Thursday, July 9, 2009

"But all the young people say..."

A featured gimmick at the Episcopal Church General Convention is to have a teenager or young adult show up at every debate on Same Sex Marriage or actively LGBTQ(fill in as new groups demand) clergy, and nail a few talking points:

"I speak as a teenager and can tell you that all of my friends will never enter a church that does not accept people as they are. Therefore you must approve Same Sex Marriage and LGBTQ( ) clergy or you will never have young people in the church."

Fair enough. Most studies I see indicate that teens and young adults tend to be more favorably disposed toward Same Sex Marriage (nobody really does that much polling about clergy except, well, agendized clergy).

But here are some inconvenient truths about what "all the young people say."
  1. Young people are less ideological than old Episcopalians. Teens and young adults don't like the ideological bent of the Baby Boomers and Boomers' self-absorption and unstable relationships. While younger Americans do tend to "affirm" LGBT people, they are also more oppossed to abortion than their parents and more cavalier about cheating on tests and falsifying application information. And many have enlisted and reenlisted for the Armed Forces since the 9/11 attacks (notice how most of the anti-war protests feature ancient hippies?). Will we hear youth voices speaking up for pro-life, pro-cheating or pro-military resolutions at the General Convention? Don't hold your breath. What you are seeing at Convention is a gaggle of old left ideologues trying to reassure themselves that they are "the way of the future" and spinning that message as much for themselves as for the rest of us.
  2. LGBTQ( ) is already normed all over The Episcopal Church, and the denomination continues to age and decline. The Diocese of New Hampshire, with its gay icon bishop, has shrivelled since his consecration. An influx of young people is a constant promise of the LGBTQ( ) church activists, and a constant non-delivery.
  3. Let's be honest. This "all the young people say" business is a cheap manipulation of an aged membership that never took evangelism seriously, but cares enough about the church to want its survival. And so here come some folks with a message of hope: "Just accept our ideology, and all the young people will come flocking in and the church will be fine." And the old members, having always looked to culture trends rather than evangelism to provide new members, buy it.
  4. Finally, notice the leap from "accept people as they are" to "create rituals for them and make them into religious leaders." Interesting how quickly that happens - have you followed this story?

Apart from any specific issue, younger Americans just aren't drawn to the arid, bureaucratic, legalistic, institution-first-people-second kind of "religion" represented by the Episcopal Church.


The Archer of the Forest said...

Yes, I hear this "Well, young people say..." self-justifying argument from time to time.

My usual response is, well, yes, that might be true, but those same young people also have no problem with "shacking up" with significant others, cohabitation before marriage, using recreational drugs as long as no one gets hurt, and have no concept of plagiarism (see: MP3 piracy, copy-n-pasting text for term papers.) The list can go on and on...

My general rule of thumb is the down home response my parents told me when I was a teenager and was arguing the "well, everyone else is doing it!"

The response was what I now refer to as the Horse Manure Argument (although, as I recall, they seldom used the word "manure"):

"Well, if it becomes fashionable to eat cow manure, do I need to get you a bowl and a spoon?"

Anonymous said...

That's what you get when you belong to a "church" where theology is decided by mob rule.