They sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind– Hosea 8:7a NASB
I had a bad week.
It involved a kid, a Mom, and a deep-dive on the kid’s phone. For better or worse, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about kids and our culture.
Jesus preserve us.
Among other things, I learned the cultural junk kids and teens are marinating in is unlike anything previous generations had access to. It is far dumber, darker and much more dangerous. In short, the enemy is doing an effective job of using a toxic culture to lead kids to hell, literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, most parents, even many Christian parents are entirely oblivious to what’s going on right under their noses with the phones and tablets they pay for.
So, a couple of things:
First, it occurred to me that the spiritual and ethical issues Generation Z (kids born between 1997 and 2010) are grappling with did not occur in a vacuum. We are simply reaping what was sown into these kids. Second, the behaviors and attitudes of Generation Z are alive and well in most adults, even some Christians. Adults and especially adult Christians just do a better job hiding their dysfunction and moral decay. Finally, if we ever hope to change our culture Christians must change themselves first. Following are the five attitudes that are deeply entrenched in the hearts of our youth that Christians should work hard to root out of their own lives before it’s too late.
The key to happiness is found marketing oneself well-
All the social media accounts I looked at appeared to have been crafted by a professional marketer to promote a carefully-thought-out image. The photos were carefully chosen. The taglines tended to be subtly suggestive and well-worded. Everything went together. All the photos and taglines vibed into a fascinating aesthetic. All-the-while being mostly empty, frequently sexually suggestive and completely devoid of any actual meaning. Once I saw it, I was appalled by the smoothness and sliminess of it all. Then it dawned on me Christian influencers do the same thing these kids are doing. Furthermore, most of the stuff being produced by the Christian community has the same smoothly crafted quality (only less filthy). Sadly, Christian parents and Church leaders have inadvertently taught the younger generation to worry more about how things look than how they actually are.
Sex is just sex-
It is clear that some forms of sexual deviancy have become rather faddish among the under thirty crowd. Being bisexual, gay, trans or even just promiscuous is simply a part of an image people promote to the world now. This is the new normal because sex was effectively separated from intimacy and now sex is just a thing people do when they think they might like each other (Romans 1:24-27). We are where we are because Gen Xers and Boomers did the job of separating sex from marriage. Millennials took it a step further and removed sex from emotional commitment. Generation Z has taken the whole course to its logical conclusion and detached sex from feelings. Now sex is officially meaningless. Sigh.
Self is the ultimate arbitrator of right and wrong-
Right and wrong is no longer something most people debate, because most people have concluded morals don’t exist or are silly. Morals have become an antiquated novelty, like telephones with cords that stay connected to a wall. This started when we began teaching that feelings were more important than facts. It was a small hop to “my feelings are the ultimate decider of right and wrong in every situation”. Without an actual standard of right and wrong life has become chaotic and everyone literally does what is right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).
If God is real He exists as a tool to be used-
The name it and claim it movement is to blame for this one. A lot of young people, as well as a number of not-so-young people tend to see God as a tool to be used to get what they want rather than an eternal, far-superior, immortal being who is to be loved, feared and obeyed (Proverbs 1:7, Deuteronomy 10:12).
Life is about NOW-
We live in a strange dichotomy. COVID-19 has proven that many are scared spitless of dying, we are still mainly on lockdown because of a mostly irrational fear of death from Coronavirus. However, few seem to worry about what will happen to them after they die. This has led to a rather peculiar reality where people want to grasp at experiences that bring immediate pleasure but do not want to think about the possible eternal consequences of choosing those experiences over a different kind of life (Jeremiah 17:4). The church is not exempt from this thinking. Many Christians have chosen to forget God still judges sin so they sin and don’t think anything at all of the eternal consequences doing so (1st Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:20-22).
None of these beliefs materialized out of thin air. Kids today believe what they believe about life and God because they have seen a lighter, slightly less ugly version of the same belief system modeled in the previous generations. The only real answer to the problems this has created is for those of us who do know God to pray for self-awareness and then to repent of any sin God reveals in our lives.