Image of fifteen or twenty young people who gathered for a group photo at the recent Scottish Mission Youth retreat near Spittal of Glenshee. They are gathered in the meeting room of the retreat centre with some musical instruments in the background. They stand in front of a beautiful window that overlooks the outside scenery.

"Flirting with Love." Scottish youth hold authentic conversations at Mission youth retreat.

Compass Christian Retreat Centre, Spittal of GlensheeMercy Cherono, Edinburgh Adventist Community Church

We all want to see God and Jesus tells us that we need purity to make it possible: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)

“Be pure = See God.”

Simple equation, right? Well, in reality it is a lot harder to be pure, especially in today's overly sexualized society.

The 2022 Scottish Mission youth retreat availed a safe space for young people to have authentic conversations around pertinent issues regarding sexual purity. We delved deep into topics that are rarely discussed in church circles: fornication, pornography, masturbation, and homosexuality. We learnt practical ways to be sexually pure in our youth all through to marriage. Christ was presented to us as a loving saviour who does not condemn sinners (not even the sexually immoral) but seeks to set us free from sin/sexual immorality. Praise the Lord that there is hope for young people struggling with addictions! We read from Matthew 5:27-30 and were encouraged to cut things off (no not our genitals), but anything that would cause lust in our hearts and lead us to act on the lust. Sexual sin is the one battle we have not been called to fight, but to flee (1 Corinthians 6:18). The equation for sexual purity in our generation may therefore look something like this:

Cut things off (Pray for victory + Install porn blocker on devices + Change social media settings to hide sensitive content + Audit media consumption to limit exposure to sex + Break off a relationship where physical boundaries are not respected) = Be pure = See God

Image of Scottish Mission young people who gathered for a group photo at the recent Scottish Mission Youth Camp, the image is similar to the one at the top of the article, except that they are now flinging their arms and legs in different directions to create a bit of excitement, humour and motion

As is the custom of youth retreats and gatherings, we also learnt about courtship and marriage. However, this time, it was through an interesting analysis of a Bible book that is rarely used as a reference. We explored and drew lessons from the first four chapters of the book Songs of Solomon (interesting, right?!). It was funny, but important for Pastor Perea to emphasize that good hygiene is an important aspect of the art of attraction.  As part of the worship experience, we also got to sing, share, and pray together. Throughout the retreat, we got to play a lot of fun games and others also had the opportunity to participate in team-building activities.

Adding onto the rich spiritual food, was a rich feast of physical food prepared by master chef OyNish with help from Nelson and Adowa. Words are not enough to express the delightful culinary experience we had, we could only taste and see. Over meals, we got to chat about our perspectives on different things and became fast friends. It was great to share rooms and be able to continue the heart-to-heart conversations with our roommates.

The retreat was situated in a scenic part of Scotland, near Spittal of Glenshee, far away from the bustle of the city in a serene place surrounded by beautiful trees, hills, and rivers – several of us had such lovely walks!

It was honestly a refreshing and blessed weekend!

I know that I speak for all the young people who attended when I say, “We are eternally grateful to Pr Gabriel Perea and his wife Jessica for being vulnerable with us and speaking candidly on these issues. Much appreciation to Pr Claudiu as well as Lucas and Jordana for coordinating the retreat.”

[Mercy Cherono - Edinburgh Adventist Community Church]