Youth Workers. . . Guilty Of Oppression? . . .


Oppression is a word that’s used quite a bit these days. In most cases, I think that’s a good thing. One way that the dictionary defines oppression is as preventing people from having opportunities and freedom. When a people group or individual is being oppressed, we need to be made aware so that steps can be taken to remove the oppression. . . which leads to freedom.

I’ve been thinking about youth ministry and oppression in one particular area of life as I’ve been engaged with re-reading Nancy Pearcey’s fabulous book, Love Thy Body: Answering The Hard Questions About Life And Sexuality. We’ve got over 300 youth workers committed to reading and discussing Pearcey’s book together over the coming two months in our CPYU Reading/Discussion Group (it’s not too late to join!). And because of all the sensitive and mind-boggling issues surrounding gender and sexuality in our culture these days, I’ve been continuing on my now-five-year quest to read anything and everything on the subject I can get my hands on. As I was reading some strategic suggestions on how to do youth ministry with LGBTQ teens last evening, I was reminded again just how much is at stake.

I want to get this one right. It requires a diligent effort to do what John Stott once called “dual listening.” We must listen to both the Word and the world to know how to bring the light of the Word to bear on the cultural narrative. . . celebrating where the cultural narrative gets it right, and challenging/correcting where it’s getting it wrong.

This morning, as I continue to wrestle with these issues that are touching real people in very deep and sensitive ways, I got to thinking about how we are doing youth ministry in response to not only LGBTQ kids, but all kids. . . kids, who like all of us, struggle with their fallenness and broken sexuality.

When it comes to the cultural narrative on sexuality, how are we engaging with kids and what are we teaching kids about God’s grand and glorious design for sex and gender?

Here’s a thought to ponder. . . as youth workers, we oppress others when we fail to tell them the truth about the Biblical sexual ethic. . . and God’s grand and glorious design for gender and sexuality. If true freedom is found in fleeing from sexual immorality, then our efforts to teach, encourage, and even allow the embrace of that which is outside of God’s will and way is oppressive.

As I said before, I want to get this one right. I hope, trust, and pray that we all do. God’s glory and the good of our students is at stake.


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