August 21, 2012

At Camp: Having Your Girlfriend Stolen

Foursquare camps, and other big youth gatherings, usually make room in their schedules for at least one night where the boys and girls get split up, opening up space to talk about each gender's respective issues, whatever they may be; a time when boys can talk about boy stuff and girls can talk about girl stuff.

The first night of high school camp was such a night. The boys piled in Okerson, an old wooden dorm-style lodge where most of the dudes slept, and were encouraged to ask questions, questions about anything. Now we all know the anything doesn't actually mean anything. This is after all a religious camp, a Christian camp, where students come to learn about God and practice Christian life in a safe place. So, anything actually means anything pertaining to that, right? Anything within the bounds of religion.

But that's just it. These students started asking questions of every stripe, questions that, at first listen, didn't sound religious or Christian at all. I was blown away by the heap of questions dealing with ethical matters; the ole' what should I do? questions. I was impressed. Their questions showed me that they didn't view Christianity or their faith as a side dish, something that only complimented the main bulk of their life. They understood that faith informs even the trivial matters of one's existence. Perhaps they asked these questions because they were encouraged to. Ask anything. Though this may be true, I want to be optimistic and think that these students see their faith as central, as an important conversation partner in the public square.

During the course of the night there was one question--yes, one--that nestled itself neatly in my mind.

After each kid shouted out his question over and through the crowd, one of three staff members, or a combination of them, would promptly dish out a concise and hopefully biblically-informed answer. Most of the boys, afterwards, seem satisfied.

Halfway during the night, I made my way upstairs where you could look down on the students and stage area where the three staff guys were sitting. A voice from the left started asking a question about his girlfriend. He explained that her ex was trying to get back with her and that he had no regard for him and, well, that she was with him now. Immediately, I thought, "Why do you have a girlfriend? You're, what, fourteen?"

A bunch of the boys bursted out in a frenzied choir in response to the situation. The kid seems pretty mild-mannered and meek. So what kind of advice will they give?

Honestly, it was basic and typical. There was nothing substantially Christian about the answer, apart from it coming from a Christian person. I was malcontent. My brain fired up. What would Jesus have said? This was, for me at that time, a valid question. I immediately thought of Matthew chapter five.

Matthew recorded Jesus' words: "But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...'"

Hmm... do you smell where I'm going with this?

I wanted to speak up and interrupt the answer being given. "Nah, nah, nah, that's no good. Does anyone remember what Jesus taught? If someone punches your eye, offer the other, if someone steals your shirt, give him your coat and if a solider orders you to carry his crap for a mile, walk two. Make sure your enemy knows you love him. And if some chump wants your girl, why resist?"

I may or may not be exaggerating. The point is this kid is too young for a girlfriend. In other words, give her up, or she will. After all this is high school. Relationships don't last.

Having your girlfriend stolen? So what! Don't resist. In fact, go up to the guy and tell him he has your blessing!