Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Why Do the Kids Leave?

"Our children and grandchildren are abandoning the faith because they perceive -- rightly -- that its demands are at fundamental variance with the lives we have prepared them to lead. We have raised them to seek lives characterized by material comfort, sexual fulfillment, and freedom from any obligations that they have not personally chosen. Should it surprise us that they fail to take seriously our claims to follow one who embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience to the will of God?"
-J. Peter Nixon

I'd probably add the term self-perceived in front of sexual fulfillment, though I'm not sure even that applies to most people. The point is a valid one nonetheless. We don't do a good job raising Christians as a subculture because we have adopted lifestyles and goals which make Jesus look like an self-oppressed freak to our children.


Kevin said...

If their parent's (we?) raised them that way, then wouldn't that suggest that their parents had already (mostly) left in all but name only? In which case, do we then blame the parents' parents?

It's kind of ironic that Jesus would be considered a self-oppressed freak. In his day, the scribes and Pharisees were the self-oppressed freaks that Jesus was liberating people from.

Douglas said...

At least the scribes and pharisees had a wife, a roof over their heads and a pretty good idea where their next meal was coming from. While they had certain rituals they followed fastidiously, they led rather conventional lives when it came to "the big areas." I'm sure many in Jesus day considered his sexless, homeless, poverty-ridden existence as freakish.

As Americans, our lives are characterized by extreme material comfort. Some even build theologies around God's supposed desire for our material success and comfort, as if a life lived in radical imitation of our Lord would be considered unbiblical. They preach that God wants us to be more wealthy next year. Others preach that people who live lives of consecrated singlehood in imitation of Jesus are unfit and unqualified to be pastors. We preach individualism in our relationship with God, convinced in the autonomy of the individual conscience apart from community or human authority and marvel in disbelief that God in the flesh would obey his mother at age 30 when he said himself his time had "not yet come." I'm not convinced this means Americans have left the faith in all but name, though I am convinced it means we are missing the boat on important aspects of Christianity. As a wider community, we are raising kids utterly incapable of comprehending the joy of a life characterized by poverty, chastity and obedience. The life Jesus lived is as foreign as the Koran to the average kid who attends Sunday School each week.