We Caused It
It suddenly struck me today why we see so many of our children living together without being married and not seeming to have any problem about it. It is because we carefully trained them that way. We gave them the mental formulas that caused them to arrive at the conclusions that produced this kind of rationale.
I know that many people would go into instant denial of this idea, and I would have been one of them for many years. But as I said, it suddenly hit me that the kind of religion that we are so accustomed to following and is still largely taught today has in it the subtle rationale that sets people up to fall into these kinds of deceptions very easily.
And what is that rationale, that formula kind of thinking that results in such startling conclusions compared to the religious standards held firmly to by our parents? What is it that we have done in the name of God that has resulted in such widespread acceptance of what previous generations would have strongly condemned?
It is our pursuing of a religion based on making appearances and externals the most important thing about life while making a real, vulnerable and intimate relationship with God at very best second place if not much less. The religion that is most commonly practiced by conservative Christians today and has been for generations is much more about keeping up appearances than about living in a dynamic and ever-deepening joyful relationship with a real God with whom we dialog daily and who personally holds us accountable. And because we have focused for so long on looking good according to religious standards more than honestly facing the inner issues of the heart and learning to connect with God on a very personal level, we have taught a whole generation of young people a rationale that if you can just get the externals to look right you really can skip the total commitment that some old-fashioned people believe is needed in order to enter into certain privileges in a relationship.
I observed this in real time today as I was working. I watched a young couple who have moved in together and appear to be married for all intents and purposes. They are carefully getting all the externals lined up to look just like any other couple who just happens to be married. They are buying a house and fixing it up very nicely for themselves. They are making good money, going to school, have long-term plans and dreams and few could detect any difference between them and a couple who chose to get married before doing all of that. They have all the nice things of life that bring them pleasure and status and acceptance in society. There seems to be no need for anything else.
So more people nowadays are beginning to have second thoughts about the need for marriage at all. There seems to be less and less rationale to get married. In fact, it is actually becoming more of a liability in many ways than choosing the very popular option of just appearing and acting like you are married without all the strings and restrictions involved. In addition it even injects a bit more thrill into the relationship to not have that long-term commitment hanging over your head or inhibiting your freedom like a ball and chain. It adds the excitement of an illicit one-night stand but on a much more socially acceptable level when two people do it on a longer-term basis.
It occurred to me that part of the illusion here is the subconscious notion that if two people can make living together look just like a marriage by getting a house, putting furniture in it, combining their possessions together and learning each others secrets that having sex together is no different than all the rest of the less controversial aspects. After all, there is somewhat of a commitment at some level and they expect other people to honor that assumed commitment at the same level as the respect given to officially married people. They have achieved all of the accoutrements that a married couple might have and isn't that the same standard that good religious people have used for a long time to measure what a valid Christian should look like?
So if I am willing to settle for being a Christian that is more concerned about looking good on the outside and what others think of my reputation than I am in surrendering to the total authority of Jesus Christ in my heart as my own Savior, Lord and Owner by creation, then I really am no different than the children living illicitly together that I have taught by my example using this very same line of reasoning even though they arrived at different conclusions than I did. If I am not willing to commit myself to a complete and exclusive devotion to the God who has done everything to redeem and save me at enormous cost to Himself, then I am living in just as much adultery as anyone who has chosen to sleep in the same bed together and live under the same roof without making the public and total commitment to exclusively love and serve each other for life.
This is a very strong conviction for me today. I do not want to sidestep it or try to neutralize it in the least. I am guilty of this very thing spiritually and I am ashamed to realize how true it is. My religion much of my life has been far more focused on keeping up appearances than on being honest about what is really going on inside of me. That was because I was too afraid of the God that I had been taught to believe in who might get angry with me if I admitted what was inside. I simply could not comprehend the reality of His grace, mercy and love because all of that was carefully kept at a distance from my perceptions. Likewise, because of my own misunderstandings about God I passed along the same pattern of externalized religion to my own children and the baleful results are becoming more obvious in this whole generation.
It is time we step up and take full responsibility for what we have caused our children and the warped thinking that we instilled in them for living life. And even though we have passed along in ignorance what we received from our own parents, at some point someone has to stand up and take the responsibility fully and confess the enormity of this sinful way of thinking that has gone on far too long. It is time to quit making excuses and blaming others for our condition even if there is plenty of legitimate blame to go around. Real repentance and forgiveness involves making the buck stop here and turning to God for a mighty miracle and taking hold of the mighty redemption that is already provided to turn our lives around.
Father, I accept your conviction today that I am personally guilty of teaching the next generation that the externals were more important than a heart relationship with you. I confess and agree with what you are showing me. Please remove the guilt, fear, and shame from my heart with your forgiveness as demonstrated by Jesus on the cross. Cleanse me from this twisted thinking and fill me with your true Spirit and your perspective and your priorities. Initiate a revival and reformation – the re-forming of hearts and lives in your image – and let it begin in my heart, in my mind, in my marriage, in my family, in my church, in my community and among my friends. Let the glorious truth about your ways and your truth and your life break out right now and make me an agent of change and hope and joy.
I petition you for my own children and those you have added to my family. I confess my faults and where I have confused and misled them about you. I ask that Jesus Himself come and be a father to them and teach them the real truth about love and total commitment and the joy that they can only find in obeying your revelations about true reality. Father, in the name and the authority of Jesus your Son I petition and request these things and claim them for your glory and your reputation's sake.