July 16, 2007

“Adults” and “Adolescents”

Category: Miscellaneous :: Permalink

Modern man’s personality is weakening.  Modern man is no longer certain of the sources of personal integrity.  We see the adults take flight into their expert knowledge, into their “fields” to find certainty and character and distinction.  The modern adult does not like politics or any general confession of faith or the emotional vagueness of a “movement.”  He concentrates on his profession and he is as good a specialist as he can be.

But simply by watching how the word “adult” has spread, we may gain an inkling that the modern “adult” is not too strong as a personality.  He is called an “adult” from the evidence of statistics about his biological age.  When persons are called “adults,” there is a divarication of biological and social maturity.  We see the boy and adolescent stay young, brutish, shapeless long beyond the years in which his grandfather took shape as a personality and took his place in society as a citizen, in the congregation as a member.  — Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, “Modern Man’s Disintegration and the Egyptian Ka,” I Am An Impure Thinker, p. 35 (paragraph break added).

I suspect that the term “adolescent” has done the same sort of damage.  Defining a young person as an “adolescent” until he reaches a certain age and then calling him an “adult” may lead young people to remain immature longer than they did in the past.  After all, “adolescents” or even “teenagers” aren’t “adults” and therefore aren’t expected to act like adults.  They aren’t expected to be mature, since maturity is now linked to biological age, and therefore they act immaturely.

That may explain why I’ve often met men from my grandfather’s generation or the succeeding one who strike me as “personalities.”  They’re sometimes quirky but they’re also interesting.  They aren’t all educated academically, but many of them have thought a lot of things through and formed their opinions on a wide variety of topics. 

They were often required to work at an early age.  In fact, I suspect that their age rarely mattered to anyone and when it did (e.g., entrance into the army in a time of war) they may even have lied about their age in order to get increased responsibility (which, need I mention, is far different from lying about your age in order to get into a club and drink your face off).

Today, however, “adolescence” seems to be expanding so that teenagers act childishly and young men, who are even past the biological age at which “adulthood” is said to begin, still want to act the way they did as teenagers.

And churches, in my experience, are no different in this regard from the rest of the culture.  That’s especially true when young people are required to wait until they approach adulthood before making profession of faith and being admitted to the Lord’s Table.  Until that time, they’re often seen as not-quite-members.  Sometimes their sins aren’t even taken seriously since, after all, they haven’t yet “made profession of faith.”

And so, it seems to me, that by focusing on a profession of faith at a particular age instead of treating children as full members and training them from childish faith to mature faith, the church perpetuates immaturity.  Instead of having adults who are defined by maturity instead of biological age, both our culture and many churches have adolescents stuck in a prolonged immaturity which, all too often, they seek to prolong as long as they can.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:17 pm | Discuss (1)

One Response to ““Adults” and “Adolescents””

  1. Adults and Adolescents « After Darkness Light - Providence Community Church Says:

    […] Adults and Adolescents John Barach over at Kata Iwannhn posted a thoughtful piece about how the church perpetuates immaturity, especially in her young men. We need to sit up and listen. Check it out here. […]

Leave a Reply