It’s the question that preachers, teachers and parents dread, especially if they were shaped by the cultural earthquakes of the 1960s.
But no one fears it more than youth ministers, who hear the private questions that young people fear to ask their elders. Youth pastors work in the no man’s land between the home and the church.
This is the question: “Well, didn’t you do any of this stuff when you were a kid?” The young person may be asking about sex, drinking, drugs, cheating or, perhaps, lying to parents about any of the above.
If youth ministers stop and think about it, they will realize that they usually say something like the following while trying to answer these questions, said the Rev. David “Duffy” Robbins, a United Methodist who teaches youth ministry at Eastern University near Philadelphia.
“If I answer that it’s none of your business and the answer is between me and God, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll hear that as a ‘yes,’ ” said Robbins, writing in Good News magazine. “If I answer ‘yes’ to your question, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll take that as permission to make the same mistakes that I’ve made. If, on the other hand, I say ‘no,’ there’s a good possibility that you might reason that then I couldn’t possibly understand what you’re facing or what you’re going through right now.