who messed up our kids?

Maybe the Greatest Generation wasn’t as great as we thought they were. Maybe our parents’ generation dropped the ball. Or maybe we Millenials are just that much of a hot mess.

But somewhere along the way, we stopped teaching–no, we stopped believing that sex is a gift meant just for marriage.

It’s like the man who told my dad, “My daughter and her boyfriend moved into our basement. It’s not what I would want, but at least I know who’s she sleeping with.”

We can blame the culture. We can point our fingers at TV shows and music, at Miley Cyrus on the covers of magazines and the current fashion trends. We can say it’s our schools’ fault or our peers’ fault or Hollywood’s fault.

And those have not helped, to be sure.

But instead of talking about what was right–at our kitchen tables, during our nightly devotions, on the way home from church, and over beef and broccoli Wellington for supper–we slowly slid out of teaching our young people that they have value and worth in their Baptism, and that that means they are worth waiting for.

And then we actually started believing that sex is okay outside of a marriage, and between two men or two women, between two college students who don’t intend to stay together beyond the next semester, and between a man and a woman who had too much to drink at the office Christmas party.

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That’s how Satan rolls. First, he takes what God has called “good” and he causes us to doubt that God really meant it.

And then he takes what God has not called “good” and he causes us to doubt that God really meant that too.

Suddenly, the abnormal has become normal, and sex doesn’t have to be between a man and his wife, and that’s okay.

But he’s not done there.

Then he takes the normal, the “good,” and makes it abnormal. And Christian single men are left embarrassed to tell their new girlfriends that they are virgins, when the women ought to be rejoicing in the men’s virtue.

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And so we can’t assume anymore that our Lutheran high school students and college students and 20-somethings still believe that God has a design and a plan for sex, that God really means it when He says sex is just for marriage, that the Bible actually applies to us in this regard.

And if we’re being honest with ourselves, there are moments when we aren’t really sure we buy it either. “Did God really say?” we ask ourselves.

“Is it really all that bad if they’re going to get married eventually anyway?”

“Who am I to say two men can’t be good parents together?”

“I’m certainly not going to judge. If two people love each other . . .”

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that our youth desperately want to be treated like adults. They want to have these conversations with their peers and their pastors and their parents. They want to be heard.

So let’s let them talk. Let’s hear why they don’t have a problem with two high schoolers hooking up on prom night or why they think same-sex attraction is about love.

Let’s listen. Let’s hear them out.

And then, let’s talk. Let’s talk about what love looks like, and why people want to be loved, what marriage is meant for, and why we can’t rely on our feelings because they, more often than not, betray us. Let’s talk about what love–in its purest form–looks like: the Son of God on the cross for us–and why sometimes the truth can be very uncomfortable. Let’s talk about what God says in His Word, and why He gives us an order to things so that we wouldn’t get hurt, so that we don’t enter into relationships with more baggage than the luggage section of TJ Maxx, and why it’s good to speak the truth about sex and how to do so in love. Let’s talk about why marriage is the best thing out there and why our heavenly Father knows and provides all that we need–even when it comes down to the (literally) most intimate detail.

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Our 50-somethings probably won’t change their minds.

But our 20-somethings might. They want to be heard, and it is our joy to hear them and to be honest with them, to pray for them and to come alongside them in a world where relationships seem made to be broken.

We don’t have to lose our young ladies to those who only want their bodies. And we don’t have to destine our guys to a lifetime of callous behavior.

The Lord has a better way. His love never hurts us, never fails, never breaks our hearts. So let’s talk about love. But let’s talk about the One who really knows what love is–all the way to the cross and back.

The King of love my shepherd is, Whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am His And He is mine forever. (LSB 709:1)

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7 thoughts on “who messed up our kids?

  1. Just had a conversation with my Iowan Grandmother who said it was better for people to live together just to make sure they know what they are in for…was shocked to hear her say that!

  2. This article is conflicted, making at the same time the point that parents have failed to pass something essential to their children and yet, to get the ball rolling, parents must “hear them out.” Is this not the nearly universal wisdom of our time? My experience as a teacher is that when you “hear the students out” they do all the talking; the teacher can’t get a word in edgewise. I eventually rediscovered the truth–which once was taken for granted–that in order for teaching to be done, the teacher must be “in transmit mode” and the students in “receive mode”–with occasional exceptions that bring about clarification and further guidance for the students. This older understanding of teaching was also understood in parenting in the saying that “children should be seen and not heard”. Of course, nobody meant it literally. The ideal was never to have children mutely and passively accepting all that is given to them; though of necessity in the early stages of their development it had to be closer to that situation than in the latter. It was assumed that the child would gradually acquire the prerogative to speak and act independently. But only after increments of wisdom and instruction had been imparted. This article says we should start listening “de novo” yet doesn’t ask whether, given such an opportunity for “catharsis” on the child’s part, he will be equal to the task i.e., the task of providing the parent with a coherent narrative along the lines suggested by the author. My experience is that in the great majority of cases, the child/student will be unable to do so because he has not had the necessary structure built within his character and understanding that will make it possible.

  3. Blame the ’60’s if you want to place blame. High school and college for me was a time of watching traditional ways of living chance as the hippie culture took over. Life has never been the same since. It is imperative that Christian parents (not pastors and teachers) continually and spiritually train their children in the ways of God, not of the world.

  4. I agree with this, but it boils down to weakening the family, specifically the men. That father who allows his daughter and boyfriend to fornicate under his roof needs to review his vocation as head of the household. Our culture has advocated weakness in men for two generations.

    • Your reply is spot on! And viz-a-viz Nancy’s comment, I don’t think it is productive to either accept the media’s praise of the 60’s as being the period of wonderful liberation, not to condemn the period as being that pivotal period when all things went to h**l. Things started smelling rotten way before that. You might say that the distinctive aspect of the 60’s was that it was a “dress rehearsal” for things that had been well underway for quite some time. Recall that Hugh Hefner and Timothy Leary were born in the 1920’s and hence not part of the “hippie generation”, though the latter often donned it garb. Chesterton discerned the rot in the first decades of the 20th century. C.S. Lewis noticed it permeating his society in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. In the 1950’s the late Jacques Barzun lamented the decline of educational standards in American schools, especially in the colleges. Rather than wish the 60’s never happened (and I do!) we should look to the Our Lord’s word as a lamp unto our feet–not a beacon to be held up illuminating the path for miles behind and head, but simply to keep us from stumbling-He takes care of the bigger picture.

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