A movement started about the time I was a freshman in high school with a movie called American Pie. The plot of this movie is that a group of high school seniors believe it is not “cool” that they are virgins so they make a pact to have sex before the year is over. While movies and media that contained ideas of inordinate partying and insouciant sexual conquests existed before this one, American Pie popularized a new focus on media dedicated to the delinquency and promiscuity of adolescence.
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
This is a very simple concept. Literally what is being said is, “Whatever you put into yourself is what will also come out”…Input=>Output.
The more that I observe the generation that I am working with the more I understand this principle. The youth that fill our middle schools, high schools, and colleges have become a generation shaped by what they intake. They are extremely insecure and to deal with insecurities, pressures, failures, and overall moral neglect (often on the part of their parents) they have turned to a narcissistic, nihilistic lifestyle that immediately gratifies self through physical means.
Over the last few years there have been many more movies to follow in the footprints of American Pie, and to be honest they make AP seem mild.
This has unfortunately become the moral and emotional standard that the current generation is seeing. This is what is becoming normal. The number one comment I hear from students (including my 6th
graders) when they admit to seeing these films is, “Well, it was funny.” All of these movies are riddled with seemingly “innocent” humor that masks a message of vanity and lust. This message is found everywhere in student culture. It is destroying how students view healthy relationships, friendships, accountability, self control, and marriage. When I think about what they are willingly taking in, the way that they are living does not surprise me. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Even though this trend of self destructive abusive consumerism has negatively affected this generation it has helped to minimize the grey. In past generations there was a very thin line between those seeking Christ and those seeking self. There was some black, some white, and a lot of grey. It was very easy for students and adults to participate in the Church without a large level of submission and commitment. This has produced the large shade of grey that has become Evangelical Christianity. Now, with the digression and subjectivity of morality students are being forced to pick their camp. The middle ground of grey is slowly dissolving and we are seeing that students are starting to either fully accept or reject truth.
It seems like a daunting task to combat this philosophy. It permeates the very air surrounding students. So where do we start? How do we teach a new message of God’s grace and obedience of Scripture to a generation who has been forged in a doctrine of indulgence and entitlement? I have asked myself this question hundreds of times. I have come up with three answers that may sound like no brainers, but they are much easier said than done.
1. We must never shy away from the Gospel or the truth of Scripture. Students may seem dissatisfied with our answer and might not see the validity of Scripture, but does that mean we should discredit it ourselves and put it back on the self? To quote Paul, “May it never be!” We should use it all the more. When students enter our ministries they should enter atmospheres saturated with truth and love.
2. We need to start small and keep chipping away. Not every one of our lessons or studies should address these issues. It should not be our only soapbox. Keep pointing students toward Christ…don’t give up…never lose hope.
3. Relationships, relationships, relationships!!! If we want to have leverage in a student’s life we need to have a relationship. If students can learn from watching a movie I guarantee they can learn from watching your life. We must be consistent in giving them opportunity to see Christ in us.