Pathfinders Views on Healthful Living

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Health is a huge topic of discussion in our society today.  There’s always some new product to help you lose weight, keep you looking younger, make you feel better, or improve your life in some way.  As a follower of Christ, we are told that our bodies are the dwelling of the Holy Spirit and therefore should be carefully protected and cared for.  Adventists, in particular, are conscientious about this.

However, society today does not uphold many of these health teachings – especially when it comes to temperance.  The statistics are daunting.  A 2015 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discovered that:

  • By the age of 15, about one in three (33%) of teens have had at least one drink.
  • By the age of 18, almost two in three (60%) of teens have tried at least one drink.
  • In 2015, 7.7 million young people between the ages of 12-20 reported that they drank beyond “just a few sips” of alcohol in the last month.
  • Also, people between the ages of 12-20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

This same 2015 report showed that 5.1 million young people reported binge drinking at least once in the last month, and 1.3 million young people reported binge drinking on five or more days over the last month.

Cigarette use is also a concern.  While a 2011-2016 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control showed that cigarette use is still a concern for young people in America, it does appear to be on the decline.  However, the survey did show that:

  • In 2016, about 2 out of every 100 middle school students (2.2%) reported that they had smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.
  • In 2016, about 8 of every 100 high school students (8.0%) reported that they had smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.

But what of the youth in the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

While we explore here the perspectives of Pathfinders on temperance, the wider picture of health and temperance among young Adventists around the world is quite complex and deserves more attention. We will delve into this in future blogs.

At the 2014 Forever Faithful International Pathfinder Camporee (FFIPC), the Institute of Church Ministry (ICM) conducted research on attendees’ views on various areas of their lives; this study included 940 participants. These young people were asked if occasional alcohol use was permissible.  A resounding 91% of respondents said that it was “never” or “rarely” permissible.

     

But let’s not get too comfortable just yet.  The remaining 9% indicated that alcohol was “sometimes,” “often,” or “always” permissible.  This means that for approximately 9% of young people within our church, alcohol is not something that should necessarily be avoided.

As part of the same study, these Pathfinders were asked if they believed that that smoking would have “no effect” on their Christian profession.  Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated that this was “never true” or “rarely true,” indicating that smoking would have a huge effect on their Christian profession.  However, 15% indicated that this was “often” or “always true.”  What is concerning is that for that 15%, cigarette use seems to be of little to no consequence. 

       

 

Another aspect of healthful living is that of maintaining a healthy diet.  The CDC reports that childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.  Today, about one in five school aged children (between the ages of 6-19) is obese.

Pathfinders at the FFIPC were asked about their eating habits.  Encouragingly, almost two in three (64%) of respondents indicated that they maintain an “extremely healthy” or “healthy” diet.  Another 27% responded that their diet is “probably not that healthy,” while a small number (3%) acknowledged that their diet is “definitely not healthy.”

     

The ramifications of following a healthy lifestyle are serious – not just for their physical health, but for their spiritual health as well.  We know that when our bodies are not functioning properly, our minds are not able to work at their full capacity.  This makes developing a thoughtful, meaningful relationship with our Creator difficult. 

If our youth are to become the next generation of the Adventist Church, then we must encourage them to develop a deep love for Jesus.  Maintaining their “temple” – including a clear head and a properly functioning body – is a great place to start!