Kevin was the reason a whole bunch of guys from one of the local high schools started attending our youth group, and later joined the follow-up Bible study.
His leadership qualities meant that people listened when invited and many of the guys, as well as a few girls I probably wasn’t aware of, stayed and became part of the local church. Some of those I still see today.
Kevin was also rather promiscuous.
While at an age where boys are often more talk than anything, there was no denying his feeling of entitlement to an active sex life. He shared his philosophy with anyone who would listen, including my own circle of friends, and there didn’t seem to be any filters as to who he would try to make converts to his liberal views on sexuality.
One time he invited me to a particular club he was going to on a weeknight. Though the bar was in downtown Toronto, it was on the edge, about ten minutes from where I was living. I wanted to hear the band, so I went along and got to see him in action. Within minutes he was in deep conversation with one particular young woman, had bought her a drink, and then they were dancing.
I had some conversations, too; but had a sense of being in the wrong place. Around the same time, I would write a song, “You Don’t Belong Here,” about a young person who is basically looking for trouble, but the people he meets up with have a sense that he belongs to another tribe, and simply don’t let him enter in fully to what they’re doing. The situation repeats through another two verses, and then in the final verse, he finds himself standing before God who checks his list and says, “You don’t belong here.”
I got Kevin to drive me home, and then, as I learned later, he drove back to the club and reconnected with the woman. It wasn’t all talk.
He was a strange mix. An ambassador for both Evangelical Christianity and a Playboy lifestyle. He was actually one of three people I knew during that time period, whose personality and person-hood was split between competing ideals, and had basically no problem with that. At the time, I always felt there was an element of secrecy about a duplicitous life, so I couldn’t really think of him as hypocritical when he broadcast his views so widely and loudly.
If it were me, I would be torn apart with internal conflict.
Troy was another. Despite a very conservative Christian upbringing in which he was still committed to, he had no problem regularly going to strip clubs. By age 23, he had seen more women naked than most men would ever see in a lifetime. While I was tempted, his invitations to me to tag along were never accepted.
Derek was another. Vowing never have sex with a non-Christian, he would invite the girls to church and see that they prayed the sinner’s prayer before taking them to the bedroom in his parents’ home. That was the one that disgusted me the most, and when you analyze it, there was nothing particularly redeeming about his ‘vow;’ it would probably have been better if it never existed.
I should say that around the same time, I realized that there is a sense in which everybody has some type of compromise, albeit to a greater or lesser extent. With the three guys here, it was just so brazen.
These are the types of people I met in church when I was in my early twenties.
In their own way, God used them to refine my faith.
Names have been changed. The youth group was a mix of teens and college and career aged people and so two of the three people in the story were of legal age for drinking and clubbing. Two of the three people in the story maintain a connection to the church.