Homosexuality, Christianity, and Student Ministry

Disclaimer: Before we can begin talking about this I have to put my cards on the table with where I stand and what I believe the scriptures tell us on this topic. If you fundamentally disagree with what the next paragraph says then this post will be meaningless to you and maybe even offensive. However, I am just being faithful to my convictions and my understanding of the scriptures.

I believe homosexuality is a sin based on Romans 1:26-27 & Matthew 15:18-19. Though I believe it is a sin, I don’t pedestal it above any other sexual sin. Matthew 15 says that out of the heart comes sexual immorality and in the original language, sexual immorality is porneia, which represents a bunch of sexual sins under one word. It is also where we get the word porn.  So I don’t look at the person who is homosexual as anymore sinful as an adulterer or a person addicted to porn. Because a Christian who lives in the south (or the south of the south because I live in Florida) we wrongfully see porn and even adultery as more acceptable sins than homosexuality. This is because more people can agree that homosexuality is a sin however calling out porn addiction or adultery may lower how much gets put in the offering plate or even lower church attendance. Regardless of why, it is wrong for pastors and the church to exalt homosexuality as a more grievous sin than others. All sins lead to death and according to Romans 1, the same heart that commits homosexuality is the same heart that slanders, gossips, and invents new ways of sinning. A sinner is a sinner and it levels the playing field for everyone.

With that being said, what do you do when a student in your youth group comes out as being homosexual? Homosexuality is a lifestyle being more and more accepted if not promoted by media and entertainment. Shows like Modern Family and the New Normal are only a glimpse at how major TV networks are trying to promote this lifestyle. Let’s be real, too, Modern Family does a good job at it, they were nominated for 14 Emmys.  Glee is another hugely successful show that has a homosexual agenda. Please, youth pastors, don’t be naïve to think that your youth group isn’t watching it. My homeschooled girls are watching it with their mom. Those kids can sing and if you deny it you are lying to yourself.

“The main thing we have to do when we find out or a youth comes out that they are homosexual is to not attack their sexual orientation but go towards their hearts orientation.”

The main thing we have to do when we find out or a youth comes out that they are homosexual is to not attack their sexual orientation but go towards their hearts orientation. Sexual orientation is a secondary issue. It is also a result of what is going on with their heart. Youth pastors and parents freak out too quickly and try to resolve the exterior issue when what first needs to be correctly aligned is their heart. What if we were able to “make” them straight? We just made a heterosexual who is going to hell. So I suggest we should do the following.

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Talk to the parents

Tell them you are aware and you are there for them. This is a crazy time for the student and for the parents and our job as youth pastors is to minister to the youth and to their mom and dad. Parents sometimes feel like they have failed as parents. This is one of those hard moments where parents need to understand that all the great parenting in the world won’t stop a hardened heart and sin. They need Christ to break through that heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh.

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Don’t bring up orientation, bring up the Gospel

Matt Chandler said once that “Transformed hearts lead to transformed lives.” I want to love the kid so much and saturated them in the Gospel where when they see me they just see the love of Christ on them. Now understand this carefully, what that does in the life of someone who is living in sin is they say to themselves, “Well Christ says this and to live like that. I live like this but to be a Christian is to do that. So what should I do?” That opens the room for the talk about sexual orientation. Again, let’s not be naïve, we live in a country where Evangelicals still say homosexuality is a sin. If they are still coming to your church and you are preaching the whole council of God’s word they are going to have in the back of their mind, “I know this is counter to what God wants but I am going to just keep coming to church.” The gospel changes people not your well played arguments against homosexuality.

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Study

When I first became a Christian I was very indifferent on many things that I now have strong convictions on. One of which was homosexuality. I was never gay but had friends that were openly homosexual or bisexual and could come up with a few arguments that would questions the traditional Christian worldview on this. “Your sexual orientation is personal and doesn’t hurt anyone so what is wrong with it?” “Only Paul, who we know hates women and is a homophobe, said anything about homosexuality. The Old Testament is, well old and Jesus never said homosexuality is a sin so why does it matter?” “Homosexuality in the Bible is different than homosexuality today.” “If someone is born and wired this way, how can God punish them for it?” Even after I made my convictions on homosexuality, if you asked me these questions I wouldn’t know what to say. So I studied. Matt Chandler did an amazing job preaching and taking questions at a forum he held on the topic. Below are the videos of the forum. I would encourage every youth pastor and their volunteers to watch these. Perhaps even as a group. It is long but these three videos will change the way you interact and communicate with homosexuals.

http://vimeo.com/12086824

http://vimeo.com/12088496

http://vimeo.com/12110166

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28 Comments

  1. Good practical steps at the end Frank - and agreed on not exalting it above other sins. Though this has never happened "front and center" in our ministry (yet), I would see this as a great opportunity to focus in, disciple and mentor a student, and work alongside the parents towards restoration. This is where a lot of time, consistency, and longevity will pay off and will give you credibility to speak truth into a student's life. Good stuff, tough topic.
    • I think that is one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Baptist. We have to deal with all of the others who want to make homosexuality the make-or-break sin, when, in reality, there are so many other sins that are more rampant that are tearing our students apart.
  2. Good practical steps at the end Frank - and agreed on not exalting it above other sins. Though this has never happened "front and center" in our ministry (yet), I would see this as a great opportunity to focus in, disciple and mentor a student, and work alongside the parents towards restoration. This is where a lot of time, consistency, and longevity will pay off and will give you credibility to speak truth into a student's life. Good stuff, tough topic.
    • I think that is one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Baptist. We have to deal with all of the others who want to make homosexuality the make-or-break sin, when, in reality, there are so many other sins that are more rampant that are tearing our students apart.
  3. I read your disclaimer and definitely disagree with your first paragraph. I do appreciate that you did put your cards on the table ahead of your discussion of this topic. Although I fundamentally disagree with your premise, I did not stop reading there and did not find your post to be "meaningless". What I found most offensive was your assertion that if I disagreed with you, I would find nothing of value in your post. To me, it felt like you were cutting off any opportunity for discussion. That being said, I found a few things in your post that I appreciated, and others that were troubling to me. I hope that you will consider them as I have considered your position. I greatly appreciate your statement that homosexuality is not a sin to be considered above other sins. Although I do not consider it to be sin, it bothers me when those who do hold it above other sins. I think that regarding all sins on a equal plane is key in order to love our other brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they identify as homosexual or not. Your genuine love and concern for all your students, regardless of their sexual orientation was clearly evident. To me that is the most important thing. However, the language that you used in the post, to me, seemed like you did consider it to be a different or greater sort of sin. Please let me know if I have misinterpreted your words. I am not trying to change your position, as I hope you will not try to change mine. I merely would like you to consider the words you use when discussing this topic. You refer to "the homosexual lifestyle" but not the "porn addicted lifestyle" or the "adulterer lifestyle". People who are homosexual live lives that are in many ways the same as people who are heterosexual. Some straight people are promiscuous and some gay people are. Many straight people are monogamous and faithful as are many homosexual people. You mention TV shows that "promote" this lifestyle as problematic, but please remember that many of those same networks and others include characters that cheat and display many other sins. Are they promoting a particular lifestyle as well? Perhaps you consider that they are, which is perfectly valid, but you have singled out homosexuality. I realize that was the topic of your post, but you mentioned that you did not consider it a sin above other sins. Personally, I am more offended and concerned by the normalization of infidelity in media these days and think it is valuable when gay and straight couples are portrayed as faithful and committed. Finally, this may seem nitpicky, but I am concerned with the use of the words "gay" and "homosexual" as nouns. They are adjectives that describe a particular attribute of a whole person. You may refer to an adulterer or a porn addict as a noun, but it would usually be in the context of that particular sin. Homosexual people are often referred to solely by their sexual orientation in all contexts. They are whole people, often with deep and committed faiths.They are not wholly defined by their sexuality, any more than you or I are. There is much more to us. If you believe it is a sin, no better or worse than any other, then I feel it would be more productive and loving to not refer to a gay person as "a homosexual". When people sin in other ways, do you solely refer to them by those sins? Again, I know I will not change your mind, but I hope this may have given you a few more things to consider as you deal with this issue. Your post has given me a greater understanding of a position opposite of mine, and for that I did not find it meaningless. In fact, it helped me to remember that as youth pastors, we are in the business of loving people, which I believe you and I both want to do for our gay and straight students alike. Blessings to you and your ministry.
    • Thanks for your honest dialogue Caitlin. It's great that discussion can take place without people getting crazy (as often happens on this topic). I'm curious about two things. 1. How does a person of the Word biblically say that homosexuality is not a sin? There are lots of passages that seem pretty cut and dry, so I'm curious about your take on that. And 2. You criticized frank for using the term homosexual, but in this context, what is appropriate? Since e are talking about that specific sin, it seems appropriate. And it also seems that many who participate in that sin identify themselves with that term. What is the proper term or approach?
    • Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate the way you wrote your comment and so thoughtfully read through what I said. I hope I can answer some of the things you wrote, though my friend Keith Parker did a great job bringing up some of my thoughts already. 1. Finding my article meaningless is a bit of an overstatement and I understand how there could be value even to those who don't agree with me. My thoughts are, if you can't agree with me that Homosexuality is a sin, then an article about how to handle students who are homosexual from that prospective can seem a bit useless because I come from a worldview that is completely different than yours. However, I am glad you found value in this article none the less. 2. When ever you write a post on the a specific topic, although I don't exalt homosexuality as a great sin than any other sin, since I have dedicated a whole post to it, so much attention is going to be viewed as of greater importance. However, all sin has the same consequence and all sin has the same atonement. 3. Every TV show, movie, whatever, has an agenda and a worldview. From 7th Heaven to Friends to The New Girl, every show promotes a worldview and a perspective. Adultery and promiscuity is seemed as normal on many shows, show is lying, pride, covetousness, and much more. I could do a post on every sin and bring up 5 TV shows that promote such sin. I am not more offended when one show promotes homosexuality or one show promote adultery. When it comes to media I kinda of expect all that. I think the honest Christian has to agree that you can't watch anything on TV without observing several sins that are praised by the characters. Even my beloved show LOST promoted adultery, murder, lying, and in a sense even a bit of witchcraft. If we decide to engage television we have to go in with discernment that we are exposing our selves to all kinds of sin. The thing that probably should rattle our cage is when the Lord is mocked or taken in vain. Again, even my beloved show LOST was a perpetrator of that. 4.I agree referring to someone by their sin is wrong and the main thrust of this article that I was trying to achieve is that we should deal with their spiritual orientation before we deal with their sexual orientation. I do find it interesting that you are fine with adulterer's or porn addicts being labeled by their sexual sin however homosexuals get a pass. I think this should apply to the homosexual, drug addict, the prideful, or the adulterer. These are all people, whom God loves and sent Christ to die for their sins. Whatever the situation or the sin, we should all deal with their hard heart towards Christ and pray for their salvation. I would highly suggest, if you have the time, to watch those 3 videos I linked in the post. Matt Chandler articulates his position on why Homosexuality is a sin as well as answers common arguments for homosexuality being a legitimate lifestyle choice. God Bless you and thank you for commenting on my post!
  4. I read your disclaimer and definitely disagree with your first paragraph. I do appreciate that you did put your cards on the table ahead of your discussion of this topic. Although I fundamentally disagree with your premise, I did not stop reading there and did not find your post to be "meaningless". What I found most offensive was your assertion that if I disagreed with you, I would find nothing of value in your post. To me, it felt like you were cutting off any opportunity for discussion. That being said, I found a few things in your post that I appreciated, and others that were troubling to me. I hope that you will consider them as I have considered your position. I greatly appreciate your statement that homosexuality is not a sin to be considered above other sins. Although I do not consider it to be sin, it bothers me when those who do hold it above other sins. I think that regarding all sins on a equal plane is key in order to love our other brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they identify as homosexual or not. Your genuine love and concern for all your students, regardless of their sexual orientation was clearly evident. To me that is the most important thing. However, the language that you used in the post, to me, seemed like you did consider it to be a different or greater sort of sin. Please let me know if I have misinterpreted your words. I am not trying to change your position, as I hope you will not try to change mine. I merely would like you to consider the words you use when discussing this topic. You refer to "the homosexual lifestyle" but not the "porn addicted lifestyle" or the "adulterer lifestyle". People who are homosexual live lives that are in many ways the same as people who are heterosexual. Some straight people are promiscuous and some gay people are. Many straight people are monogamous and faithful as are many homosexual people. You mention TV shows that "promote" this lifestyle as problematic, but please remember that many of those same networks and others include characters that cheat and display many other sins. Are they promoting a particular lifestyle as well? Perhaps you consider that they are, which is perfectly valid, but you have singled out homosexuality. I realize that was the topic of your post, but you mentioned that you did not consider it a sin above other sins. Personally, I am more offended and concerned by the normalization of infidelity in media these days and think it is valuable when gay and straight couples are portrayed as faithful and committed. Finally, this may seem nitpicky, but I am concerned with the use of the words "gay" and "homosexual" as nouns. They are adjectives that describe a particular attribute of a whole person. You may refer to an adulterer or a porn addict as a noun, but it would usually be in the context of that particular sin. Homosexual people are often referred to solely by their sexual orientation in all contexts. They are whole people, often with deep and committed faiths.They are not wholly defined by their sexuality, any more than you or I are. There is much more to us. If you believe it is a sin, no better or worse than any other, then I feel it would be more productive and loving to not refer to a gay person as "a homosexual". When people sin in other ways, do you solely refer to them by those sins? Again, I know I will not change your mind, but I hope this may have given you a few more things to consider as you deal with this issue. Your post has given me a greater understanding of a position opposite of mine, and for that I did not find it meaningless. In fact, it helped me to remember that as youth pastors, we are in the business of loving people, which I believe you and I both want to do for our gay and straight students alike. Blessings to you and your ministry.
    • Thanks for your honest dialogue Caitlin. It's great that discussion can take place without people getting crazy (as often happens on this topic). I'm curious about two things. 1. How does a person of the Word biblically say that homosexuality is not a sin? There are lots of passages that seem pretty cut and dry, so I'm curious about your take on that. And 2. You criticized frank for using the term homosexual, but in this context, what is appropriate? Since e are talking about that specific sin, it seems appropriate. And it also seems that many who participate in that sin identify themselves with that term. What is the proper term or approach?
    • Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate the way you wrote your comment and so thoughtfully read through what I said. I hope I can answer some of the things you wrote, though my friend Keith Parker did a great job bringing up some of my thoughts already. 1. Finding my article meaningless is a bit of an overstatement and I understand how there could be value even to those who don't agree with me. My thoughts are, if you can't agree with me that Homosexuality is a sin, then an article about how to handle students who are homosexual from that prospective can seem a bit useless because I come from a worldview that is completely different than yours. However, I am glad you found value in this article none the less. 2. When ever you write a post on the a specific topic, although I don't exalt homosexuality as a great sin than any other sin, since I have dedicated a whole post to it, so much attention is going to be viewed as of greater importance. However, all sin has the same consequence and all sin has the same atonement. 3. Every TV show, movie, whatever, has an agenda and a worldview. From 7th Heaven to Friends to The New Girl, every show promotes a worldview and a perspective. Adultery and promiscuity is seemed as normal on many shows, show is lying, pride, covetousness, and much more. I could do a post on every sin and bring up 5 TV shows that promote such sin. I am not more offended when one show promotes homosexuality or one show promote adultery. When it comes to media I kinda of expect all that. I think the honest Christian has to agree that you can't watch anything on TV without observing several sins that are praised by the characters. Even my beloved show LOST promoted adultery, murder, lying, and in a sense even a bit of witchcraft. If we decide to engage television we have to go in with discernment that we are exposing our selves to all kinds of sin. The thing that probably should rattle our cage is when the Lord is mocked or taken in vain. Again, even my beloved show LOST was a perpetrator of that. 4.I agree referring to someone by their sin is wrong and the main thrust of this article that I was trying to achieve is that we should deal with their spiritual orientation before we deal with their sexual orientation. I do find it interesting that you are fine with adulterer's or porn addicts being labeled by their sexual sin however homosexuals get a pass. I think this should apply to the homosexual, drug addict, the prideful, or the adulterer. These are all people, whom God loves and sent Christ to die for their sins. Whatever the situation or the sin, we should all deal with their hard heart towards Christ and pray for their salvation. I would highly suggest, if you have the time, to watch those 3 videos I linked in the post. Matt Chandler articulates his position on why Homosexuality is a sin as well as answers common arguments for homosexuality being a legitimate lifestyle choice. God Bless you and thank you for commenting on my post!
  5. This is a topic that I struggle with so much, I grew up in as some describe as the "belt buckle of the Bible Belt". I went to a Christian college about an hour south of Chicago. Never had any expierence with the LGBT community. I grew up hearing and thinking that if you were a homosexual you were an abomination and were going straight to hell. Unil my 5th year in college I met a friend who had recently gotten out of a lesbian relationship. The first thing that came into my mind is gross, I need to stay away from her. But, as I study more in the Bible I am constantly reminded this is not how God wanted us to treat them. Verse's that pop into my mind include Love your neighbor as yourself, fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. We forget that in God's eyes a murderer, a liar, thief, and sexual immoral are all enqual. How can it be that we are ok with telling a little lie but we want to send the homosexual to hell. It's not my place to say who goes to hell and who doesn't that is God's. I know if I looked at my life I deserve to be in the pit of hell with them also.
  6. This is a topic that I struggle with so much, I grew up in as some describe as the "belt buckle of the Bible Belt". I went to a Christian college about an hour south of Chicago. Never had any expierence with the LGBT community. I grew up hearing and thinking that if you were a homosexual you were an abomination and were going straight to hell. Unil my 5th year in college I met a friend who had recently gotten out of a lesbian relationship. The first thing that came into my mind is gross, I need to stay away from her. But, as I study more in the Bible I am constantly reminded this is not how God wanted us to treat them. Verse's that pop into my mind include Love your neighbor as yourself, fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. We forget that in God's eyes a murderer, a liar, thief, and sexual immoral are all enqual. How can it be that we are ok with telling a little lie but we want to send the homosexual to hell. It's not my place to say who goes to hell and who doesn't that is God's. I know if I looked at my life I deserve to be in the pit of hell with them also.
  7. Ditto everything that Caitlin has shared. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts on this issue, Frank -- the fact that you still refer to homosexuality as a "lifestyle" indicates there is still much that you can and would benefit from learning about just what sexual orientation is. As to your steps above, number 1 troubles me if you mean to suggest that when a student comes out or if you become aware that they are questioning their orientation, that you would go tell their parents. I would hope you would only do this if you know the parents are already aware of their child's orientation or you get the permission of the teen to speak with their parents. Either way, the young person should be the only one making the decision when and to whom they reveal their orientation. To do otherwise is risk putting that teen in a compromising and possibly even unsafe situation.
    • Thanks Brian, let me quickly say, I have been reading your blog for years and it was one of the first Youth Min Blogs I ever started and continue to read! So thank you for what you do! 1st Like I told Caitlin, I don't have time to layout why I believe Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or my convictions from scripture why it is a sin. If you have time, check out those links I embedded at the bottom of the post. Matt is far smarter and more articulate than I am. If you have time, watch those and let me know what you think. 2nd. Talking to parents about the sins of their children is always complicated and delicate. It is not as black and white as I posted and I can see why that would trouble you. I would first note that, if the student has come out publicly the parents probably have already known for a while or at least now that it is public knowledge, the parents certainly have a right to be informed on it. Also, I come from a view of ministry that youth are still at the end of the day, under the rule and responsibility of their parents. I struggle with the idea of asking permission from students to tell parents anything. I may write a whole post on this because a comment won't suffice to express my thoughts on that. However, ultimately I think we are giving to much responsibility and authority to students when we hold them in that position. However, wisdom needs to be involved. If talking to the parents places the student in an unsafe situation than there is more to discuss that just a student who is coming out. Thank you for your comment Brian. God Bless you.
      • Thanks for the reply Frank. I do see that, from your point of view, NOT telling the parents could be seen as a failure to do what is in the best interests of the teen. What I really appreciate is how much has changed in the conversation around this topic between evangelicals and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals etc. in the past few years. We seem to have stopped much of the yelling and chest-pounding and are now talking about LGBT persons as PEOPLE. We may not all agree on this issue but I think we can find common ground in our belief that all people need to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. I appreciate your willingness to open up this dialogue. I'll try to send a few more people this way to share their thoughts too.
  8. Ditto everything that Caitlin has shared. I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts on this issue, Frank -- the fact that you still refer to homosexuality as a "lifestyle" indicates there is still much that you can and would benefit from learning about just what sexual orientation is. As to your steps above, number 1 troubles me if you mean to suggest that when a student comes out or if you become aware that they are questioning their orientation, that you would go tell their parents. I would hope you would only do this if you know the parents are already aware of their child's orientation or you get the permission of the teen to speak with their parents. Either way, the young person should be the only one making the decision when and to whom they reveal their orientation. To do otherwise is risk putting that teen in a compromising and possibly even unsafe situation.
    • Thanks Brian, let me quickly say, I have been reading your blog for years and it was one of the first Youth Min Blogs I ever started and continue to read! So thank you for what you do! 1st Like I told Caitlin, I don't have time to layout why I believe Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or my convictions from scripture why it is a sin. If you have time, check out those links I embedded at the bottom of the post. Matt is far smarter and more articulate than I am. If you have time, watch those and let me know what you think. 2nd. Talking to parents about the sins of their children is always complicated and delicate. It is not as black and white as I posted and I can see why that would trouble you. I would first note that, if the student has come out publicly the parents probably have already known for a while or at least now that it is public knowledge, the parents certainly have a right to be informed on it. Also, I come from a view of ministry that youth are still at the end of the day, under the rule and responsibility of their parents. I struggle with the idea of asking permission from students to tell parents anything. I may write a whole post on this because a comment won't suffice to express my thoughts on that. However, ultimately I think we are giving to much responsibility and authority to students when we hold them in that position. However, wisdom needs to be involved. If talking to the parents places the student in an unsafe situation than there is more to discuss that just a student who is coming out. Thank you for your comment Brian. God Bless you.
      • Thanks for the reply Frank. I do see that, from your point of view, NOT telling the parents could be seen as a failure to do what is in the best interests of the teen. What I really appreciate is how much has changed in the conversation around this topic between evangelicals and progressives, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals etc. in the past few years. We seem to have stopped much of the yelling and chest-pounding and are now talking about LGBT persons as PEOPLE. We may not all agree on this issue but I think we can find common ground in our belief that all people need to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. I appreciate your willingness to open up this dialogue. I'll try to send a few more people this way to share their thoughts too.
  9. This a great approach to facing an issue that is becoming more widespread than ever before. I appreciate you taking the time to lay out a step by step plan to help work through these very real challenges for youth leaders.
  10. This a great approach to facing an issue that is becoming more widespread than ever before. I appreciate you taking the time to lay out a step by step plan to help work through these very real challenges for youth leaders.
  11. I will readily admit that preaching the entire counsel of God is something that I know I will struggle with, especially in regards to calling things sin. It is very easy to call gluttony a sin, but it is not easy to call homosexuality a sin. My prayer is that when the time comes for that message, the Lord will continue to draw those to him who He wants.
  12. I will readily admit that preaching the entire counsel of God is something that I know I will struggle with, especially in regards to calling things sin. It is very easy to call gluttony a sin, but it is not easy to call homosexuality a sin. My prayer is that when the time comes for that message, the Lord will continue to draw those to him who He wants.
  13. I think "homosexual lifestyle" in this article refers to those who openly live their life as proud homosexuals and have chosen that "lifestyle". It can't refer to the porn addicts "lifestyle" because porn addicts don't openly live their lives as proud porn addicts. That said, I love this article and very much agree. I'm so glad I found it and look forward to watching the videos. This will help so much in voicing my own views to the leaders and volunteers at my church who have shamed several of our youth, then spread gossip throughout the community.

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