The Myth of Adolescence
I heard about Newt’s comments on an episode of The Way of the Master (at the end around 40:00), they have some good commentary on it. Phil Hammond comments that today’s youth are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today and should be treated as such. He supports children attending the main service and interacting with everyone, rather than compartmentalizing them into their specific age groups.
Monergism Books is selling a new version of Calvin’s Institutes and I was once again struck by the fact that Calvin wrote his masterpiece when he was 26.
It seems to me that there is a natural division between children and adults, and that is puberty. Leviticus 27 and Numbers 1 seem to imply that there is a division at about 20 years old, but the context is manual labor and war.
The whole culture collaborates in artificially extending childhood, primarily through the school system and restrictions on labor. The two systems evolved together in the late 19th-century; the advocates of compulsory-education laws also pushed for child-labor laws, restricting the ways young people could work, in part to protect them from the abuses of the new factories. The juvenile justice system came into being at the same time. All of these systems isolate teens from adults, often in problematic ways.
Everyone who has looked at the issue has found that teens can experience the love that adults experience. The only difference is that they change partners more, because they are warehoused together, told it’s puppy love and not real, and are unable to marry without permission. The assumption is they are not capable.
The “friends with benefits” phenomenon is a by-product of isolating adolescents, warehousing them together, and delivering messages that they are incapable of long-term relationships. Obviously they have strong sexual urges and act on them in ways that are irresponsible. We can change that by letting them know they are capable of having more than a hookup.
Compare this with Martin Luther’s words from The Estate of Marriage:
In the third place, from this ordinance of creation God has himself exempted three categories of men, saying in Matthew 19 [:12], “There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Apart from these three groups, let no man presume to be without a spouse. And whoever does not fall within one of these three categories should not consider anything except the estate of marriage. Otherwise it is simply impossible for you to remain righteous. For the Word of God which created you and said, “Be fruitful and multiply,” abides and rules within you; you can by no means ignore it, or you will be bound to commit heinous sins without end.
Here are a couple other blogs about the book (oddly enough both from libertarian blogs):
The Case Against Adolescence (Laissez Faire Books)
The Case Against Adolescence (Marginal Revolution)
What do you think?