Decency~Respect~Dignity: Talking Points around the Supreme Juridical Confirmation Hearing
Introduction: This confirmation hearing has been just one more thing that separates our country. In an effort to show our young people that even if we disagree on issues, we can find common ground somewhere and walk away from discussions agreeing to disagree, still respecting and speaking to one another. This particular discussion is not political. No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, the testimonies hit on topics that were relevant in 1982 and are still relevant for our teens today. I implore you as parents, educators and spiritual leaders not to shy away from such topics as sex, under age alcohol consumption, and poor decisions. Research shows that the teen brain is not fully developed and therefore, teens lack cognitive skills such as problem solving, memory, emotional expression, judgement and sexual behaviors. It is our job as adults to help them work through cause and effect situations PRIOR to them having to make decisions. So, it is important, no matter the subject, to present facts (this also means both sides of an argument) and allow teens to work through their own thought process to claim their own opinions, conclusions and convictions. The more you force your beliefs on them, the more push back you will get.
Also keep in mind, no matter how well you know a teen, they may be hiding something, so precede with caution, assuming that there is someone in your youth group, or your teen’s friend group that has been a part of an unwanted advance or have made a mistake and is feeling shame.
Resources: Here is some information on sexual assault and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center is also a good resource for information or to report an incident. Please share this information with your students. Stats shared in Podcast can be found here.
Audience: We recommend this discussion for high school students. If you are a parent, you may wish to discuss the topics with your mature middle school children. For our youth leaders, be sure parents are aware that you are discussing sensitive subject matter ahead of time.
Title: Decency, Respect and Dignity
Begin with the following questions:
Are you paying attention to what is going one right now in current events? How do you get your information? Do you talk to parents at home about current events?
Who would like to look up the definitions of these words?
Let’s think of some examples, it could be someone famous, or a situation with a friend or family where actions show decency, respect or dignity. (This could be as simple as helping someone pick up books they’ve dropped in the hall.)
Where or what are the areas of your life, where you perceived that decency, respect, and dignity is lacking?
What are areas in the larger culture where you notice a lack of decency, respect and dignity?
Let’s take a look at John 4. Have students read aloud, and if there are different versions of the Bible, have students read the verses more than once. Help them understand the context and culture of the time.
Why is she an outcast? (Her multiple marriages) Do you think the community treats her ex-husbands the same way? Why or why not?
So, why would Jesus interact with her?
Have you ever been made fun of for interacting with an “outcast”? Do you put yourself in the shoes of that person?
Is there a situation where we should excuse lack of decency or respect?
What behaviors do you excuse?
What are ways that you respect yourself? Respect your friends?
What is the Golden Rule?
How can you show “love” to your neighbor? What if they have wronged you? What if they don’t agree with you? (Be sure that you help them understand that our love for one another comes from God’s love for us, we love because He loves us.)
What is a scenario at school where you have seen OR could be the example of The Golden Rule?
In the story of The Woman at the Well, how did Jesus’ actions support The Golden Rule?
How does Decency, Respect and Dignity play into The Golden Rule?
Is there a difference in the way boys interact with one another? What about girls? (When the other gender is not around.)
The incident that is under investigation with the Confirmation Hearing for Judge Kavanaugh happened in the early 1980’s when he was 17 and Dr. Ford was 15. For her, the assault she is claiming has affected her all of her life. In his case, the claim could ruin his career. What situations do you see teens in, or what decisions that teens make, could affect them the rest of their lives? Be sure they see one big difference in teens today compared to 1980’s being social media, and the fact that posts do not go away.
Lying is another big topic in this situation. Some people say she is lying others think he isn’t telling the truth. Have you ever been accused of not telling the truth? What did that feel like? How does decency, respect and dignity play into truthfulness?
Do you have a trusted adult, someone you could turn to if you get into a situation where you need help?
Do you have “safe words” with this person if you have to call them in the middle of a situation? (i.e. I have a headache, can you pick me up?)
End with some like: No matter how this Confirmation Hearing ends, it has brought up some important topics for us. It is important for all of us to treat one another and ourselves with the decency, respect and dignity that we, as children of God, deserve. And when/if someone defies you, tell someone. Never forget, that actions speak louder than words, and our actions, for good or ill, can have lifelong impact.