The church and today’s youth
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I’m going to tie together a few recent headlines here, to try to get a sense of where we are headed as a church and as a nation. On the bad side, our culture and society continue apace on their mad rush to perdition. MTV (Viacom) put out a new series, Skins, which depicts such things as molestation and sex at fifteen as unremarkable, typical behavior. I wish I could say it was the almighty dollar alone that was driving this self-fulfilling filth, but the problem is more deeper than that. Humanist forces have consciously been at work for the better part of a century now to move the line on all manner of sexual behavior, from age of consent, to homosexuality, to bestiality and on.
And they have been very effective. Another report last week said that one third of women in the US will have an abortion. Another said that 41% of NYC women have had one. And just before that, a couple of reports came back saying that today’s youth are to an unprecedented degree uninterested in religion.
Things would appear to be dire, no? But then how do we explain the record turnout, in bitter cold, of youth at the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, commemorating the vile Roe v Wade decision? For the first time in thirty eight years, a second facility had to be opened to handle overflow from the main Mass. Squads of priests heard confessions beforehand in an auditorium.
Clearly, a large and growing number of our teens are rejecting the unhealthy mores of the dominant culture, even if on the same day our president chose to personally champion those twisted values.
I’m not sure what’s going on here, and I would welcome input, but I think there is a rebirth of idealism in today’s youth – an idealism that wants to reach outside of itself and find solutions to the problems of society . Young people are not impressed by religious structures or tradition, so much as by truth and integrity and following God in a way that’s real.
If I am correct then this year’s March for Life is a brilliant witness that the church will be in good hands in the challenging years to come. Even while commercial and humanist interests, institutions such as the schools and government, and even the president himself, promote moral doubletalk, compromise and mediocrity, a significant number of the coming generation refuse to buy into the lie.
We ought to help them. One way is not to fear the changing shape of the church. We are shedding the dead skin of past presuppositions and we will emerge in a highly flexible mode that will enable us to adapt to the changing needs of the culture. Though there are growing pains, this is a good thing indeed. Recall that the Lord had to allow a persecution to arise in Jerusalem in order to get the first disciples to carry the Message abroad as they had been commissioned, particularly for the benefit of the Gentiles.
When the church enters its adaptive mode, adressing the real needs of people while still being true to Christ, as it did in those early centuries and as is happening today in places such as China, it sheds the formalism and excessive focus on hierarchy and doctrinal purity that have dogged much of its history, and it embraces the basics – incarnation, relationship and mission (MRI). It is then that supernatural things begin to happen. Lives are changed, cultures are impacted, and the Kingdom grows.
Another thing we can do is advocate against the lies of this culture. Work to get cable TV packages broken up, and then get the filthy channels out of your house. From its constant assault on morality, to its ungodly highly partisan advocacy, I can’t think of one good thing to say about MTV. And it’s not the only channel that needs to be either vanquished or transformed.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann gave a brilliant speech at the March for Life Dinner, in which she cited the Mary who broke open an expensive alabaster box of perfume in order to anoint Jesus’ feet. Mary was chided for “waste”, but Jesus commended her for what she had done. Bachmann went on to say that nothing we do for the Lord is wasted. God sees things differently than does man, and it is only His accounting that matters. There’s a synopsis of her speech here.
There is no shortage of evidence that our culture and our nation is under intense attack and has been seriously degraded. But godly resistance is rising up as well, as we saw in the November elections and now see in the turnout at the March for Life. We need to encourage ourselves in the Lord and redouble our efforts. We are going to win this thing. We are more than conquerors: not only do we defeat our foes, we win them over.
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will indeed raise a standard against him. Hold your ground. The battle is the Lord’s, and it is already won.
Finally, take a moment and consider the vast numbers of people who have been harmed by abortion, and keep them in prayer. Know that if you have had an abortion or been a party to one, the Lord loves you and wants to forgive you. Just come to Him. Whatever our sin, He is the one who was sinned against, therefore He has the power to forgive that sin. And on the Cross, Jesus purchased the legal right for our forgiveness. Because Jesus paid the price, God can forgive us now without violating His righteous nature. Come to Him now, and do not carry an impossible burden by yourself any longer. God forgives, heals and make new. Let Him.