I’m for youth!
Not just any youth.
Generalization is the Rubicon that exposes the wary adult to the rampageous emotions of youth. We are inclined to classify all young adults into one kingdom, one phyla, one class, one order, one family, and even one genus and species. Little wonder they kick up their heels.
Sometimes we like to stimulate our fantasies by asking such perverse questions as, what is the typicalteen-ager like, how can we describe the average young person. For some reason most adults wax loquacious and offer a virtual soliloquy, using the kind of adjectives that make young adults wince: they’re pampered, indulged, coddled, and as a result are brash, irresponsible, immoral, rambunctious, flamboyant, and who knows what. The young punks are the ones stirring up trouble in our country, they’re the instigators of riots, demonstrations, and acts of public unrest. Aren’t they seen burning their draft cards, lying down on the streets blocking traffic, frequenting the flop houses in the seamy sections of our cities, lushing at their psychedelic “shows,” tapping their dirty toes to the beat emitting from frenzied loudspeakers? Don’t we amble down our urban jungles and recoil at these shaggy specimens of humanity that crawl out at us, their youthful gender undiscernible? Not only are they entwined in the back seats of their Barracuda, Cougar, or Mustang, but their libido drives them shamelessly to public parks and beaches.
The youth today are in a sorry state!
But wait a minute.
This is the Rubicon that we better not cross.
Generalization! Are all young people this way?
No doubt young people play an important role in American life. Their influence is being felt in every quarter. Business and industry have been quick to respond to the potential of our affluent youth. Fads come and go, yet in their wake the cash registers bulge some $12 billion. With this spending power, youth determine a great part of the market. Everything from the mini-car to the mini-pencil has its origin in the mini-skirt. Now its mini, maxi, and midi. Politicians dare not overlook the flare of youth, but make a direct appeal to young Democrats and young Republicans, urging them to hit the campaign trail with them. The world of music and art is molded by the demands of youth. Even the educational systems of our country are revised according to the students standards.
It’s understandable that young people have this kind of power, since over 40% of our 200,000,000 population are under 21 years of age. For our statistical age this says a great deal.
Riding the crest of so much popularity, it is inevitable that one segment revolts. Entirely skeptical of the “establishment,” referring to those who in some way control the present, government officials, educators, church leaders, business leaders, a small minority reacts to this situation. Their reaction is one big NO! Rather than be “victimized” by a ruthless world that takes advantage of them, they grow long hair, refuse to wear tidy frocks, strum guitars and sing “their own” songs, lift their spirits with their own “acid,” protest everything that comes their way, and defy any restriction that may be imposed upon them by the establishment. They are a law unto themselves. They are sophisticated bums refusing to be cast into an adult mold, they are determined to make their own. So they reduce all of life to its simplistic form, “love not hate.”
As is usually the case, the naughty boys get all the attention. This is just what they want. The result is that they seek more attention and become naughtier. While our TV cameras grind away and our presses print page after page of sordid detail, the revolting minority of youth become intoxicated with their brash defiance and realize that by joining efforts they really can influence society, at least to some degree. If anarchy is the only way to free the individual from a regimental society, so let it be. Black militants and white militants find a common cause: the revolution of society.
Most of us sit on the sidelines shaking.
Our inclination is to blame youth, all youth. We piously erect our “straw man” and proceed to lecture him, sermonize him, lacerate him with bitter condemnations, warn him, cajole him to change.
True, we admit that all youth of the world are not filthy rebels who selfishly sacrifice law and order on the altar of personal idealism. There are thousands who join the “establishment” in seeking the same goals for the ideal society, a world free from war, poverty, disease, and ignorance. They are willing to see the present in the light of history, work within the framework of our present institutions, and through education and reform strive to bring about change, needed change.
Yet we must distinguish “covenant youth” from “youth.” Covenant youth are different from all other young adults in the world. True it is that by nature they have much in common. This explains undoubtedly the human inclination to generalize and place them all in one class. Yet covenant youth are different.
The Word of God recognizes that young adults are forward looking. No one is more concerned about the future than youth. This stands to reason, since the aged have finished their course and look beyond the grave, children look at the present, but young adults plan for their future labors here. There is however, a striking difference between the planning of worldly youth and covenant youth. The viewpoint is different. We read in Acts 2:17, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.” This forward look is occasioned by the outpouring of the Spirit. This makes the difference in covenant young people. Both prophecy and vision are united by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then they understand that according to the Scripture, the future of the church is not some grandiose position of influence brought about by a complicated ecumenical machine, but rather that it shall remain small and persecuted and that her glory is not in size, but in her calling to maintain the truth of the Word of God.
Scripture recognizes that young people tend to be brash and forsake good advice. Recall the event in Rehoboam’s life. As a young king he sought the counsel of the aged who advised him to lighten the taxes imposed upon them by Solomon. He also sought the counsel of the young men who advised him to deal roughly by saying, “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins and now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions,” I Kings 12:10, 11. Rehoboam heeded the advice of the young and the result was the split in the kingdom. Hence Paul counsels young Timothy, “But continue thou in the things thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them, and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” II Tim. 3:14, 15. Covenant young people realize that even though they are inclined to imagine that they are so intelligent that they can sit in judgment over all history, including that of the church, yet this too must be put down and the church’s present position evaluated in the light of the Scriptures which alone can make us wise.
Paul understood human nature and instructed Timothy to, “flee also youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart,” II Tim. 2:22. Covenant youth are not instructed to live in a vacuum, rather they alone have the privilege to turn by grace away from evil in order that they may direct their strength to that which is good. Listen, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one,” I John 2:11.
No, one’s youth is not something to be hated or scorned. “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” I Tim. 4:12. Consequently the Psalmist harmonizes, “Both young men, and maidens, let them praise the name of the Lord; for his name alone is excellent, his glory is above the earth and heaven,” Ps. 148:12, 13.
Covenant youth have a unique and wonderful place in the church.
The purpose of this new rubric is two-fold.
First, it is to try to help young people understand themselves. This goal is by no means easy, for covenant young people are many sided. They have a human nature conceived and born in sin. They have moreover the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the principle of the new man. From the vantage point of faith, our covenant young people face many difficulties. The conflict and tension of faith broods within them. They know all too well what Paul experienced, “The good that I would I do not, the evil that I would not that I do . . . . O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. 7:19-25. This tension produces that frustrating WHY! Youth asks why to every way of life. This is their right; as they face the future they want to be certain that their belief and basic position is not merely fashion, but true faith!
Hence the Y in youth is why. This demands an answer.
The second purpose is that of helping parents and adults to understand young people. All too often we like to dismiss the queries of youth impatiently, much like we push snow out of the driveway. If the questions are too “deep” we’re frustrated and hope that in time they will melt away. If our youth insist on an answer, we bulldoze our way through, sometimes burying them beneath a pile of big words, meaningless phrases, and patent answers. If youth dares to dig himself out and present a rebuttal, the cold winds of wrath soon blow and the drive is covered more deeply.
When covenant youth ask questions, there must be opportunity for answers.
Since covenant youth are a very special kind of youth, the answers must be of a like variety, very special, based upon the Word of God. Since the undersigned has consented to edit this rubric specifically directed to our covenant youth, we would like to hear from our young people. Is there anything in particular that you would like to have considered? Any problem that has been weighing on your mind? And of course if parents would like to offer questions which have been of some difficulty, the way is open!
While you are reading this rubric, just keep turning the pages.
That’s another reason, we like our young people to read the Standard Bearer.
You can’t blame the “establishment” for trying, can you?