The other day my seven year old made a comment that took me by surprise. She expressed to me that she was interested in partaking in a school talent show. I then asked her what would be her talent? She replied, singing. I followed up with, what song would she sing? And that’s when she floored me with her response…anything but a “God Song”. She said “God Songs” were meant for church ONLY and if she were to sing them, they would probably think she was boring and laugh at her. At that moment I was speechless. It was not so much her comment that shocked me, but it was the fact that at her age she was already concerned of how her peers would perceive her. I sat her down and began to explain to her how important it is to stay true to who you are. I informed her that there were no reasons for her to be ashamed for wanting or having the desire to sing for God – no matter where she was. She began to feel at ease with what I was saying to her but in the end, she still chose a song unrelated to God.
I shared the conversation I had with my daughter to a few people and it sparked a forum of discussion regarding some of the challenges that Christian youths face in today’s society. In my panel of about ten people, the ages ranged from 23-45 and coincidentally consisted of only women. They were from various backgrounds, cultures and professions. Some were mothers while others were not. As we debated the issue it seemed that peer pressure was at the top of the list. Unfortunately, peer pressure falls under a broad spectrum and so the conversation took a life of its own.
One of the 20 something who is an R.N and is from the island of Turks and Caicos stated that as young Christian she finds it harder at times to maintain her spirituality because of friends. She gave an example of how a friend called her one Sunday morning and invite her to go out. When she told the friend that she was on her way to church. The friend then replied, “If you miss one day God will forgive you.” She realized that she needed to re-evaluate her friendship with this person. This had not been the first time that this friend was insensitive to her beliefs so slowly this person exited her life. In this case this young lady was strong in her beliefs and rooted in her faith. She was able to make a conscious decision regarding what was best for her and not someone else.
Many commended her on her strength and ability to stand her ground. However, others thought it wasn’t that difficult to say no to someone in a situation like that. Which brought us to the next sub-topic… peer pressure from males. This time an engaged 26-year-old student took the helm. She opened up about her struggles as a Christian who had been in a relationship with a young man who would pressure her into having sex.
In the beginning she thought this issue would be a non-factor for her, since they belong to the same church then things would be easier. That theory was quickly proven wrong. She rejected him the first few times which he pretended to be ok with. He promised that he would wait for her until she was ready even if it was their wedding night. She loved him so she believed everything that he told her. She felt proud that she didn’t have to “give it up” in order to keep the guy. She felt strongly that way, until she walked in on him with another girl. That image was very detrimental to her spirit and it left her feeling vulnerable. Soon after, self-esteem issues became a factor. As a consequence, self-doubt and self-hatred entered her life. Now the perception of “putting out” or “giving it up” was her initial thought with every potential boyfriend she encountered. She was so lost that she felt this was the only way that she would get a man. She finally grew tired and disgusted with the way she was living and decided to be celibate. During that time she fasted, prayed and meditated on the Word. After a year of what she called cleansing her soul she met her fiancé. The first thing she made known to him was she was looking for a man who knew she was worth the wait of giving herself to him on their wedding night. She was hesitant of his answer but she was happy to know that he too felt the same. He confided in her that he was looking to give his life over to God and that He would send someone to help him on his journey. He publicly made a declaration that he found what he was looking for in her and he was looking forward to her becoming his bride. They made a vow to each other that they would wait until their wedding night to give themselves over to one another.
There are numerous issues that young Christians face today. We will continue more on this subject and discuss the issues and misconceptions that Christians face in the Black community. Some of the questions we will be debating are: Does culture or race play a role in raising your children to be Christians? Is social media crippling our youth? What are the difference between Black Muslims and other Muslims? If you have any comments that you would like to make, we gladly welcome you to leave your comments, questions and suggestions.
Written by: Valerie Benjamin-Desir