The False Pretense of Teenage Christianity

The Pretense of Teenage Christianity

Last week, I blogged about the true meaning of our teenage years. In that post, I laid out what our culture expects of us, the teenagers. Directly after, I gave a call. I called all teenagers into the “Do Hard Things” movement, a commitment to rebelling against low expectations and doing the hard things.

But, you see, it’s hard to be a Christian teen, doing hard things, when the very idea of your Christianity is a pretense in the first place.

Something has taken ahold of today’s “Christian” teen generation. Though not new, it seems to have grown far larger in the past few decades. For some reason, teenagers raised in Christian homes create a false pretense of Christianity, operating under the banner of our beliefs but not living the lifestyle you’d expect of a true Christian. This false pretense of teenage Christianity casts a terrible shadow upon our faith, leaving many to justly believe that Christians are hypocrites.

Many have become offended at that statement. They say, “How can you know what my faith is like? What right do you have to pass judgment?”

I make no claim to your faith, and I pass no judgment. Yet it is nearly impossible to ignore the fact that, of all the teens I have met, over 60% have two faces. There’s the “normal” face, presented to friends and peers alike. Then, there’s the “Christian” face, presented to parents and teachers.

Over the past six years, I have spent much of my time at the local Christian schools. From my ministry’s school in Uganda to a Christian school near my house in West Virginia, I have spent much time around today’s Christian-raised teenagers. As a teenager myself, I have been welcomed into their midst with open arms, and it is within the circles and cliques of these teens that I found the hypocrites I referenced earlier.

These so-called Christians are usually quite similar. They were raised in Christian households, around Christian friends, and they attended a church for most of their lives. They spend much of their time around Christian teachers or mentors, but they have also been heavily influenced by their secular peers.

This creates a two-faced person. Whether intentionally or not, they act one way around their friends, and another around their parents/teachers. Around their friends, you wouldn’t even think they were Christians. They swear, make horrible jokes and references, greatly disrespect their parents, and follow their peers into other inappropriate activities. Yet, at the same time, they talk “Jesus talk” around their parents and teachers, pretending to be holy and Godly.

The worst part? Many fall for it. In Christian schools, camps, and families, adults lack discernment and fail to see past the thin veil of “Churchianity”. Schools award “Christian mentor” awards to these teens. Camps give “Most Godly Christian” awards to the same people. Parents boast about their “Godly” children, the same children who, at that moment, are smoking weed with their friends.

This isn’t Christianity. This is secularism under the false pretense of Christianity, creating a mask around the adults and yet living in falsehood with your peers. I don’t need to make an accusation, the lifestyle speaks for itself.

Christianity is all-consistent. It doesn’t require a change in behavior for anybody. In fact, the Bible literally condemns this sort of behavior, since Paul rebuked Peter for acting in a similar way to today’s teens.

There are exceptions, as usual. Some teens simply mix with the wrong crowd. Others struggle with their faith. Yet, at the end of the day, actions show the heart.

Even we, the teenagers with a heart for Christ, can be susceptible to this. I have struggled greatly in my actions towards my secular friends, attempting to avoid preaching, but also striving to maintain a Godly, consistent attitude towards them. I do not force what I believe upon them; I let them act normally. In this, my testimony becomes clear and God is glorified.

All Christians, myself included, must check our hearts and motives. If we act in a different way around our peers and family, ask yourself, “why?” Do you do it to create an image? Or is it the natural result of the change in age or position. Obviously, there is a small change in your reactions towards adults, as opposed to your reactions towards your peers. Your reactions to adults should be full of respect and honor as appropriate to their station. Your actions and conversations with your peers, on the other hand, should be normal to you, not an image.

If you find yourself purposefully acting in a specific way around your friends, challenge yourself. Are you doing so because of God and what He commands? Or are you trying to impress someone? Are you trying to live the Faith you proclaim? Or are you sullying that Faith by living in a manner opposite to the calling of Christ?

“Are you trying to live the Faith you proclaim? Or are you sullying that Faith by living in a manner opposite to the calling of Christ?”

Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have an excellent day!

-Elisha McFarland

Last post: How to Prepare for Cultural Transition

Featured post: What Does It Really Mean to be a Teen?

Related post: Christ, the God of Fulfillment

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13 thoughts on “The False Pretense of Teenage Christianity

  1. Amen, Amen and AMEN!!! This is an amazing post that definitely needed to be written, and you did an absolutely fantastic job, doing just that.
    I most definitely agree, and it drives me crazy, that this is such a big thing, in our culture.
    Teenagers usually get bad things said about them anyways, but for us to totally throw away our faith, merely for a bit of “fun” is just plain sinful and there is absolutely no, pure good that will come out of it.
    If we call ourself a Christian, we need to be constantly acting like one, not just when we want to. If others seeing us acting like the rest of the world in a negative way, that automatically affirms their idea of Christians being hypocrites. It is our duty to show people that not all Christians are hypocrites, and the way we can do that, is by living our whole lives, to the best of our ability.
    All right, there’s my rant for the day.
    Again, thanks for all the great work you do; please keep it up!!!
    – Keziah

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: The False Pretense of Teenage Christianity — Elisha McFarland – quietmomentswithgod

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  4. As a teenager, I talked a lot about Christianity around the majority of people I knew- adults and even certain groups of friends. But I was Pagan at the time, following a Sumerian “god” and “goddess”. My past self was scared to let people of authority know that I wasn’t actually involved in the Christian faith. The friends I talked about Christianity with were those who were heavily engaged in their Christian faith and had the ability to tell someone about my own faith issues. And I just didn’t want the hassle.
    I have to wonder how many of these teens you are encountering that are really just afraid to admit to anyone they know they aren’t actually Christian. If that’s the case, then the problem isn’t so much hypocrisy as it is that the Church does nothing to really engage the teenage spirit so it wants to be Godly.
    Admittedly, that’s a problem that is as old as time. If it were that simple, we wouldn’t have over half the stories of the Old Testament.

    Liked by 1 person

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