Most of us have heard of the TV show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” The show centers on a girl dealing with teenage pregnancy/motherhood and her friends, their relationships, and their all-around “drama.” Although it airs on the ABC Family channel, “Secret Life” is anything BUT a family show. I’ve never actually watched an episode, but I Googled it for this article… I was appalled. The plot includes MANY sexual relationships outside of marriage, a gay character, and perhaps the most shocking, a “Christian” girl considered crazy and annoying until she breaks her vow of purity and loses her virginity to her boyfriend. And yet, one reporter could say “the show’s themes are presented in a relatively wholesome, heartfelt context that’s both entertaining and non-threatening.” If this is non-threatening and wholesome, I’d hate to see unwholesome.
Whether she’s intended to or not, this reporter has captured our culture’s attitude toward teenagers: raunchy is the new wholesome. The title of the show says it all; the “secret life of the American teenager” is sin and corruption. Teenagers aren’t expected to be innocent, pure, or spiritual; we’re expected to be sexual, reckless, and worldly. Here’s my question: as Christians, particularly Christian teens, are we going to take this? Are we going to let the world hold us to the stereotype? Are we going to let the world keep this view of us?
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:12)
As teens, we love this verse. I can’t speak for everyone, but I always used to think, “Ha, world! You can’t look down on me! It says right here in the Bible!” and stick out my metaphorical tongue. However, this verse has a “but”. And it’s a big one.
“BUT RATHER in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
This isn’t an instruction to the people trying to look down– it’s an instruction to the youth! We are to be so exemplary and Christ-like in our speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity that it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to logically look down on us.
As Christians, we are not to have “secret lives.” These secret lives can take one of two forms. The first is having a secret sinful life. Are we Sunday/Wednesday Christians? Do we take off the armor of God the moment we step outside the church building? We can’t be hypocrites in our faith. See how well that worked out for the Pharisees?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)
Not a very pleasant image, is it? Simply going through the motions, going to worship, singing songs, taking the Lord’s Supper, isn’t going to get us to heaven, or make us right with God. Take a look at Hebrews 10:5-7. (No, really. Open your Bible and read it.) Even under the Old Law, God didn’t want robots practicing rituals. He wants our obedience to Him. Now we ARE commanded to gather with the saints (Hebrews 10:25), take the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19), and sing praises to God (Ephesians 5:19). But if in fulfilling these commandments we are only “going through the motions,” these are of no value to God, to ourselves, or to the people watching us as examples of Christians.
The other secret life is just as bad: having a secret CHRISTIAN life.
We all know the song: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” As children, we refused to hide our light under a bushel, or let Satan blow it out. Do those promises made in song carry into our lives today?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).
There are two points in that last part. First, men are to be able to see our good works. Are we living Christ-like lives? Are we serving Him both in the church and in the world? Are we acting like the set-apart people we are? Francis of Assisi once said “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” Do our actions preach the gospel at all times? Second, our good works are to lead them to glorify God. Do our friends think we’re simply “good people,” or do they know we’re Christians? Do we share the gospel verbally and point people to God?
So, are you a Christian teenager with a “secret life?” Get rid of it! As Christians we are to be black and white, clear followers of God, no matter what company we’re currently keeping, no matter what situation or setting we’re placed in.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)