We Don’t Want to be Dinosaurs

The following post is from Laura Statesir, Director of Family and Youth at The Marin Foundation. 

This month I made two amazing discoveries. First, they are filming another Jurassic Park movie called Jurassic World. For someone who quotes the line, “Hold on to your butts,” when anything exciting is about to happen, this is a great day. The second discovery I made is that there are still Christian schools in the United States that do not teach about dinosaurs as part of their curriculum. I found out this astounding fact from a girl in my Bible study who admitted that she was not educated about “terrible lizards” as a kid.

I can’t imagine growing up without knowing about those fascinating creatures. My cousin and I played dinosaur hunter and looked for fossils in my backyard. I kept a “dinosaur notebook” of newspaper and magazine articles about dinosaurs. And who doesn’t love to laugh at a T-Rex and it’s funny little arms?

The reason my friend’s Christian school did not educate their students about dinosaurs is because her school only taught creationism and did not teach about evolution. As a child growing up in church I remember being confused about how dinosaurs fit into the Bible. I couldn’t figure out how Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark fit in with Triceratops and Stegosaurs. To solve the riddle, I did what any curious Christian kid would do and got a book from the church library called “Dinosaurs in the Bible” or something like that. I don’t remember much about it except that it had pictures of dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. Apparently the book was enough to satisfy my curiosity and convince me that science and the Bible could fit together.

My friend’s lack of dino-knowledge is a funny yet poignant example of a larger problem I see in parts of Christendom today. When Christians face difficult topics, such as, “How do science and the Bible fit together?”, sometimes our response is to ignore the question altogether and stick our heads in the sand (like a modern day descendant of dinosaurs, the ostrich). By avoiding current questions that are sticky or difficult to answer, are Christians becoming “dinosaurs?”

I see the Church doing this a lot with issues of sexuality. Instead of having frank and candid discussions with our youth about sexuality, we assume that all our youth are saints and are not interested in sex. Instead of recognizing that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches, we deny that they exist. Instead of giving youth who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity a safe place to explore their questions, we silence them. Instead of providing support for Christian parents with gay children, we shame them into thinking they’re alone.

Questions about evolution or sexuality are not going to go away. Good or bad, right or wrong, sin or not sin, LGBTQ people exist in our churches, Christian colleges, and ministries. They sit in our pews, teach Sunday school, and serve in our soup kitchens. LGBTQ people attend Christian universities and colleges. There are even LGBTQ people serving as Christian missionaries in foreign lands. We can no longer pretend that this topic only exists in the “secular” world.

I am not suggesting that lead pastors have to preach a six week sermon series or that Christian universities need to offer a course on sexuality (although, if done well both of those could be instrumental in creating space for LGBTQ people to know and be loved by Christ.) I am suggesting that churches, universities, and ministries take a long hard look at themselves and their policies on this topic to examine if their “stance” matches Christ’s commandment to love others.

The least we can do is admit that this touches our churches, colleges, and ministries and educate ourselves about loving the LGBTQ community as Christ would. We should create safe spaces for people to question their sexuality or gender identity, where they can find not condemnation, but the unconditional love of Christ. We should get to know LGBTQ people in our churches and ministries and hear their stories. We should provide support groups for Christian parents with LGBTQ children so they can know they are not alone and don’t have to choose between their child and their faith.

And maybe we could give dinosaurs a chance too. =)

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Gilbeetx

    Laura, Thanks for calling us out to be more than just a social club. As a church leader in a relatively conservative church with a son who identifies as gay, I know of what you speak. We must overcome our fears and deal with the brokeness in our sexual relationships of all types. God loves me (us) despite knowing everything about me (the good and bad). Our teens are growing up in a ‘one and done’ world. I give you one chance and if you mess with me, then I’m done with you. I’ve seen it over and over and on both sides of the street. I’m so glad that Jesus does not have a ‘one and done’ mindset with me and my family. And so I’m trying to love others like Jesus – I love you despite. I love you anyway. I love you period.
    Parents need to not let fear invade their families. Fear of wrong decisions by teens. Fear of a child having a baby or being sexually active. Fear of a child coming out. Fear of dealing with drug addiction. It sound cliche but love does drive out fear.
    Keep up the conversation: one heart at a time!

    • Laura Statesir

      Thanks so much for your insight Gilbeetx.

  • Steve

    “Instead of recognizing that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our churches, we deny that they exist” , “Good or bad, right or wrong, sin or not sin, LGBTQ people exist in our churches”

    I, for one, wholly endorse the idea that “LGBTQ people” don’t exist. There is no such thing as “LGBTQ people”. There are only “people”. There are only human beings, beautiful (if fallen) creatures made in the image and likeness of God. We are all share that fundmental sameness. Nothing can take that away.

    Everyone has their struggles, everyone has their temptations, but that doesn’t make them a different type of person. I see the “LGBTQ people” moniker as a backhanded way of quarantining off a certain group of people, ensuring that they’ll always be identified as fundamentally different while pretending to be compassionate.

    • http://aredemptionofhope.blogspot.com Ally C

      Sooo… do you not see black people? White people? Hispanic people? What about Christians? Buddhists? Muslims? Or Republicans? Democrats?

      i am a member of the LGBTQ community. While i don’t speak for all LGBTQs out there, it’s important for me to use this ‘label’ because my story radically differs from someone who experiences life through a hetero-normative (straight) lens– just as i use the labels ‘woman’ to differentiate that i am not a man, “Hispanic” to differentiate that i am not white or black, “Christian” to differentiate that i am not of another religious practice, etc.

      • Steve

        When I see a person with blonde hair, I don’t classify him as “blonde person”. Just someone who happens to have blond hair.

        We need not separate ourselves into little tribes. We should all view each other first and foremost with that fundamental common humanity.

        When I differentiate, I like to put the “person” first. People with blonde hair. People with dark skin. People who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. So yeah, I don’t see these little cliques. Only people.

        • http://aredemptionofhope.blogspot.com Ally C

          Respectfully, your comparison isn’t a fair comparison. As a woman, my life experience is fundamentally different than your life experience as a (i assume, given your name) a man. And my life experience as a lesbian is fundamentally different than that of someone who is straight. That cannot be said of hair color; my life experience is no different whether I stick with my natural brunette or dye it any other color. I agree that we ought to acknowledge our common humanity but it is equally important to acknowledge rather than erase our differences– to refuse this acknowledgment only leads to oppression.

          • Steve

            What you’ve pointed out is that some differences result in different experiences, and some moreso than others. So a person who is straight, has dark skin, and is born in the USA will have a very different experience from a person who is same-sex attracted, light-skinned, and born in Taiwan.

            But that doesn’t mean we’ve discovered new sub-species of humanity. It just means people are different. We don’t need to qualify their fundamental personhood with any additional descriptor.


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