Mentioning the seven deadly sins brings a lot to mind—just ask a teenager.
“Sloth,” volunteered several boys at church. “They’re the names of villains in Full Metal Alchemist,” said an anime devotee.
For others, it’s Brad Pitt. “After the movie Seven, the seven deadly sins have a cultural currency,” notes Calvin professor Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung. After all, “everybody finds sins intriguing.”
For DeYoung, sins can be diagnostic tools for spiritual growth, especially for young adults. She developed that viewpoint teaching seniors at Calvin. As a class project students had to present each of the seven sins as part of late-night devotions in the college dorms.
“My only requirement was that it be interactive,” she said. “It was totally a blast.”
DeYoung also taught the course for high schoolers at her home church. Out of this experience has come The Seven Deadly Sins, a new study from Faith Alive Christian Resources for high school teens and young adults.
Whether in college or high school, students want to live faithfully and authentically as Christians, explains DeYoung.
“A lot of them have been taught ‘Jesus, please forgive my sins’—they have a very clear sense of justification but a very thin sense of sanctification,” explains DeYoung. “Students often lack the discipline of reflecting on their lives. By articulating what the sins are in our lives, we can then try to root them out.”
Learning to name the problem makes a big difference for teens, adds DeYoung. “Rather than trying to make up stuff to convince them that something is a sin, we focus on their experience. As soon as they find that label for the experience they already know, you get this ‘ah ha’ moment.”
Like the dorm presentations, The Seven Deadly Sins uses an interactive approach. For example, in the unit on anger students keep a journal for a week, noting what they got angry about and why, and rating each incident.
“Once you have identified the problem then you can do something about it,” DeYoung explains. “Kids are interested in more than just a superficial Christianity, they want a lived discipleship. It’s a whole way of life. And that’s just so Reformed.”
A sample chapter from The Seven Deadly Sins is available at www.FaithAliveResources.org.
If you’re like most kids, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering What exactly are “the seven deadly sins”? The seven deadly sins have been identified through history as envy, sloth, avarice, vainglory, anger, lust, and gluttony. Pride is considered the root from which the seven grow.
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