A few years ago Brittney Spears had a song titled “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” in which she extolled her transition from childhood into . . . well, nothing. If ever there was an anthem for the social phenomenon called adultolescence this was it. This is a construct signaling those years that are often spent “trying to find oneself.” Its a topic that acclaimed author, John Piper, talks about here.
Its an interesting phenomenon, adultolescence, the idea that there is a transition between childhood and adultness that extends beyond the teenager years. I’ve heard of it before – and have seen its evidence in many people who I come into contact with. Individuals who haven’t quite figured out what they want to be when they grow, even though for all intents and purposes they are grown. In many ways, I think its understandable = people are living longer so it makes sense that they have additional years to “play” before they “settle down.” In addition, one thing that the article does not address, I think to its detriment, is the economic factors that make “settling down” a little less achievable early in adult life. I think its well and good that the Church encourage godly marriage “even if they are in school” – I think its extremely unwise if this leads to a lot of Christian marriages crippled by debt. I also take exception to the fact that somehow being single or “being flexible in a career” is evidenced of a lack of maturity. I don’t think either is the case. Paul wasn’t married and Paul had a pretty transient career – are we to conclude that he was immature?
However, I think my biggest contention with the roles of the church that Piper articulates is “6. The church will provide a stability and steadiness in life for young adults who find a significant identity there.” I think this is an admirable and necessary goal but I haven’t found a church yet who knows how to do it. Either they are “emerging” and often long on experience and short on doctrine, or they are traditional – and the very fabric of the church organization is built around families. Which isn’t to say I don’t understand the strategic value of building the organization around families – they are still the most stable social force we have. But how is a church going to integrate the young, single adults into their fellowship without making them a peripheral part of the congregation. If the only stability the church has to offer is the pathway to marriage – that’s not saying a lot. People go to bars for that exact same purpose.
I’m intentionally being controversial for effect. I think the article makes a number of good points but I wish it was a little bit more directive and not as theoretical. And I wish a few church leaders would read it.