By Nicole Murua.
Sex. Racism. Death. Drugs. Mental illness. Abortion. Animal cruelty. Pornography. Refugees. Homosexuality. Euthanasia. Capitol punishment. Disabilities. Feminism. Masturbation. Terminal illness. Suicide.
What do these all have in common?
When I see this list, all I see is a bunch of things I can’t talk about in church; questions I wouldn’t be able to have answered. Imagine yourself as a 14 year old and thinking something like, “Are drugs really that bad for you?” Where do you look for answers? Who do you ask? You might ask a friend or an older sibling, maybe you’d even ask a parent. But what responses would you be hearing? The friend might say, “My dad has beer if you want to try.” The sibling would say, “Marijuana isn’t as bad as adults say.” And the parent, “Don’t do drugs.” Then as you’re thinking more about it you find yourself typing questions into Google. Article after article roll down your screen:
Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which is really worse for your health?
5 Myths About Illegal Drugs You Probably Believe
So really, how bad is frequent MDMA use?
(These are all real articles by the way)
As members of a church family, what are we doing to tackle these issues? Of course, these are not issues exclusive to teenagers. Racism, capitol punishment, and euthanasia are all problems we must face at all ages. My question is: if we aren’t having a dialogue about it with our church family and looking to the Bible for these answers then how are we forming our opinions and beliefs? Who are we talking to and listening to?
I’m all for personal research, reading Christian books and articles have their merit and is important for us to form our own opinions. However, equally as important is our ability to have thoughtful debates and discussions with our Christian peers. One of the reasons why we don’t do this in churches is because it’s hard. It’s hard to talk about emotionally charged topics like feminism or abortion. It’s hard to have an unbiased opinion about animal cruelty or pornography. It’s really hard to not take things personally in these kinds of conversations, but so is life. Being a Christian is hard and we should be under no illusion that following Jesus is all sunshine and rainbows. The Bible offers story after story about the corrupt lives of those who feared God, but we float over the yucky bits to keep things G rated for the kids. I can tell you right now, the information they get from their friends or the internet isn’t G rated.
I don’t want to diminish the effort we’re already making in church to talk about the tough issues. What I want to emphasise is the need to talk about the hard stuff openly, candidly, and early. Lets stop with the “don’t do this and that” talk and have more open discussions with our church family members about the why’s and how’s.
I have to say, I am very proud of our church. In 2016, the Livingston Youth saw the beginning of a program called “Tough Talks” where we are free to talk about difficult or ‘taboo’ topics without fear of judgement. Every meeting is a new topic and a safe environment to debate and discuss. This year I have taken on the roll of organising these “Tough Talks.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: tough. What should we talk about? Is this relevant/important? How far is too far? I’m hoping that in 2017 we will see more discussion, more open minds, and more answers to those tricky questions.