Transformation stories amid a culture of hopelessness

Written by Bonnie Pue

I’ve been working with youth and young adults within the church community for nearly twenty years. My husband and I have a ministry that speaks on matters of sexuality, identity, and relationships. We watch the rising trends of gender reassignment surgeries and read the reports of growing numbers of children being exposed to violent forms of pornography. We have well-founded concerns about the metastasizing ideologies in these particular areas within culture, but perhaps the most unsettling trend is the general sense of hopelessness that shores them all up.

We now live in a post-modern, secularized nation. Many of the philosophies of our time are so caustic that the foundations of family and society are crumbling. If there is no Creator, if there is nothing outside of the tangible, if God doesn’t bestow dignity equally upon us all or inspire purpose within us, if there is no higher law to direct us in what is right or wrong, if there is no sense of accountability for the choices we make, and if everything will just fade to black when we breathe our last, then ego-centric hedonism is a logical lifestyle choice. Why resist temptation at all? Why put yourself through struggle? Why deny yourself anything?

It is a worldview encapsulated by the ancient motto Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” But anyone who has followed the path of indulgence for long enough knows that though the pleasures may last for a season, shame, relational disconnection, and brokenness are close at hand. And life doesn’t pull punches or play favourites. “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward,” Job 5:7 tells us. So what then?

If there is no God to invite us to some divine purpose or to offer redemption, we will inevitably begin to ask, “What’s the point of all this?”

This is where godlessness naturally leads us: first to hedonism and then to nihilism. We see it in the stats of rising rates of suicide ideation and medically-assisted suicide. The reality is that many people in Canada have been robbed of hope, and to be robbed of hope is to be robbed of strength.

In the midst of this cultural reality, I’ve lost count of the number of young people who have confided in me about their tangled struggle with mental health and deviance from a biblical sexual ethic. I’ve also lost count of the number of divine moments when hope was restored. And I can say it is always an honour to be in the room when God’s healing presence comes to hurting hearts.

There was the young woman who was faithfully serving in a local church with a smile on her face, yet secretly fighting depression that began four years prior during a sexually abusive relationship that culminated with a pregnancy scare and a morning-after pill. After sharing her secret with me, we began to pray together and this young woman reported sensing the tangible love of Jesus and feeling weight being lifted. Her journey of healing wasn’t completed in that moment, but she took a step in the right direction.

I remember also the young man who opened up with my husband and I about how he had become dependent on pornography before he came to Jesus. His solo-parent home environment had been full of abuse and neglect, pushing him into survival mode. Pornography was an escape. Now he felt ashamed trying to serve God. Hope had waned. He was convinced that he was incapable of enjoying or developing fulfilling relationships. However, as he courageously opened his heart to hope, he found new strength. Dark clouds of depression no longer immobilize him the way they used to and he is building a life that he never dreamed possible.

When we find hope, we will also find new strength to overcome, to restrain ourselves from ungodly passions, and to devote ourselves to a cause beyond ourselves. In the darkest of nights, we can remember Scripture’s reminder in Revelation 2:28 that Jesus is a bright Morning Star who faithfully appears. Night must always bow to the dawn. Darkness cannot drive out the light. We have been made with a purpose, forgiven of our sins, and loved with an everlasting love. And I have seen this anchored hope, often shared quietly and with tears, bring light to friends and neighbours who are yearning for the dawn.

Bonnie Pue is a mother of six and co-founder of the Union Movement living in Mission, B.C. Read more from the “Making love matter(s)” column.