How Should Young Adults Get Introduced to Christianity?
Earlier this year, Right Wing News founder John Hawkins wrote 101 Things ALL Young Adults Should Know. I gave the book four out of five stars for being direct and thorough. John covered everything from relationships and hard work to working out, wills and roommates. (The Stream’s Rachel Alexander also reviewed the book.)
However, the book has one major flaw: Religion is not one of the 101 things on which he guides young adults. He does refer to Christianity, but only a few times and usually in passing.
Hawkins told me that religion played a minor role in the book because he wanted wider appeal: “I deliberately only mentioned religion in the book a couple of times because I wanted every kid, Christian, atheist, conservative, liberal, to pick it up and not get turned off. It’s exposing kids to conservative and Christian values without scaring them away.”
Many involved in public policy and cultural debates use this tactic. I frequently argue for Christian principles on abortion, marriage and abstinence using sociology, science and data. I want to discuss controversial issues with people where they are, so they’ll give me a hearing. They won’t listen if I say, “God says.” They might listen if I say, “Science says.”
This way I might convince them to live in conformity with God’s law, in order to help them in both the material and, ultimately, the spiritual world. Understanding God’s principles in the immediately practical sense can help kickstart someone on a journey to Christianity.
In a nation where as many as half of younger adults aren’t sure they believe in God, presenting faith in a subtle or secondary way is often wise. God gave us tools besides the Bible.
But Young Adults Need to Know God
Hawkins’ approach might work in a debate or in a newspaper article. But a book entitled 101 Things ALL Young Adults Should Know should put God first.
For example, Hawkins tells his readers that it’s best to abstain from sex until marriage. However, he suggests when he should command. Research shows that sexual intercourse prior to marriage hurts students’ ability to thrive in school, and abstinence reduces the chances of divorce. Additionally, for unmarried people who desire to avoid pregnancy and STDs, abstinence is 100 percent effective! Sex outside of marriage hurts the people involved.
That’s what the research shows. But do young people listen to research on sex? When the whole culture tells them to have sex, do they stop and consider the pluses and the minuses? No. That’s where telling them about God’s Will might help.
This is just one example of the consequences of leaving God out of the 101 things Christian should want to tell young adults. But there’s one even bigger loss to not knowing what God wants: These young adults need to meet Jesus. Not knowing Jesus is the biggest loss they will ever suffer.
In the end, young adults will be best served through a forthright explanation as to why Christianity is the first of 102 things they should know. John is right to consider his audience, but by leaving out God he doesn’t tell them what they most need to know.