Last post I spent some time discussing some initial thoughts and quotes on this article http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/
I want to continue this for the next several posts and allow us to think about the “whys” of this problem. The next two quotes I find quite troubling, and I believe they are linked:
Some adults don't expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.
Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can't talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that's not true.
"There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior," she says. "They do a lot of things that parents pray for."
Let me just state the overwhelming joy I have that at Trinity, Bro. Brad Walker does not consume himself with a “sexual abstinence” message. His goal, our goal as staff and as a Church is to focus on purity and holiness, and this is only taught by going to the Word and finding the mind of Christ on these issues….Purity and holiness through the Word will take care of any behavioral and lifestyle issues that come along. A passion for holiness deals with the heart. I link these two quotes together because herein lies the overarching theme in many homes of those who fill our churches: because Dad and Mom have this overwhelming desire to “feel good” about self, and in response do good to feel even better about self, we have created a “moralistic hoop” to jump through and in turn demand our children jump through the same hoops. As long as behaviors line up with standards set for moralistic measuring sticks…we can pat ourselves on the backs. I would submit that the reason most Christian teenagers can talk coherently to peers and discuss relationships, sports, sex and countless other issues… but when it comes to the things of God their silence is deafening, is simply because they have a greater knowledge about almost anything than they do about God. Too often parents discuss morality but only a minority of dads and moms will ever sit down with their family and teach Biblical truths - not morality, but doctrine. The reason teens can’t discuss “deep truths of God” is because few church members know deep truths about God. If the only thing a Christian parent desires for their child is for them to “do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high risk behavior” evidently many get their goals. In short, if all we desire is to see our children as nothing more than poodles that jump through the hoops we give them, then guess what? They are accomplishing our goals. And thus the reason so many of them “quit” as soon as they are out of the house!
The problem is that this never goes to the heart, this never demands they get to the cross, it never demands they know the mind of Christ on any issue. Most any religion teaches morality and teens see it for what it is - that is the reason the article states that “teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God.” If the goal is morality, just find a religion or god that best suits you. A few weeks ago one of our staff members mentioned a quote by David Platt that said (I summarize) “Most people live their life in such a way that if they were to find out there was no God it wouldn’t really effect them.” Repentance and Faith have no place if I can gain morality by following rules… the Gospel has no place in my parenting, my worship or my life if my goal is morality or even niceness – If I can accomplish it on my own by jumping through your hoops, then what need do I have of Him? If I can satisfy you with my hoops, then my sin has no bearing or real consequence…it really isn’t “that bad”….my heart never changes and I have no need for mercy or grace.
What should be our goal? Our goal should be Gospel focused, our goal should be to relate to our children as sinners and every time correction and discipline are given it is done by the cross. We aren’t their moral gods, we are fellow sinners who should be further along in this walk than they are…and God uses us as their authorities to aid in their sanctification by speaking truth to them. Our goal is not simple morality - our goal is to call teenagers from their own glory and help them understand what it means to live for God’s glory. Our walk with God should not become fuzzier the closer it gets to real life, but clearer and more concrete. We do this by teaching them doctrine, we teach them doctrine by learning doctrine ourselves – becoming grounded in it and seeing the relevance and wisdom of living it out in our daily lives. We do this in our home and we find churches where doctrine is boldly proclaimed and held up.
This should be our goal.
This should be what we pray for.
This should be what we model for them.
God’s Glory and Holiness – shown through in our lives and our children’s lives.
NOT MORALISTIC HOOPS!