I like to analyze, label, and categorize things on a whim. If you have read any posts on this blog, perhaps you have already picked that up. I like to play the part of observer when it comes to my generation, whether or not I am able to disengage myself from it adequately enough to give a fair assessment. In some sense, maybe I have a better vantage point for observation actually living as one of this generation than will a sociologist in the year 2075 gathering tidbits from the last batch of survivors of late Generation X and the Millennials. While it is more difficult to maintain objectivity, the defining events and moments are more immediate for us now than they will be for those after us looking back. For the last decade, we have been living in a reality defined by 9/11. Outside of the doubling of the national debt, very little has changed in the course of a decade. On the spiritual side of things, perhaps the most significant development is the increasing difficulty of denying the Doctrine of Human Depravity. Does anyone anywhere (outside of the movies) still believe mankind is born basically good and only corrupted by environment?
When is the last time you heard someone use the term “unbecoming” in a non-tongue-in-cheek manner. The word has fallen out of use in our time. In past days, people would use the word somehow like this, “That is unbecoming of a young gentlemen,” etc. People of past times seemed to have a better grasp on the concept that what we do is intimately linked to who we become. In stark contrast, I think my generation gives next to no attention to who we are becoming–individually and corporately. Within young Christian America one of the most discussed issue is alcohol–to abstain or to indulge? Quite frankly, the result of this debate seems mostly decided at this point. Facebook says I have 351 *friends* (a rather modest number from the tallies that I have seen, hah). Among the few hundred acquaintances within a few years of me (20s-ish), I am the only one I know of who has never put a drink to my lips and one of the very few who does not actively imbibe. My point here is not to single out alcohol as the grossest vice or to identify it as the Unforgiveable Sin from which there is neither repentance nor forgiveness. I am not even pointing to the act of drinking as definite, overt sin against God in itself. What I want to pose for consideration is what lies behind it, a deeper issue in Christian life: Holistically, my generation gives no heed to the matter of who we are becoming.
This should not be an unexpected result. Our culture depicts youth and young adulthood as the time to “live it up,” come what may. Leave behind propriety, sobriety, and consideration of what tomorrow may bring. “Are you guys going to move in together?” “Do you know who the father is?” “What are you *waiting* for?” “You’ve got to learn to lighten up and live a little!” Show me to a TV show that has never used one of these lines. Point me to a pop song that intrinsically disagrees with this message in the name of personal principle. Each Heineken, Bud Light, or Guinness commercial portrays the life of over-indulgence as the pinnacle of what it is to be young, free, and hip (and then closes with the mandatory, Micro Machines speed-read, disparate admonition of “please drink responsibly”). This is just want attractive, affluent, interesting young people do. And this is just what the kiddos in my youth group have been brought up to want. We completely ignore the fact that what we do dictates who we become. More than this, we ignore that what we do has a strong bearing on who the generation following us will be. What kind of people are we raising up?
The hippies and feminists of the Baby Boomer/Free Love/Sexual Revolution generation begat us. They legitimized murder of the unborn in the name of “personal choice;” our economy is only beginning to pay the price for the absence of these 50 million members of my generation from the workforce. We simply are not numerous enough to support our parents and grandparents through their years of government-subsidized retirement. And yet, the economic ramifications of the choices of the previous generation are among the most harmless. I saw a chart today saying that America imprisons the greatest percentage of its population among all of the developed/developing nations of the world. Is the problem that our laws are too stringent? Not last I checked. We have more leeway, more privilege, more liberty, and more freedom than any other nation in history. So if we are allowed to do so much within the confines of our laws, what is the problem? Yeah…our morality has fallen that low.
Sanctification is one of the most important doctrines in the whole of the New Testament. What is the lifelong goal of the Christian? Conformity to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Both God’s will and His purpose in our salvation are our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). Daily, we are told to suit up in the armor of God (Ephesians 6) that we may be able to stand against temptation. Continually, we are to put off the old self with its lusts and desires and be renewed in the inner man as we put on the character of Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 4:16). Increasingly, we are by the Spirit to be putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13) so that we may live.
And yet this generation–my generation–we stand around and talk about booze, with no thought of who or what we are becoming. We banish firm principles for our lives in the name of doing away with Pharisaical legalism. In their place, we place whatever suits our present fancies.