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Let’s talk youth and sin

From nude selfie sharing to hard drugs, there’s an abundance of dangerous temptations for today’s youth. Rev Tom Kerr grapples with sin and guiding our young people with a Christ-like love.

You’ve seen the news headlines about violence at out of control house parties, teen nude photo sites and the Ice epidemic. Youth, sin and theology. I think we’d better go there.

The wages of sin? It’s still some kind of “death”. Sin can cause damage, pain, grief, addiction, loss, confusion, guilt: anything that robs a person of life in all its fullness. We’d better warn our young people, if we care enough. Sin damage can be done to yourself, your future self, to others, to creation and to your relationship with God.

It’s time for “the Talk”. Whatever phrases you use to approach the topic—sin, salvation, repentance, penance, restitution, mercy, personal responsibility, etc—we need to go there. Exploring this practical theology could save young people a lot of future grief.

Prevention is better than cure and cure is better than collapse. But we must also remember collapse can be put back on its feet. Jesus offers forgiveness, grace, salvation and fresh starts. Tackling the subject of sin with our youth, demands courage and compassion. To go there, we must be motivated and guided by a Christ-like love.

And what does Christ-like love look like when it comes to having a talk about sin?

Often it will be kind but to change things, it might need strong directions and clear expectations of behaviour. It might also require better options: when one demon is driven out, seven more come to fill the vacancy, unless it’s filled up by the Holy Spirit first.

Ask God to empower them and you do your bit too. Give young people a noble cause to engage in, give them a younger person they have to be a role model for, or a mission. Believe in them!

Sometimes it will involve us adults getting a wakeup call like a slap in the face. Why do you think it is that the kids aren’t alright? Some adults are making a lot of money out of the things damaging young lives. We’re responsible if we see things happening in our society that put young people at risk and we do nothing to stop it.

Here’s some theology around youth, sin and adult responsibility for us to consider: the sins of the father and mother are visited upon the children. Jesus says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better that a millstone be tied around their necks and they be thrown in to the depths of the sea.”

Rev Tom Kerr

Rev Tom Kerr is the Assembly’s National Faith Development Consultant for Youth and Young Adults and has had the privilege of serving young people in many different contexts.

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