Skip to main content

True Love Waits. Love of Jesus, not so much.

By Bob R of a priori blues --

When I was in youth ministry, one of the mantras I heard at every conference was that most people convert to Christianity before their teen years are up, and if they don't convert before the end of adolescence, chances are drastically reduced that they'll ever become Christians.

Altered HeartImage by ComingUpNext [is LEGIT] via Flickr

This was always repeated as a warning, and as some sort of an indictment against our culture, so we youth workers had better hurry up and convert all the kids before they become adults. Now that I'm on the outside of the church business, I find emphases like that one shocking and scandalous.

The same adults whose eyes were wide open about the false sense of urgency that our culture places on teens with regard to relationships, sex, worldly status and possessions, were completely in the dark about the fact that this same false urgency was being foisted on to teens when it came to Jesus. Every year, millions of church teenagers sign a "True Love Waits" commitment, vowing to forego the satisfaction that their hormones are insisting that they enjoy for a more measured, reasonable, informed, long-term decision with regard to sex and relationships. Yet, when it comes to Jesus, true love is told to do anything but wait.

Kids are bussed off to "Jesus Camps", inundated with attention, bathed in trance-inducing Christian-rock worship songs, brought to the point of euphoria through emotional and physical exhaustion, and at the end of each night, just before bed, they are invited to commit their entire lives to loving Jesus as their personal savior. This is the exact opposite of what they're told to do with every other commitment, whether it is to follow their dream of becoming the next Tony Hawk or the next American Idol. But, when it comes to Jesus, kids, throw caution to the wind, indulge yourselves now! now! now! and don't you dare wait or take time to research all the available facts, religions, or life paths you could take. Do with Jesus what you feel like you should do with that girl that you feel like you just can't live without. Do it now! Before he gets away! Before you become an adult and learn to think things through! Just do it!

The same adults whose eyes were wide open about the false sense of urgency that our culture places on teens with regard to relationships, sex, worldly status and possessions, were completely in the dark about the fact that this same false urgency was being foisted on to teens when it came to Jesus. Rather than producing a sense of urgency among adults, the fact that kids would not convert if left to their own devices and won't convert as adults should be a red flag. Of course adults understand that teenagers are fickle and that their decision making skills are impaired, to say the least. The same youth workers who chaperone these hormone festivals can be heard making surreptitiously sarcastic remarks about their horny flock throughout the Jesus Camp weekends. Johnny loves Suzie... again... except if Sally is around, then he loves her. Suzie is convinced that Tommy is the one....this week. Part of the job description for any youth worker worth their salt and light must include the ability to convince teenagers not to do what they feel like doing, along with the ability to wield a fire hose on occasions when the little animals get too close to each other. Yet, when it comes to making a lifelong commitment to a relationship with Jesus, unlike making commitments to their other relationships, Christian adults want nothing more than convince teens that time is of the essence. "Hurry up and do it!", but only with Jesus. With everything else--wait, wait, wait. Life is long. You'll look back on these years and realize how immature you were, how impetuous, how you thought things were important that really weren't. Except Jesus. Hurry up and commit to him.

Churches are defined as successful in accordance with the number of adults that are devoted to raising money, giving time, doing research, attending conferences, and so on, in order to strategize about how to convince children and teenagers to make lifetime lifestyle choices about their religion, before they have ever left home or experienced or learned anything about the world. The great panic ensues with each graduating class, knowing that the kids would be out "in the world" and many of them wouldn't be able to overcome "temptation". Temptation, of course, could be to have sex, to drink alcohol, or to stop believing in Jesus, in no particular order.

In any other context, this kind of brain washing would be considered criminal. When impetuousness is at its zenith, Church-going adults are taught to pounce, to secure that "relationship with Jesus", before teenagers go off and learn how to engage in adult, critical thinking. You know, the kind of critical thinking that churches try to instill in kids when it comes to questions about sex and partying, which is the same kind of critical thinking that they're working overtime to exempt Jesus and the Bible from, to say nothing of Creationism.

With the exception, of course, of advertising (where lying to people in order to get them to sacrifice for things they don't need and wouldn't want unless you brainwashed them to believe that they were a necessity) and in torture of detainees (which actually is criminal, except when you ask the same people who believe in being 'born again', then it's not criminal, it's righteous), nowhere in our culture is brainwashing more prevalent than in Youth Ministry. Nowhere else do adults try to get kids to make decisions that will cost them their lives than at the seasonal Jesus Camps that are such a fixture of church life.

True love doesn't wait at Jesus Camp. It runs down the aisle exhausted, with dirty feet from the ultimate Frisbee game, or torn jeans from the broomball tournament, delirious with sleep deprivation after a night of giggling over girl-talk or boy-farts, ecstatic after an hour of trance-inducing music, hot tears streaming down its face after a sermon that can only be described as emotional terrorism (probably invoking graphic scenes about one's death or the death of loved ones), and it runs to the forever embrace of oneness with Christ, the bridegroom, in a little mini-marriage ceremony right there on the makeshift altar at the camp.

For everything else that's good about life, True Love Waits.


Popular posts from this blog


By David Andrew Dugle ~ O ctober. Halloween. It's time to visit the haunted house I used to live in. When I was five my dad was able to build a big modern house. Moving in before it was complete, my younger brother and I were sleeping in a large unfinished area directly under the living room. It should have been too new to be a haunted house, but now and then I would wake up in the tiny, dark hours and see the blurry image of a face, or at least what I took to be a face, glowing, faintly yellow, high up on the wall near the ceiling. I'm not kidding! Most nights it didn’t appear at all. But when it did show itself, at first I thought it was a ghost and it scared me like nothing else I’d ever seen. But the face never did anything; unmoving, it just stayed in that one spot. Turning on the lights would make it disappear, making my fears difficult to explain, so I never told anyone. My Sunday School teachers had always told me to be good because God was just behind m

How to come out to your parents as non-religious

By Marlene Winell ~  A fter going through your own deconstruction of religious belief, it can feel like a challenge to reveal your change to your religious parents.   You might have a lot of fear about their reaction – anger, hurt, disappointment in you, and so on.   You might fear being disowned.   This is a common concern because our families mean a lot to us.   It’s natural to want approval from your parents.   When you were young, you depended on them for your life; you absolutely needed their love, care, and approval.   So, even in adulthood, we long for our parents to love us unconditionally.     However, in terms of human development over the life span,  it is necessary for   everyone   to outgrow their parents.   Growing up to maturity involves becoming the authority in your own life and taking on the job of self-care and self-love.   This is true even if you aren’t recovering from religion.   Personal health and well-being, in other words, means that your inner “Adult” is tak

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Disney, the Creator, and Christ

By Carl S ~ I s Dumbo more real than Jesus? The answer depends on who you ask. Doesn't every culture have fantasy-fabricated individuals, often with lives of heroic proportions? Haven't celebrities with their real/imagined lives, been around forever? In the beginning, man created gods and keeps altering them. My oldest brother was an artist. He could paint a portrait of someone you'd know, and change the character of that person with a couple of brush-strokes, or make a sculpture of a figure and change its proportions daily, even hourly. He made figures out of Silly Putty, and watched each one as it changed form. Eventually each melted into a puddle. All gods are like that, because they're only as "real" as a person's imagination continues to create them, at whim. Humans need outlets for frustrations, anger, fear of the future and the unknown. Ergo, in the beginning, man created entertainment, Those seeking explanations for the origins of nature, death,