What the Bible Teaches about Relationships and Sex
During the recent Queen’s Birthday weekend 120 young people gathered at Queenstown’s Lakeland Park Christian Camp for their annual Bible Teaching weekend. The subject matter being dealt with was ‘What the Bible Teaches about Relationships and Sex’. Graham & Wanda Ashby were responsible for the teaching and it was an absolute delight to see such hungry Young People digging deep into the Scriptures over the weekend. In some respects we were all caught by surprise at just how much interest there was in these issues. Certainly by their own admission, many Young People asked “Why aren’t these subjects taught to us in church or at Youth Group? We needed to hear this!”
Despite the ‘deep issues’ being discussed there was such a positive atmosphere during the entire weekend. Prior to camp Graham & Wanda had asked many to saturate the camp in prayer so that the father of lies would have no access to the hearts and minds of these Young People. This prayer hedge that surrounded the camp meant that Scriptural truths could be clearly taught and the result was the Holy Spirit was able to move deeply in many lives. During the weekend there were some tears as the Youth were confronted with the moral deception that appears to have invaded our society and in some cases our own hearts. The truth was hard hitting but the response was that had many young men and women were saying they were so very grateful that at last someone was telling them God’s thoughts on these difficult subjects which they face every day.
Because of the subjects being covered some real tensions were expected. Instead there was a desire for forgiveness and an admission that we have drifted with our culture and needed to be reminded of God’s perspective on these issues. This camp was an opportunity to recalibrate our thinking and to rediscover the facts about what the Lord values in our domestic, public and private relationships.
Graham & Wanda’s five messages were broken down to explain the meaning of the word love by looking at the Greek meaning as in ‘storge’ (family love), ‘philia’ (friends love), ‘eros’ (romantic love) and ‘agape’ (selfless love) with a final roundup on Monday morning. It would be fair to say that the Young People were very responsive and by that we mean a hush came upon every session as Graham & Wanda spoke. Along with their anticipation was a deep interest and attention. It was quite a remarkable experience to sense their elevated interest in what was being taught. Many of the Christian young people admitted that they have never heard in their church teaching or preaching on how to live and love within a family; how to be loving and influential as a friend; how to choose a life partner; how to be a living sacrifice and how to renew your mind.
After each message there were discussion groups to get feedback and see if they had understood what the Scriptures were saying. It was amazing to hear their honesty and openness during these times. Many of them were up front with how they know they need boundaries to be set for them by their parents and by God. Some even admitted that they needed discipline but their parents won’t do it!
On the issue of friends, some confessed that they are weak at being friends because in order to be among friends they so often just go along with their peer groups in order to be accepted. They seemed to be amazed at learning that the ‘sex culture’ that they now live in is NOT normal. It had been pointed out, that to them the culture of today seems normal because they know nothing else. Graham outlined the world’s history of sex so that they could understand for themselves how over the last 4,000 years, immorality and sex idolatry has continued to eat away at the human race and at the human heart. Wanda revealed the lies they are hearing through their sex education programmes at schools and how most sex-education teachers say “when you have sex” and no-one ever says “if you have sex”. With the Young People’s new awareness of how obsessed our society has become came a revelation that they did not want to be like the world. We weren’t expecting that. We thought that on this point some may say we are ‘out of touch’ or ‘old fashioned’. Instead it was as if they knew that society was so bad that they chose not to be shaped by it. Over the weekend we were all gaining a sense of identity that is found in Christ and the Young People were beginning to understand the call to purity and separation from the standards of this world. A great number of the conversations with adolescents were them thanking us for telling them like it is and for not being meek and weak on these subjects. They admitted their confusion and ignorance and were very appreciative of being reminded about God’s plans for relationships and sex. Some admitted that pornography had eaten away at their hearts but were repentant of these temptations and would go home and correct them. Their honesty and openness was a real feature of camp.
All in all we have had a mighty weekend and conclude that these South Island Young People are spiritually healthy and eager for the challenges that are ahead of them. There was a hunger in their eyes and hearts and they weren’t shy about sharing their struggles, hopes and dreams. Get this – 90% of the young people had Bibles at camp! Brilliant. So often, that’s the last ‘accessory’ they pack. It was evident at camp that these Young People are serious about discovering what the Lord wants them to know and do. They seemed to understand that in order to get the best out of them we had to get the best into them. There is no substitute for the authority and power of God’s Word. It was like a lion in the weekend – the book was opened, truth was let it out and everyone gave it great respect!
It is the hope of every leader at camp (and probably parent too) that true fruit will come from the (agape) love that they carry into their existing and prospective relationships. And let’s keep praying that these Young People develop God honouring relationships in the future and that with their bodies, minds and lives, the families and homes that they establish will become a great light in the darkness.