QA_Jennifer Kvamme_v1

Questions surrounding sexuality and gender have become an additional challenge for Christian parents alongside the many other demands of raising children. The narrative and assumptions within education make this especially tough as children grapple with who they are and how their friends choose to identify themselves. Jennifer Kvamme has written, ‘More to the Story’ (The Good Book Company) to help those engaged with young people and the young people themselves to better understand the Bible’s teaching in the light of the grand narrative God has and the good news Jesus brings.

Premier NexGen: What drew you to write this book?

Jennifer Kvamme: There has been a growing burden on my heart as I have been in youth ministry a long time and have been watching how many students find the issue of sexuality a significant thing in their faith journey.

They are wrestling with, what does the Bible really have to say about these things? Is it really good news? Can it be trusted? Some of them have been walking away from the church and away from their faith because they couldn’t reconcile what they hear in the culture with what they were hearing from the Bible.

It breaks my heart, because I do believe what the Bible says is good news. I just felt like, we have to be able to communicate about this topic in a way that is compelling, that reaches them where they’re at, and that is able to show them how what Jesus has to say about their sexuality is good and that He can be trusted.

I was looking around for resources to use and found there’s not one that is really written to students to their world that says what I would want it to say. Many other youth workers were finding the same. And then someone said: “Well, you’re the writer, maybe you should write it!” I initially laughed it off, but it stuck. And so I thought I should give this a shot.


PNG: One of the issues surrounding debates regarding gender and sexuality is that you can’t give yes and no answers. You need a long explanation to explain your view, especially if someone is personally impacted. This book aims to give that background?

JK: Yeah, that’s my hope. I’m hoping it starts conversations and allows some more curiosity and openness to exploring these issues further in Scripture. I hope it gives youth workers those kinds of opportunities for further conversations.


PNG: Your book looks at many ‘hot topics’:

  • What sexuality is
  • The work of the enemy
  • Jesus as Saviour
  • Why does God care what I do with my body (if I’m not hurting anyone)?
  • How do I figure out what really makes me me?
  • What am I supposed to do with such strong feelings?
  • Why does it matter what pronouns I use?
  • What if I never get married?
  • Why is sex “good” in marriage but “bad” before it?
  • Isn’t love love?
  • Is the Bible really against gay marriage?
  • Porn and virtual sex don’t hurt anyone, right?
  • What can and can’t we do when dating?
  • What about when I didn’t have a choice because I was abused?


PNG: Which of these topics did you found most challenging to write about?

JK: I think the gender chapter and the orientation chapter; both went through at least five rewrites! Those were really tricky.

They’re very sensitive and complex topics, and we’re giving them a chapter, so that in itself was challenging, and then just trying to be really sensitive to them.

There’s a lot of phrases and concepts that can trigger unintended responses from readers. I wanted to communicate clearly but not say something that could be too easily misconstrued or taken to mean a lot more than what I was trying to say.


PNG: Did you have an intended age range? What is the lower age limit to this book?

JK: I tried to write it so that middle schoolers could read it, as long as they are good readers and somewhat familiar with these things. My oldest daughter is 11. Someone asked me, “Oh, would you give it to her?” I said that there’s probably a couple of conversations we need to have first, just so she would understand some of the things in there. But pretty soon I would. I would love for it to be the kind of book that would help parents to be the first voice into these kinds of topics with their kids. As I was writing, I was thinking about 14 year olds.


PNG: And in your own research were there particular books or writers that had helped you particularly?

JK: I read lots of books, and many of them were very helpful. I really appreciated several of Sam Allberry’s books; Rachel Gilson, and her book Born Again This Way. Julie Slattery has some great things on sexuality more broadly. I also enjoyed Jackie Hill Perry’s story in Gay Girl Good God.


PNG: Would you say the book predominantly would be for those within the church who are looking to grapple with this from a biblical point of view? Or would it also be helpful for non-believers who are investigating what the Church believes?

JK: My hope is that it really could be for both. I tried to write it so that wherever students were starting at, they could take this journey. Obviously, it would be for students who are interested in what the Bible has to say for some reason.


PNG: And your thoughts for Christian parents as you grappled with these topics? You know, did you feel the increasing challenge for parents, or did you find that actually, as you explored the topic, you found some clues and some secrets that the parents can draw upon?

I certainly hope the book is helpful for parents having these conversations with their students. I don’t know if I stumbled upon any secrets. it’s certainly not easy. These can be some really tough conversations, especially if their kids are struggling. So I don’t want to promise easy answers or easy conversations.

I would encourage parents to be really prayerful in how they approach this and to just ask really good questions. Try to understand where their students are coming from, what they’re feeling and thinking and what they’re hearing from their friends. Use teachable moments from something on TV or in the news or that their friends are talking about to just engage and keep those conversations open. To let their kids know that none of these things are off the table.

Keep coming back to truth that Jesus is good news. There’s some big calls in following Jesus to give up everything. All of us have to wrestle with that and be willing to surrender. But on the other side of it, what Jesus offers is better by far than anything we give up. That’s what I would encourage parents to keep coming back to with their kids.


PNG: You have been in youth ministry 20 years. Can you compare your start with today when it comes to these issues?

The issues were around but different. I’ve been teaching a theology of sexuality series several times over the course of these 20 years so that everyone hopefully gets it while they’re in high school. Today I’m not changing what I’m teaching. But I do need to really change the way that I approach it because students are starting at a really different place. I think before, when I talked about topics like orientation, I was trying to help students shift away from an ‘us and them’ kind of mind-set of like, these are people we need to love, and we all struggle with sin– trying to help them have a gracious response.

When I came back to it a few years ago I realised that almost all my students have friends that identify as something besides their own birth gender or besides straight, and they do by and large have a lot of compassion for them.

So now they’re wrestling more with, “Does the Bible really say…?” or “Is that really good? Do I really want to believe and follow this?” I approach it differently, because they’re starting in a different place. And both of those have things to affirm. I love their compassion. You know, that is something we see modelled in Christ. Now I’m asking, How can I help them to hold their biblical convictions alongside this compassion?


Jennifer Kvamme is the Student Ministries Catalyst at her church in Minnesota, where she has served for 20 years. She oversees the youth ministry, including Wednesday nights teaching, and engages in relational ministry and leadership development.