Monday, June 2, 2014

Horizons, Unbound, Presbyterians Today and young adults: the answers are wrong

 "The Church confesses ... that she has found no strong and effective answer to the  contempt for chastity and to the proclamation of sexual libertinism." Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

The latest edition of Presbyterian Women' Horizons, in collaboration with Unbound and Presbyterians Today, explores how to get young adults "more invested in" the church, but it fails for several reasons, which I will discuss below.

In "Digging up Dirt on the Millennial Generation," Jeffery A Schooley, director of young adult and graduate student ministry at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh writes:

The need to redefine sex and sexual identity is one of the great blessings the LGBTQ community may be able to bring to the church. Typically, the debate in the church is whether how to include the LGBTQ Christian. Rarely is it asked how these brothers and sisters might bless the church. However, their experiences of having to define their sexuality to the culture has given them deep resources for encouraging fruitful and faithful conversations about sex, gender and identity in the church.
And in "Presbyterian Mingle: Young Adult relationships and the Church," author Hannah M. Kirby, studying for a masters in couple and family counseling writes:

I have Presbyterian friends who are waiting until they are married to have sex and Presbyterian friends, as equally committed to the Church, who live with their significant others. Given the wide range of experiences within the denomination, I think it's important to talk about sex and relationships in a way that lets goes [sic] of rigidity and judgment while still having healthy standards for how we treat ourselves and others.
Needless to say, the articles in this edition are not all about sexuality. One is about Asians who live in diaspora both in secular society and the church. It is interesting but there is nothing at all about Jesus Christ and living faithfully as Christian believers. The one evangelical piece is simply about not worrying about wealth or grasping wealth. It is speaks of sharing in the community of the church.

Coming back to my statement that this Horizons is exploring how to get young adults "more invested in" the church, but it fails for several reasons, I will explain.

The articles remind one of various ways to get young people invested in a social club, not an easy assignment. They are also pushing same gender sex and sexual activity before marriage. That may interest some young people who are only interested in progressive social issues or those who are seeking a place to bless their sin, but it will not satisfy the spiritual hunger of this or any other generation.

As G.K. Chesterton would put it they will finally become bored and start tormenting the cat. Some, I am afraid have already started the tormenting.

When the Holy Spirit opens hearts and minds  through the proclamation and study of God's word, both young and old will turn to Christ. And they will come eagerly, both to hear and to help. Yet the articles avoid God's word and God's salvation. The name of Jesus is rarely seen. In fact, Kirby writes that maybe the future church will be a place where there will be more than just conversation about Jesus.

The articles major on what young adults want and what culture upholds. Sure, sometimes it sounds anti-culture, but given that Schooley implies that Miley Cyrus's lifestyle can be corrected or helped by the LGBTQ community's defining of sexual identity, one is left gasping for moral air. Sexual immorality has invaded culture and church from many streams including same gender sex.

What is really missing from this collection of articles is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, eternal Son of the Father, lived, died and was resurrected for the purpose of redeeming the Miley Cyruses and the people of the LGBTQ community. He died for the Presbyterian young adults who are disobedient, living together outside of marriage. In fact, we who are sinners, and that is all of us, can find redemption and transformation in Christ.


Martha Leatherman said...

Thank you for this, Viola. I mourn, but am also outraged by how the PCUSA leads our children into sin. They think they will build the church by removing structure and boundaries, yet structure and boundaries are precisely what young people need an crave. If they don't find it in the church, they will find it in cults or gangs. It has been proven over and over. Enslavement to Christ is the only true freedom. Also, I am reminded of Tim Keller's Redeemer Church--certainly not a place that advocates libertine sexual expression, yet is thriving and growing among the young urban elite.

Viola Larson said...

I believe that Tim Keller's church and ministry, and some others of this generation are proof enough that letting go of God's boundaries is not the formula we need for attracting young adults or anyone else for that matter. Jesus said if I be lifted up and while I know that is speaking of the cross, nonetheless we must lift up Jesus to this generation.