Monday, January 18, 2010

the teenage alcoholic

High school is an awkward time of life. As a Freshman no one is really sure what to make of the facial hair, boob sizes, and seemingly adult-like behavior of the upper class men. A considerable amount of time is spent trying to determine who you are, what your legacy is going to be, and how you're somehow going to fool everyone else into believing you're awesome instead of insecure.

Most teenagers are consumed with impressing people.

The problem with this consumption is that it often drives teenagers to make decisions they don't really want to make. Don't get me wrong, some teenagers make stupid decisions simply because they're stupid, but most teenagers succumb to stupid decisions because they care so deeply about what people think. This can lead to a lot of irrational decisions, but the one I feel most burdened for is the teenage alcoholic, because it can end up affecting everything else.

I was having a conversation this week with a friend who said he felt like our generation was a lost cause. His reasoning: everyone parties. "Even the so called 'Christian' kids party," he said. And I must admit, he's kind of right. So many teenagers go to FCA meeting on Tuesday morning, church on Wednesday night, Younglife on Thursday night, and get hammered Friday and Saturday... all in time to make it to church on Sunday. Clearly there's a problem with that picture.

The natural reaction to this problem is to set up boundaries for teenagers. We start pouring out our energy toward creating a safe place for the good kids who don't want to be a apart of that. Christian student groups become the escape hub for the students who want to make wise decisions and steer clear of the party scene. A gap is created between the "real Christians" and the "worldly Christians", who honestly probably aren't even Christians based on their works. As a result of this strategy, a wall is placed between the righteous kids and the unrighteous ones, and suddenly, unintentionally, a terrible terrible mindset is created.

This mindset is the purpose for this post. Somewhere along the way the pure students who wanted to make the wise choice bought into the lie that they were more favorable and righteous than the party-ers simply because they don't get drunk on the weekends... and I'm more guilty than anyone. My righteousness became my sin.

Is teenage drinking wrong? Yes. Are teenage drinkers making decisions that have potential to ruin their future? Yes. Is drinking really the problem? No.

You know what the problem is? The problem is not alcohol consumption; the problem is every teenager's pursuit of anything that will satisfy them other than Jesus. The only reason alcohol became the go-to sin is because it's the easiest substitute for value, love, and approval.

As easy as it is to write off the party-ers, we have to remember that drinking is not the unforgivable sin. Drinking and driving isn't even the unforgivable sin. God's basis for righteousness is no longer about our personal holiness, His basis is on Christ's holiness! None of us are saved for abstaining from drinking, drugs and sex on the weekends, we are saved because Jesus abstained from all of that, along with every other sin, and then chose to die for us. Through his life we have life, and we're to be his witnesses... even to the ends of the party scene.

This is a much longer post than I usually like to make, but it's so important for anyone dealing with high school students. Whether you're in high school, a teacher, a student pastor, any mentor of any kind, you have the ability to point teenagers toward Christ instead of alcohol. Don't give up on the teenage alcoholic!

Is my generation a lost generation for getting drunk on the weekends? Yes! But only because we need Jesus.

7 comments:

  1. Interesting Nate. I'm following you because I'm following Ron, because I'm trying to follow pastors around the World to have a broader vision of what is happening to the Church.

    Right now we are in an Intensive School of Evangelization for teenagers, here in Brazil, and this morning they debated about health - and alcohol addiction was one of the issues. Your text is like a reflexion for them about what is happening in other cultures. Thank you. I'm glad that Lord will use your life tremendously. Blessings

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  2. GOod stuff nAte, that is right on. What we have to do with teens is stress WISDOM and Christ not rules. The trusth is that every teen will be an adult where they can decide about if they drink or not. As a teen is it a help for their life or walk with Christ? no...anyway, good thoughts

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  3. Hmm...I think I know who that friend was.

    So we all seem to realize that most teenager's pursuits are more centered on pleasing themselves with earthly things rather than with Christ. Therefore, I ask: "how can we make Christ seem more pleasing?"

    Most students that I've talked to state that it isn't Jesus that really turns them off...it's Christianity. They don't want rules, they don't want to go to church, they don't want to be stuck up and hypocritical like many Christian teens are today.

    I feel like we present "following Jesus" as a task that only the perfect can achieve. I know that for me, when my secular friends see me make a mistake/sin, and question my Christian faith, I always respond with something like, "everyone makes mistakes because no one is perfect. The sinful nature in us all will eventually come out in certain circumstances and that leaves us at fault. Luckily, Jesus understands that and is willing to forgive my sins as long as I believe and trust in him, asking for forgiveness. Sin is unavoidable. It's what we do afterwards that really matters" and they seem to really respect that.

    I'm glad we all realize teens are really only interested in pleasing each other. Perhaps that should lead us to question how we can change THAT which should hopefully lead them to Christ -- the ultimate goal.

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  4. Well, I'm pleased to say that I'm not one of those teenagers, although I am only in my sophomore year in high school. I agree with you that teenagers make stupid decisions just to get a good review from their peers. I find myself in that situations sometimes as well. We're just teenagers and apparently that's what everyone thinks we do, but just to tell you, there are still a couple of teenagers who don't go out and party, drink, or do drugs. Some of us actually tell other people about Jesus instead of telling them about this new jacket that came out that we just have to get.

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  5. Courtney, nice to meet you. I know there are still teenagers that aren't involved in that stuff. I was a senior in high school last year, and I never participated in any of the partying. I hope you continue avoiding that scene.

    To me the most important part of the post, though, was the way we as Christians handle the kids heavily involved in the party scene. It's easy to start thinking that we need to be recognized or congratulated as a result of our "wise and holy" behavior. That was a struggle for me, and that was the ultimate challenge of the post.

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  6. It's nice to meet you too. Yes, I definitely agree that is the most important part. When in middle school I was always told by Christian adults around me that I just simply didn't need to hang out with those kind of kids because I wasn't "Christian enough" to handle them and their ways. I have plenty of friends who are into the party scene and whenever they get into trouble their parents tell them to hang out with me because I'm a "good influence" on them. I've had friends who stop going to parties and go to church instead. Some who drink juice instead of alcohol now. It might be based on how Christian we are really, but it isn't wrong to have friends who are into those things.

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  7. That's awesome that you're making a difference! Just remember that the definition of a "good Christian" isn't based on how much you drink juice or alcohol. It's definitely a reflection, but it's not the definition. Be careful not to let your restraint from those things become your sin. Sometimes it's easy to think we're more deserving of being called a "good Christian" than other people, and that can become our biggest problem.

    Hope you keep reading!

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