At a young age I came to the conclusion, not necessarily a true conclusion, that religion and morality were tethered together. Good Christians are good students, good athletes and good citizens. That is what I was taught. Much of what I thought about the Christian life had to do with outward conformity. Before you believe I am about the Millennial Mantra that goes something like “we are spiritual but hate church and any form of religion,” hang on.
Millennials like the moral platitudes they learn from church and the Bible especially if they can disconnect it from feeling judged.
I have seen this time and time again over the last couple of months. On the television show The Secret Life of the American Teenagers, you see a polarized portrayal of what Millennials think about religion. Christianity is all and only about morality. It is only about doing right and wrong. Little is said about Jesus, grace, blood atonement or anything theological in nature. Millennials like to be encouraged to do right just don’t tell us that there is a source of divine authority behind your beliefs.
There is no place I see this more clearly than at the local county parks during baseball season. Coaches teach character lessons, encourage honesty, and mentor young players. You will hear from parent after parent about how important playing sports is to the development of their children. You will hear people talking about baseball more like Oprah would than a sports commentator would. Why? I think it’s because they believe good athletes make good citizens, good students and good Christians, right?
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If a + b + c = b + c + a then does it really matter how to come to the conclusion. If we teach our kids to do right, to be good Christians, then teaching them to be Christian so they will do right is fine. Right? Wrong?
Here is where I completely line up with my Millennial peers. If you teach me religion for the sake of outward conformity then I will replace your system with something that I like better. Millennials hear the older generation say that church will help us learn to be a good student, good citizen and a good athlete. So if this is the case let’s have churches that teach us to be good citizens (many churches are unified over being Republican) or good athletes (you will find recreational sport churches.)
Do not misunderstand my position. Thatcher is my two-year-old son, and I want to see him be a good citizen, good athlete and, of course, a good Christian. What I know from the Word of God that my fellow Millennials is missing is that you do not go about all three the same way. Being Christian is not about what you do, it is about what Jesus has done! Heaven is not the all-star team of this Earth that we earn. I am not anymore Christian if I help keep conservative politicians in office.
Millennials have decided that since religion is about a product and brand loyalty, then let’s change brands and get the same product (morality) cheaper, quicker, and have more fun doing it. Millennials are reacting to a caricature of Christianity created by a generation that did not truly understand Christianity as explained in the Bible. Religion should not be a work or a sport.
I plan to continue talking on the subject of the Millennials take on religion. I would love to hear your thoughts about my perspective. To understand more about Millennials you can read Leaving and Not Coming Back & Millennials.
Articles written for the Cumming Patch and Bcwe.org to be published on May 28th & 29th, 2011.