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My oldest child is in junior kindergarten. My wife and I decided to put her into the public school system. A lot of prayer went into that decision—we really weren’t sure, but that’s where we landed. In a lot of ways, we’re really thankful for our daughter’s first year of school. She has an incredible teacher that she adores. She has had lots of fun and begun to come out of her shell and relate to other kids better. She has also learned a lot. She can sound out simple words now and read them. She can draw recognizable pictures. She can write almost recognizable words. The list goes on.

First Day of School

Of course, we were concerned that our child would be taught values that are unbiblical. On the first day of school, we noticed a pride flag hanging up in the classroom. We expected that. We had prepared our daughter for that. From an early age, we have had conversations with our kids about the fact that they are girls (we have three daughters) and that it’s incredible that God made them girls. But because they are girls they can’t be boys. Daddy is a boy, and I can’t be a girl. Mommy is a girl and she can’t be a boy. And maybe one day each of our daughters will grow up and marry a boy, but they can’t marry a girl. And maybe they will be mommies, but they can’t be daddies.

They know this stuff.

Then when our oldest was about to start school, we started talking about how some families don’t look like ours. And lots of families don’t love Jesus. And because they don’t love Jesus they don’t follow his design for us. Some families think that boys can become girls and girls can become boys. Some families have two mommies or two daddies. We need to be kind to these families that are different and love them. But we also need to know that this isn’t what God says is right.

All year long we have kept this conversation up with our daughters, and especially our eldest. We have prayed hard for her at school. I went in most Friday mornings and volunteered in her classroom. I even was able to tell her class the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas time (only about two other students had even heard of Jesus before!) All in all, things have gone pretty well. Then June came.

Pride Month

I pastor a church in Toronto. We have a number of members who are teachers or early childhood educators. I know that June is a hard month for them at work. Similarly, it’s a difficult month for all the parents in our congregation whose kids are in school. I have tried to pastor these brothers and sisters in Christ through their anxiety about Pride Month for years now, but this is my first time living it a a parent of a child in school.

My wife and I had a strategy. We would reinforce what our daughter knows about God’s design for boys and girls. We would look at the class calendar and pull her out of school for any pride parades or similar events. It seemed fairly simple. Our daughter knows what is true, she won’t be swayed by what the teacher says. However, we weren’t prepared for how fun it all is.

My daughter came back from school the other day and told us that her teacher had talked to them about pride month. She told us that he had said it means you can do whatever you want. The one example he gave was that boys can wear dresses. Our daughter apparently chimed in and clarified that it also means that girls can marry girls. She’s a know-it-all like that. She gets it from me. So far so good.

Pride Flag

But then the class made a pride flag together. Now my daughter is five years old. Her whole life is unicorns and rainbows right now. So this was an exciting activity. And on top of that, she was selected as one of the kids who gets to hold the flag for the parade (maybe every kid gets a turn, it’s hard to discern these kinds of details from our five-year-old). She was really excited. And so when we let her know that she isn’t going to be at the parade, she was devastated. We had a long conversation together, and through her tears, our daughter asked us why she couldn’t just hold the flag and have fun with everyone even though she knows it’s not true. And that’s when I realized how complicated this was going to be.

When I was a kid, the buzzword around LGB issues (the other letters hadn’t been added yet) was “tolerance.” We were called to tolerate homosexuality. As a Christian, it was pretty easy to reply with, “I don’t just tolerate you, I love you. But I can love you and disagree with you.” However, toleration has long been abandoned in favour of a new buzzword, “celebrate.” That has made it a lot harder for Christians. Our response now has to be, “I love you and I respect you and I will be kind to you, but I can’t celebrate what God calls sin.” This response is not tolerated (somewhat ironically), making it scary to stand with Christ in the area of gender and sexual ethics. But I am just now realizing the other aspect of celebration that makes this difficult. Celebration is a lot more fun than toleration.

Toleration was all about letting people live as they want to live. Celebration is about inviting everyone together to have a party and enjoy themselves. That kind of fun (celebrating LGBTQ+) has never been appealing to me because my convictions are already firm. But for those whose convictions are not yet formed, for children, this kind of fun is incredibly appealing.

Can my daughter enjoy holding a flag in a parade even though she knows she doesn’t agree with what it stands for?

No. She can’t.

Our convictions and our worldview are not just formed by the information in our heads, they are formed by the affections of our hearts. If my young daughter has fun celebrating sin, that will likely override the things we have taught her.

What Do We Do? 

So what do we do? My wife and I aren’t ready to pull our daughter out of public school and homeschool her or put her in Christian school. This may be a good option for some, but not everyone can do it and we aren’t convinced it is right for our family. But at the very least, as we seek to disciple our children and pray for them, our eyes are now open to a dimension of this that we were not previously aware of. And that’s a good thing.

Following Christ isn’t only about knowing truth about Jesus, it’s about letting the truth of Jesus and his gospel change our hearts so that we love him more than our sin and more than the world (1 John 2:15-17). As we disciple our children we need to focus on taking the truth of the gospel and helping them to apply it to their hearts so that they love him. This is easier said than done, but it gives us a goal to pray for and strive for. Lord God, protect our children’s hearts!