Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lowering Our Standards?

I was in the car Friday night driving to talk with our football team, while listening to ESPN1000. The talk show host this particular night was talking about the growing situation at Miami U. I jumped on at the tail end of his conversation, so need to give that disclaimer, but heard him finish his comments by saying:

"Is it fair for us to think that any 18-22 year old young man, if put in the same situation, wouldn't have done the same thing. Isn't that what you do when you're 18-22?"

I shouldn't have been, but I am still amazed at the lowering standards we have for our university students and the group commonly called "Emerging Adults". I realize there is a lot going on related to university sports, standards we have related to the mixed messages being sent by a billion dollar business that won't give their students a meal stipend, but really, that is what 18-22 year-old young men do? Is that where we have landed?

I want to think that isn't the case. I want to think that we have handed some young men in our culture over to "men" who aren't mentoring, but are piling on to an already disintegrating situation in college sports, football in particular, and life in general for emerging adults. I don't consider what has happend in Miami, Ohio State, and other places, as mentoring. So I told 105 young men last Friday, that they don't need to go that way, as if they needed my permission to make better choices for their life. There is another way; isn't there?

What should our expectations be for the young men on our university campuses? How do we align what this talk show host said, compared to Jesus saying that he wants us to experience, "life to the full"? Is God just a cosmic killjoy, wanting to keep us from "having fun", or is the life he calls us to really one that leaves us feeling complete, satisfied? Maybe that is "life to the full"? Could there something more?

My opinion is that we have just to continued to lower our standards for young men, and actually young adults, who can be trusted and invested in. We don't need to throw our hands up in the air, believeing there is nothing we can do to turn this tide, that all emerging adults are destined to live this life to some degree, but instead can let them know there is another way to live, different than what this talk show host insinuates, any red-blooded american 18-22 year-old would do. Or, maybe we don't believe that anymore.

Now, I rant.

The 25 years I spent in youth ministry, I actually believed that the life we call them to live, they could actually experience, here and now. They didn't have to go the way of places like "the U", or "the Ohio State University". I actually believed high school students didn't "have" to drink, and they could live lives of purity, not perfection, but desire other things for their lives than what our culture says is out there for them.

I also don't believe that as university chaplain we have to throw my hands up in the air, saying, 'boys will be boys" or, "that's just the way girls are". If I was 20, and I know I'm not, I would be insulted with some of the attitudes that are pervasive in our culture. I don't buy this, and I don't believe, deep down inside, many of our 18-22 year-old university students do either. I believe they all sense there is something inherently wrong with this. I believe there is something that causes them to long for more. I believe they can live from a different place, listening to a different voice, living a different life.

Or, we can just choose to continue to lower our standards, believing the life we call them to is beyond them, not possible, too difficult, accepting that is just the way it is. We can do that, I'm just hoping we won't.

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