I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life investing in teens. I love watching them learn to follow Jesus. But it’s heartbreaking when they walk away from Him.
I want teens to see Scripture has so much more to say about our sexuality than “no.”
If we want the next generation to stand firmly, joyfully and graciously on the truths of Scripture, we as the Church have a significant task before us: to show teenagers how the Bible’s teachings on sexuality are not only true and wise but also really good news.
I want teens to see Scripture has so much more to say about our sexuality than “no.” There’s a greater story about the love of Jesus, the way He created and defines us, and the beautiful hope that He will one day redeem everything broken. Yes, the call to follow Jesus is a call to come and die—the stakes are high—but it’s also an invitation to something far better than anything else we're chasing.
Out of this desire, I wrote More to the Story: Deep Answers to Real Questions on Attraction, Identity, and Relationships. The book is written directly to teens—at their level and to their world—because I want them to see for themselves how the gospel speaks to their questions about sex and how it truly brings good news. But I hope it’s also helpful for any of us who have teens in our families and churches that we want to see grow to love God and His Word.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 5, on identity, which I believe is foundational for teaching students a theology of sexuality.
"I’m gay. It’s just who I am. If you can’t accept that, then you’re rejecting me.”
We think about sexual attraction and orientation in terms of identity.
Maybe you’ve had a friend say that to you (or something similar, like “I’m queer” or “I’m bi”). Maybe you’ve said those words yourself as you tried to express to someone you love the importance of what you’re experiencing.
In our culture today, it’s normal to talk about our sexuality not as what we do or how we feel but as who we are. We think about sexual attraction and orientation in terms of identity.
Identity is important because how we answer the question “Who am I?” affects the direction of our lives—what we do, what we think and how we feel about ourselves. The reverse is true, too: what we think, feel and do affects how we answer the question of who we are. All of that can get a bit complicated! So, we need to move away from the sexual identity question for a moment and focus on a broader one: what does God have to say about who we are? The answer provides a powerful foundation for all other conversations around identity.
Identity in Scripture
Identity (and names that describe it) is actually a pretty important part of the Bible’s story. Scripture is full of examples of God giving people a new identity—showing that He not only knows them better than they know themselves, but also that He has bigger and better plans for them than they have themselves.
Take Abram. God had promised to make this man’s descendants into a great nation, but things didn’t look good; Abram had no son and was getting old. Even so, God kept making the same promise—and on one of those occasions, he added the following:
“No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5).
A new identity
Abraham was not yet a “father of many” (which is what the name means). His promised son, Isaac, was not yet conceived. But this was the identity God gave. The gift of this identity provided a promise of something sure to come. It was something God was going to transform Abraham into. And it would shape Abraham for the rest of his life—and his family for generations to come. “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham.” God was saying, “This is who you will be. It is what I am making you into. And I want you to embrace that identity now, even though you can’t yet see its fulfillment.”
The God who spoke light into the darkness is not done naming (and renaming) things.
Abraham wasn’t the only person given a new identity by God. Jacob was renamed Israel (which means “wrestles with God”) because he struggled with God, and God wanted him to remember what he had learned from it (Gen 32:28). Gideon was hiding from an enemy army he deeply feared when God showed up and addressed him as “mighty warrior” (Judg 6:12). Simon, probably the most likely among all Jesus’ disciples to wind up with his foot in his mouth by saying or doing something impulsive, was renamed Peter, meaning “rock”; Jesus said that He would build his church on the rock of Peter’s declaration of faith (Matthew 16:18).
The God who spoke light into the darkness is not done naming (and renaming) things. He knows us completely—even better than we know ourselves. Again and again in the Bible, we see him giving people a new identity and then transforming them into what He has called them to be—a father, a warrior, a rock. These people got identities that were bigger and better than they themselves would have dreamed of. Today, God speaks a new identity over everyone who follows him: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Pet 2:9). God wants to speak a new identity over you, too—and it’s an identity you can trust.
You can find the full version of More to the Story: Deep Answers to Real Questions on Attraction, Identity, and Relationships by Jennifer M. Kvamme at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other major book retailers.
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