Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can A Program Honor God without Talking Specifically about Jesus?

The local pregnancy care center, where I used to volunteer, has an abstinence education program other centers envy – they have earned the privilege of talking to students in most of the county’s public schools, explaining the physical and emotional benefits of sexual abstinence in a way that gets students’ attention. I believe this abstinence program has been responsible for preventing the county’s high teen-pregnancy rate from being even higher.

But this week I received a letter from the center, stating that they will soon stop making abstinence presentations in public schools because the presenters are not allowed to mention Christ or use biblical arguments for abstinence. The board decided that such presentations were not consistent with their mission to offer “Christ-centered” and “God-honoring” services to the community.

I do not know all the factors that went into the decision to cease public-school abstinence presentations, but if the reason given was the sole reason, I believe the board made a mistake. Passion for Christ is what motivates abstinence presenters (many of them volunteers) to take the time to talk with students, often discussing the painful consequences of their own teenaged sexual experiences. These presenters may not be allowed to give the reason they do what they do, but they make students aware that they can come to the pregnancy care center if they ever need help with an unexpected pregnancy. Those who do come hear the gospel in addition to receiving practical assistance. I would certainly call this abstinence program “Christ-centered” and “God-honoring,” even if many students do not hear His name mentioned explicitly.

Many conservative Christians fear that if we don’t present the Romans Road or offer a wordless book to everyone we meet, we are failing to make Christ the center of our lives and are losing opportunities to bring more people into His kingdom. And we don’t want our favorite parachurch organizations to go the way of the YMCA and Harvard University, whose foundations in orthodox Christianity have become so deeply buried that their missions are now completely secular or even anti-Christian. But could the Holy Spirit sometimes lead Christian organizations to offer some “no strings attached” services as a demonstration of love and good will before they introduce clients to their core reason for being? Could abstinence programs that don’t mention Christ by name still be part of His plan to prepare the way for those He is drawing to Himself?

I believe so.

2 comments:

  1. Good post Shannon, I appreciate the conclusion. Initially, I wasn't sure where you were going with it.

    Instances like these are going to become a more frequent occurrence as the Church realizes just what a pluralistic, post-Christian society looks like. I know many that fear this type of "secularization" but if we are being honest as a Church, our evangelistic efforts have been on the decline for decades. The current Church's trajectory is losing its relevance to an increasingly disbelieving society.

    One of the benefits of secularization is that it opens the door for dialogue. That will require us as a church to rethink many things and among them is this example of abstinence and pregnancy crisis programs. Indeed, we are underestimating the power of the Holy Spirit when we give up in this way. Instead of appearing loving and faithful, we come across as stubborn and pouty.

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  2. All truth is God's truth ~whether presented in the secular realm or in the "Christian" realm. I think you can present God's truth of abstinence and allow people to receive the blessing of doing it His way without them "knowing" they are doing it His way. He is a God of love and He wants us to share His love with others. Being there can open other doors like directing them to the pregnancy center where they will have the opportunity to receive His full truth.

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