Friday, March 12, 2010

Rejecting Adolescence in the Church - Part 4

A Reasonable Response to an Unfounded Psychological Theory
by McKrunk

Part 4
[Parts 1, 2, 3]

Evaluating Youth Groups

As adolescence is an extra-Biblical, mythical phase of development, the church has two choices in responding to this phenomenon: 1) Reject it, or 2) Create an extra-Biblical, mythical ministry to validate and incorporate the psychological movement into the Church.  The most common response has been the latter, as most mainstream evangelical churches include an active youth group headed by a youth pastor, though there is Scriptural precedent for neither.

With an acceptance of the sufficiency of Scripture, one can affirm that the church in no way needs to join in the modern psychological culture’s adherence to the category of the “teenager” in order to successfully undertake the ministry of the church and to minister to all the members thereof.  Indeed, it seems imperative that the church actively reject the invention of adolescence in order to effectively involve young adults in ministry.  With the cultural commands to “enjoy their youth,” and the expectations for them to be self-indulgent and care-free, they do not become happy, content, or joyful.

Rather, suicide rates are highest amongst teenagers.  They wander from indulgence to indulgence hunched over, angst-ridden, moody, and rebellious; having so little confidence they can often barely carry out meaningful conversations with even their peers, and virtually incapable of having any substantive relationship with anyone outside their immediate peer group.  This is not due to their age, nor to their biology, but to the contradiction in which they are trapped as being physically and mentally adults who are forced by the world and the church into a box of juvenility constructed out of a false paradigm of the teenager.

The label of teenager, and all the connotations and expectations that come with it, provokes young adults to evil.  It is apparently frustrating for people with the bodies and intellects of adults to be treated as though they are still children, and that frustration manifests itself in the “typical teenage” behavior that we witness and expect in our culture.  The label of “teenager” communicates to a young adult that they are at an age of life where they ought to act with the ill behavior which so-called teenagers supposedly have no choice but to act.

An adult is expected to behave well, and if they do not, they are shamed, restrained, or even punished through various means.  Likewise, children are either expected to behave themselves, or to be disciplined, restrained, and re-trained.  However, when it comes to the extra-Biblical category of the teenager, the general expectation is for the person to behave like an incoherent dolt who cannot dress himself respectably, and who can barely control his urges, thoughts, and actions.  Teenagers are expected to behave in a way that is beneath dignity, restraint, and in a way that constantly exhibits self-indulgence.  Never does Scripture reference any category of believer who is expected to behave in such a manner.

If adolescence were a biological fact, then one would expect for this serious problem to be addressed directly in Scripture by our Creator.  It is not.  If there truly was something inherent about the age of adolescents that made them intrinsically rebellious, then there would be evidence of this throughout all times and cultures.  As it is our invention of the category of “teenager,” along with the expectations we attach to the label that causes the rebelliousness, we consistently see in history and other cultures that people between the ages of thirteen and twenty years do not carry themselves about as miscreants.  The history found in Scripture certainly attests to this fact.  The ages of some of the greatest people in Scripture prove that teenagers are perfectly capable of behaving with all dignity.  Mary was a teenager when she gave birth to Jesus.  David was a teenager when he was anointed king of Israel.  Josiah was a teenager as he held Israel to the standards of the law.

In most civilized cultures not infected with the idea of adolescence, we witness the young men and women effectively taking on adult responsibilities without complaint during their teen years.  Obviously, the human race is neither evolving nor devolving, so what humans of a certain age were once capable of, they are capable of still.

Cont'd.  [Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

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