Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Leading Kids

Justin Taylor links to Doug Wilson discussing legalism and taste. But in it I think he misses a lesson on intergenerational communication and delayed gratification.

His longish illustration is about older women teachng younger women to be "respectable" and that what is "respectable" can be a moving target. He concludes:
Now I am prepared to argue that bodily mutilation and tatting is a necessary manifestation of cultural unbelief (Lev. 19:27-28; 1 Kings 18:28; Gal. 5:12). Idols always bring the knives with them. God created man in His image, like a priceless Durer woodcut, and so the devil brings the marker pens to doodle with. But suppose for a moment that this is all wrong, and that hypothetically and postmillennially there could be a culture someday in which tatting up your thirteen year virgin with dragon pictures was a practice that God the Father thought was swell, and about time the Holy Spirit added, encouragingly. It still remains true that in our culture, in English, nothing says trailer trash like a halter top and a tat. And when you get a nose stud, you are a lot closer to Brittany and Paris Hilton than you were before, and farther away from all the fifty-year-old church ladies. Which, come to think of it, may have been the whole point.
Fair enough, but that is a lesson in evangelism.

Here's what I am thinking about - why would young people work so hard to be so different from the older generation? Lord knows that my generation did it - hippies, drug culture and all. I don't think it has much to do with external forms like dress and taste in music. I think it has a lot to do with communication. When we do not connect with young people on a real and vital level, they rebel because they think we do not care. we tend to act like they are weird, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is perfectly natural to explore when you do not have a guide.

Secondly, let's think about tattoos for a minute. They're permanent. If you are going to get one, it should be done when you are mature enough to have an understanding of the concept of "permanent." Yet, young people run out and do this at an age when they think they will live forever and there is no such thing as permanence. Why? Again because there is no one saying "wait" - only "no" if anything at all.

Somewhere along the line, we have lost the art of helping kids grow up. They have become objects to be managed, not people to be related with and lead. In my experience kids want to be parented and lead. To often they are given a set of rules and told to go about their business. Problem is, leading kids means getting to know them, listening to them, maybe even reasoning with them from time to time.

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