It is a shame that youth ministry in our culture has boiled down to a perceived obligation to come up with the next goofy game as the priority, be “cool” for the students as the next important thing, and then maybe say something about the Bible as a distant third. It is a shame because our students are not only capable of digging in, wrestling, and getting excited about Scripture, but when we do them an disservice by putting Scripture way down on the list of importance, we violate the very Scripture we seek to obey. Not to mention we miss incredible opportunities for discussion, growth, and just downright amazement.
Take, for example, this email I received last night from a student. Over the course of the last year we have been studying a book in the OT (starting with Genesis) followed by a session on a Doctrine of the Bible, followed by a book in the NT (started with Mark). After finishing a study on the Trinity over the summer, we are now in Exodus and last night we completed chapter 1. In chapter 1 alone of Exodus, we see the ongoing fulfillment of God to keep His promises to the patriarchs – to provide a great nation, land, and a blessing. Way back last year when we were in Genesis, we discussed the Creation Mandate – that God’s design was for folks to multiply and fill the earth. In Exodus 1, we see that once again being fulfilled.
So, this is what was in my inbox late last night:
“My question was about the Creation Mandate. How do we reconcile the
idea of population control and/or birth control with the Creation
As a pastor whose desire is for others to have a passion for Scripture and to think critically about its effect on our daily lives, you can see how this question from a teenager is very exciting to me. These are the kind of soul-searching, God-honoring questions that our students are capable of and are longing to ask. They just have to be given the opportunity. So, for all youth related workers out there, do you and your students a favor and ask this question – Is my youth ministry centered around games, programming, and good time? Or is it centered around Scripture and Jesus Christ?
Here was my response to this question:
Thanks so much for your email – I just love the way you think through issues.
“Your question about the Creation Mandate is actually a crucial question and one that I fear many Christians do think enough about. For years the Roman Catholic Church has been criticized and basically made fun of because of their stance on birth control (they are against any form of it). I believe if we biblically and consistently think through the issue, it is not as easy as we might think. One of the foundational purposes for the institution of marriage that God ordained in Genesis 1 & 2 is to multiply. When children become a distraction or a nuisance that we “put off” until the time is right for “us”, then I believe we are on very dangerous ground. Birth control has the tendency to be used as a way to perpetuate a selfish lifestyle. Add to that many forms of birth control, such as the “morning after pill” and we are participating in our own personal and private abortive lifestyle.
Having said those things, I am not against birth control as a general rule. I believe it can be used in ways that are not displeasing to God. Yet, I am very much for Christians couples carefully and biblically thinking through the process, their intentions, their motives, and at the end of the day embracing the blessing of what comes about after marriage – children.”