Over the weekend I was watching an old movie from the 40’s called the Blue Dahlia. It was one of those old Film-Noir movies in which there were lots of tough guys in hats, and hard drinking dames, you know the kind, lots of fights, slaps and one liners. At one point in the movie, the police put out an APB on the hero of the flick, they said they were looking for a man with brown hair who was 28 years old. 28! I almost fell of the couch. The way this character acted, the way people treated him, seemed a world away from the 28 year olds that I deal with. This guy seemed like a full grown man, I realised that being 28 in 1947 meant something very different to what it means in the 21st century. Today’s 28 year old see themselves as kinds of older teenagers, or rather as twenty somethings. Rarely do people describe themselves as adults. It seems that today you try and postpone your youth for as long as possible and then one day you wake up and you are old. It is almost as if the old category of being a man or woman (someone who is aprox 21-55) has been eradicated to the point where anyone under 55 is a guy or a girl. We have culturally run away from the idea of adulthood for number of reasons.
- We don’t want to be adults because we are afraid of commitment and responsibility. By admitting that we are adults, it means that we will have to do some stuff that needs doing.
- We don’t want to be adults because we are secretly afraid of dying. We have been affected by our culture’s materialist worldview. We are afraid of being adults, because it mean that we have to admit that we are no longer young, that we are aging, and that the countdown to our death is ticking. Our culture has no answer to this problem, many of us as believers have forgotten that we do posses the answer to this problem.
- We prefer youth to adulthood because the young are pampered, they have things done for them, they have others looking out for them. By being young you expect others to meet your needs.
- We prefer youth to adulthood because the young have not learnt to delay gratification.
- We prefer youth to adulthood because the young tend to be more self-focused than adults.
We expect children and the genuinly young to make mistakes as humans they are in a process of learning and growing. However when we move into adulthood, if we do not grow, we stagnate.
All of the listed factors poison the well of our culture. Anyone who is in any position of leadership must take the challenge of examining their own lives, to locate and eliminate the areas in which have bought into the cult of delayed adulthood. We must learn to move others into adulthood. Our future as individuals, the church and our culture are dependant upon it.