I’m normally don’t enjoy email forwards, but this one was different. It was sent to me by my friend and fellow one28 staffer, Chuck Weinberg.
A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. “I’ve gone for 30 years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.”
This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this…they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!”
Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!
The theme of this year’s Grace Academy Junior High retreat was unity. I was asked to address the junior high students on Thursday night out at the Warm Beach Christian Camps & Conference Center, specifically at the trusted W-Bar-B Ranch. The passage I selected to preach from was Colossians 3:14. Here it is in the ESV and the NAS:
ESV – And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
NAS – And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
This verse comes in the middle of what is probably my favorite paragraph (verses 12-17) in Colossians. The point of the paragraph is the idea of “putting on” Christian virtues after “putting off” sin in verses 5-11, and this exhortation in verse 14 reveals the crown of Christian virtues: love, along with its result: unity.
This was it. Here was the key to unity–love.
But we’ll all heard about love before. Sometimes we’re so saturated with talk of love that we become “love sick.” So what I thought I’d do is just give you a grocery list of ways to destroy unity. In fact, were going to look at eleven ways to destroy, ruin, and undermine, unity. These are sure fire ways to guarantee a miserable, gloomy, blithering year in Junior High (and for that matter, the rest of your life). These are some practical suggestions for having no unity when you’re walking with others between classes or hanging out during lunch or at soccer practice or spending time together on the weekends.
As a preemptive footnote, I realize this is long. No one is making you read it. But if you are patient you might find benefit in it.
1. Be Impatient
A person who is impatient has a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked. Generally this happens when you are inconvenienced or taken advantage of by another person. Impatient people are easily upset and annoyed by others. It doesn’t take much to get them bent out of shape. They are regularly put in a bad mood by someone else.
By no means should you be pleasant or good humored or cheerful when something doesn’t go your way or doesn’t happen when you want it to. When someone promises to do something, hold them to a standard you wouldn’t expect to live up to yourself. Be impatient.
Of course impatience destroys unity because we won’t tolerate someone who can’t keep up with our expectations or who is weaker or slower or imperfect. If they mess up–they’re out. If they can’t keep up–don’t wait for them to catch up.
2. Be Unkind
A person who is unkind is inconsiderate and harsh. Proper unkindness can range from being callous to purposefully cruel, from being inconsiderate to downright mean-spirited and hurtful.
Of course, girls seem to know how to do this naturally. We call it being catty, that is, deliberately hurtful in their attitude or speech. I’m regularly amazed at the female’s ability to be just downright cruel and mean. That’s the way to go for the destruction of unity.
Guys, on the other hand, are generally more direct and hostile, they are unfriendly or just pick on someone for the sake of picking on someone. We just punch people we don’t like in the head. Hitting others in the head is generally a good way to communicate that we don’t care about being kind to them.
Please do not go out of your way to be nice to someone else, especially someone else who doesn’t deserve it. Don’t serve others, don’t be gracious to others, don’t be generous. Be unkind.
Unkindness destroys unity by not letting people in the circle we don’t like.
3. Be Jealous
A person who is jealous envies or covets or desires what someone else has. This can lead to resentfulness and long term grudge holding. Being jealous means having intense negative feelings toward another’s achievements or success. If someone has something or gets praise that we should have got, we better let everyone know about. If another person is more popular than you, do whatever it takes to knock them off their pedestal.
This is the time when it is appropriate to mock others behind their back. Be jealous.
Jealousy destroys unity by keeping others out of our circle to punish them for having what we should have or wish we had.
4. Be Boastful
A person who is boastful is always heaping praise on himself. This is the braggart, the cocky, full of himself, walking-with-swagger bighead. Boasting is showing excessive pride and self-satisfaction in one’s achievements, possessions, or abilities. It’s actually trying to make others jealous. Jealousy pulls others down, bragging builds us up.
Throw a parade in your honor. Have a party just to talk about your greatness. Be boastful.
Being boastful destroys unity by setting ourselves up as most important. It keeps us at the top of a very short list where there just isn’t room for anyone else. We don’t need them anyway–we’re cool enough.
5. Be Conceited
A person who is conceited is proud, but maybe just in their heart. They are full of themselves too, puffed up with an exaggerated view of themselves, self-centered and snobby. They are too big for their own britches.
Don’t ever consider for a moment that you are not perfect or that you haven’t arrived. Don’t show any kind of humility. Make sure you believe that you are the best. This is especially important for those of you who are more quiet and who might not be comfortable boasting in public about how great you are. If nothing else you can be kind of smug on the inside. Be conceited.
Just like bragging, being conceited destroys unity by putting ourselves up on the pedestal, and even if we don’t talk about our greatness we still expect others to recognize us as great. And if they don’t? They’re not included.
6. Be Rude
A person who is rude behaves disgracefully or discourteously; they are offensively impolite and inappropriate. This is the person who is always trying to bring shame or disgrace on someone else. Instead of building others up they are tearing others down. They can’t be trusted. They are insulting and abusive.
Don’t spend time thinking about someone else’s needs or their feelings or their sensitivities. Don’t think about how to care for others or even how to act politely. Be rude.
Rudeness destroys unity by never worrying about whether someone is left out of the circle in the first place.
7. Be Selfish
In a lot of ways this characteristic motivates most of the others. A person who is selfish lacks consideration of others; they are primarily concerned with their own profit or pleasure. They are self-absorbed, self-obsessed, wrapped up in themselves, thoughtless, looking out for number one.
Don’t ever let anyone think that you could be happy unless they do what you want. Be selfish.
Selfishness destroys unity because it makes it seem like we’re the only ones who are important anyway. Who cares about anybody else? Don’t seek to serve anyone but yourself. That will keep your circle pretty small.
8. Be Irritable
This is somewhat related to the first point–being impatient and easily annoyed–but it goes a bit further. A person who is irritable is easily provoked to anger. They have a tendency to be grouchy, moody, crabby, cranky, and with a short fuse.
When someone does even the slightest thing to you, get mad, immediately, and let them know it. Don’t hold back. Don’t wait for it to get better. Defend yourself, no one else will do it. Retaliate. Be irritable.
And being irritable or angry helps to push others away. There won’t be any unity if everybody is mad at everybody else.
9. Be Bitter
A person who is bitter is resentful because someone treated them bad of they feel like they didn’t get what they deserved. Bitter people are usually sour and spiteful. They are always taking to account the wrongs people have done to them.
Keep a list of everything that everyone has ever done wrong to you, no matter how insignificant or small it was. Keep track of other people’s sins and never let them forget it. Punish them by acting cold or gossiping about them or anything that will let them know just how awful they were. Be bitter.
Oh, before I forget, let me encourage you to be just as petty and small about this as possible. I’ve found that really tends to erode any chance for unity.
Like anger, bitterness will keep you away from everyone else. There won’t be any unity because no one will deserve to be united to you.
10. Be Immoral
A person who is immoral doesn’t conform to or accept standards of morality–right and wrong. Perhaps a little stronger is the word “perverse.” We normally apply that in terms of sexual immorality, but the basic definition is “showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.”
When I suggest being immoral, I mean go for it. This will be sure to break whatever unity might be there. Scoff at your parents and encourage others to do the same. When you hear some juicy tidbit about somebody else, it doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or not, make sure you pass it on to everyone who’ll listen. Do wrong yourself and encourage others to do the same. Be immoral.
Immorality or perverseness destroys unity by eroding any genuine foundation for unity. If there isn’t anything solid, any truth, if it is just all lies and half-truths then there is nothing to stand on.
11. Be Cynical
A cynical person is always doubtful and distrusting. They typically are concerned only with themselves and making themselves look good. They are suspicious, not open, pessimistic and negative. So never trust anyone and never let anyone trust you.
Just curl up by yourself in the corner far away from everybody. Even if things could be good, don’t get your hopes up, it probably won’t last. No one else is going to stick with it, you might as well not either. Be cynical.
So being cynical and pessimistic will destroy unity by negativity.
To sum up, If you want to make sure that there is no unity, no harmony, no getting along with each other, just commit to being impatient, unkind, jealous, boastful, proud, selfish, irritable, bitter, immoral, and cynical.
Well why do I mention these eleven things as unity destroyers? Some of these overlap one another and certainly there are other ways to bring disunity. The reason is because all eleven of these sarcastic encouragements are the opposite of LOVE! And love is the perfect bond of unity. Note the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
You probably recognize the contradictions for the first nine obviously, and then “be immoral” goes with all of verse six and “be cynical” opposes all of verse seven. So if you can just not love, you won’t have any bond or harmony. Without love there will be no perfect unity. In order to destroy unity all you have to do is not love.
But there is one (large) problem with not loving. If you don’t love, you don’t know God. 1 John 4:7-8 makes it clear that love is the normal Christian behavior. Disunity is anti-love and therefore anti-Christian. How dare we claim to know God and not be unified. When we destroy unity we destroy our testimony, our assurance, and potentially destroy our brothers.
You can’t be a Christian if you don’t pray. I’m not talking about prayer being a work that you do that saves you or sanctifies you. I am not talking about something else that you need to do to make God happy. I am simply looking at it from the standpoint of standard Christian practice. The reason some people don’t pray may be because those people aren’t Christians.
Consider first, Christians are to be like Christ – and Christ prayed. You can’t read for very long in any of the gospels before you find Christ praying. The Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God in human flesh, prayed. And He prayed often. He prayed regularly. He prayed when it was inconvenient to pray. And if Christians are actually “little Christs,” if Christians are being “conformed into the image of Christ,” if being complete in Christ means being like Him, if He has left us “an example that we should following in His steps,” then Christians will pray.
Second, Christians are to obey Christ – and Christ taught us to pray. Not only by His example, but by His own direct words. It is not something He expected us to pick up implicitly (though we do that too), it is something He commanded explicitly.
And third, Christians are to glorify God, and prayer shows God’s greatness. Prayer glorifies God in at least two ways, 1) it shows His greatness in that we want to spend time with Him. And 2) it shows His greatness by highlighting His resources and resourcefulness. We don’t just pray to God to get His help to glorify Him, the act of praying itself glorifies Him! Praying is not just the means to an end, in one respect it IS the end! When we don’t pray it must be because we think we can take care of ourselves. This attitude robs God of glory due only to Him.
We are too comfortable with profession of faith and no prayer coming from the same mouth. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Series | Lies Every Teen Believes
The OT is a great place to start in our look to find adolescents in Scripture. We find people of all ages in the OT. There are numerous chronicles of babies, kids, young people and old people in the OT. This is most likely due to the abundance of narrative writing (that is, writing that describes events and history) as compared with the primarily theological (and propositional) nature of the NT.
In our look at OT vocabulary I have not included any words that ONLY refer to infants, babies, children, or older men, even though some of the ones I will refer to overlap with these age groups. This is a short list of four nouns (not adjectives) that are used at least somewhere in the OT as a reference to youth or young men/women. Again, as we’ll see, these four words do have overlap with words for babies and children and with words used in reference to older men.
This word is used some 90 times in the Hebrew OT. It is translated in various ways in the ESV including “young men,” though predominately by the word “child” or (plural, “children”). Just one example of this use will be sufficient:
For to us a child (yeled) is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Of course, this is a prophecy about the coming of the Christ; the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Calling Him a child in this verse doesn’t really tell us much about His age, it is simply a general reference to offspring of parents (in this case Mary and the Holy Spirit).
But the word does have more definite age restraints in other places. For example, it is the word used to describe David’s child with Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 12:18 On the seventh day the child (yeled) died.
This is the account of the death of David’s infant son, a punishment of God on David’s crimes of adultery and murder. His son was only seven days old, not even having been circumcised yet. So yeled is used here to describe a very small baby.
More important for our discussion, however, is its use to describe “youth” or “young men.” Yeled is translated as “youth” in Daniel 1:4.
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths (yeled) without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. (Daniel 1:3-4)
You can imagine that this might be a good model to study later in our series. But before looking at anything else we should figure out how old these “youths” really were.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon adopted a policy of taking the most promising young men and “recruiting” them for government positions in his empire. Rather than reserving leadership for Chaldeans alone, Nebuchadnezzar resolved to pool the best brains and abilities to be found among the nations he had conquered. Though they were to have certain qualities already, probably the one “quality” not prized was stubborn persistence; someone who was “stuck in his ways.” Being stuck in one’s ways is something that is more likely to describe older people.
With that in mind, as well as from other indicators from history and from within the book of Daniel itself, most commentators believe that Daniel and the rest were somewhere between fourteen and seventeen. Yeled is used in Daniel to describe those who were … teenagers.
One more example of this word is important to note. Let’s go back to the story I mentioned in my previous adolescence blog, the story of Rehoboam and the “young men” he took counsel from.
1 Kings 12:8 [h]e abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men (yeled) who had grown up with him….
Forget for just a moment that it is translated young men, not adolescents. The important question is, how old were these “young men”? It sounds typical of teenagers, doesn’t it? It seems like the immature, impetuous manner of most adolescents. So how old were these guys? Take a quick look at 1 Kings 14:21:
Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem.
He was forty-one! His peers, his equals were then probably somewhere in their mid-thirties to mid-forties. And yet the same word, yeled, is used to describe them as it is to describe a seven day old baby. I guess sinfully stupid and proud decisions are not something limited only to teens. This is not a passage that adolescent advocates can use to support their position.
So depending on the context, just this one word, yeled, can be used to describe anyone from the age of David’s dead seven day old baby, to Daniel and his teenage friends, all the way to Rehoboam’s mid-life counselors, “young men” who were around forty.
This word is used about five times in the Hebrew OT. It is always translated as some form of the word “youth.” In 1 Samuel 20:22 the youth are military assistants and in Job (20:11 & 33:25) it describes the physical strength, liveliness, and vitality of young people compared with those who are old. It is also used to describe David in 1 Samuel 17:56 after killing Goliath. We’ll look at some of these verses a little later.
This word is the Hebrew workhorse to describe young people, used over 200 times in the Hebrew OT. It is translated predominately with the word “youth,” but also frequently as “young man” or plural, “young men.” But it too is translated in various ways in the ESV. Let me show you a few examples of the various ages covered by na’ar.
This is the word used to describe Moses at three months old, left in a basket by his mother in the river. Exodus 2:2 says that he was three months old, and then in verse six we see that:
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child (yeled), and behold, the baby (na’ar) was crying. (Exodus 2:5-6)
This verse shows that yeled and na’ar can be used synonymously (interchangeably), though obviously na’ar can be used to describe someone extremely little. By the way, na’ar is also used to describe David’s dead infant in 2 Samuel 12:16.
2 Samuel 12:16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child (na’ar).
So there is overlap in the different vocabulary words, as well as an overlap in age distinctions covered by the same word.
na’ar is the word used of Samuel from before he was weaned (1 Samuel 1:22), immediately after he was weaned (1:24), probably somewhere around two or three years old. Then it continues to describe him as a young person:
Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy (na’ar) ministered to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest. (1 Samuel 2:11)
Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy (na’ar) clothed with a linen ephod. (1 Samuel 2:18)
The young man (na’ar) Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:21)
Now the young man (na’ar) Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man. (1 Samuel 2:26)
But look over at chapter three. Here we find the “young man” (na’ar) (3:1) ministering and this is the account of God revealing Himself directly to Samuel (3:8 – na’ar as well). How old do you think Samuel is by this point? The Jewish historian Josephus suggests Samuel was twelve…12! Based on the running story in 1 Samuel at most he could have been only a couple years older than that. He would be considered an early “adolescent” in today’s vocabulary.
But look at the description of him in verse 19:
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. (1 Samuel 3:19)
This means that God was using Samuel as a young teenager to reveal divine things. He spoke with divine authority as an adolescent! Here was no superficial, trivial, cartoon-watching, computer-game-playing, silly, skin-deep young person with no substance. Samuel was a young person whose life was ripe with knowledge of God. Here was a young person defined by his relationship with God.
A little bit further in 1 Samuel we find the young shepherd David described by this word. Na’ar is the word used of David in:
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:33)
More than likely David was a mid-teenager, perhaps between 15-17. He was also young enough that Goliath mocked his youth (“when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him for he was but a youth” v.42). You can imagine that we might come back to this representative teenager as well.
Finally, na’ar is the word used of Job’s sons who had their own houses in Job 1:4, 19. We can safely assume a certain level of responsibility and means for these young men to care for their own homes.
So depending on the context, just this one word, na’ar, can be used in a broad variety of ways to describe anyone from the age of Moses in the basket, all the way up to Job’s sons who had their own households.
Bachur is used over 40 times in the Hebrew OT. It is translated in the ESV predominately as “young man,” and generally seems to refer only to those in the middle to older part of the “young men” spectrum. We could probably limit this word to the time from puberty to around forty.
These young men are of the marrying age:
For as a young man (bachur) marries a young woman…. (Isaiah 62:5)
Though they might not be married:
Fire devoured their young men (bachur), and their young women had no marriage song. (Psalm 78:63)
Another interesting description of these young men was that they were apparently able to have children:
[T]hus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, I will punish them. The young men (bachur) shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine. (Jeremiah 11:22)
And yet at the same time they were apparently still close to their mothers:
I have made their widows more in number than the sand of the seas; I have brought against the mothers of young men (bachur) a destroyer at noonday…. (Jeremiah 15:8)
They are able to battle (as they are promised to be killed by the sword in battle, while being described as different from men:
May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths (bachur) be struck down by the sword in battle. (Jeremiah 18:21)
So the fourth word, along with the previous three, can refer to a variety of persons in different stages of life, though bachur seems to be the most consistent in its description of those in their teens to their forties.
I will make some additional summary observations in a future blog. For today’s entry I simply want to point out that noticeably absent from this list is one (let alone more) words that restrict a person to the time of 12 to 20. We do not find any equivalent OT vocabulary for persons or the period of adolescence.
Series | Lies Every Teen Believes
There is a great old story about King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12. At the beginning of the chapter we find Solomon’s kingdom divided, and Solomon’s son Rehoboam was made king in the South. The people of Israel petitioned the new king to lighten their heavy work burden and the high taxes placed on them by Solomon (vv.1-5). The new King Rehoboam sent the people away with a promise to answer in three days.
As we insert ourselves into the storyline we are initially impressed that Rehoboam immediately went to get counsel. There is, after all, safety in the abundance of counselors. Our impression is further strengthened when we see that at first he goes to the “old men” who had also stood with his father Solomon. These were the guys who had been around; they were the wise guys. But the story takes a turn for the worse when Rehoboam turns from their counsel in verse 8.
[Rehoboam] abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him…. (1 Kings 12:8)
The advice of his peers was to make the burden heavier than before. Their counsel to the new king was to increase his authority, his power, and wealth. The people should serve the king, not visa versa.
Now I don’t know if we would say that Rehoboam followed his friends’ direction because of “peer pressure” or because he didn’t want to lose his relationship with them by offending them. But regardless of his motivation, it definitely was not a good idea to listen to these punks.
But isn’t this just the way we would expect a teenager to act? Doesn’t this behavior seem adolescent, ignoring the elders and following the crowd? This is no surprise; it’s just what young men do.
In our discussion on the birth and growth of adolescence we have looked primarily at the various historical elements over the past century that have promoted (intentionally or unintentionally) this social myth. We’ve talked about the modern idea of adolescence as including more than just the actual years of being a teenager, but the mindset of rebellion and instability that are said to define those years. But whatever the history, we are most concerned with what God’s Word reveals about young people, what it expects of them, and what it expects of those who train them.
This leads us to the next step in our series: to look at the various OT vocabulary for young people and attempt to identify any relevant terms or descriptions of adolescent behavior as we recognize it today.
So does an account like that of Rehoboam reveal adolescence in Scripture? Is this narrative just the tip of the biblical iceberg? If we go below the surface will we find uncontrollable teenage hormones dominating ancient adolescents just like today? Will we find a category of juveniles who can’t help but be trouble causers?
We’ll have to see….
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.
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.
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.
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.