Culture Shock

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The following is a testimony from Anne Soh, an advocate of GOV and a dear friend. Anne had the privilege of spending time in the UK with her family and was able to use our Culture Shock curriculum with a group of youth there.

I worked with a few of the youth group leaders in a local church in the UK to conduct the Culture Shock curriculum in the youth group over half a year. We took our time to delve into each topic, spending 3 to 4 weeks on each one. Then we allowed ourselves to take a break in between each topic by watching a related movie together or just have a fun day out. I had seen the GOV team carry out Culture Shock before in Singapore, but only as an intensive programme over 2-3 days. Over this extended period of 6 months, I saw even greater impact than I had witnessed before, including:

1. How easy it was to involve local leaders – The youth group leaders could pick up and implement the curriculum just by reading and following the instructions in the Leader’s Guide. We also managed to get some of the youth involved by helping to lead a few of the activities.

2. The openness and depth of the sharing, and the youth’s growth over time – Because we had the time to talk through/after every activity, the youth got to discuss the questions in the book and more. So they could share their own stories, the struggles they faced, and brainstorm strategies to overcome temptations. One of them even gained the courage (and obviously a boost to her self-image) to share publicly about how she had overcome an eating disorder.

3. Relationships were built and strengthened – As we spent time together sharing, laughing, praying and crying, we got to know and trust each other more. Along the way, the youth were able to approach the leaders with personal problems to ask for advice and prayer.

4. Partnership with parents and the church was also made possible – info sheets (adapted from the Leader’s Guide) were given to the parents after each topic so they could follow up at home. We also picked some of the youth to share what they had learnt and/or present their skits during the main service so the congregation was made aware and could actively pray for the youth.

5. God’s presence and divine intervention continually amazed us – During the dart board activity, I could see the dramatic change in the looks on their faces when I revealed that it was Jesus’ face they had pierced. The Holy Spirit spoke to many of them through this and other activities according to their individual and specific needs. For instance, when we told the story of the guy who got 3 wishes on the night before leaving for college (in the last topic), 2 of the youth were also going off to university in the coming week. God spoke to them in a way that wouldn’t have been possible at any other time.

The Dating Apocalypse

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The following is a re-post of a blog by our friend, John Stonestreet, from Breakpoint. You can see John’s original post (or listen to the audio version) here.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, contributing editor Nancy Jo Sales introduced readers to what passes for the “dating scene” among many millennials today.

At the heart of her article, which was entitled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’” is the app Tinder.

Tinder uses Facebook data, including pictures and geographic information, to create a user profile. Users who are deemed compatible are then placed in a list of matches. People on the list can “like” the other person by swiping right on their picture. If two people “like” each other, they can then chat using the app.

That’s the theory, at least. But as Sales documents, the reality is somewhat different. According to one recent study, “there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida.”

Or in Nancy Sales words, “Hookup culture . . . has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship.” She adds that the “lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.”

And most of those messages are sent by the men. As David Buss of the University of Texas told Sales, “Apps like Tinder . . . give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there.” Thus, they don’t feel the need to treat any woman as a “priority,” especially if their sexual desires are being gratified, as they are. Instead, what women become are “Tinderellas,” a series of disposable sexual conquests.

As one woman told Sales, “There is no dating. There’s no relationships . . . . They’re rare. [Hooking up] is a lot easier. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface.”

Isn’t that last phrase telling? Once you get past the rhetorical smokescreen of sexual freedom, it’s clear that the sexual revolution has had a lot of victims.

As Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas might put it, what we see in the Vanity Fair article is an example of how low the “market price” for sexual relationships has dropped. Historically, the price for relations was the man marrying the woman and supporting her and her children.

But since the Sexual Revolution, the “price” men must pay for relations has dropped to a swipe on an app and a text message. And the drop in price has been accelerated by the denial of the “basic differences” that Regnerus mentioned. We were told that women enjoyed casual promiscuity as much as men.

But it’s just not true. As Regnerus told Christianity Today, “There are plenty of women… who would like to be legitimately asked out, but they feel like they can’t get it. He texts, and they ‘hang out.’ How lame is that?”

Lame, indeed. It’s difficult to think of a better example of two core BreakPoint worldview convictions: first, that ideas have consequences, and second, that bad ideas leave victims in their wake. That’s the Sexual Revolution in a nutshell.

And that’s why there’s an incredible opportunity for Christian witness today. The Christian view of human sexuality is good. God created it for our well-being, for mutual joy of husband and wife, and for the future of humanity. And the Christian view is always redemptive. God’s healing work through the Church can bind up wounds and make things whole again.

Tinder is not leading to the blessed flames that God intended for human sexuality. Instead it’s leaving a lot of people burnt and broken. So don’t think for a minute it’s over just because the legal and cultural consequences of the sexual revolution mean that Christianity is unpopular. Lives are at stake, and the opportunities to offer hope to these broken lives are all around us.

John Stonestreet is a Speaker and Fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is a gifted communicator on areas of faith and culture, theology, worldview, education, and apologetics, and is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, churches, schools, and other various gatherings each year.

He is the co-host with Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by the late Chuck Colson, and the voice of The Point, a daily national radio feature on worldview, apologetics and cultural issues. He also serves as a Senior Content Advisor for Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Affirming Your Child’s Gender

AffirmGenderThe night before the first day of school, my brother-in-law asked my 6 year old niece if she needed help selecting an outfit for said first day of school. Like only a bright-eyed, energetic little girl can do, she didn’t miss a beat as she responded “Dad! I’ve had it planned out since July!” My brother-in-law is a wise man. He smiled quietly and instead proceeded to help her put her hair in curlers in preparation of the big day on the horizon.

I share this story because it is an excellent example of a father affirming his daughter’s desire to be a girl. It’s no surprise that girls like to look nice – especially on the first day of school. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t go to extremes.

Contrast this example to my nine year old nephew, who didn’t so much as want a new pair of blue jeans for the start of school. He probably hasn’t given much thought to what he’ll wear in the morning, much less been planning it out for weeks. What he wanted instead was to camp overnight in the back yard with his best friends a few nights before school started. His request was granted, and my brother-in-law patiently walked the boys through how to set up the tent and “make camp”. My sister and brother-in-law found themselves getting little sleep as they quieted excited boys long into the night and helped them shuffle inside in the early morning after getting frightened.

Both are good examples of encouraging kids to be as God made them – male or female. There are a lot of messages in our culture right now trying to tell children they should be confused about their gender. That it’s right to question whether they feel like being a boy or a girl. That if you want to do “typical girl things” or “typical boy things” you are silly and predictable. Or, on the other (and far more deceitful) hand, that if you are male and don’t want to camp in the back yard, there is something wrong about you and probably means you have homosexual tendencies. So it’s best to go ahead and embrace this “fact” about yourself while you’re young. Either way, kids are being pushed to question the sex God made them to be.

Whether you have an all-girl girl or a tomboy, you can affirm your daughter’s feminine qualities. Maybe your tomboy doesn’t fret over what she’s going to wear the first day of school, but does fret over the injured bird she has found and is trying to nurse back to health. You could compliment her on her nurturing skills in this situation. (You could also mention that she looks beautiful with her hair pulled back.)

Maybe you have a boy who’s more inclined toward the arts than things like wrestling or camping. You could compliment him on his initiative to teach himself how to draw. Or on his desire to keep going with his studies even when the other kids at school tease him for not being good at football. It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd.

The point is God is all about diversity. There are many expressions of male and female-ness, just as there are many expressions of skin color. Yet we are all made in God’s image, and even in this great diversity He has shown us, there are common themes. The same rings true with sex.

I encourage you to find ways to affirm your child’s gender – especially as school starts and they are in unfamiliar situations. The affirming you do at home will carry with them through the school day.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.