Summary: In today's society sense of identity is hard to come by. Where is the scriptural teen? Who are you? What makes a boy into a man? Is age all it takes?
We continue today on the series addressing the 3 Great Lies Satan has told the church. When last we spoke we discussed the important role children play within the congregation. We explained how children inspire the congregation, unite the family and sharpen the fathers. Today we are going to tackle the middle ground, if there is such a thing.
Between adulthood and childhood today's society faces an ever growing population. When I was growing up it was the "teen" group. Today we have "tweens", "teens", and even "man-boys". This in between group is that seemingly obscure age between 11 and roughly 24. As I was studying to prepare this sermon and seeking out biblical messages regarding teens I came up against a single resounding challenge. (P) Nowhere in the bible could I find any reference whatsoever to this "teen" stage.
Suffice it to say I was astounded. How could there be no mention of this most crucial development process? Where did "teen" come from? Surprisingly most people just accept it has been in use and existence forever. People assume it was naturally attributed to those who were of a "teen-age". Now I had a bit of a conundrum, there was no reference scripturally to the infamous teen and yet society seems to say it has always been there. I resolved to check out a tried and true source for word definition...the dictionary. It turns out in today's dictionary teen is indeed a noun. But as I searched more I found it hasn't always been this way. In fact until world war two "teen" wasn't an entry. "Teen-age" was there as an adjective to define those who were of a teen age but it wasn't a noun, a name to be applied to a group of people. So why the change? The 50's! It turns out when the boom came through and children were in abundance corporate America realized great potential. If they could extend childhood into the twenties then that generation would remain child-like but with something extremely valuable. Disposable income. The teen was created as a marketing ploy and one could argue the single most successful marketing campaign ever launched.
There is the social creation of the term. So what? What is the big deal? What is the critical difference between a teen and whatever they were called before? The difference is massive. Prominent sociologist and graduate of Harvard and Yale Dr Michael Platt wrote a stunning article on the myth of the teenager. Prior to world war two society referred to this infamous age range as young men and women. The critical difference between the two groups is a sense of purpose or maturity. Teens are built around the concept that these years are to be spent clinging to their childhood for as long as they possibly can. The focus and understanding of the young men and women was that their teen years would be spent casting of childish things and striving to become functioning members of society.
Now things were starting to make sense. The goals and purposes that excited before corporate America started to ring true with some pretty clear lessons in scripture. Paul writes to us in 1 Cor 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child ; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. Any bells going off for anyone? Anybody seeing something that we have lost here?
At first it might seem simple to dismiss as Paul must have been a man of extraordinary character. But as we continue to look through the scriptures time and again we find passages calling our young men and women to be preparing themselves for their world. Titus 2:4b-8 is a precise roll call of items for young men and women to aspire to. It says: 4b Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, 8workers at home, kind, being 9subject to their own husbands, 10so that the word of God will not be dishonored. 6 Likewise urge 11the young men to be sensible ; 7 in all things show yourself to be 12an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so 13that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Once again we are seeing nowhere that infamous call to cling to childhood here. We are seeing clearly that this time was meant to learn what it means to be a functioning member of the body.
So where are the teens in our body? Are they here? Are they being encouraged in these things? Are they maturing?
In the same way that our children being removed from us weakens the fathers, mothers and families of our body, the absence of our young men and women dulls us. Some of you may have noticed at first that the passage I had quoted before from Titus 2 started at 4b. So what came before it? A most essential piece of the puzzle. Titus 2:2-4a gives us the clear understanding of where and who our young women need to be surrounded by. It says: 2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior,not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage...