>What Have We Unlearned?

Posted: 24/09/2009 in life

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I’ll mope around the campus and I’ll feel betrayed, all those guilty summers I stayed. Then I’ll laugh that I feel for the lure of the pain of desire to feel so pure. And I’ll bear all the burdens of my little daily crimes. -Dar Williams “Teen for God”

It goes without saying that as we grow and learn we often find that the values we hold to are not the same values that we were taught when we were young. For most people, this stage of personal growth is either our internal acceptance of our parents’ values, the realization that we have rejected them, or somewhere in between. For quarter –life Christians, I think this process goes beyond what our parents taught us (if indeed, we learned anything from our parents at all) and expands to what our churches, especially our youth pastors, camp counselors and other leaders taught us. This kind of self-examination is especially strong at Christian Colleges, but is by no means limited to those places.

I have reflected on this, on and off, for years. I think it is time to hear what others’ also think on this subject. Many Christians I know tend to recognize the change and shift in their understanding of what Christianity is. For some, it is fairly benign reforming of and understanding of what Christianity is about. For others, it is a radical shift or complete recreation (and perhaps, rejection) of their faith.

In this blog, I am inviting anyone who is reading to share their own stories about this matter. I can frame it with two questions:

First, what is one thing about the Christian life that you learned between 15-20 that you either have either reformed or rejected now?

Secondly, if you could explain an alternative to your younger self (or to another 15-20 Christian), what would that alternative be?

These questions are intentionally open-ended. Here are some more thought-joggers.

-Movies and Entertainment. Some Christian traditions are incredibly extreme about this. I have heard of Christian Colleges in which students must use “code-words” to describe when they are going to see a movie. Likewise, there are often rules and ethics about the music we listen to. Are we supposed to privilege “Christian” music? If so what constitutes “Christian” music?

-Drinking, smoking and other forms of debauchery. Were you taught to not “smoke, drink or chew?” Was it careful advice to never touch liquor, hang out in a bar, or smoke a clove? What was the justification for this and did you find it acceptable or not?

-Sex and relationships. When dating, what kind of parameters were you expected to adhere to? Was dating a non-Christians off limits? Did you feel like you had to ask the “how far is to far” question? What kinds of things did you learn in the gender-specific message times? Do you still hold them today? Issues like homosexuality would definitely be under this heading.

-The Bible and Theological issues Is the Bible inerrant? Where did it come from? What was your perception of the Bible now as compared to when you were younger? What about the various theological issues? Some of us eventually disagree with some of the cornerstone doctrines of churches we were raised in. Opinions about hell/heaven, end-times, the understanding of “Kingdom of God,” and approaches to evangelism are only but a few.

Politics. Evangelicalism has traditionally been aligned with the political right, with only a minority aligning with the democrat party. We often learned about how our founding fathers were outstanding Christian men. Now, not all Christians believe this and some resist it quite strongly. Our faith is never divorced from our politics, but is it same as traditionally taught?

Naturally these are only a few of the things I can limit. You can use your own imagination and experience to expand on this. I hope I can get a lot of comments on this blog, as what is written here will be the substance of future blogs.

Feel free to submit whatever it is you have to say anonymously or sign your name.

Thanks for reading.

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