Do Christians Act Like It?

I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights over the last couple of weeks. It’s an interesting show that tackles some tough issues in unexpected ways, but it has also reminded me of something very sad. Originally, I started watching it when it first aired on television but then backed off because I did not like the depiction of Christian teens on the show. I still don’t like it, but now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, it is showing me something that we all need to be aware of: that many of our young people today are growing up in the Church, but not with a Christian worldview.

The series is about a high school football team in a small Texas town, but the personal stories revolve around the lives of the girls that go to the school, the football players and their friends, and the head coach (played by Kyle Chandler, who is as cute as he ever was). These are “good” kids. They go to church. They bow their heads and pray. They stand up for one another. But they also drink, and have premarital sex. Some of their church-going parents even hook up outside their marriages. It isn’t good. My parents quit watching after two episodes for that reason. But I hung in there, both because I was caught up in the show, and because I needed to think about what it was saying about America’s Christian teens.

In Hollywood, Christians aren’t that much different from anyone else except we tend to be more sanctimonious about it. We like to pretend that we’re better than the masses and we should be… but we’re not. I’ve gone to church with girls who grew up in the faith and still got knocked up. I’ve had godly discussions with girls who professed to be a believer but were unconcerned about giving the wrong impression, or courting temptation, by spending the weekend with their boyfriend. It was a bit of a shock to me, because I’ve always held to my faith, even at the point in my life when I wasn’t saved. There are things you do and do not do, and that’s that.

Kids are growing up in church but they do not have a scriptural worldview. Worldview makes all the difference. It is the “filter” through which you see life and make decisions. It influences how you vote, how you dress, what comes out of your mouth, and how you treat others. Many people call themselves Christians but don’t act like it, because their worldview is not godly. For the kids in this series, Christianity was regulated to Sunday mornings and praying before football games. But the rest of the week, their worldview was no different from their peers. That’s why there was drinking, and premarital sex, and other problems… because their worldview did not include God. It did not include the fear of God.

If someone really believed that God is sovereign, would they still choose to be disobedient to Him? No, since that would contradict their belief in His right to have moral authority over their life.

But we see it again and again… in movies like Footloose, where a minister’s daughter wears slutty outfits and is blatantly disrespectful and disobedient to her father, and in our own lives. Churches are losing their youth. It’s a tragic thing, but it is the natural consequence of lacking a godly worldview. Without it, you can’t make it in this world. Without it, you’ll adopt the world rather than be repulsed by it. I should know. I did grow up with a Christian worldview, but as I got older, as I started attending more “relaxed” churches, it began to slip. The world started to creep in. And it was only when I got back into a traditional, scripture-based church that I realized how much my worldview had changed, and how far it was from what God wants it to be.

Accepting that Friday Night Lights has a point about my Christian peers is hard, and I don’t have to like it, but it has shown me that what matters most is making sure that my worldview is in tune with Christ… not the world. I don’t want to be one of those girls who is religious on weekends, but doesn’t let that influence every decision, every word that comes out of her mouth, every moment of every day. I don’t want to be the person that Hollywood thinks I am. I will make mistakes. That’s a certainty. But these mistakes do not have to own me.

4 thoughts on “Do Christians Act Like It?

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  1. Teenagers make me very sad these days. I’m around them so much by being involved with teen library programs. I hear all the discussions that they shouldn’t be having and the interests that need to be squelched. I know some of these kids attend church and their poor parents probably have no idea what they’re into in their spare time. But these are still good kids. They still want to excel at school, make a success of their lives, and for whatever reason, want the adults in their lives to like them. They’re very insecure and nervous and I’m always feeling like if I push the wrong way I might accidentally squash one of them like she was a butterfly.

    In a way it’s the fault of the church. Or rather, the fault of the adults in these teens lives, the ones who do attend church and were raised in that environment. Their parents were either too lax in discipline or too stern. I’ve known some Christian teen girls who couldn’t wait to get out of the church as soon as they turned 18 because their parents pushed too hard and it scared them away. There was the conviction of sin but no love offered.

    Ultimately, these children make their own decisions and the blame can’t be truly placed on the shoulders of anyone else. But there are other powers and influences at play that pull them away from God. I wish, truly wish, that parents and adult Christian leaders would learn to listen to teens instead of condemning them outright. There needs to be correction, don’t get me wrong, but there seems to be a very harsh “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality when dealing with teens. And that saddens me.

    Well, you probably were not expecting such a long schpeal! But since I see my teens every few weeks in a group setting the topic of teen immorality is very close to my heart.

    1. I used to think that parents weren’t responsible for how their children turn out… but I don’t think that anymore. They need to be aware of what is going on in their child’s life, even if they don’t want to face it. Being too hard on your kids is never a good idea — but neither is just being a “friend” to them and nothing else.

      Being a parent is hard. Much harder than you or I realize, because you face that kind of thing every day — how much do I push? How much do I sit back and let them learn the consequences of their actions? I think the greatest impact on a teenager is to let them share, and then question them — not condemn them, but make them think and evaluate and reach the right conclusions. What is better, to say, “You can’t watch that!” or to ask, “What is it you like about it? Do you think it’s entirely appropriate? Do you agree with it?”

      No one likes being forced or pushed. Unfortunately, many churches (and parents) do too much forcing.
      No one likes to be forced. Unfortunately, many parents do too much forcing.

  2. Great post, Charity.

    I think, sadly, today there are a lot of “Sunday Christians” – or “Christians” in name only. There is one family who goes to our church that has three girls. They are all around my age, probably early twenties and all three of them not only dress horribly but I don’t believe that their church-ed up-bringing really convicted them to live godly lives. I don’t know everything, so I’d be more than willing to admit I am wrong, if I am.

    1. I think sadly, our churches drifting away from depicting God as He truly is (a God to be feared in addition to a merciful God) has rendered Him optional. People think they are saved if they are “nice” and go to church and pray… but you are not truly saved until you truly repent, and part of that is realizing what an abominable piece of sludge you actually are without God.

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