavors.
Gilson is clear that this book is not for parents to use when their own child is questioning his or her own sexuality. For help in that area parents must look elsewhere.
I highly recommend this book to Christian parents who want to help their teens affirm biblical truths in a culture that may be opposing those very truths.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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