This recent NYtimes article is troubling for many reasons besides those which appear to trouble Evangelical leaders. Evidently a poll suggests that only 4 percent of current young people will grow up to be “bible-believing christians” given a very restrictive definition. And even those Christian groups who suggest their numbers are larger present strange definitions of Christianity. (also interesting how they compare their audience to Paul McCartney’s – you know, he’s so popular with the kiddies these days…)
Apparently, these Christian teens feel the things that are keeping them from a godly life include Gilmore Girls, Ryan Seacrest, and Harry Potter. Although I understand that these things are not inherent goods, I suspect the one thing that needs to be excised from the lives of American teenagers to make them more godly is not Rory Gilmore. They express the belief that the markers of Christian living are “avoiding casual sex, risqué music and videos, Internet pornography, alcohol and drugs.”
Of course, I don’t believe that any of these ideas are bad, I’m obviously not going to encourage my 15-year-old sister (or anyone for that matter) to start doing any of those things. But is it a surprise that few people want to be part of this club? Their Christianity isn’t about love, grace, forgiveness or service. Their biblical values appear in the bible only by abstraction and certainly less than calls for social justice. If evangelical Christianity is about conservative social values, of COURSE it’s not popular among teenagers and of course they don’t want to talk about it. There’s no way to spin Puritanism as cool, no matter how much you brand it. But what really bothers me is the way they diminish the radical nature of Christianity to a set of conservative cultural values. How can “bible-believing” Christians fixate on such a small percentage of the actual biblical text?