Facing The Culture With Christian Teens
One only needs to turn on the news to hear how our world is growing increasingly chaotic. Social issues permeate almost every broadcast. Some reports feel like a passage from Revelations, making a healthy and stable future for our children feel uncertain.
A friend and I recently lamented our shared heartache over the growing iniquity we see in our culture. She pointed out how our kids have been born for this time. We have been charged a great responsibility in preparing them.
Occasionally my kids attend activities and clubs within our local community. They have observed social shifts in how some groups are led. The first time one of my boys was asked for his pronouns, he was caught off guard. He stuttered out, “I’m a Christian, so the normal ones. Boy. He. I’m a guy.”
My kids have never hidden their Christian beliefs. It’s not uncommon to face questions about their convictions as well as how they are home educated. The more consistent they personally walk out their faith, regardless if mom or dad are around, the more they feel challenged.
My boys have shared conversations they have experienced during downtime at various activities. When a peer discussed the idea of being gender fluid without relational commitments, my son challenged the idea with the impact on procreation. On another occasion, a kid announced they were agnostic and questioned how Christian my son was. The individual went on to express how they were considering following an eastern religion. My son concluded they were not agnostic, but someone searching for something real to believe in.
I have always preferred to have my kids involved in activities with like-minded individuals. As they get older, and we live within a small community, it is not always possible. There is risk in attending a secular event. All of my kids have voiced displeasure over the language they hear. They do not swear and are shocked at how comfortable other kids curse. If an authority figure does not speak up, they usually move away from the conversations. My daughter experienced an occasion where she asked some kids to please not swear so much. She was scoffed at and referred to as sheltered.
Although I have not signed my kids up for secular classes thinking they are going to a mission field, they have had opportunities to be light. Darkness will challenge the light. Our culture is filled with children questioning their identity and gender. I am shocked by the proportion.
My kids feel challenged by the culture. While involved in community events they strive to treat everyone with respect. Initially, they brushed off discussions of gender and other kids working through how they wanted to identify. Their courtesy is challenged when they are harshly informed they must address someone different in name and/or pronoun. Failing to conform is offensive to the demand of the culture, yet compliance is objectionable to our Christian convictions. My son explained that it feels like going on a long walk, but you are told you have to walk backward. It does not make sense, it’s uncomfortable, and it does not feel natural.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 NIV
If my kids were younger, I would immediately pull them from an environment grossly conflicting with our values. The fact is, the culture is not going to suddenly change before my kids reach adulthood. I want my teens to learn to navigate cultural challenges now while living in my home and having my support. I want them to be equipped to oppose cultural pitfalls.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
Many within the church want to ignore the darkness of our culture. When things are uncomfortable, it’s easier to passively walk away. There is a feeling of safety to isolate within the walls of the church or to shelter at home. In doing so, we compromise and become ineffective.
My kids want to engage in community opportunities. They do not want to be bullied into conforming to the culture and are learning to set boundaries. If an environment is truly unhealthy, they prayerfully consider if they should step away.
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Proverbs 13:20 NLT
The world is growing increasingly dark. The standards of our Lord are increasingly offensive to the culture in which we live. There is risk for Christian teens to stand up for their convictions. I pray they are learning to stand firm.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV