Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Generation for Christ~ Zachary Tingle

            We are growing up in a world that continues to accelerate. Our culture and the culture of the world, at large, insist that we be “productive” every second of our being. This pressure has had a dynamic effect upon how we view femininity, masculinity, and ultimately romance. Over the last thirty years all three of these things have either become badly twisted or destroyed altogether. We will have to be proactive in rebuilding these ideals or we risk not only losing the beauty of God’s design for relationship but also losing security that comes with living in God’s template.
A bit of historical context…

            Probably the single most pivotal factor in the decline of Godly romantic relationships was World War II (WWII). Starting at the beginning of the 20th Century the women’s rights movement gained a whole lot of momentum and popularity which only grew leading up to WWII. When the U.S. joined WWII the vast majority of male population was either shipped to Europe or the South Pacific. The result of all the men leaving to go fight was that a huge of number of women went to work to help support the war effort, but unlike the previous wars in our history they did not do this through a domestic medium (making clothing, sending food, providing moral support via communication). WWII was different; when we went to war the women of the U.S. rallied and went to work in the factories. They assumed all of the industrial roles that the men had held until then (this was necessary for our country to survive the war but it helped do the irreparable damage that the American psyche suffered from the war).
            Externally, the years following the war were some of the best years America had seen since its birth. The economy prospered, the standard of living soared, and the U.S. was leading the world in everything from agriculture, to industrial production, to scientific discoveries. However, all was not as well as it appeared. The vast majority of the men who returned from WWII were deeply scarred. They had watched friends die, innocent people be murdered, and cities become wastelands. The effect on them and on our culture was devastating. Because of what our men had been through, most of them emotionally and psychologically withdrew. These men who had been heroes on the battlefields of the world could not shake the haunting after-image of what they had experienced (the reason many of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers do not talk about the war to this day).
            As many of you are aware, the father’s role in a family is absolutely critical. Many of the “Baby Boomers” (Americans born between 1946 and the late 1959) grew up with a very distant father. There were, of course, exceptions—but they were rare. Because of this, the men of that generation grew up without a role-model helping teach them about manhood, leadership, chivalry, and romance. They grew up without a reasonably good idea of how to lead a woman. Similarly, many of the young women grew up without the love, attention and affirmation that are so important in the formation of a stable, secure woman.
            The mother’s role is also important; many of the mothers of the era had tasted the industrial world and liked it. They had provided for themselves and their families for the years while the men were at war. The thought of not having to depend on anyone was intoxicating. The idea of being independent continued to grow and these women began to push for more political, economic, and social “equality.” This rise in maternal independence affected the collective perception of fathers and it was not a positive shift. It further lowered the esteem in which men were held and consequently lowered the value of traditional (and Biblical) masculinity and femininity.
            The 1960’s was the immediate effect of the lack of father figures. Men found their identities in rebellion and immorality. The women of that decade sought attention, affirmation and love through immorality and “independence.” Romance was completely detached from parental authority because parents were viewed as “puritanical” and “outdated,” beside the sad fact that most parents weren’t paying that much attention anyway. After our society recovered from the shock of the 60’s it tried to compensate by balancing the traditional views with the rebellious ones. The result was the dating system in which it is socially acceptable to emotionally and sexually sample different people until you found “the one.” This virus grew and spread until sexual immorality was so common that abortions became socially acceptable and were legalized in 1973 (Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade).
            As the 70’s passed into the 80’s our already damaged culture began to shift into a system in which the value of “instant gratification” surpassed all. The mass-availability of televisions provided for impersonal use of free-time and further reinforced the concept of getting what one wants when one wants it. It also thoroughly backed the concept of romance as an interaction of perfect emotional bliss that should be acted upon while it lasts. The cinema of the 80’s portrays the sadly twisted roles of emotionally and relationally passive men and increasingly assertive women; all with the strong undertone that one should get what one wants when one wants it.
            The 80’s passed into the 90’s and the ultra-strong feminist movement began to taper off with the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment. Our society had been so damaged by the now two generations of absentee fathers and overly assertive mothers that no one knew exactly what male and female roles were supposed to look like. “Sadie Hawkins” dances became normal and homosexual couples became socially acceptable (if still a little odd). Terms like “equal opportunity dating” emerged allowing either gender to initiate the relationship. Parents had now fully shifted from an entity of respect and authority to the butt-end of the now fully-fledged “teenage” culture. Rather than heeding Biblical wisdom and “honoring…father and mother” teenagers sought to mislead, deceive and slander their parents. The blame was not one-sided though. While teens did not honor and obey their parents, parents failed to assume their God-given roles as the leaders and authorities of the home. The damage the collective American society was too deep and too completely shattered.

            Our generation is different. While we have unfortunately been raised in this wreck of a culture we have the rare opportunity to change things. With the dawn of the new millennium society has become so totally apathetic that the main peer pressure is to not shake the system up. Rather than facing overwhelming pressure to engage in sinfulness we are pressured not to try and change anyone else’s indulgence. Psalm 14:3 say that “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” In our generation we are simply told not to resist this, but not necessarily to embrace it.
            Our society believes that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that no one can dictate anyone else’s reality. This is a HUGE opportunity. We have been given a new identity in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). We are no longer required by our sin-nature to be “corrupt.” Our culture is now ideologically open to us standing for a Biblical worldview (even in dating). All one has to do in this decade is tell someone that standing with the Word of God is what works and that it is Truth (most people are very hesitant to pick up an argument about Truth and will drop it).
            Even with our amazing advantage over the last few generations, walking with Christ in romance can be one of the hardest things do. Our bodies (mostly hormones) urge us to shift focus away from Christ and toward the person of interest. Most of us have also inadvertently embraced the norm of not including our parents in this aspect of our lives. The simple truth is God commands us to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12) and it is not honoring them to exclude them from the process of choosing the person with whom we will spend the rest of our lives. We who are still unmarried are called to purity and integrity. Let’s be the generation that begins to bandage the cultural wound. Let’s be the generation that learns how to comport ourselves within the Biblical standard so our children will have the role model that the last several generations have missed. 

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