Friday, March 12, 2010

Rejecting Adolescence in the Church - Part 5

A Reasonable Response to an Unfounded Psychological Theory
by McKrunk
Part 5
[Parts 1, 2, 3, 4]

Young Adults Are to Be Taught by Older Adults

From this point, we will no longer use the secular, psychological labels of “teenager” or “adolescent,” but the Biblical term, “young adult.”  Fortunately, the Bible gives us some specific instruction on how a young adult should be trained.

All the usual ways in which any normal Christian adult grows apply to young adults.  There are no exceptions in Scripture concerning the normal methods of Christian growth and fellowship that exclude young adults.  The Bible does not indicate that young adults will not grow through listening to the word of God preached, or that fellowship with the body will not have effect on those aged thirteen to twenty years unless it is preaching from a young, relatable youth pastor and fellowship with their immediate peers.

In addition to the normal manner in which a Christian grows, the Bible does give some specific instructions on how young adults are to be discipled:
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.  In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.  -Titus 2:1-8 (emphasis added)

This passage tells much.  First, that young adults are especially and specifically to be trained by older adults.  While there is not exclusivity in this passage (as noted above, the normal methods for Christian growth such as fellowship with the whole body still apply), it is only ever specifically stated concerning training of young adults that such training should be undertaken by “older” adults.  A brief word study confirms that this word “older” was not intended to reference someone comparatively older than a very young adult, such as a twenty-year-old mentoring a sixteen-year-old, but the word actually refers to old adults.  The Bible never indicates anything resembling a “relatable” youth pastor who ought to be younger and more hip in order to “reach out” to the young adults.

This passage also instructs older Christians to train the younger Christians: Through encouragement, through urging, and through example.  Furthermore, it indicates what elder Christians are to encourage and urge younger Christians to be.  Not included in the list is the need to have the younger people let loose with regularly scheduled game times and fun to lull the young adults into listening to a sermonette.

The older women are to encourage the younger women to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”  This is the opposite of the indulgent games and recreation that constitute the centerpiece of the modern youth group.

The elder men are to “Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”  Note that the imperative to be sensible is repeated to both the young men and women.

The word translated “sensible” comes from the Greek “sophroneo,” and means:
• to be of sound mind
• to be in one's right mind
• to exercise self control
• to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of one's self soberly
• to curb one's passions

Here we find in Scripture a picture of behavior, attitude, and spiritual discipline led by aged adults which is the polar opposite of the expectations and goals that the youth group culture places upon young adults.  While there is certainly nothing in Scripture which would prohibit times of fellowship spent in recreation and relaxation; the lock-ins, retreats, field trips, game times, and general entertainment-centered thrust of youth ministry displays an imbalance that reaches harmful extremes and reinforces the world’s view of young adults as overgrown children who must be constantly indulged and pacified in order to avoid mischief.

Lastly, we find that the elder Christians are to lead by example.  Not an example of how one can be a cool Christian, and not an example of how one can have so much fun as a Christian.  Their behavior and example is to be comprised of temperance, dignity, sensibility, soundness in faith, love, perseverance, reverence, good teachings, good deeds, purity of doctrine, and soundness of speech which is beyond reproach.

Young Christians mentored by their peers Young Christians mentored by aged Christians
Encouraged to be silly Taught to be sensible and sound in speech
Hunched over, Dressed like the world Dignified
Mentor example of coolness/relate-ability Mentor example of dignity
Segmented and segregated Whole and integrated
Coarse speech Speech beyond reproach
Teenagers are sneered at and case aside Young adults are embraced as an integral part of the body
The body often indulges the youth group The yound adults serve the church as they are served by the church
Barely controlled Self-control
Slothfulness Example of good deeds

At this point, one might be thinking that, right or wrong, the fact remains that in our culture most people aged thirteen through twenty years are intellectually children and that fact cannot be ignored by the church but must be addressed through a segregated ministry.

• Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; -Proverbs 22:15a
• He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. -Proverbs 13:20

Through these verses it is made obvious that Satan has quite a stake in the artificial extension of childhood--especially within the church.  If young adults, or “teenagers,” remain intellectually as children due to poor training, then it is unwise to take a group of such “children,” which have foolishness bound up in their hearts, and consistently segregate these fools together away from the older, wiser people who may moderate their foolishness.

The conclusion cannot be drawn that they ought to be segmented and segregated from the church, and put under the care of a slightly older young adult.  It is an unfortunate fact that young adults have been subjugated to an extended infantalization; the solution is not to segregate all these misfortunates together, but to encourage them to walk with aged, wise men.

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

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