Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Spirit Moved - And I Slept

A little while ago I had agreed to be part of a Grid Blog that discussed how the Holy Spirit was moving in a variety of Christian communities around the world. We were supposed to post on Pentecost (May 15). If you'll glance through my blog, you'll see no mention of this exercise. I wish had some great excuse, but I basically forgot. My apologies to all those other bloggers who actually fulfilled their word. You can check out the Grid Blog at The Corner.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

We Didn't Start The Fire

I knew it had been a long time since my last post, but I didn’t realize it had been almost 2 months. Between work, school and shopping for my first house, I lost track of time. To my loyal fan (that would be you, Jim) I apologize.

Life has been rather stressful recently, and I’ve found myself looking for things to laugh at to relieve the stress. One of my favorite sources of laughter has become the youth group materials that get sent to our church. Record companies and other Christian “ministries” develop these curriculums that integrate whatever they’re selling with a variety of Christian lessons. Sometimes it turns out well; sometimes you just have to wonder what they were thinking.

One of these brochures contained an insert outlining a youth group session aimed at teaching young women the joys of sexual purity. For the warm-up they suggest playing a game called “Burned.” Here is their description [words typed in all-caps appeared that way in the original material]:

“Play BURNED – a form of ‘Musical Chairs.’ Place chairs in a line (or in rows if needed), having one less chair than girls. At one end of the chairs hang red, orange and yellow streamers from the ceiling (about 3-4 feet wide) so they touch the edge of the chair, but still allow someone to sit there. The streamers represent FIRE. For the music, use Out of Eden’s “This is Your Life” CD. Start playing the music. While the music is playing, each girl has to sit in each chair as they move closer to the fire. Anyone left touching the fire when the music stops is BURNED, and they’re out. They take a chair with them and sit to the side, cheering their friends on, encouraging them not to get burned. The last one left wins a white rose.”

I’m all for teaching sexual purity to teenage girls (and boys for that matter), but I have to be a bit disturbed by this game. In the context of the larger lesson, I can only assume this game is meant to imply that if you have premarital sex, you’re going to hell (with the implication that no one will ever love you, especially God).

I know youth ministry is hard. I’m scared to death whenever I help out with our youth group. But I also don’t think we should scare the kids into thinking they’re going to hell if they ever do something that does not fit into our moral/ethical framework.

The Christian life is not about morality motivated by fear. It is about morality motivated by joy that we have become part of something bigger than ourselves. And the best part is that even if we do falter, we have a God who welcomes us home, encourages us to right our wrongs, and loves us even as we are a work in progress.

I’d rather have that than a white rose any day.