By Todd Hill
I find that if I want to get caught up on what the world is thinking about politics and religion, I know exactly where to go! No, not social media – the LA Fitness locker room. It is not unusual to hear men pontificate on how to fix all of the evils of the world while recovering from a long run on the treadmill. It was in one of these energetic exchanges recently where I heard one older man share this sage wisdom with a young father: He said that even though he is not a religious man, he would still recommend sending his children to a Catholic school over a public school. The young father agreed, saying, “Religious school provides behavior education.”
This interaction made me think. How often does my faith get communicated to my children as simply the thing that dictates their behavior? This question was a big part of the discussion last weekend at the Harvest USA training held at Chelten Church on the topic of sexuality. Both parents and youth leaders alike were challenged to approach the issue of sexuality with our children using a tree metaphor. We were taught that rather than looking simply at the fruit of their behavior, to go deeper and look at heart issues. We were then encouraged to offer them Jesus as a rescuer and redeemer of their hearts and broken sexuality. The tone sounded so different from the locker room conversation. Though a daunting task, offering hope of Jesus’ rescue for our broken sexuality is so much more life-giving than providing a religious list of do’s and don’ts for sexual behavior.
With the foundation of hope laid first, the training did go on with practical conversations related to Having the Sex Talk(s), Navigating Technology, and Helping a Child Who Struggles with Sexual Brokenness. The common theme in each of these is that the responsibility begins with the parents. It is required of us that we engage our children in ongoing conversation and accountability.
I will admit that both in my role as youth director and father, I found myself overwhelmed during the training. I don’t talk about this often enough in our youth ministry! I don’t pay close enough attention to my children’s electronic devices! However I heard something from the speakers that was really helpful. They encouraged us that every time our children interact with us, they are interacting with the Holy Spirit of the living God because the Holy Spirit lives in us.
Again, this gives me a so much more robust picture of what I have to offer my children than a religion that simply provides appropriate sexual behavior. I can offer them not only hope and rescue, but an active and alive God who indwells me and walks with me in this broken body until the day that He makes both my body and my heart completely new. I am grateful that Jesus even redeems my feeble attempts at teaching my children these truths.
Thanks, Harvest USA, for your practical lessons that led to a plan filled with the hope of a living Savior!