Your perfect partner
Divide the young people into smaller groups and give each group a large sheet of paper and some marker pens. Each group should draw round one of their members and use that outline to design their ideal partner. They could think about dress sense, beauty, even the colour of their hair and eyes! Let them know that they can draw the person, or simply fill the outline with words that describe their perfect partner.
Once everyone is finished, gather the groups back together and stick the different outlines up around your room. Compare the different ideal partners and try to decide which is the most ‘desirable’.
Staying in the same groups, give them each a set of characteristics, written on cards. Challenge each group to put the characteristics into the order of importance. Say that the whole of the small group has to agree on the order. Some characteristics you could use are: sense of humour; good looking; lots of money; good dress sense; grade-A student; Christian; good cook; nice body; great musician; exceptional sports person.
Once you have reviewed all the small groups’ decisions on the order, try to come up with an order that all the young people can agree with – that should be a challenge! Use these questions to continue the discussion:
- How important is it that your partner meets the requirements on this list?
- If you applied what you think the Bible says, do you think your lists would be similar?
- What do you know of what the Bible says about our choice of partner?
‘The one’ in film
Show your film clip about someone meeting ‘the one’. Discuss how realistic this scene is. Ask the group if they think that ‘the one’ for them is out there, waiting for them. Is that realistic? Or just a Hollywood dream?
Old testament couples
Get into small groups and give each group an Old Testament couple to explore:
- Adam and Eve: Genesis 2:5–25
- Isaac and Rebekah: Genesis 24
- Jacob and Rachel: Genesis 29:14–30
- Boaz and Ruth: Ruth 2
Ask each group to decide what their couple tells them about how God sees partners and our search for them. Once they have finished, ask each group to describe their couple and how they were brought together to the rest of the group.
Wonder together whether the Bible says that God has ‘the one’ for us. Adam and Eve were made for each other. Rebekah seems to have been chosen for Isaac, but did Jacob have ‘one’? He had two wives (and two servants of those wives, that were like wives). Ruth had already been married once, but her husband had died. Was her first husband ‘the one’ or was Boaz?
Explain that, although some characters find that their partner has been chosen for them, many do not. There is no promise in the Bible that God has our chosen perfect partner ready and waiting for us.
Invite your volunteer into the group and ask them some questions about their single life. Have they looked for a partner? Are they happy? Are they not? Do they think God has a partner for them? How does the church treat them as a single person? Let the young people ask questions too, but agree beforehand what your volunteer is happy to talk about.
But what does this mean?
Discuss the following points, asking the young people to think through what this means for them:
- We know that we aren’t perfect, so if we expect to find someone who is perfect, will this not cause all sorts of problems?
- The idea of ‘the one’ can make us believe that relationship are easy, which we know they are not! What does this mean?
- If relationships take work, why are we not willing to take the time to make them work, rather than expecting them to be perfectly ready-made?
- Looking back at your original list of values, would any of them now change? Discuss why.
As you draw these four sessions on sex and relationships to a close, allow some space for the group to chat and reflect. Have they had any further thoughts or questions about the previous weeks? Do they need some time to pray in silence? To some extent, you’ll know best what your group needs at this juncture! Close by praying for the group, inviting God to be at the centre of our relationships, sexual or otherwise. Encourage them that, while this stuff can be messy, we have a God of love and grace who doesn’t define us by any mistakes or awkward conversations!
Romance Academy is a Youthscape project which resources and equips youth workers to deliver positive relationships education