Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Moral and Sexual Shape of The Buster Generation

Ever wonder whether young people today (Christians included!) care about traditional Christianity? Ever wonder what drives their moral and sexual behaviors and attitudes? For all the “new” rules of tolerance, compassion and kindness, does it promote more civility, respect, or patience among the Busters? What percentage of Busters hold to the concept of “absolute truth” in relation to their parents’ generation? What’s behind the skepticism of the Busters? How can churches and church leaders connect with Busters to help them live more morally healthy and fulfilled lives?

I'm a Boomer.

My daughter and son-in law are Busters.

Sometimes I struggle to understand the way they think and why. Today I had an extended conversation with my son-in-law about capital punishment and what Christians today think of it.

Some hard facts...some troubling realities...began to surface. I had to pray for insight and understanding.

Then I stumbled upon a new study just released by the Barna group. Thank you Lord.

It's rather startling and eye opening. You’ve probably heard bits and pieces of this kind of research before but now it’s in an easily digestible and conceptual framework.

Here are what I consider to be interesting highlights:

  • “Busters” are those born between the years of 1965 and 1983. Currently, Busters are ages 23 through 41.
  • In none of the 32 facets of lifestyle or attitude studied were Busters more likely to possess a conventional moral position when compared with the older crowd of “pre-Busters.”
  • Busters defy sexual convention in their attitudes, for example,
    • More than two-thirds said that cohabitation and sexual fantasies are morally acceptable behaviors, compared with half of older adults.
    • Almost half of Busters believed that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are acceptable, compared with one-quarter of older adults.
    • Busters were more likely than older adults to say that in the past month they had used illegal drugs and had gotten drunk.
  • Less civility, respect, and patience show up in the interaction which Busters have with others. Busters were twice as likely as their parents’ generation to use profanity in public, to say mean things about others behind their back, to do something to get back at someone who hurt or offended them, to take something that didn’t belong to them, etc. etc.
  • Young adults were significantly more likely to accept gambling, profanity, intoxication, and illegal drug use as morally acceptable behaviors.
  • Nearly half of all pre-Busters said they view moral truth as absolute, but only three out of 10 Busters embraced the concept of absolute truth.
  • Nearly half of Busters said that ethics and morals are based on “what is right for the person,” compared with just one-quarter of pre-Busters.
  • On eight of the 16 behaviors, the profile of born again Busters was virtually identical to that of non-born again Busters.
  • Born again Busters were much less likely to act in a “moral” manner than were born again adults over 40.
  • The lifestyles of young and old were indistinguishable in a few ways. Out of the 16 areas of moral behavior, adults across the generations were equally likely to have given someone “the finger” while driving, to smoke, to buy a lottery ticket, and to place a bet or gamble.
  • Busters’ perspectives were no different from that of their elders on three issues: the acceptability of abortion, allowing the “f-word” on broadcast television, and deeming divorce not to be a sin.

The research director’s summary:

  • The moral profile of today’s young adult is more likely to resemble that of their peer group than it is to take shape around the tenets of a person’s faith. This research paints a compelling picture that moral values are shifting very quickly and significantly within the Christian community.
  • Busters have a more disconnected, individualized, less trusting spin on morality. They are trying to create a sense of identity because they feel that shaping influences such as family, church, and community have failed them.
  • The Buster’s mindset of sexual entitlement translates into increased appetites for pornography, unfiltered acceptance of sexual themes and content in media, and continued dissolution of marriages due to infidelity.
  • Churches must help Busters grasp sexuality from a biblical perspective in ways that do not demean people’s personal struggles in the blunt and permissive culture we inhabit.

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