Thursday, November 09, 2006

Busters and Boomers see sex differently

Read here.
More than two-thirds of the Buster generation, for instance, believe adults living together before marriage is morally acceptable. Most young adults also said pornography and sex outside of marriage are not morally wrong. Only one-third of Boomers — people born between 1946 and 1964 — agreed. And roughly 50 percent of Busters believe homosexual relationships are acceptable, compared to half as many older adults.

And
To be sure, Busters have an individualized view of morality — one that disconnects the individual from the group. Almost 50 percent of Busters said ethics and morals are based on what is right for the person, while just one-quarter of pre-Busters agreed. Half of the Boomers believe in absolute truth, but only three of 10 Busters agree.

That belief in situational ethics affects morality in a big way. The report listed Busters as twice as likely to watch sexually explicit movies; two-and-a-half times more likely to commit adultery; and three times more likely to look at sexually graphic content online.

The remedy, according to this article,
One way to reach those groups, Kouckl said, is to stop giving "topical" sermons and start preaching scripture.

"When we have topicals that are geared to life enhancement, people never learn the message as it was originally given," he said. "Now when you have teachers that are consistently preaching topically to make it consumer-palatable, those who listen never learn the Bible in the sense in which it was originally given. They don't learn the structure, they just have all these bits and pieces."

The key is to contextualize the message for the culture, Kouckl continued. Leaders at Stand to Reason, for instance, say their goal is to make "engagement with culture look more like diplomacy than D-day."

We've discovered through trial and error that if you send your teen to a high school youth group, there is an 92% chance (+ or -5%) that the teaching that day will be either: a) why you should keep your hands, mouth, tongue and various and sundry body parts to yourself when with a boy or girl (answer: so that you will be closer to God) or b) why you ought to bring the kids from your school who do have their hands (and body parts) all over each other to church so that they can be saved.

I wonder if the solution offered here - teaching through Scripture - would make the difference. I would love to know what that looks like in today's culture.

We found a book called Girlosophy years ago that I thought did a tremendous job of giving information without telling teenage girls what to do. Anthea Paul (author) trusted that with good data (including potential consequences) and affirmation of a girl's ability to think for herself and to make choices that would enhance her well-being, she'd be able to navigate these uncertain waters of her sexuality.

One thing about this trend that must be admitted, however. Our kids are postmoderns through and through. In all the railing against postmodernism that I hear in the evangelical world, our kids are growing up speaking that language fluently. Being against postmodernism is like being against the air. It's all around us, we all breathe it and it's not going away. And I hold "Friends" and "Seinfeld" reruns directly responsible.

12 comments:

isaiah said...

Being a "busted- boomer"" (born in 66, so right there on the edge between boomer and buster) AND a Gemini (it gets complicated but I usually ignore myself)...

...I believe it still comes down to not treating everyone as if "scripture" alone will do the trick.

What would help immensely is for our leaders to stop saying one thing and doing another (getting caught with their pants down and their hands in the cookie jar).

Also, how about reintroducing the concepts that we are co-creators (and therefore a spark of divinity itself) of our experience,we are responsible for our actions and will receive as we give, as well as reap what we sow. These principles cover 98% of scripture.

Kids really want to do the right thing but with all the mixed messages our culture and the world sends- it’s no wonder they get mixed up.

Kinds need honesty and to know there is more and better...and sometimes you've got to search it out, but it's available. After all theses years, "we still must be change we seek."

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

I am not surprised to hear that the buster generation is basically rejecting the church’s option of “abstinence only”, for anyone who is not married. I propose that the church, and the rest of us, need to begin to engage each other about sex openly and honestly, especially, regarding what we “really” think and do regarding our own personal sexual practices…Abstinence “only” is not an option for most people because we are sexual beings with strong ongoing sexual urges….therefore I think we need to discuss “realistic” options that allow people to express their sexual needs and desires. I am not suggesting or implying having sex for the sake of having sex but from my perspective there are other options that do not include being promiscuous or even having sex with another human being. I have great empathy for the buster generation and anyone not married because we are bombarded by sex from the culture and we are told by the church, for the most part, that sex is only a beautiful thing if we are married. I also think it is becoming more unrealistic to expect people to remain non sexual beings until they get married because people are getting married much later than the previous generations. I have also come to the conclusion that guilt and shame are no match for the powerful sex drive of most people. Just ask Ted Haggard and others….bottom line….If we want ourselves to act responsibility regarding the expression of our sexuality we need to help each understand how to live with our sexual urges and express ourselves sexually….because….simply telling people to not have sex doesn’t work and never has for most people and that the truth that we need to stop being in denial about….

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

I am not surprised to hear that the buster generation is basically rejecting the church’s option of “abstinence only”, for anyone who is not married. I propose that the church, and the rest of us, need to begin to engage each other about sex openly and honestly, especially, regarding what we “really” think and do regarding our own personal sexual practices…Abstinence “only” is not an option for most people because we are sexual beings with strong ongoing sexual urges….therefore I think we need to discuss “realistic” options that allow people to express their sexual needs and desires. I am not suggesting or implying having sex for the sake of having sex but from my perspective there are other options that do not include being promiscuous or even having sex with another human being. I have great empathy for the buster generation and anyone not married because we are bombarded by sex from the culture and we are told by the church, for the most part, that sex is only a beautiful thing if we are married. I also think it is becoming more unrealistic to expect people to remain non sexual beings until they get married because people are getting married much later than the previous generations. I have also come to the conclusion that guilt and shame are no match for the powerful sex drive of most people. Just ask Ted Haggard and others….bottom line….If we want ourselves to act responsibility regarding the expression of our sexuality we need to help each understand how to live with our sexual urges and express ourselves sexually….because….simply telling people to not have sex doesn’t work and never has for most people and that the truth that we need to stop being in denial about….

Troy said...

As a Gen X person who was raised King James Only Fundamentalist and also (mostly) as a suburban Evangelical (who then became an agnostic in college and grad school and came back to the church as Anglican in early 30s), I would say that the kids who would respond favorably to 'just reading the Bible' would be those who probably don't need to be reminded of how lousy they are, those who are robots, or those that adore authority.

As for the rest, it will take showing them (by really living) active spirituality, an aggressive honesty, and genuine love for them to give a sh*t, which seems only reasonable and healthy really.

Russ Noland said...

I can't believe you'd blame this on Seinfeld...not that there's anything wrong with that, of course...;)

Steve said...

This is really well said, thanks.

Kansas Bob said...

Ditto Russ (on Seinfeld) for me!

The one thing I didn't see in the article is the affect of pain on the Busters. I have found it curious that Evangelicals focus so much on homosexuality and so very little on divorce. Over the past 2 years I have had many, many friends divorce and my office is regularly occupied with couples on the verge or going through painful seperations and divorce. The affect on these kids is tremendous.

Evangelicals, in my limited experience are not very good in dealing with pain and it's affect on families. Busters have to deal with pain in ways that Boomers never had to. Little wonder that they have rejected many of the values that Boomers embrace.

julieunplugged said...

Truth of it is Isaiah, even being born in 1961 has never made me feel like a Boomer. I came of age in the Reagan era and those conformist values and "let's earn lots of money" ideals just didn't really fit with the whole counter-cultural jag of the 60's know what I'm sayin'?

Plus, as Bob points out, my parents divorced in the 60s and I was ripe for some kind of strict moral code to protect me from the pain of divorce in my own future.

I wonder how many of us in our forties are so wired.

I love your idea of introducing our kids to the concept of being co-creators. I remember listening to Dobson's tapes with my daughter at age 13 when we did the whole "preparing for adolescence" weekend. Dobson did a terrific job of talking about peer pressure, insecure identity and the hormonal changes teens go through. (Props where they're due!)

But then, he hit this hellfire and brimstone speak when he got near premarital sex that was so alarming, my daughter literally asked me to turn off the tapes. She felt demeaned, shamed and scared, honestly. He made it appear that if anyone made a mistake in this area, there was no graver sin in one's life!

What appealed to me about some of the other reading I did on sexuality when my daughter was entering those years was the idea that teens could be trusted to make healthy wise decisions for themselves if they were treated with respect. The idea isn't so much to keep from doing something bad, but to consciously know what choices you are making and what the potential outcome and responsibility would be based on those choices. My two older kids really responded to that kind of discussion.

Scripture does offer some guidance in this arena if used to show the role of personal responsibility rather than as a proof text for how God will get you if you screw up.

Good thoughts.

Julie

julieunplugged said...

Bob, I agree with you that the pain busters experience is often unfamiliar to boomers. And they've seen a lot of family configurations.

I remember my daughter when she went off to high school for the first time saying that she was surprised to see happy reconstituted families (step parents and step children happy!). She'd been led to believe that all divorce was bad and led to the kind of pain that one couldn't survive (my fault on this one no doubt).

Additionally, she was surprised to see that there were some families so dysfunctional and screwed up, she suddenly realized why those kids did drugs or had sex with new empathy.

Today's teens are offered relief from pain through sex and drugs and alcohol... as we all were. But what appears to be missing isn't teaching on how not to have sex or the importance of abstinence, but how to get through pain without substance abuse of promiscuous sex.

Excellent point.

Julie

julieunplugged said...

Should have read my parents divorced in the 70s, not 60s.

Bilbo said...

And I would just like to add to Bob's comments about pain, that sexual addiction, is generally, an attempt to deal/cope with "emotional pain" which is something one seldom hears from those who shout the loudest regarding sexuality...which is why...The use of fear tactics, via shame and guilt most often don't work. They are not adressing the underlying problems associated with individuals or a society that is struggling with it's sexuality....

Kansas Bob said...

I watched the devastating affects of my first wife's death on our children ... I can hardly go there with out crying. Drugs, promiscuity and all sorts of stuff happened as they tried their best to deal with the pain. Unfortunately their dad and their church youth leaders were little help to them. I guess that is the problem with Fundamentalism - it has nothing to help you with pain.