I just spent a lovely Shabbat soaking in Deuteronomy between intermittent trysts with slumber. There is nothing like a Sabbath nap—or four. It’s the only day I can drift to sleep without waking to peanut butter smeared across the kitchen table. But one day is enough. I’ll take it. Why, oh why I decided to check Facebook instead of heading to bed fully rested is a mistake I’ll try not to repeat.
Instead of a little light reading I stumbled onto two heartbreaking stories that are not very like each other. Still, I think that underneath there, somewhere, they both have a common thread. The first story I read was about Rachael Slick, the daughter of an apparently very well-known Christian apologist. She has rejected Christianity and fallen in love with what she now calls Freedom. So many aspects of her story made me angry (though none at her). The second story I read was about Alyce Morales who beat her freshly born baby to death after delivering unexpectedly—alone in a tent on a family camping trip. Her story made me angry, too.
Alyce and Rachael are both Millennials.
Now, before you think I’m setting up a straw man and attempt to set it on fire, I’m not suggesting for one second that theirs or any other problems are unique to the Millennial generation. It is what I would cautiously unearth as the deep roots of these issues that I find to be uniquely millennial.
Millennials are leaving the church in droves. That’s something no one can deny. Rachael’s story is not unique–good little boys and girls taught to be good for goodness sake. But Millennials want to know why. They always want to know why. In no small part, this unquenchable search for truth can be blamed on the internet. In fact, Millennials cannot remember not having the internet, and I doubt Rachael or Alyce remember a world without Google.
As a result Millennials are smart, very smart. They might not be the kind of smart you’d want with you if you were lost in the wilderness (unless they had cell service and could Google edible indigenous plants), but they’re smart nonetheless. This endless knowledge leads to thinking, and thinking leads to asking questions that haven’t been asked in many years. This leaves Millennials cocky and apprehensive of the outside world. They are sponges set to absorb at even the slightest sprinkling of information. They precipitously spout their knowledge spreading forth both truth and lies at speeds unknown to previous generations.
Millennials aren’t big fans of authority and are not assuaged by teaching until they’ve looked a thing up for themselves. In this way, Millennials are unlike even their parents’ and grandparents’ generations for whom trust was a virtue and research was a serious task.
Rachael Slick asked a Millennial question, “why?” and was answered by only silence.
“If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?…Everyone had always explained this problem away using the principle that Jesus’ sacrifice meant we wouldn’t have to follow those ancient laws. But that wasn’t an answer. In fact, by the very nature of the problem, there was no possible answer that would align with Christianity. ”
Millennials ask lots of questions and get all too few solid answers.
Alyce Morales is only eighteen years old. She’s never lived in an America where the law condemned killing one’s baby. Because late (very late) term abortions happen every day, it is safe to assume that she would have been well within her rights to kill her unborn child. She missed legal by just a few seconds.
Millennials are very confused.
Those appalled by her reacting to her baby like it was something foreign and not quite human are either hypocrites or pro-life. There’s really no wiggle room there. Those shocked by what the child must have suffered are either pro-life or have never used Google to learn of the horrific torture caused millions of innocent before birth as they are chemically burned or torn limb from limb. If a baby is killed in a womb, and no one is around to witness, does that make it a fetus?
Millennials know more, have seen more (though not experienced it) than any generation in history. They’ve been force-fed enough strains and cross-strains of information to cause them to question everything they’ve ever heard and deny any existence of pure or absolute or concrete. They’re the generation who questions everything, even the most sacrosanct doctrine. They’ve had their doors flung wide to knowledge and they’ve seen the Emperors’ Clothes. Millennials have taken the red pill. They’ve awoken to a world of lies and confusion and have developed an ingenuous distrust for the generations that taught them ludicrous things without questioning.
Millennials know they’ve been lied to.
I believe that Alyce and Rachael, in their own unique ways, represent the deteriorating, lie-woven fabric of a generation that has had its fill and has come up empty. Rachael has, upon asking a question no one would answer for her, decided she’d stood foolishly on ten tons of lies and did not have the desire to search through them for truth. So, very logically, she abandoned it all to start over. Alyce, on the other hand, embraced her lies so fully that they drove her to a more recognizable type of insanity. In both instances, however, each is left without a definable moral code and with no one to live for but themselves. Narcissism is not simply an option but is the Millennial’s only means of survival.
Millennials have no certainty outside themselves.
While Millennials have season passes to information, they have very little access to concrete truth (only because it is hard to see the forest for the trees). A baby’s a baby when… Sin is sin if we say so… Nothing is defined and everything is definable. Truth is a changing tune played by masters whistling tin flutes to lure flighty babes. We’ve driven our children to madness.
I do not believe that intolerance is the thing driving children from church today. I don’t believe it is tolerance. I don’t believe it is the production or the music or the lack thereof. I believe it is confusion, a lack of holiness–hypocritically defined sin. I believe it is sloppy, indefinable grace and a changing gospel. I believe it is a misunderstood Father and a contradicting Son. I believe a truth that evolves is not worth believing—that a double-minded God does not inspire the worship of an honest generation. The question that drove Rachael to atheism is the very one that wooed me to the ancient and earthy foundation of my faith. Over the past year I’ve sought to glean from an unchanging source, and I’ve canceled my doctrine of the
month millennium subscriptions. What I’ve learned from the front of this book I’ve called Holy is not merely repeatable truth but a solid rock on which to stand: a home, a purpose, a safe place in a land of confusion, a religion where sin is defined and love is defined and nothing is defined by me. If we want our children to come home, we have to come home to the whole Word of God—to the old path our Savior walked as the embodiment of His Word. We must come to the point where uncomfortable, definable truth and lavishly swathed grace stand hand and hand and offer instruction to a generation that has refused its parents’ lies and has set out to walk in circles.
Daniel 12:4 (KJV) But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Jeremiah 16:19 (KJV) O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.