For the last eighteen years I've been lecturing on the Ten Commandments at various schools. I usually start out the week of teaching with an agree/disagree exercise. I introduce an idea such as, “All murder is wrong.” And then if the students agree, they go to one side of the room. If they disagree, they go to a different side of the room. It's always been a great discussion starter. It gets the students thinking about the Ten Commandments and how they’re not quite as simple as a casual reading of them might lead you to believe. There are deeper issues when it comes to modern science that can make it difficult to see how the Ten Commandments apply to our culture.
I was surprised during a recent teaching session that there were several in the group who were deeply offended that I would present something that divided them to the students. Having that interaction of some of the students agreeing and some disagreeing really bothered them. It bothered them because they feel like we ought to work not to display our differences, but to display how we agree. As I got together with some of the students, I began to understand why they were upset by this. We live in a very divided world, particularly in the United States. With the current elections, our country feels so divided and polarized. These students are rebelling against this polarized culture that they're living in. They don't want that in the church, or in their class and school. Instead, they want to see the places that they can agree and move forward.
I think as older adults we need to realize what's going on in our culture. What we think is dialogue or a normal interchange of ideas, this group found divisive. In order to be relevant to this generation, I realized that I need to be sensitive to that need.