June 7th 2013 No comments yet
The culture young people are growing up in today is a grab bag of religions, lifestyles, and ethnicities. As a result, they are surrounded by a constant message of tolerance and open-mindedness. With this new focus of acceptance, there is an inevitable clashing of messages when the church does not embrace other religious viewpoints or lifestyles. 29 percent of young Christians felt “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths.” More than one-fifth of young adults with a Christian upbringing said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22 percent).
A young’n’s perspective
Young Christians today are under an immense amount of pressure to tolerate things that are clearly against God, and they are made to feel unintelligent and bigoted if they don’t. They desperately want to fit in to the modern happenings of the world, not wanting to be labeled as unloving or intolerant people.
How are young Christians supposed to feel when they are lumped into a hateful stereotype, or when they are accused of hating those with different religious beliefs? If they try to be hip and open-minded, they are sure to meet resistance in church. If they stick to their beliefs, they are made out to be prejudiced against everyone else. Nearly a third of the teens polled felt as if they had to choose between their faith and their friends, and there really is no gray area for them to slide into if they have friends with differing beliefs. This is incredibly frustrating in a stage of life where acceptance is desperately pursued. Dealing with the exclusivity that Christianity demands is simply too much to ask for some teens, and many choose to not deal with it at all.
It can also put off a closed-door vibe that young people find contradictory to the surrounding culture. With the general public and other religions at the very least trying to tolerate each other in the era of political correctness, in the eyes of youngsters the Christian church can appear almost hostile to considering other religious views. Whether kids think the church is afraid of losing followers to other religions or being “found out” in some way is not made clear, but it’s a significant image problem.
In this instance, I’m not sure I can give any advice to the church. A church shouldn’t waver from exclusivity for the sake of image. The church should just realize that young Christians have to choose between their faith and being portrayed as socially backwards. For someone in his or her teenage or young adult years, that’s easier said than done.
Young Christians, you don’t have to conform to the “include everyone” mindset society is so set on. You may be told you’re stupid, narrow-minded, even on the wrong side of history. It’s not fun to stick with something you believe in sometimes, I know. The world may tell you there are endless avenues to truth and fulfillment, but there is only one.
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