If you have been keeping up, you will know that Lil Nas X plans to release a satanic shoe. He also released a new music video to get back at how the church counseled him as someone who opened up about being gay. I will be the first to admit that I did not initially respond well after seeing both of those things. I was personally offended and angry about what I saw. My natural tendency was wanting some righteous judgment in regards to what I was seeing.
After time processing and praying (let us not forget to pray), I realized that God is the one who judges. He will do what He will do with what we have been seeing. As I also took a step back and gained some perspective, I began to see Lil Nas X as a person. If you didn’t know, Lil Nas was hurt and burned by the church when he opened up about being gay. What we see today is a response to wounds that happened in the past. I want to be clear that I am in no way condoning his new shoes or music video. What I want to do is learn from this. As a follower of Jesus, I want to learn. As a representative of the church, I want to learn. I see this as an excellent opportunity for those who follow Jesus and the church. Here are some thoughts that I think we can learn and some ways we can begin to lead as youth workers.
The reality is our students listen to Lil Nas and watch his content. We can’t ignore that this is becoming more normalized in our culture. So as youth workers, we should be looking at this as an opportunity to point students to Jesus.
We have an opportunity to:
ACTUALLY HAVE REAL CONVERSATIONS
We should not shy away from talking about what we have seen. We should not shy away from having conversations with those who share the struggle with same-sex attraction. We should not shy away from those who struggle with identity. For so long, the church has mishandled these conversations and has hurt teens. That has led us to avoid and ignore engaging in these conversations.
We, as the church, should not shy away from having these conversations with students. We need to create safe environments and spaces where students can share openly and freely and not face rebuke in return. If we don’t have these conversations with students, the culture will continue to do so. We need to have these conversations and point them back to Jesus.
ACTUALLY EXTEND BOTH GRACE AND TRUTH
We have screwed this up. Typically we lean one way or the other. Some lead with just grace, and some lead with just truth. Both can be dangerous if they don’t work together. John chapter 1 says Jesus came in both grace and truth. Lil Nas X should experience grace because Jesus died for him. Just like Jesus died for both you and me. But we can’t just stop at grace. We also need to stand on the truth and lead from the truth.
This is such an excellent opportunity for our students to experience grace and truth. This does not mean you are condoning specific actions or behavior. It could resemble when Jesus looked out at the crowd, and he felt compassion. That is grace. So when we have students who express they are transitioning or are gay, we don’t just hit them with the truth. We extend grace and care for them as people whom Jesus loves dearly. Let us be youth workers who show students both grace and truth.
So wherever you find yourself in regard to these shoes or music videos, let us lead out in what it looks like to love people well and being led by truth. Don’t let our students see us kick someone while he is already down. Let’s use this as an opportunity to be the church for those who look and act differently than us.
Guest post by Scotty Keesee
Scotty has almost 10 years in the trenches in student ministry and is one of the youth leads at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. He loves to lead leaders and talk culture, ministry, and strategy. He has a wonderful wife and 2 amazing boys.