This Friday (4/19) is the annual Day of Silence (DoS), when students across the country choose not speak in school in protest of the mistreatment of LGBT youth. While some conservative groups are once again encouraging parents to keep their kids home, Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defending Freedom are hosting their annual pre-buttal, the so-called “Day of Dialogue” (DoD) on Thursday (4/18). The blatant goal of this event is to encourage Christian students to condemn homosexuality and transgenderism to their peers, but under the facade of opposing bullying.
Most of the materials on the DoD page were written by Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family’s resident ex-gay, who rejects transgender identities as disordered and healthy and who describes homosexuality as “sexual brokenness.” For the Day of Dialogue, he encourages young people to talk about homosexuality with their classmates by suggesting they pursue ex-gay therapy because being gay is the same as being a prostitute or an adulterer:
Without God, and without following His intentions for us, all the good of sexuality is distorted. The good news, in the midst of our sexual brokenness, is that God still loves us deeply. He longs to reconnect with each of us and to begin healing, restoring and transforming us. He invites each of us to respond to His love.
All throughout Scripture, we see that God has a special place in His heart for people who messed up sexually. Jesus’ ancestors included prostitutes and adulterers, and He brought forgiveness and restoration to many people who were caught in sexual brokenness. In the same way, Jesus is standing with His arms open to each of us. We’ve all had our identity, relationships, sexuality and desires impacted by sin. He invites us to experience new life, forgiveness, true relational intimacy with Him and healthy relationships with others.
As Christians, children of God and followers of Jesus, we have a unique opportunity to offer this good news to our classmates and those around us. In a disordered and hurting world we can offer hope, healing and renewal.
Interestingly, the DoD site does not use the word “gay” or “homosexuality” except on its page, “Responding To Challenges.” Participants are not encouraged to use the words at all, but respond that “God has a plan for our sexuality” (and it’s not homosexuality). Here’s an example of how Focus on the Family encourages students to explain that being gay is a chosen identity:
The fact is that nobody knows how same-sex attractions develop—it appears to be a combination of factors (from biology to individual temperament to culture to environment). There is no proof that it is purely genetic. For more information, you can read Are People Really Born Gay? as well as other resources posted here.
You can explain that the real issue, for those who follow Jesus, is not about changing from “straight” to “gay”, or what kind of sexual identity a person has, but about having a relationship with God. And as our relationship with him grows, we learn to manage our feelings, desires and behavior according to His best plan for us.
The fact is that many people have experienced great changes in their lives and voluntarily chosen to align their feelings to God’s best plan.
These are blatant falsehoods. The American Psychological Association has determined over decades of research that sexual orientation is innate and attempts to change it are ineffective and harmful. Moreover, the most recent research in a growing field known as epigenetics suggests that sexual orientation is at least partially determined by genes — just not directly. Rather than being coded into the DNA directly, certain sex-specific switches on the genes known as “epi-marks” can be triggered during fetal development, causing variations in hormone levels that determine how the genes will express gender and sexuality for the rest of the individual’s life. It’s still not a perfect explanation, but it’s a clear indicator that biology has a significant impact on determining sex and gender and that they cannot simply be changed by shame-based therapy.
As the below video demonstrates, the Day of Dialogue encourages students to stigmatize LGBT identities as abnormal. Despite the flowery rhetoric Focus on the Family has imagined up for students, it’s nothing short of a pro-bullying campaign.