The millennial culture is reared differently from the rest of us. The “moral lines” were clear for you and me: sin was a sin, and it was evident, e.g., being gay is sinful. However, the Millennials have been bombarded by the media with the “acceptance message” and the “to each his/her own” worldview, so what is obvious to you, as clearly taught from the Bible, is questioned by the current generation. Shockingly, they believe it’s okay to be gay and you need to know it.
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The millennial asks, “Do you struggle with gay acceptance? Maybe you have CAD: Chronological Amnesia Disorder.” Now before you totally and uncharitably judge me, blow me off, and say something nasty on Facebook, I recommend you take the time to read more because the souls of many people are at stake, as well as your ability to relate to them for the purpose of connecting the Gospel to their deception.
Perhaps the best place to begin is to take my short CAD assessment profile test to see if you have the disorder. (Caveat: CAD is a totally made up, fake disorder. The DSM-V collaborators do this all the time, so I figured I could too.)
CAD Assessment Questionaire:
- Have you recently used the acronym “VHS” when illustrating a point to someone younger than you?
- Have you ever heard of Snapchat or Slack?
- Do you have an Adelle song on your device? Do you have a device? (Bonus: Have you ever heard of Adelle?)
- Are the members of your favorite non-Christian bands octogenarians?
- Does your desktop computer look like a box?
- Have you paid more than $4 for a cup of coffee?
- Are your clothes about to come back in style? (Do you understand why I’m asking this question?)
- Do you tweet? (If you’re thinking about bird sounds right now, don’t worry about it, just skip this question.)
Last two, and most important:
- Are you more apt to become discouraged by or angry with your culture, or are you more willing to engage your culture with the Gospel?
- Do you know why there is a generation of Christians who do not struggle as much as you do with the gay problem?
You may have CAD if any of your answers were: (1) yes, (2) no, (3) no, no, no, (4) yes, (5) yes, (6) no, (7) not sure, no, (8) no, (9) angry, (10), no
CAD happens when a person becomes stuck in the past, as evidenced by how he thinks, talks, and lives. He intentionally (or unwittingly) separates from the culture, which weakens his ability to connect the Gospel to his culture. He has not kept up with the times, choosing to surround himself with like-minded individuals who think like he does.
While holy huddles have some merit because of the legitimate safety and mutual encouragement found in cloistered communities, these groups do not factor in our mandate for Gospel-centered, cultural, and missional engagement. The CAD person is unable to go into all the world in relevant and practical ways for the non-compromising evangelizing purpose of sharing the undiluted Gospel with a culture that is determined to distance itself from God’s people and His truth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. – Jesus
Our Commander and Chief told us to go into the culture to cooperate with Him in the redemption of our fallen kind. Unfortunately, too many Christians emulate the white skinned, white shirt, necktie wearing missionary engaging a village in East Africa with the Gospel. That is not how Jesus engaged His culture.
He assimilated into His culture, so much so that Judas had to let his friends know which one was Jesus when they showed up to take Him captive (Matthew 26:48).
The Next Generation
This past weekend I had the privilege of taking my son on a four-day adventure to the beach. The purpose of the trip was to have the sex talk with him. It was a fantastic trip that the LORD truly blessed as we engaged each other in the deepest conversations we have ever had.
As we were heading to the beach, I began our “talk” by introducing him to a theology of language. Specifically, I was walking him through a list curse words. (Read, Wise Parents Teach Their children How to Curse.) Because our goal is to prepare our children for the culture in which they will spend their lives, it’s imperative they know and understand the language of their culture.
I was glad that the main curse word he knew was crap. He had heard the “f-bomb” before, but he did not know what it meant. He had heard the “s-word” too. But the primary bad words he knew were crap, fart, and stupid. Though he had heard “more official” curse words, he could not define them. (insert sigh of relief) The same was true about sex. He had heard the word but did not know what it was.
But there was one thing he did know. My son knew the words gay and homosexuality. I was not caught off guard by this because I don’t suffer from CAD. (insert wink) Lucia and I have been intentional about keeping up with our culture because of our passion for engaging the communities in which we live.
He said gay was when two men marry each other.
He didn’t know what the “f-bomb” meant. He didn’t know what the “s-word” meant. But he knew what the words gay and homosexual meant. And it was as if he was telling me his favorite ice cream flavor. He was matter of fact, non-emotive, and never considered that he should be embarrassed (or repulsed) by what he knew.
The gay lifestyle may repulse you. You may get angry (or depressed) when you think about the inroads the gay community has made in our culture. But for the moment, what if you set aside how you think about gays and ponder our younger generation. Specifically, think about how they do not have your chronological categories, worldview, presuppositions, or your concerns.
They Really Don’t Have a Clue
My 98-year old grandmother told me one time that I did not have a clue. And I did not argue with her. What could I say? I did not live during the Depression. I did not miscarry a baby in a cotton field, cover it with dirt, and keep on pick’in cotton. I did not shovel horse manure out of the street, and neither was I afraid of the automobile.
It was impossible for me to see things through my grandmother’s glasses. I asked her one time why she kept over two dozen gallon milk cartons hanging like strung fish in her carport. She said, “Because I don’t want to run out of gas somewhere and have no way of getting any.”
I thought, “Umm…if you run out of gas you won’t be anywhere near your carport,” but what do I know: I don’t have a clue. So I didn’t say a word, just nodded in agreement.
Where Is the World?
One of the primary motivators for the Christian to not engage his culture is a misunderstanding of the term worldliness. Non-cultural, non-engaging Christians typically have a form of Gnosticism that says the culture is evil and we must separate from it. This worldview is unfortunate.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. – 1 John 2:15-16
When John talked about worldliness, he placed it in our hearts, not in the culture. He said the worldly things we should not love are fleshly desires and prideful thoughts. Rather than saying worldliness is “out there” somewhere, he placed worldliness inside of us, which Jesus’ half-brother also affirms.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:14-15 (ESV)
The only way a person can use things in our culture for sinful purposes is when his sinful (worldly) heart, like a magnet, entices him to take something from our culture and use it for self-centered, self-glorifying ways. This perspective brings more clarity to Paul’s statement about staying away from any appearance of evil.
Abstain from every form of evil. – 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (ESV)
If I know I’m going to be lured by the deceitful desires in my heart, I want to stay away from that thing so it cannot connect to the sinful desires of my heart. That is why alcohol does not tempt me. There is nothing in my heart that has any drawing power over me to tempt me to drink alcohol.
However, I could easily be tempted to lust after an attractive woman. Therefore, I have abstaining practices that help me guard my heart and life from that heart tempting desire.
There are things in our world that you should stay away from because your worldly heart draws those things to you for sinful purposes, but those few things should not motivate you to stay away from everything in your culture. We are to live in the world, but not be like the world (John 17:15; Romans 12:2).
There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. – Mark 7:15 (ESV)
God has given the hearts of the world over to every kind of impurity (Romans 1:24). That brings no fear to the believer because he knows that what is in him is greater than what’s in them (1 John 4:4). But if you place the accent of your problem with sin on the issues in the culture rather than your heart, you will never be able to discern your worldly heart or engage your culture.
This lack of “heart discernment” is one reason Christians become sinfully angry about the culture rather than “Gospel-engagers” in the culture.
Call to action
- Do you have CAD?
- Are you opposed to being culturally relevant?
- What is it about the culture that you fear as far as your engagement with the culture?
- Have you trained your conscience to stay away from the culture rather than engage it?
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. – 1 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV)
It is unfortunate that some people equate cultural engagement with compromising the high standards of the Gospel. Jesus was the holiest man who ever lived, yet He was enmeshed in the heart of His culture. He ate, lounged, and had deep conversations with ragtag sinners. It was His overly-religious and wrongly spiritualized friends who struggled with His associations (Matthew 9:10-11).
You have a couple of options here:
- You can dismiss what I’m saying while labeling me as a cultural compromiser.
- You can address what may be going on in your heart that keeps you disconnected from the culture Christ told you to engage.
In the meantime, your children do not have your starting point. I was born in 1959. My children were born after 2000. I will not be able to relate to them if I insist that their understanding of things begins two decades or more before they were born.
No matter how I describe it, they will never be able to fully understand what it was like to watch live the first man step on the moon or to live during the actual 24-hour news cycle of the John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King assassinations.
As my son recently asked, “Dad, did you study the civil rights movement when you were in school?” To which I said, “Haydn, I studied the civil rights movement live. I saw it acted out in my home, school, community, and nation every day of my life.”
He gave me a quizzical look. He had no context or connection point to what I was saying. Though he cannot index backward to understand me because he can’t live in my past, I can index forward by engaging his present so I can understand him.
Do you know how to index forward so you can connect with a generation that has been bombarded with the gay agenda so often, that they are not repulsed by it?
Also published on Medium.