White Weddings

  Watching today's movies and television, you'd think young people are little more than animals in heat. Whether it's movies like "American Pie" or television shows like "Dawson's Creek," the message is that the only view teens have about sex is "the more the better." But if you look beyond the Hollywood fantasy and ask people who actually know about the subject, you'll find a much different--and much brighter--picture. A recent issue of American Demographics magazine introduced readers to Ryan K., a nineteen-year-old student at Georgetown University. While Ryan is, in many respects, like the kids you see depicted on the screen--right down to a pierced eyebrow--his attitudes towards sex and morality are remarkably traditional. Ryan says he no intention of living with a woman outside of marriage. He told American Demographics that he plans to have sex with his future bride for the first time on their wedding night. And Ryan isn't alone in his embrace of more traditional sexual mores. In the past two decades, the number of 18-to-24-years olds who say, "it is always wrong to have sex before marriage," has doubled. In just the past two years, the percentage of unmarried couples who live together has dropped by nearly a third--a staggering reversal of past trends. Kirsty Doig, vice president of a market research group called Youth Intelligence, says these figures indicate a major new trend among the young--a trend she labels "neotraditionalism." White wedding gowns are in fashion again. Other experts agree, predicting a surge in teen marriages and larger families. What's even more fascinating than these trend are the reasons behind them. Doig told American Demographics that today's 18-to-24-year olds "have not had a lot of stability in their lives." As a result we're seeing "a backlash, a return to tradition and ritual. And that includes marriage." Another expert on trends among youth is more blunt. Liz Nickles says that much of the impetus behind neotraditionalism is the poor example set by these kids' parents. "[Their] role models were mothers focused on their careers," Nickles says. So today's teens plan to lives their lives more the way their grandparents did. While Generation Y girls may pursue careers, Nickles says, "their first priority will be their homes." As we approach the new millenium, it's becoming increasingly clear that our culture has reached an impasse. Thirty-plus years of moral relativism has not made a better world. In fact, it's done the opposite: It has produced fatherless children, broken homes, schoolyard shootings--horrors we never dreamed of. The members of Generation Y know this first hand: They are its principal victims. That's why they're embracing traditional views: they are looking for a way out of the impasse. This openness to tradition presents Christians with an incredible opportunity for witness. We know that as positive as these trends are, they alone are not enough. These kids are doing the right thing. Now they need to embrace the right REASONS for doing these things. That's why we need to help Generation Y see beyond the neotraditional trappings like white wedding gowns to the deep moral Christian truths upon which these traditions rest.


Chuck Colson


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