Equip recently released Christian Parenting in Sex-Obsessed Culture, a 6-week course that equips parents to lead kids ages 2-12 in conversation about God-honoring sexual stewardship. What practical tools does our Parent Course offer? We train parents to use current events as opportunities to teach their children. Check out a sample below and learn more at equipyourcommunity.org/parentcourse.
JoJo Siwa is a 17-year-old children’s entertainer with over 12 million YouTube subscribers, most of whom are elementary school-aged children. Many Christian parents bought their daughters JoJo’s oversized bows, allowed their kids to watch JoJo’s upbeat videos, and even took their children to JoJo’s concerts. And with good reason: JoJo Siwa is one of the few entertainers who exemplifies good morals. She’s positive and kind, she dresses and dances modestly, her songs discourage bullying, and she hasn’t been part of any controversy.
Then, in an Instagram post, JoJo came out as gay.
News of JoJo’s sexual orientation and that she has a girlfriend has left some Christian parents wondering how to best respond.
Should we cancel (see a definition of “canceling” at the end of the post) JoJo, remove any presence of her merchandise from our homes, and ban our children from ever enjoying her music again?
Should we assume our kids are too young to understand what JoJo means when she says “love is love”?
Should we try to explain to our kids what’s going on?
Should we let them enjoy JoJo’s fabulous costumes and catchy songs without worrying too much about her personal life?
Easy solutions that cause long term damage
The easiest solution may be to completely remove JoJo’s presence from our children’s lives while explaining that we can no longer support JoJo because she has revealed that she’s gay and has a girlfriend. I understand the concerns. We don’t want our children to pick up cultural messages that would lead them toward a progressive sexual ethic.
It’s true that much of what JoJo says is problematic. Personal happiness, which JoJo says comes from her work, her fans, and her personal life, seems to be the driving force in her life. Her advice to her fans is this: “Do whatever it is that makes you happy” (Instagram post, January 23). Many of her videos seem to communicate that happiness can be found in shopping sprees and meeting celebrities. Clearly, those aren’t the values we want to pass on to our kids.
But are we addressing all of the ways JoJo’s advice and values contradict Scripture, or are we only concerned now that JoJo has shared that she is gay and has a girlfriend? If we’re willing to cancel JoJo for these, but we’re unwilling to cancel her when she gave her fans advice that clearly contradicts Scripture, are we just being homophobic?
While our hearts may be in the right place, what do our kids learn when we withdraw our support for JoJo because she’s gay and has a girlfriend? While we probably hope to communicate to our kids that God’s best plan for relationships doesn’t include same-sex romance, I don’t think our kids hear that. They aren’t hearing the love God has for all people, regardless of their attractions. They aren’t hearing that God has set a high bar for sexual stewardship for all people, regardless of their orientation. Rather, they’re hearing the following:
We should fear gay people (We’ll pray for “those people.”)
Being gay is bad (I’m not allowed to watch JoJo’s videos any more, she must have done something wrong, she must be bad.)
Same-sex attractions should be kept a secret (if JoJo had never come out, I would still be allowed to like her; if I ever experience attraction to the same sex I probably won’t be welcome in my home so I shouldn’t tell anyone).
Gay people are subject to rules straight people aren’t (Before JoJo shared about her attractions – when everyone assumed she was opposite-sex attracted – she was living her life in some ways that weren’t God-honoring, but my parents weren’t concerned; God must have extra rules for gay people.)
Lead your kids in conversation instead of canceling in fear
Parents, I urge you to use this cultural moment to teach your kids about God’s wisdom regarding sexual stewardship and His love for gay people, instead of canceling. Since our identity as Christians is firmly rooted in Christ, JoJo Siwa’s attractions and relationship are not a threat to us or to God’s design for relationships. We don’t have to fear opportunities like these to teach our kids.
And while it is right to talk to our children about the appropriate place celebrities like JoJo should have in our lives, we don’t have to condemn gay people in order to teach our kids about God-honoring sexual stewardship. They’ll see those truths in other areas as we teach in compassionate and theologically accurate ways about singleness and marriage and about what those are and how God designed them to function.
You could say something like this: “God loves gay people and has good plans for them. God loves JoJo and has good plans for her. God’s design for relationships and sex is the same for all people, regardless of who they’re attracted to. Let’s pray together that JoJo will choose to follow God’s wisdom for sexual stewardship. And I want you to know that if you ever feel like JoJo, if you ever notice that you’re attracted to other girls, it’s safe to tell me and I’ll do everything I can to help you thrive in God’s good plan for your life.”
Choose consistency over homophobia
Please be consistent.
If we don’t allow our kids to watch JoJo Siwa videos anymore because she has a girlfriend, we also need to bar our children from viewing any other actor/musician/celebrity/character/tv show/movie that uses romance or sex outside of God’s best. This includes sex outside of marriage, cheating on a spouse, divorce and remarriage, using pornography, casual dating with intimacy of a more sexual nature, or having children outside of wedlock. Are we willing to do that?
Inconsistency doesn’t protect our children. Instead, it teaches them to discriminate. And when that inconsistency is applied only to gay people, it teaches our kids homophobia. Our actions communicate to our children, “It’s okay when straight people ignore God’s wisdom. But if a gay person isn’t following the rules, we must punish them.”
If parents feel they must cancel entertainers to be serious about protecting their kids from the influences of our sex-obsessed culture, we should cancel everyone whose sexual stewardship isn’t God-honoring. But if we’re not willing to do that, we must admit that our reaction to JoJo is about more than just protecting.
Cancel culture won’t protect our children
Even if we managed to successfully protect our children from watching any videos or public figures that fall short of this high standard, we would still fail to block them from exposure to sexual brokenness in the rest of their lives. Reminders are everywhere that this world is not as it should be. Even if we narrow our focus just to gay people, there are many places our elementary-aged children could come into contact with a gay person not following God’s wisdom. Do we refuse to allow our kids to interact with their second-grade teacher who has a picture of his same-sex spouse on his desk? Do we quit the sports team when a teammate’s two moms show up to cheer him on? Do we stop taking our child to library story time because the children’s librarian wears a Pride flag pin on her lanyard?
We teach them that the way Jesus calls us to live will often be different from what others choose to do. We teach our children about God-honoring sexual stewardship while also teaching them to love and honor those who don’t uphold the same sexual ethic. And while we’re at it, we invite that gay person/couple into our home. It could be the first positive experience they have with Christians, probably after many negative interactions, and your home could be the only place they encounter the love Jesus has for all people.
Parents, my intent isn’t to shame you. If you’re having second thoughts about how you handled JoJo’s coming out, it’s not too late to have another conversation with your child! You can model owning up to the fact that you weren’t sure what to do, and admit that you reacted poorly. Praise the Lord for opportunities to courageously model Christ’s love and humility to our children! You can check out Equip’s free Parent Conversation Starters for tips on how to start age-appropriate dialogue about sexuality with your kids.
Learn more about leading your kids in conversations about God-honoring sexual stewardship with Equip’s Parent Course. Click here to watch a free preview of the Course and register for an upcoming virtual Course.
*Cancel culture “refers to the practice of withdrawing support for (cancelling) public figures/companies/brands after they have said or done something considered objectionable or offensive” (dictionary.com). While church discipline is helpful when a Christian inside the Church is continuing in unrepentant sin, cancel culture typically targets cultural messages from public figures/companies/brands with the intent to shame and/or completely disengage. When we choose to cancel, the losses end up being greater than the gain.
As concerning the Word of life, Luke 10 section 25-28 says: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: " ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
Luke 18 section 18-25 says: A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’" "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Matthew 5 section 43-48 says: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In Old Testament, the Jewish people and their ancestors were given the Law to observe. First, What Adam and Eve should observe was that they could not eat the fruits from the tree of wisdom. Then, their son Cain was told that he should not kill. As sins became increased, the laws were also added more. Up to the generation of Moses, the Law in Old Testament was given to Israelites. We know that the Law is good and the Law is used to punish people who commit sins, but people cannot obey the Law because the sinful spirits are in people. Even that we know stealing and giving false testimony are sinful, but greedy and pride spirits in us drive us to do sinful things. So as Old Testament prophesied we need to get rid of our sinful nature from our spirits.
Jeremiah 31 section 31-33 says: "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ezekiel 36 section 24-27 says: "’For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
The prophecies are fulfilled when Jesus begins to teach love. The two greatest commandments are " ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Love is above the Law and if people have love they are free from the law of sin and death. People who are full of love will not think about stealing or giving false testimony but are merciful and they feed hungry people or give thirsty people something to drink or invite strangers in or clothe people who need clothes. The Law is for people who commit sins. Nobody will say that he will get reward because he does not steal before. But love is the grace we get. And with love we will get eternal life.
Romans 13 section 8-10 says: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Luke 17 section 20-21 says: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say,’ Here it is,’ or ‘ There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you."
John 4 section 23-24 says: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Whoever wrote this is not a Christian. Being gay is not Gods plan. If you had kids watching Jo jo siwa before she said she was gay it’s really not ok that they still watch her. They don’t need a lot of explanation at a young age. Just that she is not appropriate to be watching anymore. ( who knows what she’ll be doing or talking about now). We have to protect our children as they are all being targeted now to think lgbtq is normal and ok. The Bible says the opposite. It is a sin. Just like adultary, murder, stealing. We all are sinners. No one is without sin. But being gay is a choice. Just as someone chooses to rape or kill. They may have these feelings and thoughts that they want to do this but it is wrong. Everyone has a God given conscience. You know right from wrong. Gay people know their lifestyle is wrong. That’s why they are fighting so hard to normalize it and have everyone think it’s ok. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9. There are also many other verses in the Bible about homosexuality. Just the way the human body is made tells you same sex relationships are not normal. Gods will is for all to be saved and go to heaven. Repent and trust In Jesus. Don’t let them indoctrinate your kids into thinking this is normal. It’s not and they know it.
Hi, Toutes, thanks for your comments. I would encourage you to read a couple of our other blog posts that explain what we believe about same-sex attraction. This one would be a good starting place: https://equipyourcommunity.org/blog/top-ten-part-1
I agree that we need to protect our kids. That’s why I wrote a 10-hour Parent Course, to help parents teach their kids about God’s good design for Christian sexual stewardship. Because following God’s plans helps us avoid so much pain and heartache and sin in our lives.
If gay people “know” that they are wrong because they have to defend their sexuality, then why are you not “wrong” for having to defend your beliefs?
I wouldn’t let my kids watch her. There is way too much homosexuality forced on our children in tv and movies. It’s all part of satans plan to make it seem normal and ok. It’s not ok, it’s a mental sickness. These people pretend to be happy but in reality they are miserable and it shows. May God have mercy on their souls, satan won’t..
Hi, David. I agree that parents should be very careful about what their children are exposed to through media. There are many things in movies, songs, and tv shows that kids shouldn’t hear or see. But we do live in a culture that makes it almost impossible to completely shelter our kids from every mention or sex or sexuality. It’s better to prepare our kids by teaching them the truths of God’s Word about how He expects Christians to steward our sexuality and how He expects Christians to love and minister to those who don’t believe like we do. The reality is that some of our kids, whether they watch JoJo or not, will one day experience same-sex attraction. We want them to know that God still loves them, that His design for Christian sexual stewardship is good, and that they will find the most joy in life when they follow His plan.
You’ve said that homosexuality is a mental illness—so god is sending people to hell for being mentally ill? Mental illness is a physiological brain condition. If I follow your logic correctly this would include other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety—people who are mentally incapable of fully purging their mental illness from themselves are unable to be saved.
JoJo “came out” when she did because she was about to get into trouble over that game her name was attached to. Pure distraction.
I’m not sure what prompted JoJo to come out when she did. Perhaps you’re right. Regardless, I don’t think JoJo’s is lying about experiencing same-sex attraction, and it’s still a good idea seek consistency in what we allow our kids to watch/hear/read.
The bible encourages us to have discernment while not judging others, but we must judge in order to make correct decisions. The bible is a guide for us and our children and clearly states be careful with whom you socialize with for you will become like them. That requires discernment and decision making; we are also taught to love one another but to admonish those who are not following God’s laws and who are sinning. We dont have to condone behaviors that are not moral or according to God’s plan for us.
I think Jo Jo coming out was a test, and it was awful that she gathered a following and then forced this on everyone knowing full well she was bisexual. I think that is dishonest.
I think its ok to say, we found out that this person is not a good role model for what God wants in our lives so we will not be watching her anymore. We have to teach our children to think and discern what is right for them and that what God wants what is best for us in our lives. Many people will be immoral or amoral in our culture, we want to teach our kids how to recognize and know THAT, so they can make Godly choices for relationships that are healthy for them mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is a chance to model that for them.