My students are growing up in, and largely contributing to, a Biblically Illiterate world. By that I mean, a large portion of the "American Christian" population, simply does not read their Bible regularly.
There are lots of reasons for this I'm sure, but at least one is the assumption that they "already know what it says." How can that be you ask? Well, because they assume the Bible is a list of moral do's and don'ts and proclamations that are still essentially the moral fabric of much of the judeo-christian based laws in our country. In addition, they listen to politics and news casts and they hear the religious representatives of the faith getting upset about this or that, and they assume they know what it teaches by reverse reading into their responses.
Perhaps the most obvious way my students think they know is because they come to church from time to time and have heard a "proclamation" based sermon in which we read a passage of the Bible and tell them what it says. I don't think teaching or proclamation or instruction are wrong... it is part of what the Bible does. It also however is not the whole of it. There is history and poetry and story and hyperbole and parables and way more teaching styles than simply proclamation inside.
But, for one reason or another, proclamation still is the dominate theme in churches and even in my student large group weekend gathering... and in my pursuit and passion to teach students how to think and not what to think, I'm increasingly aware that it is not the only style needed.
I have also decided, proclamation does not work when teaching sexuality.
So, in an effort to put my money where my mouth is, this last sunday we risked the accusation that we will be labeled wishy washy and avoided "telling students" what the Bible says on several issues. It was the second weekend in our series we've titled "FLIRT" and it was titled "Flirting with feelings". We discussed the classic, "If it feels good, do it" mindset and the "If you want it, try it" realities of our culture.
We challenged students to think through 2 grids. The first had to do with sexual feelings and the second had to do with questions to ask about them. We proposed that while all urges are real, not all should be honored. We challenged students to evaluate their sexual desires and to put them into one of 3 categories:
- Desires we should fuel. Like a wedding night, they are God given and God granted.
- Desires we should starve. Like a wrong way sign, they are godless and lead to sexual and spiritual regret.
- Desires we should delay. Like a yield sign, they are neither right or wrong. They are God given desires, but not God granted for action today.
- What does the Bible say about this urge? Who cares what I say or you say or so and so says, can you as a God-fearing young adult, point to what the Scripture says to support this sexual conviction you're living by?
- What does logic bring me to? Does my theory even hold water? Is it logical to consider a thing called "oral sex" to not be "sex" and if so, why or why not? We challenged students to be thinking young adults.
- What does a Godly couple in my life say? We challenged students to wrestle with their convictions about sexuality with a couple whose relationship they observe reflects God honoring characteristics they want in their own romantic relationships. Wise people seek wise advice.
- What can I learn from a general observation of the experiences of others? I think there are 2 ways to learn things in life. One is the hard way, the other is from those who learned it the hard way. Wisdom says don't be the next guy to have an affair, go to someone elses school of hard knocks and save yourself a world of regret.