A discussion of how Christian ideology can help troubled youth.
The family unit is one of the most cherished institutions of American society. Its function is one of philanthropy, to raise America’s children in accordance with our accepted norms and various proscriptions and prescriptions. However, rising teenage pregnancy and juvenile crime seem to indicate that the American family is not doing this. Many Americans insist that a family is capable of producing a productive citizen in every instance and believe that only a traditional family can do this. So the conclusion one might draw baring in mind this paradigm is that the traditional one mom and one dad family needs help as a function. Any Pat Robertson- fearing Republican will tell you that Judeo-Christian ethics are the foundation upon which the family is based, therefore to help the family why not foster these religious ideals? (And while we’re at it, why not make a contribution to the two billion dollar tax-free Christian Broadcasting Network?) The manifest function here of religion is to provide people with a unifying belief that will scare kids into behaving so they do not go to Hell. The latent function is that it is a slap in the face to every Easterner who has conducted themselves in a productive and positive manner. Many of the Christian right I am sure do not realize how offensive the notion is that Christianity is the only faith to recognize that killing and stealing are bad. What exactly are the “norms” that are so exclusive to Christianity? The Christian world is more afflicted with crime than Singapore ever will be, just take a walk through the super Catholic ghettos of Buenos Aires. I personally believe that the break from moral traditions does not exist. The vast majority of American youth hold murder and violence to be a proscription, and so do their families whether they consist of two moms or two dads or one of each. Certainly poverty has created a problem to compliment the stress placed on those growing up in single parent families, and perhaps here is where faith belongs. If people can just have something to believe in, to lift up their spirits, perhaps the dread of daily life would not seem so terrible for those it depresses, and here I speak not only of inner cities, I speak of the dozens of people I know who have to be on prozac to have the will to wake up in the morning, I speak of the countless multitudes of young women who purposely vomit because they feel they have no control over their lives or because they feel they must aspire to be thin enough to houlla hoop in a Cherio. The plight of youth is not the measure of their morality. The plight of youth is the measure of their self worth. We value malnutrition for our girls and perfect health for our boys. Although the older members of our society will say that these are not the new prescriptions, that these are wrong, these detrimental social phenomenon occur in desperately large numbers. How can Christian ideology help these depressed youth? The Bible does not have anything to say about anorexia, about buhlemia. It does condemn suicide, but certainly condemnation is not the way to help us. In the end, the saving grace of American youth will be their ability to believe in themselves. Self confidence and preservation will give them the emotional capacity to aim as high as Americans should, to make something of themselves other than a thin body. Of course, no one wants to think that the ones hurting American youth are themselves. But they are. Hollywood and the fashion industry have indeed played a large part as far as America’s perception of beauty. This influences the American paradigm far more than media violence ever could, for no one wants to be the bad guy murderer. He (almost) always looses. Times change. A place called America started in a revolution that was seen as an atheistic break from the tradition of British rule. Now we are liberating ourselves from ourselves, for better or worse. Sex education is teaching children not to be afraid or ashamed of their bodies, gays and lesbians need not live undignified lives of shame and a teenage mother need not carry to term a baby she can not afford. This is the moral crisis the Pat Robertson denounces. If I had a two billion dollar tax-exempt media corporation, I’m sure I could paint progress as crisis too. The real fundamentals of Christianity that offer a positive function for society is not the condemnation of diversity and alienation that the rich and religious are always so good at; it is the idea that we start caring about each other, that we love one another and stop blaming each other for our own problems. I think that if Jesus were to return tomorrow, he would be rather unhappy to find Pat Robertson the spokesman and president of his fan club.