Deconstructing the Love / Hate Narrative on Gender

(note for those seeing this first. this is a rough draft and will be updated with annotations & hyper-links)

One of the things parents of GenZ will need to do to help their kids navigate our cultural landscape, is help students deconstruct over simplified narratives presented to them that are used to bully, shame, or emotionally manipulate those who disagree into compliance.

They are growing up at a time where the voices they hear present a very binary narrative, “you either support X or you are hateful.” I have personally observed, whenever I talk about certain issues, that many young people are resolved, they are resolute, that if you don’t have the same position they they have embraced, you are suspect at best, hateful at worst.

Parents are going to have become students, not only of culture, of movements within culture, but of how the media frames issues to your student through entertainment and social media in order to help kids deconstruct those assumptions and narratives and help them think clearly and ultimately, lovingly.

There is probably no issue where the Love / Hate narrative can be so clearly observed than gender identity. The ideas, or dogma, of gender ideology has trickled down from activists, to cultural influencers, and into our classrooms with very little pushback or critical assessment by the adults in charge. The love/hate narrative has been wielded preemptively and quite successfully to suppress dissent and coerce support.

Earlier this year, an elementary school admin was confronted with controversial book recommendations to kids in their preschool, reportedly said, “we just want to err on being loving.”

And there you have it! Case closed, no discussion, no introspection. Pointing preschoolers to books that imply that they may have been born in the wrong body, or the unscientific notion that doctors “guess” if a baby is a boy or girl, is not a loving thing to do.

My observation, as someone who has talked to teachers, counselors, and even the Commissioner of Education for Kentucky, is that many of the adults making policy have not really thought it through, they are floating along with the group think, knowing that if you question it or challenge it, it would leave them open to the criticism of being hateful, or unsafe.

A healthy contrast to the binary here is the robust discussion going on across the Ocean in Europe. When society rejects the love / hate binary on this gender discussion… actual discussion takes place. Imagine that.

Interestingly, it is not the right wing politicians who are the loudest, but many and prominent progressive feminists (like JK Rowling) who have forced their society that saw a 4000% increase in youth wanting sex reassignment intervention, to ask, “is this good?” “Is this wise?” “is this loving?”

Many of these feminist (often called terfs) are campaigning for sex-based rights, the right for raped women to not have to share a shelter with a biological male, or for a homeless woman to not share a room with a male, or for women to not have to risk injury in sports, or relinquish awards & championships to males they must now compete against.

It is also, the researchers who have been fired for contending for biological reality. It’s the child psychologists & endocrinologists who have blown the whistle on activism which has hijacked good medicine and psychology. Whistleblowing that led to the Cass report and the closing of the largest gender clinic in England, Tavistock.

Its LGB activists, surprisingly to some, who argue that society is “transing the gay away”.

It’s even transgender adults who say, “this is out of control. I had dysphoria, this is a social contagion leading kids to irreversible damage”

It is the legions of detransitioning young women who’ve had their breasts removed, their voices changed, their fertility compromised, coming out and letting people know that all of the “safe” people who cheer led their transition, were in fact, not safe. Kiera Bell, transitioned & had a double mastectomy, then realized it was a horrible mistake, sued the NH, who had since changed the policy of giving puberty blockers to kids. She said, there was no responsible adult telling me anything other than move forward.

In Europe, some the most affirming countries like Sweden are tapping the breaks on gender ideology.

Is it because all of the sudden these countries have become hateful? No, they are pausing examine if what they though was loving and helpful is actually unloving and hurtful.

Certainly, the conversation is happening here. It does tend to be a politically right vs. left issue here. But that is another completely unnecessary binary in which to frame the issue. Because, as you can read in Priscilla Schrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage”, many very progressive LGBT affirming parents were gob smacked and how their kids were fast tracked toward social and medical transition and were the victims of this love / hate binary to shame them into compliance.

I’ve studied the new gender movement for several year, and I’ve even spoken on it at multiple Christian conferences. But, almost all of the people I follow on this to become informed are not necessarily Christian or politically right-wing people who generally speak to the choir, but secular people, including atheists, and feminists who have been “peaked”. “Peaked” or “peaking” is a word that is most often used in England to describe someone who was otherwise really progressive politically, but was “peaked”, meaning there was a moment when they realized that going along with gender ideology was not loving, was not scientific, and does more harm than good. They essentially deconstructed the binary of love / hate and came to the realization that they were lied to and that it is not so simple.

Parents, one thing you may have to do with your GenZ students, especially if they are already in high school, and more likely if they are girls, is help them “peak” to begin the deconstruction of the narratives they have consumed. That includes conversations about rigid stereotypes that lead girls to think they aren’t girls, to medical harm, to psychology harm, societal harm done by redefining what it is to be a man or woman, to justice about women’s spaces and places. Once they’ve been peaked, they will see the harm everywhere they look and you’ll see that the love / hate binary was an illusion and actually a weapon wielded by activists so that their ideology could go unchecked in culture. Hopefully they will see that celebrating gender ideology, and participating in its various religious rights (such as pronoun declarations) can be an unhelpful thing to their neighbors.

KBH

Post-script: One thing that will not help us help out kids break down the love / hate binary on the issue, is speaking about it in an unloving way. I have no animosity for kids wresting with gender confusion, I have truck loads of sympathy for it. In fact, my indignation about the subject is fueled by love and compassion for those kids. So, there needs to be harmony between our words and actions, if young people are to believe that we are being loving, though in a way the culture does not appreciate.

Post-script 2: You’ll notice in this article that there is no reference to this passage of Scripture or that passage of Scripture. That is by design. With GenZ I’ve noticed that on some cultural issues there can be a strategic benefit to not immediately appealing to the authority of Scripture to make a case on a cultural issue. I could certainly quote Jesus’ affirmation that God’s design is male and female, and that it aligns with science. But some GenZ students who have dug their heals in, it can be helpful to point them to common ground religious and secular people have on a issue of social concern or justice.

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Important rising 6th grade links!

Get Connected! Essential Links and Forms!

So you don’t miss out on anything, and so that we can serve you better, here are  seven things I suggest you do ASAP!

1.  If you haven’t already, please give CLICK HERE to here to help us serve you by giving us some basic info about your student.

2. Kings Island on June 8th!!!! This is the first big event for rising 6th graders! You can register here! Until Sunday at 11 pm! The more more newbies we have the more parents we need btw!

3. LOVE NEVER FAILS! CLICK HERE!!!! By clicking here, you can buy a shirt if you want to or just let us know when you might be available this summer for groups! Basically, your student would try to make it to a small group when possible, offered at a variety of times during the summer. 5 Studies total. You can let us know you general availability here and let us know if you want a shirt.

4. Sign-up for the youth enewsletter here it is run from MailChimp.  Click here –>  http://eepurl.com/Kcx8P    Watch your promotions or spam folder if you aren’t receiving them.   

5.  Sign-up for text reminders.  You need to text @vbc4christ  to #81010    This is really important to keep up with last minute changes or opportunities.

 6.  If you are on Facebook join the group  here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/versaillesbaptiststudentministry/

FYI, the group is updated much more frequently with inside info and discussion. I recommend turning on notifications if you want to stay in the know!

7.  If you are on Instagram find me https://www.instagram.com/kevinhash/

I tend to post mostly ministry related stuff there, quotes, or funny stuff, and pictures of my kids being awesome. 

I’m excited about this time of transition!  Praying for you all!

Keep an eye out for Missional Mondays!

Blessings!

Kevin B. Hash

When challenge is inspiring…

I really love this graphic to your right.

A couple questions came into my mind immediately when I saw it. “Why is this inspirational?” and “If it is inspirational, why is this mindset so rare in the realm of Christian discipleship?” (and has been for a while)

It shouldn’t be rare. Jesus was unapologetic and forthright. He watched people walk away because he was so candid about what it would mean to follow him.

He said there is a easy / broad way and a hard / narrow way. He said, “to follow me is to go the hard / narrow way. To follow him you deny yourself, to follow him is to take up your cross, which means leaning into discomfort rather than leaning away from it, it means taking risks, it means going against your natural instincts and loving your enemy, going the second mile in service to people who have been an enemy to you, it means living like no one else lives, and dying to self daily, it means, committing yourself to Kingdom and not building a kingdom for self, it means being willing to be considered a fool in the eyes of the world, it means trusting that God can do more through you than you ever imagined if you will put yourself in his hand….

Jesus didn’t lower the bar, because to lower the bar would make him look less worthy than he is. Yes, people said, “No.” But the one’s who said, “Yes”, knew what and who they were saying yes to.

Our family has sports out the wazzoo. I got a “little” monster who will have countless practices, and games, and meets, and tournaments for the next 6 years, in as many as four different sports. So I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m in it with Christian parents who have kids who love and are good at sports.

So as a student pastor for over 25 years and a fanatical sports dad, as someone who lives in both worlds (sports and church) … I can say without fear of overstatement, that there are, all too often, two different standards for athletics and discipleship.  I could write a book (that’s an overstatement) of examples on the disparity of rational for sports vs. spiritual opportunities. I’m not, cause I don’t want to make too many people mad at me. But I can say, that once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

I wonder if many of the dechurched millennials and GenZ people walked away, NOT because the bar of discipleship was too high, but because it was uninspiringly low.

It’s possible that many dechurched Millennials and GenZ did not find Jesus worthy of centering their lives around… But it’s also possible, that they were never expected or challenged to.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart begins April 25 at 11 am

“Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart” is our 6 week series during our Sunday School hour. It is a series that will help students understand what it means to become a Christian and how to know if they are a Christian. Put another way, it is a study on doctrine of “assurance of salvation”. Assurance is the level of confidence someone has that they are saved.

Why this series should be a priority?

  1. This series should be a priority because Christians, or perhaps your student who is thinking about becoming a Christian, should know what the Bible says about what a credible profession of faith is.
  2. This series should be a priority because there are many authentic Christians who struggle with assurance of salvation, needlessly.
  3. This series should be a priority because there are many professing Christians who are not really Christians. According to Jesus in Matthew 7 there are many who are confident, who should not be. Why? Maybe, there was likely a breakdown somewhere in process. Maybe an incomplete understanding of the gospel, maybe just a premature declaration of salvation, but the reality is that there are many who have false assurance. False assurance is scary. It’s like someone who thinks they are taking a miracle drug that will cure their cancer, but it is a placebo.
  4. This series should be a priority because it will equip students to be able to help friends who are in any of the above categories.

What’s the deal with the title?

This series is based on JD Greear’s book based on the same title. In the opening of the book JD talks about how he was baptized four times and that when he wrestled with doubt he would keep repeating the prayer of asking Jesus into his heart. He could not not find peace until he searched the Scriptures for a basis of Biblical assurance.

Isn’t someone who asked Jesus into their heart a Christian?

Countless people who use the language of “asking Jesus into their heart” are saved. For many “asking Jesus into your heart” is shorthand for the invitation of Jesus to repent and believe. So if by “ask Jesus into your heart”, you mean turning from sins and trusting in Jesus, we are good. But, there are many who prayed a prayer, but never really turned from their sins and trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord. They may have said the word, “Jesus come into my heart”, but they are not saved according to the Biblical criteria.

Because of the potential for confusion and because the stakes are too high (eternity) we prefer to go with the language of Jesus and Paul when talking about conversion, which is repentance and faith.

What are some supplementary resources for this focus?

You can buy the small book by JD Greear by the same title.

You can buy another great new book by Dean Insarra, “The Unsaved Christian”

Transgender Resources: Watch for Updates

This blog serves as a bulletin board for stuff (links, videos, book recommendations) as much as it its for articles. Recently I’ve been reading books and watching interviews on the issue of transgenderism, both generally and specifically the modern phenomenon of girls identifying abruptly as trans, known as ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria)

There are some great resources written from a Christian worldview standpoint that I will add below (eventually), but I think it is noteworthy that some of the pushback against the transgender moment (specifically with regard to how we handle this with kids) comes from very progressive people, atheists, psychologists, etc… Yes, the church has an answer, but I have found it helpful to know the secular reasoning for concern as well. FYI, there aren’t many places that will give a platform to criticism of the transgender movement, which is why you have to watch Joe Rogan or Ben Shapiro to see it. Below you can see some. (Disclaimer: I don’t agree with everything said by the author or interviewers.)

In England there has been many attempts to cancel JK Rowling because she (although pro-lgbt) has expressed concern about freedom on conscience issues and redefining womanhood and that lack of science in transgenderism.

Secular books.

Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier Note: I have read this secular book and wish every counselor or parent of a teen girl.

The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society by Debra Soh Note: I have not read this book, but have watched the interview below.

Secular Interviews

This is an interview with Joe Rogan. Lots of language. I’m not posting this to endorse everything said, but so that you can hear from Shrier in a different context.
This is an interview with Ben Shapiro. Yes, he’s a conservative politically. If you don’t like Shapiro’s politics you should still watch the interview. Remember, that very few people will give a platform for any shape or form of rebuttal to group think on the transgender phenomenon among teen girls. (Schrier is not an evangelical)
Author of the end of gender. A secular progress person, possibly atheist, who has written pushback on new gender identity activism.

Is Jesus getting bigger?

In Prince Caspian (the second book published in the Chronicles of Narnia series), C. S. Lewis reminds us that there is a most important exception to this rule.  When the Pevensie children are lost in Narnia seeking to find the way into Prince Caspian’s camp, the young Lucy experiences a personal visit from the great Aslan, who up to this point has been invisible to her older siblings.  As Lucy encounters her old friend, she perceives him to be somehow “bigger” than she remembers from past experience:

Lucy: “Aslan, you’re bigger!”
Aslan: “That is because you are older, little one.”
Lucy: “Not because you are?”
Aslan: “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Is Jesus getting bigger or smaller to your student. If they are growing in the faith, Jesus will be getting bigger. Not that he is bigger, but their capability to appreciate the bigness of Jesus increases as they mature.

What does this mean practically?

It means that as big as Jesus is to an 11 year old who becomes a Christian, He will only get bigger as they grow in the faith.

Maturing in the faith means that from 11 to 16, Jesus looks more trustworthy than before. It means that Jesus looks more awe inspiring than before. It means that Jesus looks more worthy of our sacrifice and devotion.

The converse is also true, that if Jesus is getting smaller, something has gone wrong and we have cause for concern. If Jesus is getting smaller, other things are getting bigger.

This begs the question. How do grow in such a way that Jesus looks bigger? Quite simply by looking at Jesus! For far too many people their first look at Jesus was their last. As we look at Jesus, as we study his words, his works, and his wonders, he will get bigger!

Political Media is a Business and Other Thoughts

Nobody asked, but here are some thoughts for my Christian friends about political media consumption and engagement online.

1. Political news is a BUSINESS. Again, political news is a BUSINESS. If you only get that, you will be blessed. We like to believe that our source is telling us the unvarnished truth, but often our source is telling us the truth we want to hear the way we want to hear it. Why? So we keep going back to that source, we keep tuning in, we keep clicking, which leads to good ratings and more advertising money, and a higher pay check for the person giving you the “news”. They have no financial incentive to tell you stuff you don’t want to hear.

2. Since political media’s business isn’t trying to persuade anybody, but providing a specific audience (consumers) what they want to hear, they will say things differently than if they were trying to persuade people. Most lay political commentary on social media are people repeating WHAT they heard on tv, the WAY they heard it on tv or online.
Why doesn’t that work out so well? Because, UNLIKE the person paid to tell the audience what they want to hear, your (and my) social media audience is NOT made up of people who already agree, nor is it made up of people who friended us to get our political hot takes. They want to see pictures of your kids. Actually, they want you to see pictures of their kids.

3. Political media can be toxic for Christian empathy. Since political media knows it’s human nature to want to feel smart and righteous, and it wants us to keep watching, the media will package and present our news in way that (yep) makes us feel smart and righteous. Rarely in political media will the paid tv pundit say, “good people disagree on what’s best” or “I understand why they think this would work”. No, our flesh likes to feel indignant, and people producing political media know that.
So what happens is we, the consumers, take WHAT we have heard and the WAY we have heard it, and try to reproduce it in our dialogue with others on social media. Again, why doesn’t that work? Because your neighbors who believe differently have likely been told their news from their perspective so that they believe that you are dumb and evil. Just like yours, their news source wants them to keep coming back.
It takes humility and intentionality and patience to seek out news from diverse sources. Maybe you are right on everything politically. But hearing other people make their arguments from their perspective can help you better have conversations in good faith, not assuming the worst about people you disagree with. I try to do this and it is a frustrating and sometimes infuriating discipline, but also a humbling discipline. Try to find the most reasonable, ethical, person you can, who disagrees with you politically, and hear them out.

4. Christian friends, political media is often Christless. Even when its telling you things that are factually correct. Secular liberal or secular conservative media is detached from what God has and is doing in the world. So we have to consume media though the lens of our experience with Christ and Christ’s plans for us.
So when we battle online for ideas, we tend do it in a secular way, as though Christ is a non-factor. We know we have done this when “owning” someone with mic drop arguments is the goal instead of “winning” people.
I have had to remind myself many times that it is much more important to win people to Christ than to win arguments in the 24 hour news cycle. We need eternal perspective. There is no shortage of ‘hot takes’ on social media, but there is a shortage of people captivated by Christ who want others to be captivated by Christ.
That’s all I wanted to say.

Rising 6th Grade Parents: Get Connected! Essential Links and Forms!

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Nothing is normal due to Covid! I HATE that so many of the activities and mission projects this summer your students could have participated in have been cancelled. And if you don’t know, your rising 6th grader would and is welcome to participate in anything in the student ministry (except Sunday School).

So you don’t miss out on anything, and so that we can serve you better, here are  seven things I suggest you do ASAP!

1.  If you haven’t already, please give CLICK HERE to here to help us serve you by giving us some basic info about your student.

2. Let us know if you want to participate in our Act, Love, Walk Theme this summer. Basically, your student would be assigned a small group and they will try to squeeze in four gathering around the theme of Micah 6:8. Buying a shirt is optional, everything else is free. CLICK HERE TO SIGN–UP!

3. Sign-up for the youth enewsletter here it is run from MailChimp.  Click here –>  http://eepurl.com/Kcx8P    Watch your promotions or spam folder if you aren’t receiving them.   

4..  Sign-up for text reminders.  You need to text @vbc4christ  to #81010    

 5.  If you are on Facebook join the group  here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/versaillesbaptiststudentministry/

FYI, the group is updated much more frequently with inside info and discussion. I recommend turning on notifications if you want to stay in the know!

6.  If you are on Facebook join the page here  https://www.facebook.com/versaillesbaptiststudentministry/

7.  If you are on Instagram find me https://www.instagram.com/kevinhash/

I tend to post mostly ministry related stuff there, quotes, or funny stuff, and pictures of my kids being awesome. I’m excited about this time of transition!  Praying for you all!Blessings!Kevin B. Hash