Monday, April 24, 2023

YOUTH: The Truth About STDs

We all know that God does not recommend treating sex like a recreational activity, but it should be saved for a special relationship with one other person. Some people think it's the 21st century and that "rule" is outdated, but the truth is that not only does multiple sex partners erode your future marriage before you even get there, but every time you're intimate with someone, you're sharing a part of yourself that you cannot get back and your ability to be truly intimate with that one special person gets more difficult. With the 6th commandment, God is actually protecting our marriages and our ability to be intimate with one person and indeed, our souls.

Looking for a more practical reason to give your youth? Here's a good one.

According to the World Health Organization (2022) there are more than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be transmitted through sexual contact. Think you can just go to the doctor on campus and get a pill? Well, friends, think again. All are treatable, but only four are currently curable. FOUR!

Women can take the pill to try and prevent pregnancy, but it doesn’t protect them from many sexually transmitted diseases (STD) or infections (STI), though it may help for a few of them. Do you want to take that risk?

For the record, sexual contact means any time skin touches skin, whether it’s a hand, a mouth, or any other part of the body. People were told to wash their hands and be careful what they touch to prevent the spread of Covid-19, a coronavirus. Touching someone’s infected genitals or genital area transmits a virus too. Not only that, but many of them can be transmitted from mother-to-child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and worse, some of them can cause cancer and infertility, and even worse, you may not know you have one or are passing it around. The next time you think God’s rule about not having casual sex or sex outside of marriage is ridiculous, think about that.

There are millions of new infections every year and again, you don’t always know you have one. The ONLY way to know for sure that you’re not getting a sexually transmitted disease is to not have casual sex before marriage, and that means vaginal penetration, oral sex (putting mouth, tongue, or lips on another person's genitals -- front or back). Syphilis, HPV, and herpes are known to cause symptoms in the mouth and throat. Others that can be spread orally include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HIV. Please remind youth that many of these have NO SYMPTOMS. If you are treating sex like a recreational activity, you will not know you have one of these unless you are tested, and tested often.

No man wants to have to tell the woman he wants to marry that he carries a sexually transmitted disease that cannot be cured because he had no self-control. No woman wants to tell the man she wants to marry that she cannot have a baby because she had no self-control. You might want to show this to your youth and their parents (Pam Stenzel).


Friday, April 21, 2023

CONFIRMATION: What's a good confirmation teacher?

 Sometimes parents complain about their church's confirmation teacher, which is often the pastor. Sometimes kids complain too. Let's be honest. Middle school kids complain about anything they don't want to do and think they can get out of by complaining. Sometimes parents buy into it and sometimes they see through the complaints and know that the purpose of confirmation is greater than kids realize.  So, when we start deciding what a good confirmation teacher is, we should start at the beginning. 

What's a good teacher? 

Can kids recognize a good teacher? What is their criteria? Most kids, especially teens, consider a teacher good if: 

  • They're getting a good grade. What if everyone in that class is getting a good grade? Is getting a good grade more or less important than earning that grade and learning? 
  • The teacher is fun or funny or cool. What if the most popular teacher is also the one who has the lowest academic and behavioral standards? Is caring about what a student learns more or less important than being cool? 
  • The teacher is too lenient and students can easily change his/her mind or get away with things they shouldn't. Is holding a student accountable for their choices more or less important than them getting their way? 
  • The teacher has low academic expectations or homework as long as they get a good evaluation. 

If a student's only criteria for good or bad teaching is how they feel, can they truly know the difference between a good or bad teacher? Kids are kids. That's why they need parents and teachers who care enough to do what's best for them even when they don't like it. It is common for a child to tell their parents that a teacher is bad if:

  • They don't like the class and don't want to be there.  
  • They are getting a bad grade. 
  • The teacher consistently expects them to do their best. 
  • The teacher isn't fun because his/her first priority is that they learn.
  • They hear their parents speaking badly about the teacher at home.
  • They think their parent will automatically agree with them.  

It's important that teachers be approachable and friendly, but they are often portrayed by students as bad teachers because they know they are about to get in trouble for something they know they should have done, or shouldn't have done. It's the same with parents of teens. You're the greatest parent in the world when you let your child do what s/he wants, but the minute you say no, you're the worst. Sometimes a child's favorite teacher is a favorite because of their personality and not their teaching expertise. Let's not discount some important things about that though. Good teachers: 

  • Care about their students as people and show that in how they interact with them. They're friendly even though they have standards. 
  • Care about whether or not their students are learning what they're being taught. They're approachable and ready to help. 
  • Teach students more than their subject, but also about life, accountability, the value of hard work, and the benefit of good habits and character. 
  • Want to partner with parents so they communicate with them when their children are not doing the work they should be doing. 
  • Have requirements that benefit their students even if they don't see that benefit yet. 
  • See the bigger picture of their student's life and try to prepare them for  challenges and what comes next. 

What's a good confirmation teacher?

If you're a parent or a student, before you complain about a pastor or other teacher of confirmation, check this list. Does your pastor/confirmation educator: 

  • Care about getting to know your child?
  • Care about whether or not your child participates in class learning activities?
  • Care about whether or not your child is doing their memory work? 
  • Attempt to give your child the information necessary in a way they can understand it? 
  • Attempt to help your child understand difficult doctrinal concepts through stories and examples? 
  • Attempt to get your child (and their parents) to read the Bible? 
  • Make himself available to have difficult conversations about the Bible and life? 
  • Let students and parents ask questions about anything they may be struggling with? 
  • Talk to parents about the importance of putting their child's faith above sports? School sports usually last until kids graduate from high school, and sometimes college. Faith is both lifelong and eternal. 
  • Expect your child to do the work necessary to increase their faith? Or has it been watered down to the point where it's fun, but they aren't really learning much? 
  • Care about whether or not your child will meet you in heaven one day? 

These are the qualities of a good confirmation teacher. If your pastor does these things, you should not be complaining, but appreciating and thanking.