Adolescence is a fairly recent concept in the history of mankind. It wasn't that long ago that children went into adulthood without the recently invented phase of adolescence. It was a time when people picked up responsibilities very early in life and then took up more responsibilities as they became an adult. But responsibility is often not expected from adolescents. Who's responsible for this?Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Adolescence now starts at around 13 years of age and goes up into the 20s. It used to be that people left childhood and became adults when they married. Of course, some children grew into adulthood without marrying by taking up responsibilities beyond themselves. People don't become responsible then take up responsibilities - they become responsible by taking up responsibilities. Adulthood means responsibility.
But now we have many young men delaying marriage and family responsibilities well past their twenties. Some cite fear as the main reason. What if I marry the wrong person? What if I get married and they change? What if it doesn't work out? Others cite a lack of incentive to marry and take up their responsibilities to care for a wife and a family. This objection is far more prevalent because it used to be that the Bible's injunction to "keep the marriage bed holy" (Heb. 13:4) was respected by civilised people who understood that marriage was the only God-ordained environment for any sexual contact. Young women, who long for what all young women long for (a man who will love them by being committed to them unconditionally), unwittingly sabotage the fulfilment of their longing by giving themselves intimately to a man who should have expected that such intimacy was only the privilege of the married.
Not even God will suffer a relationship with another without a commitment from them. If a relationship between a man and woman which includes physical intimacy demands a covenant of marriage, how much more does a covenant between a person and God? Indeed, God demands the highest form of covenant with a person which marriage is only a shadow. But oh, the wonderful privilege of being in covenant with God and all the ecstasies that that brings to a person's soul! In all my years of pastoring I have never encountered a couple who has regretted waiting until they were married to be physically intimate. But I have met hundreds who have deeply regretted their impatience. Similarly, I never met a person who, once tasting of the sweetness of Jesus, has said that they regret leaving behind their former life of bondage to sin.
But commitment to Christ, just like marriage, demands responsibility. As mentioned, for some fearkeeps them from accepting their responsibilities. The "right" person can become the "wrong" person if you confuse what agape love is. The person you marry will change - they are supposed to! In fact, when you marry, you both change because you grow together. And even the best marriage won't "work out" unless there is forgiveness and humility where somebody takes responsibility for the relationship. The other night I came home late from attending to some urgent matters. My mind was racing. My wife was greeting me. I brushed off her greeting as I continued to unpack my deliberations. Later that night I sensed there was something wrong. I asked what was the matter. After being told that I had not acknowledged her greeting sufficiently, I felt a little indignant. Didn't she realise that I was helping lots of people by the urgent matters I was giving my attention to and that unless I attended to them there would be some incredible damage done? To my shame I went to sleep indignant internally hoping that I might receive a much deserved apology in the morning. As I was waking next morning, my mind was racing about my responsibilities as a husband. I realised that I had to accept the responsibility of clearing the air by apologising to Kim for my neglect toward her. This took humility. But, it was sincere. I was belatedly responsible.
First Peter 5:6 ¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
The other Sunday during our morning service we viewed an excellent video clip from Growing Families about responsibility. It cleverly depicted responsibility as being like a stuffed toy monkey. Parents should give their children the appropriate number of these monkeys and refuse to take them back off them so their children learn responsibility. And in age where not even civic leaders are keen to take too much responsibility, perhaps we as Christian parents might want to at least help raise up a generation that understands what responsibility looks like. This will be difficult for parents who have excused their children from being responsible. But it is needed because there are too many adults irresponsibly enjoying artificially prolonged adolescence.
First Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
The next time life feels like it's a little too much for you to carry, it may be because you are a responsible person. (Irresponsible people don't carry such loads.) Don't be afraid. Be responsible. Trust God and do your best. God knows we need more responsible people - especially responsible adults who developed the ability to carry responsibilities through their childhood.
Psa. 34:8 ¶ Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!