In the past few posts I criticized the Christian “youth” organization BattleCry. The biggest problem I have is that it appears to be an adult-led initiative based in fear.
Perfect love casts out fear, but in the language on BattleCry’s site and in interviews, I hear little love and lots of anxious concern–fear that today’s Christian youth will be snatched up by a dangerous, anti-God world that pushes values and ideas contrary to the Christian message of morality as understood by BattleCry’s adult leaders.
I cannot imagine how scary it can be to raise a child and to gradually lose control over the choices that child makes as s/he grows into adulthood. But in BattleCry’s manifesto I sense distrust that young people will make the right decisions.
These young people from these Evangelical Republican leaders learn that there is a war within–a deadly battle for their souls within their own souls. As a young conservative Christian, my leaders taught me that my flesh wars against God’s spirit, that my old man wages war against the new man in Christ, that left to my natural inclination, I will choose to do the wrong thing over and over again. Therefore I have to fight the good fight, work out my salvation with fear and trembling and trust not in my flesh.
If we house a war within, then we will wage a war without. We will export our inner struggles and superimpose them over the media, the school system, friendships, races, religions, nations, and anyone different from us. We will be ruled by fear of an encroaching enemy, and as a result, will not learn how to make friends with anyone outside our compound.
Young people need to know that each one of us contains something valuable within, a liquid center of goodness. A BattleCry rally repletee with military imagery, Hummers, Navy SEALs and fear-based preaching hinders us from discovering that place within, drowns out the small still voice and replaces it with the bold proclamations of the party line.
I’ve written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they’re no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ’s anointing, no less! You don’t need any of their so-called teaching. Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught. (1 John 2:26,27)
The “lie” is what these kids are being sold, and many of them will grow up angry and bitter. I think organizations like this create more atheists, Pagans, and “apatheists” than any other. Being a Pagan who was once in a youth group with these kinds of beliefs…well, I would know.
Count this as the umpty-billionth reason I’m a dechurched Christian. I’ve done so many comics involving bitterness against the Church that I’ve been asked if I’m an atheist.
As a mother of four sons, two of them teens, I will admit that its scary as hell to release them and let them find their way in this world. Scary, but ultimately very, very healthy. Not that they are given cart banche to violate every rule and standard their dad and I have, I will at least acknowledge that it is an important stage of human developement to differentiate from your parents and seek to define yourself as an individual. Keep this in mind, keep breathing, and find the balance. Wake up every morning, start over, and trust that I have done a good job in starting them out. Hard, hard, hard, but ultimately I hope they will be more centered individuals then kids who are constantly spoon-fed who and what they are to be.
As to the military theme here, I guess nothing says “blessed are the peacemakers” like Hummers and battle fatigues.
Oh, I guess I should say “howdy” before my first post here. Heya. I’m Brittanicals, a gardening mom of four in the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve never heard of Battle Cry…thanks for the information. Having grown up in a conservative Christian home, these things always get under my skin…and remind me why I haven’t been to church in 6 years.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about young people loosing control over the choices they make as they grow into adulthood.
I remember a recent conversation I had with a Christian youthworker about the need for open sex education for teenagers. He genuinely thought it was sufficient to tell them to keep their knickers on and their feet on the floor until such day as they were married!
When I talked about empowering young people to understand their sexuality, to understand sexual relationships, to think through issues around consent, and of course contraception – he more or less accused me of telling young people to leap into bed at 13!!!
He really couldn’t conceive of young people, given high quality information, support and the self-confidence to make their own decisions around their sexuality, doing anything other than descending into a lifestyle of rampant, one-night stands, STDs and unwanted pregnancies!
What a low view of young people if you ask me!
To become adults, young people need to be empowered to make their own decisions, their own choices and their own mistakes along the way.
I am not sure if having all those choices made for you is scarey – for some it might be a comfort, but a false comfort nonetheless. Sooner or later, they have to make their own choices in life.
If they are cushionned up in some Christian ghetto camp, never making their own decisions about what to wear, what to eat, what to do with their time, who to have relationships with, what kind of relationships to have – I dread to imagine what choices they will make when they finally escape!
My family and I have been invited to attend a ceremony this Sunday for a young man who is taking a purity pledge (and receiving a ring). His family feels it is very important for him to take this vow in front of his peers and his community (he just turned 13). I really feel sorry for him; what a thing to have to do when you are that age, to stand up in front of all your friends and neighbors and talk about not having sex!
Plus, it is funny how it has impacted my family. Now my seven year old is asking me to explain, “what’s a virgin”? That is not a conversation I had expected to have with her at this age. Odd how these things sorta backfire sometimes.
Jane in CT
I think why I find myself so sad is that no one–not Battle Cry, not Soul Force–speaks for my heart.
I thought Jesus reached out to the strangers?
memorybabe wrote: “I think why I find myself so sad is that no one–not Battle Cry, not Soul Force–speaks for my heart.”
I don’t know why exactly, but your words move me deeply. There are people caught in the middle of these “culture wars” and in the midst of the political the personal gets lost.