In the movie Frozen, the cute, loveable snowman Olaf, sings a song about summer time. Maybe you know the song? “The hot and the cold are both so intense, put them together and it just makes sense! Rata ta ta, dada, dada da da doo”…And then Olaf sings a line that anticipates another line – he sings “winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle” – and he makes you think the last word of the next line will rhyme with “cuddle”. The next line starts out like this, “but put me in summer and I’ll be a…” – and Olaf fools me, every time! I belt out PUDDLE! But instead, Olaf sings, “but put me in summer and I’ll be a happy snowman!”
After this song, Kristoff says, “Somebody’s gotta tell him.”
The thing about this song is it is a fantasy of Olaf’s. It is *not* a reality. In fact, later in the movie, Olaf is comforting Anna and he sits by a fire. What happens to him? He begins to melt. Olaf is a snowman. The nature of a snowman is such that if it gets near heat – fire, summer sun, etc. – it will melt. Kristoff knows this is Olaf’s reality.
In the West, we have adopted a culture where fantasy is mixed with reality. I remember having a conversation years ago with an old roommate of mine, and I was confronted with the idea of Santa Clause and whether I would, when I became a parent, allow my kids to celebrate/believe in Santa Clause. There were several points about this debate, but the one that struck me most was that, in allowing my kids believe in something that is not real, I would in fact be lying to them by letting them believe he is real. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I had to come to ethical terms with that.
But as a Western American, I was taken back that my roommate would make such ridiculous arguments against letting kids believe in Santa. But he was right. We live in a culture that can no longer differentiate between what is reality and what is fantasy. Whether it be Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, video games (really, I know boys who have made video games their ultimate reality – any time they are away from their x-box’s, all they talk about are their games, all they pretend to do is re-enact their games, and so forth), or transgender behavior/activity.
The focus has become on what it means to be. What something is. We have so denied God in our culture that we no longer recognize the ultimate Being, we no longer accept objective reality. We have accepted, and even encouraged in the name of creativity, new ways of defining reality and what it means to be. There no longer are clear lines between fantasy and reality. We have denied Creator-God, and thus denied objective function in creation. When we deny Creator-God’s existence, we (mankind) get to believe we are the ones who determine what is and what it means to function in any state of being.
The question has been asked what would I do as a parent if my child began to express transgender feelings. I have a few practical things, though not exhaustive, that I would do:
1. Unconditional Love
This phrase has even taken on new forms in Western ideologies. Unconditional love has become equal to unconditional acceptance and tolerance. So, let me clarify – that is not how I am using the phrase unconditional love. I am using it in a redemptive-historical sense – the sense that is clear in the Bible of how God loves His own.
From Genesis to Revelation, (redemptive history) we see God pursuing His people and not allowing them to live in ways that are eternally bad for them. We are even led to believe that there are times when God disciplines the entire nation of Israel so that they will turn back to Him. There are temporary times when it seems they are doing bad for themselves, but later in the narrative we learn it was God’s sovereignty that allowed them to do so, because He knew that it would be the means by which they would come back to Him.
I would provide unconditional love to my child by providing discipline (temporary “badness”) with the hopes and design that there would not only be corrected behavior, but trusting obedience. This is how God loves those who have faith in Him – a part of His discipline is corrective in order to change a bad behavior. But another part of His discipline is meant to lead to a deeper and further trust later so that there would be obedience from that trust. This is necessarily tied into the second point, for without the second point, we leave our children having to guess for themselves as to what is good for them in reality.
2. Speaking Truthfully about Reality
I think parents miss this. I saw a meme on Facebook once that showed two pictures – the first picture was a teacher, parents, and a child in a classroom and it depicted the parents taking the teacher’s side. The second picture had the same people in it, but the parents were taking the child’s side. The caption read “the difference between when I was a kid and kids today”.
Parents – if you are not providing corrective discipline (which is an act of love), then you do not love your child (Proverbs 13:24). As a parent, I have the responsibility to speak truthfully to my child – which bare minimum means I need to know what is true. I have a responsibility to know what *is* reality and what *is not* reality, and to convey that to my child.
So, if I have my son come to me one day and say, “dad, I think I’m transgender, I think I’m really a girl”, it is my God-given responsibility by definition and by default of being his parent to speak to him what he is in reality – a boy. I do not wish to over-simplify this point, and so suffice it to say that there would be a lot more I would do – such as patiently nurture reality vs. fantasy in him, read Scripture over him and with him, pray over him and with him, and continue to speak truth with him as I continue to love him unconditionally.
These are only a few practical things that we must accept and embrace as parents as our roles. But they are not disconnected – there can be *no* unconditional love without a commitment to truthfulness and reality.
On a more philosophical note, I am afraid that as a culture we are no longer rightly able to divide delusion from reality. When we act against or correctively towards someone we label as delusional, we are living – as a culture – hypocritically and inconsistently. We must be beacons of truth with our children and establish firm grounds of what is really real and what is fantasy. Olaf needed this from Kristoff, but he found out the hard way – he would melt in the summer sun because Olaf is a snowman.