Half man, half child, the teenager struggles through life, seeking to prove to the world (and themselves) that they have reached maturity. In the Western world graduation into adulthood often involves getting drunk and losing their virginity. These are the modern rituals that many teens pass through. What does the Bible have to say about this? Where are the teenagers of the Bible?
The first thing to notice is the complete lack of the word 'teenager' in the Bible. The Bible people are divided into two age groups: childhood and adulthood. There is no mention of the no-mans-land that is the modern teenager.
Of course a teenager is not the same as a person in their 60s. That’s why adulthood in the Bible is often subdivided into young adults and old adults, but the teenagers are still counted as adults! Take a look at these references where young and old men are separated out: Psalm 148:2, Proverbs 20:29, Jeremiah 31:13, Lamentations 2:21, Ezekiel 9:6, Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17, 1 Timothy 5:1.
In other words the teenagers are men. They are not children anymore and they are expected to put childish ways behind them (1 Corinthians 13:11).
But they are young men. They need the wisdom of the older generation to guide them through life. Take a look at Joel 2:28 where the prophet speaks about pouring out his spirit on all flesh – young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams.
The young men are full of passion and strength. They see visions: “everyone in our town is going to be saved by the end of this year.” Their youthful zeal drives them to do incredible things for God as well as putting them at risk of doing incredibly foolish things. That’s why they need the wiser older generation.
The older generation dream dreams. Their visions have been tempered by the reality of experience. “Wouldn’t it be nice if one day everyone in this town was saved,” they dream. This experience that leads them to dream can help the younger generation from being foolhardy, but the relationship between young and old is not one-way. It is symbiotic. The older generation need the youthful zeal of the younger adults to drive them to work towards their dreams and indeed to help make their dreams reality.
The generations of church need each other. We cannot separate them out and expect the church to remain strong.
What rituals do you have to welcome your children to manhood?
How do you treat your teens like adults whilst ensuring they have the support they need to make the right choices in young adult life?
How do you help your different generations to mix, inspire and assist each other?