There are pros and cons to teaching the older grades, as I am quickly finding out. On the upside I have really enjoyed the higher level thinking and depth of discussion, with my class of sixteen/seventeen year olds, that you just can’t have when working with thirteen and fourteen year olds. On the downside, I am also more aware of the struggles these youth have with their faith. Many of them doubt in God’s existence and many have subscribed to the philosophy of moral relativism. Unbeknownst to them that the two go hand in hand.
One question in particular I asked, had exactly half of the students answering with a moral relativistic point of view. It made me realize two things; that philosophy needs to be brought back into high school and second, how we can not leave the teenager’s beliefs on morality and truth up to chance.
I am convinced that teenagers are seeking to fill a void that they have, not only in their hearts, but in their intellect as well. Suddenly, they have reached an age where the answers they received in their childhood seem, just that, childish. The simple prayers of their childhood – that always seem to be focused on asking God for things or help – does not help, to fill their spirit. The answers about life and God that satisfied them at seven or eight seem foolish and gradually God becomes boring, distant and even extinct in their hearts and minds.
The question I asked, had to do with an introduction activity to Church History. The question was this:
Q: There are over 30,000 + Christian denominations in the world today all professing to be the Church of Christ. Do you think this is okay? Do you think Christ wanted this much diversity or did he just intend for one Church? Explain in detail.
Many of the answers I received looked like this:
“Jesus is loving and he loves everyone, as long as you have Jesus then he doesn’t care about what church you go to or even if you go to church.”
“Jesus loves diversity, everyone has their own beliefs and I cannot judge someone else’s beliefs, because they have as much merit as my own.”
The Problem, with this line of thinking, is that all these Christian denominations preach something different. For example, some preach that the bread and wine is just a symbol, Catholics say it is really Christ’s body and blood. It is either one or the other, they cannot both be right. But, if you think that both beliefs have equal weight, that they are both true, then that is absurd. It is saner to say that the sky is green than it is to say that it is both blue and green at the same time.
Or the disagreements between churches about how to get to heaven. Do these students really think Jesus approaches salvation as “meh, you’ll get there if you love, just be happy.” God sounds like some hipster instead of the knower of all things. Yet, we wonder why atheism is growing. If God worked this way, I too would be an atheist, because how could the Creator of everything, be this irrational, confused and silly?
It is apparent that many of our youth do not know what truth means anymore. They do not know the difference between objective and subjective truths, they believe that free will equates to freedom to do anything, they believe that feelings are reliable and trustworthy and that ones own “happiness” is the only philosophy to live by. They have even come up with a simple catch phrase YOLO.
So instead of moving on to the journeys of St. Peter and St. Paul I did a powerpoint on moral relativism, and truth. I talked the entire hour. Lecturing forever is something I do not like to do, but sometimes there is no other way to get the truth across. They seemed to pay attention, although I had to repeat myself several times during some of the more difficult philosophical points. For example, So you think that there is no such thing as truth. Do you believe that statement is true for everyone, all the time and there is nothing we can be sure of? How can that be? How can you make a statement about what is objectively true for everyone, if you don’t believe that their is an objective truth for everyone all the time? In other words, if there is no truth, then that is a true statement, and thus there is such a thing as truth. This statement got me a lot of confused faces, but after repeating it a few times there were more then a few “ahah” moments.
I think there will be a lot more experiences like these throughout the year and I will pray that God will give me the words to help them, to see that God’s way is the only way to find true happiness, peace and joy.