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You are here: Home » The Spiritual Life » Relationships

Relationships

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In loveBEFORE YOU START:

MEETING AIM: To discuss and clarify the rules God has laid down for finding a partner, dating and the way we should act in a relationship.

BACKGROUND PREPARATION: The books ‘Pure’ by Linda Marshall and ‘It’s always on my mind’, by J.John are digestible and clear. Both are worth a read as you plan this session.

NOTES FOR ADAPTING: This is a difficult subject to make light of and as a result, it is mostly discussion based. For this reason, it may be best suited to ages 14+ and may be easier in a single-sex context.

Perhaps arrange for a young married Christian to give a relationship testimony. Ask them to explain why they saw it as difficult / important to leave sex until marriage or any regrets they now have. Allow time for discussion and questions.

Find your partner (5-10 mins)

As each group member comes in, stick/pin a piece of paper on their backs with the name of one half of a famous couple or duo, e.g. Dr Who/Rose, Romeo/Juliet, Brad/Angelina. They are not allowed to see the name they have, but must, by asking yes/no questions, determine who they are and link up with their ‘partner’ in the room.

True love? (10 mins)

Get the group to vote on whether they agree or disagree with the following statements:

-         ‘There is no such thing as love at first sight.'

-         ‘It’s okay to “go as far as you want” with someone as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.’

-         ‘The person you love is the person you feel the strongest emotions for.’

-         ‘You should never go out with someone unless you are absolutely sure you want to marry them.’

-         ‘The Bible says you should never kiss on the first date.’

Allow some time for discussion and summary.
 

Lovin’ the Bible (10 mins)

Read 1 John 4:7-12 and 1 Corinthians 13. In groups, ask them to discuss:

  • Think of as many different ways as you can in which the word ‘love’ is used today. When is it used wrongly? In what ways is it used rightly?
  • Why and how does God want us to show love to one another?
  • What is the difference between love that comes from the will and love that comes from the emotion? Try to illustrate this. Can you have one without the other? Does one sometimes lead to the other? What happens when we have both? Which does our society encourage?

God and going out (15 mins)

Write the following on a flip chart and explain that these are the only specific guidelines that God has laid down for us in choosing a potential ‘life partner’. Discuss these with the group.

  1. They must be of the opposite sex. (Genesis 2:24)
  2. They cannot be related to you. (Leviticus 18:6-17)
  3. They must be unmarried. (Exodus 20:14)
  4. They must be a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39)

Explain that beyond these points, God gives us choice. We can’t always know if we want to marry someone before ‘going-out’, but the overall purpose of dating is to see if we could marry them. If we decide that we definitely do not want to marry our boy/girlfriend, then there is no reason for continuing that ‘dating’ relationship. 

KEY POINT: The Bible doesn’t act like a crystal ball and give us direct answers to questions like ‘Should I go out with him?’ or ‘Should I be thinking about her like this?’ In every decision we make, we should measure it against 1 Thessalonians 4:7. We know that God wants us to be made pure. If a particular relationship/ activity doesn’t make us more holy, then it is not God’s will. Simple as that!

How far is too far? (15 mins)

This is a delicate and difficult question and can invite legalism. Suggest that physical intimacy leading up to sex is designed to be reserved for marriage. Rather than trying to get as much experience and pleasure without offending God, we should try and consider how we can best please God in this relationship.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Split the group into small groups (same sex) and get them to discuss:

  • What might mark out a Christian viewpoint and practice from a non- Christian one? List the differences.
  • The areas that they find hardest to stay pure and accountable in. (e.g flirting/lust/pressure to be sexually intimate/liking someone who’s not a Christian.)
  • Devise boundaries for each area which would help in these situations.
Challenge them to write these things down and to stick to them. Encourage them to pray for each other in this.
 

Why wait till marriage? (15 mins)

Give each member of the group an A4 or A5 piece of paper and some tubes of Pritt stick. Get one member to draw a red cross on their piece of paper and ask everyone to glue one side of their paper (making sure it is a generous portion all over). Ask the group to sit in a line and ask the member with the crossed paper to stick his/her piece to the first person in the line. With each piece, make sure it is properly stuck and has time to dry.

As the glue is drying, explain that God has designed sex to be like the strongest glue to keep married couples strong together.

Then tell them to rip them apart and to repeat this exercise again down the line. Before long, it should get messy and the paper with the red cross on will get torn.

  • If sex is like glue, ask what effect this might have on us if we are joined and ripped from many different partners?
  • What lasting damage can we see from sex outside of marriage? Do you think it is possible to separate the body and soul for a one-night-stand?

Key Point: God wants the best for us and the best, strongest marriage relationship for us. He knows the way that we act in this area can cause us long-lasting damage. God is not against sex: he created it. His guidelines are not illogical - they just reflect the wisdom of our creator.

Broken boundaries and guilty chains (15 mins)

What if this meeting is all coming too late for you and you’ve already lost your virginity or gone further than you know God would like? Say that in Jesus Christ there is total forgiveness and clean starts.

Explain that it must be our decision to have the courage to come back to God, knowing that his love and forgiveness is bigger than our biggest mess-up. If we allow God to teach and refine us through our mistakes, then good can come from it.

Have a time of quiet where members can write a letter to God, confessing exactly what they have done and how they feel. Encourage them to express all of their feelings of guilt and regret on paper. Then, get them to screw or rip the paper up and take it outside and burn it. And read Psalm 103:12.

 

 
SARAH WYNTER is Deputy Editor of Youthwork Magazine, UK