In the old days, sex education for young people in the church focused on boundaries: how far one could go with a partner without actually sinning.
These days, things are more complicated, to say the least.
Consider Mary, a 17-year old Christian high school student.
Her friend group at school includes a mix of Christians, quasi-Christians, agnostics, atheists and one Muslim.
Most are sympathetic to — or members of — the “queer” community of gays, lesbians, bi’s, and gender non-conforming persons.
At church, Mary is taught to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” But she knows most of her friends recoil at that idea. They won’t allow the separation of a person’s actions from their sexual identity. And most are negative toward the church.
Mary’s caught in the middle. A volunteer at her Wednesday night youth ministry makes a few disparaging remarks about the “homosexual agenda.”
Something isn’t right. She’s not sure what to think.
October of her senior year Mary’s best friend, Emma, announces she’s transitioning to a male identity. He chooses a new name for himself — Ethan.
Back at church, in a Bible study on purity, Mary reads texts from Genesis 19, Leviticus 18, and Romans 1. Seems like God is mostly against queers, she thinks. Against Ethan.
But Mary isn’t. She loves her friends. At some point she comes to believe they’re right about the church: it’s a judgmental, oppressive institution. Definitely not loving.
Mary decides it’s finally time to show support for her friends, and leave the church. Time to get angry.