I would like to start by saying thank you. Thank you for your dedication to and love for your children. Thank you for wanting to keep us safe, and for striving to ensure that we grow into thriving adults who love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Thank you for investing untold hours into teaching God’s Word to us, and for telling us, over and over and over, that the Bible is God’s mind revealed to us.
But in light of the way you have invested in our spiritual health, and in response to the negative reactions I am seeing from many parents as my peers and I seek to take our places as adults in our churches, in our communities, and in our own homes, I want you to know that your words haven’t fallen on deaf ears. And I want to implore you not to write us off when we live the values you have taught us and the results look different than you expected.
All of our lives, you have taught us that God’s Word is the only authority concerning how we live our faith. You have told us to interpret scripture using scripture. So please don’t be surprised or offended when we want to know where, exactly, in scripture a standard or practice or tradition comes from. If you can’t show us that concept in God’s Word, without referencing a preacher or writer or historian, don’t be surprised when we reject that concept. We’re not being rebellious: we’re doing our best to follow God’s Word.
As young children, most of us memorized 1 Timothy 4:12 – “Let no man despise thy youth.” “Nobody is too young to walk with Jesus,” you told us. Forgive us for believing this: for not looking down on ourselves as lesser church citizens, but boldly stepping up and interacting, asking for real involvement in church ministries, wanting to discuss real, solid theology with our pastors and anyone else who cares to enter the conversation. And please don’t be upset that we want this verse to apply to you, too. Please don’t discount our perspectives simply because we are younger. The same Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to comfort you comforts and guides us, too.
Another verse you made us learn was 1 Samuel 16:7. “People look at the outside,” you told us, “but God cares about what really matters: he looks at the heart.” So why are you baffled when we take this teaching at face value? Why are you surprised when we seek to focus on what God focuses on, rather than getting wrapped up in appearances?
You told us that God’s Word has “all the answers.” So why are you upset when we want to ask “all the questions?” You told us that nobody is grandfathered in to God’s kingdom: everyone who comes to him comes alone, and must personally choose to follow him. So why are you saddened when we don’t want to just take your word for things – we want to study them out ourselves? We want to know why we do what we do, and know that our reasons are biblical, and only biblical. We don’t want to do what we do because “grandad did it this way.” As much as we may love and respect grandad, and as confident as we may be that grandad walks with Jesus, our calling as Christians isn’t to follow grandad: our calling is to follow Jesus.
Throughout our lives, we have been inspired and challenged repeatedly by your faith in God. We’ve seen you walk through difficult situations with peace in your heart because you believe the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapter six, when he assured his disciples that they didn’t need to worry: their heavenly Father will never stop taking care of them. So we are surprised by the way you are stressing out right now, panicking over our life choices and trying to deduce where you “went wrong” in raising us. Do you trust your heavenly Father to protect and shepherd us? When you made us memorize Philippians 1:6, did you truly believe what it says: that God who began the work in our hearts will be faithful to complete it?
We know that a lot of your discomfort with our choices is based on preaching you have heard for years and years in your church circles. You have heard that any deviance from the lifestyles you have been taught stems from rebellion and/or deception and will lead, ultimately, to a rejection of the foundations of the gospel. We want you to realize that this dichotomy is inaccurate.
The fact that our lives don’t look just like yours doesn’t mean we will turn our backs on God.
If we wanted to leave the church, we would have left the church.
(And, like it or not, you will leave the church to us. Your generation won't live forever. God's work will continue, even when you are gone. He has given that promise.)
We don’t want to walk away from Jesus. We want to truly walk with him.
And we want you to walk with us in this process.
So please, don’t write us off. Don’t shut us out. Don’t tell us to just trust you because you “know better” than we do.
Trust the God whom you taught us to trust, and be willing to open your eyes and see in our lives the biblical principles we are seeking to follow. Listen when we speak. Welcome our questions, instead of feeling threatened by them. Please, seek God with us; we all have a lot of growing left to do.
A Fellow Child of God