What matters?

Agreeing to disagree isn't cowardly or weak; it is brave and mature.

Last week, our friends were excitedly planning for the upcoming youth convention. Then we heard the news. The 2023 All Ontario Youth Convention (AOYC) scheduled for this month was cancelled at the last minute because of objections to the main speaker Kevin Makins’ view of same-sex marriage. He wasn’t going to speak about or mention some of the pro-same-sex marriage views he has, but just the idea that he held these views was too much for some adults. Let us highlight that again: adults. They were the ones who wrote angry letters, threatened to protest at the conference, and ultimately got the whole three day event cancelled just because of one talk one pastor was going to give.

No one’s asked the youth what we think, so this is our chance to share our perspective.

I (Robin) am 17 years old. In my Grade 9 and 10 years, the AOYC was cancelled due to covid-19 restrictions. In Grade 11 it was run again but reduced to only one day. And now, in Grade 12, controversy took away my last chance to attend AOYC before I go to university.

I (Alba) am 16 years old. Kevin Makins has been to our church, Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, to preach many times. His eagerness to share God’s word is evident in his sermons. Makins started a church, Eucharist, and he organizes many outreach programs on various social media platforms. He is a captivating and enthusiastic speaker and would have been perfect for the youth convention. We were both very disappointed to learn of the cancellation – a word we became all too familiar with during the pandemic and were hoping not to hear again for a long time.

At the 2022 AOYC, teens put ‘Jesus,’ ‘the Raptors’ and ‘the AOYC’ on the list of things that brought them joy, with ‘waking up early,’ ‘politics’ and ‘war’ on the opposite side. Erin VanDriel.

What kind of message does this send to the youth who were looking forward to this event and those who weren’t planning to attend but heard of the cancellation? “Hey kids. We are your leaders and the responsible ones in charge, but because we can’t get along or even agree to disagree with each other, the only option is to not get together.” Young Christians or young people looking for a religion aren’t going to pursue or be interested in a community they perceive as exclusive and argumentative. The adults need to learn how to get along if they expect the kids to.

Time out

Both of us have been babysitters for many years. If two kids disagree about something, we don’t call off their whole relationship and say they can never see each other again. Instead we talk about it, figure out what the root of the problem is, address that, and then come up with a compromise. Adults are able to be reasonable and figure out solutions that work for all problems when kids are involved, but when the issues involve themselves, all their reasoning seems to fly out the window. If, every time someone disagrees with us, we kick them out of our lives, eventually we’ll have no one left.

If, every time someone disagrees with us, we kick them out of our lives, eventually we’ll have no one left.

Sounds pretty silly when you put it that way, but it is true.

The committee that organizes AOYC has been planning and looking forward to this convention for a long time. This year’s focus was What Matters, because they understood that what really matters is youth getting together to grow their faith. It doesn’t matter what your view on same-sex marriage is. This editorial is not meant to be a debate or spark anger. It’s not about what views are right or wrong, and it’s not going to force a belief on anyone who reads it. All we want to say is that just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have to cut them and everything they are associated with out of your life. It is okay to agree to disagree! It doesn’t make you cowardly or weak; it makes you brave and mature.

Jesus didn’t stay away from people who were different. He welcomed and accepted people who disagreed with him. Those people didn’t change who he was; in fact, it usually went the other way, with Jesus changing their lives. We think this verse says it perfectly: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions” (Rom. 14:1). Some youth aren’t strong Christians yet, and challenging them in their faith or quarreling about who’s right and who’s wrong is not the way to go.

If you only surround yourself with people who are the exact same as you in views and personality, how will you ever expand your knowledge and understanding of this world? How will you ever grow in your opinions?

“You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace,” Taylor Swift, one of our favourite pop singers, says. “’Cause shade never made anybody less gay.” You can find this in her song “You need to calm down.” We think she makes some great points. Anger about someone else’s opinion is never going to accomplish anything. It will just result in more anger and division.

Cancelling this conference didn’t change anybody’s opinions or their sexualities… maybe just their faith.

What’s it going to take to calm down and restore the peace?


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  1. Thank you Robin and Alba! I appreciate your hearts in the matter, and the perspective that your voice needs to be heard. I wonder if the AOYC has room for you to sit on their board? If not, they should reconsider their mission and values and how they set out to achieve them.

  2. These young adults have more wisdom and maturity than some of the leaders/boards/authority figures in our schools and churches. Thank you !

  3. As parents we are instructed to and we make the commitment when we bring a child for baptism, the raise the child in the love and fear of God. That does not mean that we should be strictly controlling what our children are confronted with. Each person is called to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. We need to allow our children to do the same. Our fear as parents should not make us hold back our children, but rather trusting that facing challenging issues will make them stronger in their faith.

  4. Wonderful. Thank you ladies for your mature perspective. May we older folks take it to heart.

  5. My heart breaks that this needed to be said, Robin and Alba. But you have said it beautifully and graciously! Thank you, this is something we can all learn more of, for sure.

  6. Dear wise young ladies, it makes me so happy to see the Holy Spirit working so actively in your hearts and minds. I pray that we all will be as receptive to hearing the word as you are. Please be encouraged that many of us support your way of listening and loving. Thanks 🙏🏽

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