Students Having Honest Conversations—About Religious Freedom, Relationships, Sexuality and Faith
Day of Dialogue Guiding Principles
One of the most important themes of the Day of Dialogue® is the simple truth that God cares. He cares about every single student in our school and all of their individual problems, heartbreaks and struggles. God is personal. He knows us by name, and He cares about every detail of our lives, including our relationships, our sexuality and our soul. The principles below fit within those general themes.
Understanding Our Constitutional Rights. No student should have to feel ashamed of—or like they have to hide—their deeply held biblical beliefs when they walk in the school door. That’s why it’s so important for students to understand their religious-freedom rights, which was a cherished principle our Founding Fathers were willing to give their lives to protect. In general, students have the right to talk about their religious beliefs, pray, read Scripture and invite other classmates to join them in these activities—as long as the actions are voluntary, student-initiated, not disruptive or coercive and take place during non-instructional time. To learn more, read Fast Facts On Students’ Rights .
Having Confidence in Your Right to Speak. By educating yourself–and helping other classmates learn–what your rights are, you are helping to empower students nationwide and paving the way for God’s truth and compassion to be expressed. Government (i.e., public) schools cannot censor students from engaging in voluntary, free speech (written or verbal) about their deeply held religious beliefs—as long as the speech does not interrupt or cause a substantial disruption to academic instruction. For more information about this, review the legal resources in the Know Your Rights section. Remember that national groups like Focus on the Family and Alliance Defending Freedom are supportive of your efforts. You are not alone!
Having Healthy Relationships. The best model for relationships comes from Jesus Christ in the Bible—who didn’t back away from speaking truth, but neither held back in pouring out His compassionate love for hurting and vulnerable people. That’s what real love looks like: It demonstrates firmness and strength—the kind of strength it takes to be willing to die for someone or to share a difficult truth—but it is communicated with day-to-day gentleness and kindness. The Bible also has something to say about healthy relationships and boundaries with others. For instance, I Corinthians 13 talks about the fact that a loving relationship is not self-seeking or rude. It demonstrates patience and humility. Proverbs also gives some great tips on having healthy boundaries with others. To read more, check out Having Healthy Friendships.
Developing a Healthy Identity. Jesus knew what His identity was based on—the fact that He was God’s deeply loved Son—and He based His worth on that permanent identity, not on other people’s changing opinions and judgments or popular cultural messages. He knew there was something deeper, more meaningful and eternal than those temporary things. Having His identity centered in God’s eternal love, also meant that Jesus wasn’t controlled on a day-to-day basis by other people’s opinions and feelings. It gave Him the freedom and boldness to reach out to those around Him—even those who were unpopular in his culture. (Remember the Good Samaritan parable and the story about Jesus and the Woman at the Well?) To read more, see Who Am I? Finding Eternal Significance.
Protecting Others. The model Christ gave us is one of sacrificial love, laying down one’s life to rescue others. (Philippians 2: 6-8 talks about how Christ came and “humbled himself” even to the point of “death on a cross” to save others.) We can follow that model by standing up for those being harmed or bullied, even when we feel our reputation might be at stake. A biblical perspective teaches us that every person was created in the image of God and has innate dignity and worth, no matter how they identify. That’s why we treat all people, even those with whom we might disagree, with kindness and compassion. And that’s why Christian students in particular should be the first to stand up for those around them being hurt or harmed. To read more, see Why We Should Stick Up for Others.
Experiencing God’s Best for Sexuality. Sexuality is a precious gift from God—he created it! That’s why God designed the very best possible plan for our sexuality and relationships, which He revealed in His Word. The Bible presents a road map for our relationships that enables us to avoid pitfalls that cause pain and physical harm and to instead experience the joy of genuine and fulfilling intimacy. It was God’s idea that sexual desire would move us toward intimacy with another and toward a relationship that brings unity, pleasure and new life. And God designed marriage as the one place for that sexual desire to be expressed. In fact, in the physical union of a husband and wife, there is also a spiritual union that occurs. Marriage between a husband and wife is such an important relationship, that God used it all throughout the Bible as a picture of what our relationship with Him is supposed to be like. For more information about this, read God’s Design for Sexuality.
Understanding Why Gender is Important. The Bible shows us that God honored humans by making us in his own image, male and female. God designed men and women to be different and to complement one another. Our masculinity and femininity reflects things about God’s character. Justice and mercy. Strength and beauty. Nurture and protection. So being male or female isn’t just about biology or cultural stereotypes. Masculine and feminine characteristics reflect something much deeper—attributes of God that resonate in the core being of our souls and personalities. For more information, read Why Male & Female Matter.
Realizing that God Cares. It doesn’t take much observation to see that things have gone terribly wrong in this world. Just look around, and you’ll see people, maybe even including yourself, who’ve been deeply wounded by others and hurt through the misuse of sexuality, through such wrongs as abuse, unfaithfulness, pornography, and other things. Without God, and the plan He made for us, all the good of sexuality is distorted and our identities become centered in the wrong things. But the good news is that, despite all of our flaws and woundings, God still loves us deeply. He longs to reconnect with each of us and to begin healing, restoring and transforming us. And He invites each of us to respond to His love.
Having a Relationship with God. The most important relationship of all—and the one that will outlast all the others on this earth—is our relationship with the One who made us, God. His son, Jesus, made this possible, by coming to this earth to give His life for us and restore our relationships with God. The Bible says that “God so loved the world” that he literally “gave His one and only Son” to die for us—not to condemn us, “but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17). Jesus is standing with His arms open to each of us. We’ve all had our identity, relationships, sexuality and desires impacted by our own sin and others’ wrongdoing. And He invites us to experience new life, forgiveness, true relational intimacy with Him and healthy relationships with others. Read more about this here.