Andrea Williams of Christian Concern and Professor Bobby Lopez, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
The New Normal: understanding and responding to the cultural shift, 11-12 November, London
Children are being robbed of innocence, so parents need to be ready with their biblical birds and bees talks
A revolution has taken place in recent years with regards to sexuality and gender, which is affecting schools, families, and public debate. But many of us feel confused by what is happening and ill-equipped to respond properly. Christian Concern’s New Normal conference explored some of these issues in depth from a biblical perspective.
Two hundred delegates came from all over the country to be equipped and encouraged by experts across a range of fields. Professor Robert Oscar (Bobby) Lopez, who was raised by his mother and same-sex partner, introduced Friday’s programme, which sought to understand the cultural shift. Bobby, Professor of Humanities at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has co-written ‘Jephthah’s Children’, soon to be available from Wilberforce Publications, which tells the painful stories of individuals raised by same-sex parents.
Speakers explored how society has shifted and why it is so damaging, through the lenses of medicine, biblical exegesis, sociology and literature. The afternoon closed with a sobering presentation from Anglican Mainstream’s Dr Lisa Nolland, a sex and gender historian, on the kind of explicit sex education being taught to our children.
Dr Nolland advises parents to prepare their children for what they will hear in school and offers a seminar, ‘Sexproof your kids’, while Dr Liz Jones, who formed an educational charity called ‘Lovewise’, provides resources for parents to use with their children around the age of puberty.
This wake-up call set the tone for Friday evening’s premiere of an original play, ’Sunlight’ – an autobiographical tale of a man raised by same-sex parents.
Saturday’s programme focussed on how to respond to the cultural shift, including advice on how to respond if somebody believes they are same-sex attracted, or transgender. Dr Mike Davidson of Core Issues Trust explained that sexuality is not fixed but fluid among young people; attractions they may feel in their teens are not a permanent indicator of sexuality.
Dermot O’Callaghan presented statistics to prove that ‘homophobic’ bullying is 6% of the general bullying among schoolchildren, but has been magnified.
Antonia Tully of SPUC explained that with the NHS funding the ‘anything goes’ sexual health programme, it is best to work family by family.
The day ended with a plenary, where speakers offered final thoughts on how we can move forward and respond with truth, love and compassion. If you’d like to further explore these issues, visit the resources hub on the Christian Concern website.
Camilla Olim, Christian Concern
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