Intolerant. Hater. Bigot.
These are all things you’ve heard and may have been called. Why? Because you’re teaching the truth of Jesus Christ.
A few years ago I was in the Austin airport and overheard two teens talking. The girl, who I learned was Jewish, told the guy that Catholics hate us (referencing Jews). When he asked why she said it’s because [Catholics] think we [Jews] killed Jesus. (Now, there’s obviously flawed theology there but that’s for a different time.) The boy’s response astounded me.
“Who’s Jesus?” he asked.
As an American teenager he had never before heard the name of Jesus!
Brothers and sisters, this is on us. America is becoming a place where we refrain from ‘pushing our beliefs’ on others and thus are no longer sharing the beautiful Truth of Jesus Christ with them! People are yearning for the love of Jesus. They are literally dying looking for it in all the wrong places.
At the conclusion of a retreat I asked my teens if they encountered the love, joy, and peace of Christ. They yelled with excitement and joy. “Then why wouldn’t you want your family and friends to experience that same love, joy, and peace?! We must share the truth of Jesus with others or they may never encounter Him!”
You must renew your determination to evangelize and that starts in your home, in your Church, and in your youth group! You must teach your teens to evangelize and you should begin by combatting what Pope Francis calls “the greatest spiritual poverty of our age” which is relativism, where each person who makes up their own truth.
Use these practical tips for addressing relativism with your teens.
1) “We don’t hate the people we’re disagreeing with.”
Preface what you teach by explaining that you don’t hate those you disagree with. This may be an obvious truth to you but don’t assume teens know or believe this. Teens have grown up in a world teaching them that it’s impossible to have a healthy debate or intelligent discussion. Just look at our most recent political race.
After you lay down the fact that “I don’t hate the people I’m disagreeing with” then continue with “here’s what Jesus teaches” or “here’s what I think”.
2) Establish that there is absolute truth and briefly explain the details of why relativism is wrong.
A simple foundational question can be, “Do you think it was wrong for Hitler to kill people?” Most people will answer ‘yes’. Explain that this shows they do believe in right and wrong, then move forward from there.
If you can’t establish that they believe in right and wrong, then you’ll be wasting your breath on whatever you’re teaching because at the end they’ll just comment, “Well, that’s what you believe.”
- What does 2 + 2 equal? If they say 4 then that’s an argument affirming there is absolute truth. Relativism does not exist within mathematics.
- Is it wrong to steal? What if someone stole from you? What if (name someone who is affluent) stole, is that wrong?
3) Most People Are Selective Relativists
Understand that most people, including the 93% of teens who do not believe in absolute truth, are selective relativists. That’s because it’s hard to be consistent with something that’s so ridiculous. Many thieves will justify stealing and say that it’s okay…that is, until someone steals from them. There are no serious philosophers that are relativists. But those who believe in relativism are selective with certain issues, particularly those that have to do with Catholicism. And historically you can see why the Church is an easy target, because in her 2000 years the Church has never changed her stance on a moral teaching.
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