The Easy Sell of Irresponsibility Excuses

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

This is (finally) the eighth and last ingredient in the growth of adolescence: it appeals to the flesh. Everything about adolescence appeals to human nature, which left to itself pursues laziness, irresponsibility, and if possible, an excuse for it all.

For example, adolescence appeals to the most basic attitude of sinfulness: pride. It makes adolescents out to be special and unique, significant and great. And if a teenager’s problem is a lack of self-esteem, their pride doesn’t need to be deflated, but inflated! This is certainly anti-biblical.

In addition, adolescence appeals to the most basic expression of sinfulness: rebellion. We are presented as if it were a medical fact, that a teenager will be rebellious. They will always want to break out of the cocoon and get out from under the umbrella of parental authority (not to mention other God-placed authorities).

But think for a moment about the chief biblical commandment for children: “honor your father and mother.” The fifth of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:12 provides a clear word to children of all ages – including teenagers.

And here’s what is so instructive, apparently God does not expect young people to despise their parents and see them as irrelevant and useless and restrictive. God expects young people not just to submit and obey with unhappy hearts. Instead, God expects that young people look up to their parents. He expects that they “honor” both their father and mother. The word “honor” has the idea of giving weight or value or importance to. In other words, God requires young people to attach value and worth to their parents and respect them accordingly.

Don’t you think this exactly where Satan would challenge? Young people today are encouraged to think of their parents as irrelevant, restrictive, and narrow. The examples they see night after night in TV sitcoms, the typical parental models found in movie after movie and in popular music indoctrinates teenagers into thinking that their parents are incompetent. Media brainwashes adolescents into thinking that parents are incapable of understanding them. You can forget the old-fashioned notion that “Father knows best.” Make way for the wisdom of the teens.

By the way, this aspect of the parent-child relationship is so important that the death penalty was prescribed for disrespect towards one’s parents. Exodus 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.” While this was typically only applied to over-the-top rebellion from an older child, it does remind us that God has a very serious perspective toward rebellion against parental authority.

The bottom line here is that the Creator of humanity did not chalk up teenage (or any other age for that matter) rebellion to raging hormones. To disobey or disrespect one’s parents is not a mark of adolescence, it is sin. And one more thing, just as God did not excuse sin in teens, He likewise does not permit parents to passively sit back and excuse such rebellion. Again, God takes this very seriously. So should we.

Adolescence Growth Enhancements

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

Though we’ve finished covering the eight ingredients in the growth of adolescence there are a few additional elements that have enhanced its growth.

For example, the age of marriage. The myth of adolescence (and its real results) has obviously had an impact on the age young people get married. Under Roman law (2,000 years ago) women could marry at twelve and men at fourteen. A thousand years ago this was true under English law as well. Two hundred years ago in the United States it was still the same: women could marry at twelve and men at fourteen. For at least three thousand years, the minimum legal age for marriage stayed the same. I didn’t include this as an element in the growth of adolescence, though perhaps it should be. Maybe it is more a result. Regardless, today we have trouble imagining that a person would be ready to get married until they have finished at least a Bachelor’s degree and established themselves in a job and whatever else. Currently the average age for first marriages in the United States is 26, and that will only continue to rise.

Now I am not suggesting that we promote and push teenagers to get married. Many teen marriages in our day end in divorce, though obviously age is not the only problem. But we might argue that it is precisely because of our assumptions about adolescents that parents don’t even consider it possible to train their young person for marriage-responsible maturity. Perhaps if our society expected them to act like responsible adults, many of them would be mature enough to marry (impacting a significant number of additional problems that later-age marriage brings with it).

But beware, parents, allowing this immaturity has results. It used to be in the United States, at least to hear the older generation tell it, that young people reaching adulthood could not wait to leave home and be on their own. And their parents longed for an empty nest and quieter lives. But young people are spoiling these plans. According to the 2000 Census, nearly four million Americans aged 25 to 34 are still living in their parental homes or have moved back in with Mom and Dad. Boomerang kids, as they’re called, leave home for college or a job or the military, only to end up back home. Newsweek magazine called them “adultolescents,” young adults who just aren’t ready to face the world on their own.

Perhaps still another adolescence growth enhancement is the invention and accessibility of the automobile. The most obvious value of a car for a teenagers is that it is a private space in which to be alone. Not only is a driver’s license probably our culture’s most important rite of passage, cars impress girls and get you away from your family for a little fun.

Still yet another enhancement relates to the current American economy, namely that the United States is wealthy enough for most everyone to afford to have a troubled adolescence. Many dads (or dads and moms together) make enough (or borrow enough) so that their kids don’t have to work to support the family. There’s no reason for them to act mature if they don’t have to. Why work today when you can put it off until tomorrow?

For many individuals, such a long period of education, exploration, and deferred responsibility has been a tremendous gift. For other individuals, it has not been a blessing. … This lengthy waiting period has tended to reduce young people’s contacts with older people and increase them with people who are exactly the same age. That in turn has lead to the rise of a youth subculture that has helped define and elaborate what it means to be a teenager (Hine, p. 7).

I mentioned this before, but I want to say again that I make no denial that most teenagers act like…teenagers. The world and the church are filled with 12-20 (30-40) year olds with the mindset described above. But I truly believe that we are to blame for creating this context, and it only continues because we keep giving it credence. Ideas have consequences and the consequences of the myth of adolescence are no myth, they are very real. But we in the church must work to change our collective thinking as God’s community before we will see any change.

Let me also say again that I am thankful for God’s patience with me, and a rejection of adolescence is not equal to an approval of intolerance or impatience with those who are in the growing process. My challenge is to those who argue that adolescence grants them the right to stay stagnant and prolong immaturity and irresponsibility as long as possible.

The Expansion of National Media

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

Whether it is mass produces pop music, or cable television, or the internet, adolescent culture is disseminated and domesticated by national media outlets.

One of the first examples of this national media influence in the spread of adolescence was the show American Bandstand. This was the original TRL (Total Request Live). This weekday afternoon dance party program had its national debut in 1957. It was created by Walter Annenberg who was also the owner of Seventeen. With the clean cut Dick Clark hosting, the show made teenagers and their music acceptable to middle America (the majority of the country) by taking the edge off. The dancers didn’t look like juvenile delinquents in their jackets and ties or skirts and blouses, but they did look like they were cool.

The media, which some feared were corrupting youth, had tamed and exploited the threatening adolescent subculture, and together they put on a real nice show.

One of the “advantages” of the nation media is that disaffected young people all over the country (and the whole world for that matter) can find out exactly what gestures, costumes, and attitudes were driving adults nuts at any given moment.

Today the only constant presence in the household is the television set, which instructs children not on what they should become, but rather on what they should buy. If you research the inauguration of media monsters like MTV you will find out that their goal is to promote the ideals of adolescence through flesh-feeding entertainment and then to sell young people on worldly, liberal values as well as the “in” bubble gum to chew.

As you know, the political left attempted to use this force in the last election to their benefit. I guess thankfully the results of the myth of adolescence kept most older teenagers and tweeners from exercising their citizen’s responsibility by voting. Nevertheless, through music and movies and television shows and commercials and magazines and the internet and even video games, teenagers are learning more about who they can and should be from the media then perhaps anywhere else.

Buy Biography

Good afternoon blogreaders! I haven’t much time to dilly-dally around writing a blog, but since Mo and I are off to the elders’ retreat tomorrow through Friday, I thought I’d get at least one in before departure.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to the one28 home page. And if you’ve been to the one28 home page, you’ve probably noticed that the 05SR Session 2 mp3 on Sola Scriptura/William Tyndale is uploaded for your downloading pleasure. Of course, if you were in big church this morning you also heard that sermon live and in person – maybe for the second time.

But whether you’ve been to the one28 page or downloaded the mp3 or heard my message in big church today or not, the suggestion I’m about ready to make is still for you.

*You should buy the book, God’s Outlaw, by Brian Edwards, a biography of William Tyndale. While I don’t necessarily love history, I had trouble putting this book down. Sure, there were parts that I had to sludge through, but most of it was simply captivating. Here is an excerpt from the back cover:

God’s Outlaw has every ingredient of a thrilling story – a king, a cardinal, secret agents, a betrayer and a fugitive.

William Tyndale lived in the colourful and cruel days of Henry VIII, when men were burned, racked and maimed for lesser crimes than that of smuggling the Bible into England. When Tyndale set out to provide the first printed New Testament in English he was forced to do so in defiance of the king, the pope and almost every person in authority. Compelled to flee from his homeland, he continued with his work of translating the Scriptures whilst slipping from city to city in Germany, Holland and Belgium in an attempt to avoid the agents who were sent from England to arrest him. His story is one of poverty, danger and ceaseless labor.

This fugitive and outlaw gave the English-speaking people their most priceless heritage: the Scriptures in their mother tongue.

And here’s the thing: it’s all true! Tyndale was a stud. By God’s grace, he was the Reformation in England. He has moved up the ladder in my own mind due to his indefatigable effort in the face of ridiculous odds. Get this book, read it, and imitate Tyndale in his love for and submission to the authority of Scripture.

The Emergence of Marketing Strategies

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

This might be one of the biggest reasons our culture has perpetuated the myth of adolescence…because they are easy to sell to. And so the sixth ingredient in the rise of adolescence was the emergence of age-targeted marketing strategies. Whether it is because companies figured out that peer pressure marketing works or because most teenagers aren’t paying the electric bill, and therefore their income is disposable, adolescence is big business.

There are at least two reasons why it is easy to take this particular cause for granted.

First, defining a person strictly in terms of age feels natural to contemporary Americans (as psychology has taught us well). Objective age distinctions are one of the few remaining discriminations society encourages us to make. Second, it is almost impossible to imagine a world where someone isn’t trying to sell us something!

From the book, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, we read that “(t)eenage consumers help drive such leading industries as popular music, movies, snack foods, casual clothing, and footwear. They spend about $100 billion a year, just on things for themselves” (Hine, p. 23). Many teenagers have part time jobs without the responsibility of paying large bills, so they have the most disposable income. So commercials target the deep well of those teenage, designer blue-jean pockets.

But not only did companies seek to capitalize on this new source of revenue, they also recognized the power of peer groups. By 1942, several clothing manufacturers were making clothes with labels such as “Teentimers.” Magazines, particularly those aimed at women, added features for young girls. In 1944 Seventeen was published, the inaugural magazine aimed specifically at this age group. It defined, for the first time, a distinct teenage market: millions of young people looking for acceptance, popularity, fun, and dates, therefore, the right clothes, makeup, clear skin, great shoes, new music, and all the latest things. Hey, they just want to be cool.

In 1944, a marketing expert named Eugene Gilbert had two ground-breaking insights. One was that teenagers would respond to retailers who cared about what they wanted. The second, and probably the most important, was that the way to find out what young people really wanted was to get other teenagers to ask them. He began to take surveys. This is business by questionnaire. Admittedly, these discoveries may not seem that perceptive to us today, but that is only because the doctrines of marketing have been too well ingrained into our collective thinking.

Hine gives a good summary:

With the rise of the persuasion industries during the twentieth century, large groups of people were increasingly identified by single characteristics. People in their teens became ‘teens,’ or ‘teeners’ or ‘teen-agers.’ They were largely in the same place – high school – sharing a common experience, and they were young and open to new things. They were, in short, easy to sell to. Moreover, the preferences formed when young often endure, which makes selling to teenagers a reasonable long-term investment” (9).

In the end, our culture encourages the creation of a youth culture. We profit from it. We buy stock in it, or perhaps more accurately, we have bought into it.

The Evolving Popularity of Psychology (Part 2)

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

The most obvious and direct way that psychology has helped to establish the idea of adolescence is by it’s blatant claim to objective conclusions regarding teenagers. Scientifically “proven” claims about adolescence are sold to us by the truckload. Professional psychologists deliver their findings as facts. Anyone who challenges these “facts” without a PhD in the field is passed off as a simpleton.

Psychology has hijacked our thoughts about the possibility of a mature teenager. Journal article after book after web-site after sitcom after teen movie after college psychology class curriculum conditions us and drills us with assertions of adolescent incompetency and irresponsibility. Counselors annotate their apparent restlessness and reinforce their perpetual identity crisis. Of course this is all just icing on the cake compared to the ever-repressing raging hormones. This is so remarkable that an adolescent might “suffer from symptoms that would be considered mad in an adult, but are just part of the normal mental development for the young person” (Hine, p. 33).

The finishing touch to the psychologist’s argument is that to suppress a teenager’s adolescent mindset is to cause irreparable psychological damage. It is kind of convenient that suppressing adolescence (“suppressing” defined as expecting them to grow up and act their age) is the guaranteed path to creating teenage casualties. Not a bad position for them to take, threatening harm to the teenager proportionate to disagreement with their theory.

Never mind that “while endocrinology is a field where fundamental discoveries are made regularly, there is not yet any biochemical explanation for surliness, self-absorption, or rebelliousness” (Hine, p. 30). Never mind that the Bible explains surliness, self-absorption, and rebelliousness as part of human nature, not just teenage nature. Never mind that Scripture grants no exceptions for hormones, it only offers forgiveness for sins.

The rise of psychology established the adolescent as a special, unstable sort of creature. Again, in claiming to be “science,” it has given professional, medical, scientific credibility to the “I’m only an adolescent, so I’m not responsible for what I do.”

But “[d]espite their claims to universality, the much-watered-down psychoanalytic views that underlie popular discourse on the problems of youth are time-bound and culture-bound” (Hine, p. 39). In other words, that means our culture has invented this myth in the last hundred years or so. We have been indoctrinated by this hypothetical myth. Adolescence is a distorted, biased assumption and not an observable, objective phenomena. If only the truth was more persuasive than fiction.

The Evolving Popularity of Psychology (Part 1)

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

The fifth ingredient in the dominant belief in adolescence is the evolution of popular psychology. Of course, psychology is simply “the study of mental life.” It is a field concerned with mental processes and behavior looking at the emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual or group. It introduces itself as science, attempting to observe, identify, describe, investigate, and make categorical conclusions on human phenomena. It claims objectivity in its examinations and in its judgments (even though we know that the human heart is desperately wicked and not easily nailed down). But it is almost impossible to imagine a modern life without psychology. Psychology continues to have a dramatic impact on the way we think about life.

One way psychology has helped to establish the idea of adolescence is simply by its insistence on categorizing everyone and everything. Psychology could not exist without these divisions of race, gender, age, financial status, and so on. Coming up with conclusions is hard enough when observing only narrow group of persons let alone trying to summarize the whole of humanity. So perhaps as much as any other field of study psychology thrives on pigeonholing. The separation of adolescents into their own class has ironically helped to establish the very same separation.

It isn’t hard to find this fragmentation in our own conversations. It seems like the last quarter of the twentieth century especially has been all about fragmentation. And while once we were enlightened to speak of a youth culture, now there are a whole range of youth subcultures: skaters, geeks, jocks, freaks, druggies, nerds, band geeks, and the list goes on. This terminology comes largely from the world of psychology as it attempts to interpret everyone and get them into a tidy group. There is no doubt that most of us in the church have adopted this worldly way of thinking and talking, and perhaps we are guilty of giving credence to these categories just by the way we communicate about them.

The Establishment of a Juvenile Justice System

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

The fourth ingredient to the growth of adolescence is the creation of the juvenile justice system. This was developed to segregate younger lawbreakers from older ones and produced a different system of record keeping, a different standard for the punishment and probation for “juveniles.” Just as teenagers were no longer expected to be responsible to support themselves, they were no longer held responsible for their criminal acts, despite the fact that for thousands of years prior the legal system treated teenagers as adults.

The juvenile court movement began in idealism and outrage. It all started when Benjamin Lindsey, a young lawyer recently arrived in Denver, was assigned to defend a couple of burglars. He was lead down a long corridor to what he called a cage, where he found two boys playing poker with a safe-cracker and a horse thief. He didn’t say whether the boys were teens or younger. But they had been locked up with these “hard-core” criminal companions for more than sixty days. The youths had learned to gamble from the two older men, “upon whom,” Lindsey said, “they had come to look as great heroes.” He protested to the warden who agreed it was a problem, but said there was nothing he could do about it.

“Here were two boys,” Lindsey wrote, “neither of them serious enemies of society, who were about to be convicted of burglary, and have felony records standing against them for the rest of their lives. And pending the decision of their cases…the state was sending them to a school for crime–deliberately teaching them to be horse thieves and safe-crackers. It was outrageous and absurd.”

The juvenile court he founded and presided over in Denver in 1900 was not the first, but it did receive much attention and the movement gained momentum. Lindsey did not propose merely to punish people differently, or separately, for the crimes they committed. While the traditional goal of the legal system was to be detached and impartial, Lindsey’s vision was for officers of the court to become a part of the young peoples’ lives. He argued that determining guilt or innocence shouldn’t be the goal of the court, but rather to encourage or induce (or even coerce) young offenders into changing their conduct so that they would not grow into adult criminals.

In our day there are not only separate procedures and punishments but also “a large roster of offenses that are considered crimes only if young people commit them,” such as youth curfews in various cities (Hine, p. 20).

The widespread failure to hold teenagers legally responsible for their actions is well documented on an almost daily basis in newspapers across the country. Consider just this one account:

It was 6:20AM, July 29, 1995. Starting home from an overnight camping trip with seven friends, the young man lost control of his father’s 1987 Chevy Suburban and sent it tumbling across a barren stretch of the Mojave Desert in Southern California. As the 5,000 pound truck rolled across the desert floor, the lives of four of his friends were snuffed out. “It’s my fault,” he told the survivors, sobbing, “I killed my friends!”

California Highway Patrol officers quickly agreed. The young man’s breath reeked of beer, and a blood test showed that he was legally drunk. Had he been considered an adult, James Virgil Patterson probably would have been sent to prison, perhaps for years. But because he was two months shy of his eighteenth birthday, the law regarded him as an errant youth. Despite the fact that he admitted to killing his four friends and seriously injuring three others, the law exempted him from adult punishment. Instead, the San Bernardino County Juvenile Court sentenced him to 120 days of alcohol rehabilitation. (As a gesture to the parents, the court also barred him from taking part in graduation ceremonies at his high school). (David Alan Black, The Myth of Adolescence).

Even though he admitted his offense, the officers on the scene confirmed his responsibility, and the court acknowledged his guilt, the assigned penalty was not proportionate to the crime committed but to his age.

While I am in favor of taking a person’s maturity and intentions (as much as they can be determined) into consideration, the current system has certain built-in flaws that tend to let younger offenders off the hook. And it is just possible that this “kinder, gentler” approach has not only failed to stunt the growth of adolescent crime while but has also reinforced the myth that young people can’t really help breaking the law anyway. Because everyone knows, teenagers are, by nature, irresponsible for their rebellion.

The Expression of Parental Wishfulness

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

The third ingredient in the rise of adolescence is the expression of parental wishfulness. Teenagers are not the only ones who pursue an extension of their immaturity, since they could not pursue it without permission. Many parents themselves are heavily to blame for the current state of adolescent immaturity in our culture whether they intended to promote it or not. Consider the following.

Most parents hope that their kids will have it easier than they did. This is perhaps a natural desire. It is not hard to imagine an immigrant family fifty years ago whose kids had to work long hours just to help the family make ends meet. Almost no one wants their children to “have” to work. But remember that relatively few families in the nineteenth century (and before) were financially able to let their teenagers become a leisured class engaged exclusively in preparation for adulthood that was many years off. Still there was an increasing belief among parents that this goal was ideal, and this belief became an important ingredient in the rise of the idea of the teenager. After all, shouldn’t we just let kids play?

Not only that, but most parents hope that their kids will make a better living than they did. This is really just an extension of the first idea, since “better living” is almost always defined in financial terms. And if the ideal way to spend one’s youthfulness is at play then of course the ideal way to spend one’s adulthood must also be to play…just with more expensive toys.

But even though my description of this pursuit of “play” may be a little extreme, this parental wishfulness will at least express itself in wishing for higher pay with less hours for their young person. And how will their student get this ideal job? The answer, we’re told, is obvious: by attending better high schools, getting superior grades, in order to receive acceptance to a prestigious university, resulting in a higher paying job.

Though this scenario may not be entirely unreasonable, we should at least consider the possibility that deferring responsibility now in hopes of having a higher paying responsibility later is not a guaranteed progression. In many ways just the opposite is true. More schooling does not invariably breed more maturity. As we’ve already seen, our public education system tends toward the dumbing down of youth not the enhancing of their youthful capabilities. The more time a student spends isolated from the “real world,” the more likely their adjustment to real work may be slow if not spurned. And an employer is not likely to hand over a lot of green to those who are still green themselves.

Isn’t that why employers typically prefer job experience over institutional education? Though one’s training in school may be an asset, the diploma itself is rarely the watershed between economic success or financial failure. Please understand that I wholeheartedly agree that everyone needs an education, but how they get that education may be different.

By the way, the above discussion assumes that “better living” is equivalent to making more money. That, of course, is a myth beyond the scope of this blog, and one that John Piper attempts to shred in his book, Don’t Waste Your Life. I heartily recommend that for your reading whether you are a student or a parent.

One additional element of this parental wishfulness seems to be that most parents hope that their kids will be more accepted or popular among their peers than they were. Moms and dads remember their own humiliation of wearing the wrong thing and their own rejection by other kids. And so parents support adolescence with their money. “The largest source of funding for youth culture is parents. Even though they may be appalled by specific manifestations of youth culture, they often accept its validity, or at least its inevitability” (Hine, 226). So youth culture is often funded by parents all for the sake of avoiding their student’s loss of self-esteem.

This wishfulness has drastically changed our environment. The expectations many parents have for their young people have shifted, and instead of anticipating the quick arrival of maturity they assume its indefinite absence. Instead of enabling their young people to develop into grown-ups they have endowed them with permission to put off the pressure of development until some undefined future time. In attempting to protect their young person from the difficulties of life they inadvertently prolong their child’s inability to deal with those difficulties.

The Endorsement of Compulsory Education

Series | Lies Every Teen Believes

Following on the heels of the new child labor laws is this second ingredient, the endorsement of compulsory education. While state sponsored schools cannot take credit for originating education, they did develop a system to organize it for the masses. After all, now that most teens didn’t have a job they needed something constructive to do. Why not educate them?

While in many ways this was and is an admirable goal, there are a few problems built into the design. First of all, the laws enacted removed the decision about the subjects, duration, and in some cases even the manner of how a child should be educated away from parents. Enrollment was mandated by the government, and parents could now be punished for keeping their children out of the public school.

Of course, for thousands of years prior to this, parents educated their own children. Parents taught their children whatever they believed was necessary for independent survival in society. In biblical times, Hebrew parents were responsible for the education of their children. Roman parents did the same.

Even the early schools of the late-eighteenth century appeared not to confuse teachers with custodians. They did not try to replace the families, the church, or any other institution. Unlike the mandatory high schools a century later, schools did not organize their students’ social lives, monitor their health, or prepare them to be good citizens.

Keep in mind that the widespread acceptance of the idea of high school was very, very slow in coming. The first public high school opened in Boston in 1821, but New York City didn’t open one until more than seventy years later. Only during the 1930’s was a majority of what we now term high-school age youth enrolled, mostly because the Depression had made jobs unavailable. Previously, most teenagers had jobs and their education took place at work while the rest happened at home. Still another reason for this slow acceptance was that parents were unwilling to give up their primary place in the life of their young people. Now children are separated from their parents for forty or more hours a week, and many parents appear happy to herd them off to the public guardians.

The second design flaw is the adolescence greenhouse effect. A greenhouse is a contained environment for the cultivation and exhibition of plant life. Likewise, high schools are contained environments for the cultivation and exhibition of adolescent life. Though originally time spent with others your same age was only one aspect of a varied life and daily contact with different sorts and ages of people was regular, now the majority of a young person’s life was spent with their peers. Young people are crowded into classrooms, removed from the oversight of their parents. This is fertile soil for the growth of a youth culture. Teenagers now had control over their own social lives. Sports and other extracurricular activities provided the stage for young people to express themselves and explore their talents. In short, “[w]ithout high school, there are no teenagers” (Hine, 139).

This hasn’t even scratched the surface of issues like the purpose of schools – is it to prepare someone for life? for a better job? for college admission? For something else? And how can standardized schools be expected to teach and test students of widely different abilities and interests? And how do schools know when they are successful?

While there may be nothing inherently wrong with being in school for 180 days a year for seven hours a day for thirteen years, it is a significant problem that compulsory education laws say that young people must spend a certain amount of time in school, not necessarily that they must learn anything. It is all too tempting for youth simply to put in their time rather than to learn. And many parents have handed over their responsibility for education, academic, moral and otherwise, to the school. For most people going to school is the key teenage experience, whatever “education” they may take away.

As with child labor laws I am not suggesting that we simply do something opposite. Obviously teenagers who don’t go to school are not guaranteed greater maturity than those who do. I am not proposing that home-schooling is the sure solution, since many current home-schooling trends are just secular education philosophy repackaged. Those students may avoid the adolescent hothouse, but they are not necessarily better educated. Christian schools are not necessarily the answer either as they have largely the same problems as the for public school problems mentioned above. I guess we can be happy that at least most Christian schools teach creation rather than evolution.

The point is, while my goal is not an overall overhaul of institutional education, I do believe it is essential for us to evaluate how our system of education perhaps has done more to train students in adolescent behavior than adult behavior.

I pray that we as Christians will have a better perspective on education than: “[t]he principal reason high schools now enroll nearly all teenagers is that we can’t imagine what else they might do” (Hine, 157).