As I continue to enjoy many of Alex McManus’ thoughts and ideas in his book Makers of Fire, I found myself contemplating the following idea in light of a conversation I listened to in my ongoing research on scanning the horizon for weak cultural signals that may portend possible futures for humanity.
“The British newspaper The Observer recently caused an international stir by reporting that Japanese youth have lost interest in sex. The sensationalist conclusion was mostly based on a single statistic: a survey that found that 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men ages 16 to 24 said they were not looking to have sex. The article also cited the phrase sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome,” as if it were a major trend….
So, what’s going on here?
•Could this discovery signal something positive? Are we finally gaining mastery over our naturally-evolved instincts?
•Could this anomaly signal nothing but a narrowly contextualized and temporary mood of these young people?
•Might this phenomenon signal a surrender to meaninglessness? Are these attitudes symptoms of the dis-ease of hopelessness that can attack all humans anywhere at anytime?
•Might this pave the way towards a future of childbearing unrelated to sex?”
Alex not only poses these questions but suggests possible answers as to why this phenomenon is taking place. You can find his answers in the book here http://theimn.com/makers-of-fire/. My interest lies in a slight deviation from the isolated conversations on sex, and crosses over into the arena of marriage.
I listened in on a conversation about the value — or lack thereof — of heterosexual marriage in the 21st century. Current statistics show that more than 50% of young adults are single, many of whom aren’t even considering the prospects of marriage. These young adults, known as the Millennials, are considered to be anyone born after 1980.
One contributor to the conversation opined that her profession, social network, and active lifestyle provide all the happiness and satisfaction she needs, and marriage would simply complicate that. Another suggested that marriage is a shackle that takes away from your ability to pursue personal interests such as volunteering in civic organizations and the like.
I was most struck by a young caller who brazenly declared: “I think I speak for all Millennials when I say marriage is stupid and dumb and I see no reason for it!” Spoken like a true Millennial! The arrogance and precociousness of youth, spurred on by the giant strides in technology and social media, preclude the young from the caution of wisdom and reason.
The problem that plagues youth is the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know, and unlike someone tempered by the ‘affliction’ of age and experience, they run headlong into definitive statements and attitudes that can only be tempered by time. Solomon, whom the Scriptures describe as the wisest man that ever lived, declared that the bane of youth is that the young are “simple.” In other words, they lack the capacity to process big ideas effectively and arrive at wise conclusions.
The cure for the simple? Time. It is only with the passage of time that the young begin to make meaning and value of life.
That’s why we don’t give five year olds loaded guns to play with. That’s why we don’t hand the keys to the family sedan to our rambunctious twelve year old. And that’s why the TV shows that highlight America’s Dumbest _________ generally highlight young people doing things they wouldn’t be caught dead doing a few years down the line.
So if these conversations indicate any sense of where we might be headed as we delve deeper into the 21st century, where exactly are we headed? For that matter, how do these conversations impact you if you’re a young Millennial Christian? Since the Bible teaches that marriage is honorable, and since it teaches that sex is to be reserved between a man and a woman who are married, how does this so-called Millennial trend impact on the future of the Christian faith?
Is it possible that young Christians might soon begin to suggest that the standards set by the Bible are too unrealistic and too high to maintain? Might they begin to suggest that marriage is outmoded and has outlived its usefulness, and as such embrace the misguided notion that pre-marital sex is acceptable just as long as you remain monogamous while you’re in a given relationship?
The one thing I’m certain about as I explore these conversations, is that this Millennial, contrary to his assertion, doesn’t speak for all Millennials. I’m grateful that my kids still embrace the same values I was raised with (which I’ve passed on to them) regarding marriage. I’m grateful that their final authority isn’t the peer pressure of youth, but the efficacy of the Scriptures. Just my dos centavos!