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Tough Topics

Clothes, Fads and God’s Word

– Gordon and Becki West

For our generation it was bellbottoms, crazy daisies and long hair. How we must have driven our parents and teachers crazy. When’s the last time you found a picture of yourself from way back when and wondered, “What was I thinking?”

Preteens today are no different. They have their styles and fashions, their favorite stores and designers and they are all trying to be unique as they dress to look just like everyone else their age.

Expressions of the Heart

Youth fashion is a primary means by which our students seek to “find” themselves. Throughout their growth they go through a series of parental “leaving” and “cleaving” cycles. The preteen years are one of the key “leaving” times. God has wired early adolescents (10-14 years of age) to seek out their own identities.

Discuss with your students how they are truly unique individuals, each made special and different by a loving Creator (Eph. 2:10). Discuss how being comfortable with themselves is important to their walk with God. Explain that when someone has a healthy relationship with Christ, modesty can be one of the outward signs of an inward change.

For example, lots of preteen boys wear their pants so loose they are falling down. Girls are choosing clothing that is leaving more bare skin than should be exposed. Try asking your students to consider these fashions in light of 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (the weaker brother) and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (the temple of the Holy Spirit).

We recently asked a preteen boy whose sagging pants revealed brightly colored boxers, if the same view of a girl would help his walk with Christ. He shuddered and said, “No way!” Then we asked if he thought he was being helpful to the young ladies who walked by and saw how he was dressed. He answered by pulling up his pants.

Teaching Truth through Trends

Another huge issue for preteens today is backpacks. And huge is exactly the problem. During their growth years human bodies should not be carrying a load over 10 percent of the body’s weight. To address this issue preteens’ parents are investing in hip bags that hang from one shoulder across the chest and rest on the hip or backpacks with handles that cross the chest or strap around the waist for additional support.

Have your preteens bring the packs to church filled with their books one week and pass them around. Have a contest to see who has the heaviest (and therefore, the most potentially damaging) backpack. Then bring out your Bible and discuss how Jesus’ burden is light and His yoke is easy (Matt. 11:28-30).

Ask your preteens, “How is Jesus’ burden like or unlike your backpack?” Point out that the extra straps on new backpacks are to help lighten the load. Similarly, when Jesus carries the other half of our yoke, our burdens are much easier. Ask, “Are there any things you shouldn’t put in your backpack? Are there choices in life that make it difficult for you to share the yoke with Jesus?”

As teachers of preteen students we need to find peace with the clothing preteens choose to wear. All these passing fads should remind you that as kids are growing up, taking on their own styles, God wants to use you to help them find their unique and unchanging identity in Christ.

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