Facebook can be a great tool for keeping in touch and re-connecting with old friends. It can also be a depressing source of unhappy discoveries. I have previously blogged about how many of my childhood friends have left the Faith, and how I probably wouldn’t know about most of these apostasies if it weren’t for facebook.
A similar phenomenon has developed (with a different demographic) in the past five years, as junior high kids from the Baptist camp where I pastor each summer friend me on facebook, all on fire for Jesus and stuff, only to—in many cases—immediately begin cooling off. It’s heart-breaking to see kids’ faith being slowly chipped away and the culture begin to conform them to the patterns of this world. Add to that the majority, who never saw any use for the the Gospel to begin with, and whose updates reflect the godless culture with which they’ve chosen to identify.
Yes, the tweets and such of young people (and I use that term broadly, to encapsule everyone from middle schoolers up through my own peers, now entering our mid-30s) can be an eye-opening, heart-wrenching thing to behold.
I am occasionally overwhelmed by this phenomenon, and will from time to time become very depressed by the way the youngest couple of generations have embraced carnality, relativism, and blasphemy almost in complete unison, regularly mocking and attacking the Scriptures, the Church, and the Lord in that distinctly Gen X/Millennial way that is so sarcastic, it almost makes sarcasm lose all meaning. At such times, I am tempted to go all grizzled and make blanket statements about how the end must be near, because it’s never been this bad before, blah, blah, blah. And all the while, the tweeters in question have an equal-but-opposite view of such things: We’ve never been this free, they say, this unencumbered, this evolved.
And, of course, both the would-be grizzled and the would-be evolved are dead wrong. It’s always been this way.
Sure, young people today laugh at “repressive” ethics that would cramp their experimental style with outdated biblical guidelines. They believe that all spiritual roads lead to the same God (or non-god enlightenment source). They look increasingly to purely empirical sources for Truth, even while promoting a view of truth as relative and ever-shifting. And this is all so unheard of! Why, to find another generation who thought like that, we have to go back to . . . their parents. (There’s that Gen X sarcasm again.)
Yeah, when they were young, large swaths of Boomers were largely about the Summer of love, anarchy, free-thought and legalized drugs. Damn the Man!, etc.. Now they are the Man. Most of them, anyway. It’s difficult to find a Boomer who hasn’t grown up and grow out of all that (or at least tempered it with large doses of reality). In fact, one of the most automatically funny characters in film and TV today is the Boomer still stuck in his hippy ideals, lovable for his naïveté.1
Before the Boomers, we could point to the hedonism of the beatniks in the late ’50s / early ’60s, with their own experimental drugs and sex. Or back another generation to the Roaring ’20s: swingers, flappers, jazz, and liquor. The young people who were into that scene were later the very moms and dads who sat down on the couch to watch Leave It to Beaver every week with their kids in the 1950s.
We could keep on pushing backward in history and form an unbroken chain, if we were so inclined, highlighting the culture of Rome in the 1500s or Roman Culture in the 4th Century (a brief perusal of Augustine’s Confessions will remind us that there is nothing new under the sun, and certainly nothing unique or ultimate about the current moral slide). We could follow this back to the Athenians, the Cretans, the Babylonians, the men of Sodom, all the way to Cain. They all thought they’d arrived by throwing off shackles. They scoffed at their uptight forefathers and patted themselves on the back for their wide acceptance of any vice or perversion in the name of unfettered living and shameless self-gratification. Granted, an outer veneer of decency (a la Leave It to Beaver) or righteousness (a la the Pharisees) does not necessarily indicate a right standing with God, but when a generation actively rejects God and rebels against his Word, it is a sign that they are lost. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Again and again. Until the end.
Inside the Church, we lament that we haven’t arrived anywhere good. But the fact is that we haven’t arrived anywhere at all. This is as cyclical and predictable as it gets.
I’ve got some bad news for the tweeters in question, and history will bear me out: You’re not liberated. This isn’t social, sexual, and philosophical freedom; this is bondage to sin, self, and Satan and it ends with epic emptiness and regret. This isn’t the inevitable progress toward man’s great evolution; it’s the inevitable growing pains on the way to (none-too-inevitable) maturity—the moral and intellectual equivalent of those awkward, gawky teenage years.
This is not the Revolution that won’t be televised; it’s a temper tantrum, and it’s archived on YouTube.
And this isn’t limited to generational distinctives. As Christians, we know that the wheat and the chaff will grow up together. We need to remind the Church that there will always be chaff, lest we fall into the man-centered eschatology of the old Postmillennials. But we also need to remind the world and the Church alike that there will always be wheat—no matter how unified the prominent cultures of the world may be in their rejection of Christ and his revelation (and how deep into the church visible these errors may seep), the gates of hell will never prevail against the True Church. This world will not be ceded to the enemy and Christ will prevail. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again.
I suppose, then, that it is a revolution, in that it keeps going around and around. What will cause the wheel to stop spinning is not our collectively reaching some Nirvana state of enlightenment, but the return of our Lord Jesus in glory.
With that in mind, the eye-opening, heart-wrenching proclamations of generations past and present should fill us, not with despair, but with compassion, as they did our Lord Jesus when he saw that the people were like sheep without a shepherd. They need the Great Shepherd, and we know the Great Shepherd. And as these wandering sheep, one by one, run out of fight when it comes to their Creator, and run out of interest when it comes to the “revolution,” we can be there to proclaim the Good News, and see them taken home, safe and sound.
Soli Deo Gloria,
1 “There’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.” -Dr. Evil
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