High School Juniors

There’s a sad day in a parent’s life when he comes to understand that his teenage child has the world figured out, and that mom and dad–once heroes–are hopelessly compromised.  The child, now an adolescent, is seeking a much better world for himself, but he’s got at least seven or eight years of living under mom & dad’s roof, with their rules, and their boring submission to convention. This is the “sullen teenager” you see in almost every feature film and television series these days. Mom says something and the soft-focus high school junior in the background will be brought into high relief with an epic sneer.

“High school junior” status once came to an end at about age 24 in our culture, at about the time a college graduate began considering itemizing deductions, but with a stagnant economy and years spent trying to please academics, (who go to the grave as high school juniors), “high school junior” status is lasting well into the late twenties and early thirties. This delayed maturity even affects the conservative young bloggers who speak to this audience.

Matt Walsh, for example.

Matt Walsh admirably reminds us, recently, that our problems can be solved in Christ. “Yes,” mother tells a brooding, teenage Matt, looking out the window, “that’s what we’ve been teaching you. Now, just how do we apply Christ to this particular situation?”

“Oh, I don’t know!” a peevish Matt might as well respond, before storming off to his room, “but you’re doing it all wrong!”

Matt is tired of the bickering that ensues whenever there is a mass shooting.  People run to their “battle stations” and throw out our “dull talking points.”   I suspect Matt doesn’t have much use for more laws and more mental health solutions, and that Matt is arguing for the greater love Christ could bring our culture, but consigning both sides of the gun control debate or the Islamic immigration debate to “dull talking point” status is the clear sign of a distraught child miffed at the way big people do things.

Would anyone object to a nationwide spiritual revival, Matt?  No. Would anyone disagree that Christ is the key to softening men’s hearts? No.

But Christians, Matt, have to propose solutions that make sense, and that can be sold, to a growing number of people who have no spiritual compass.  Enter “dull talking points” and “battle stations” and all that other nasty adult stuff.

Pretending as though there were any moral equivalence between both sides of the gun control debate or both sides of the Islamic violence debate isn’t helpful. Thinking Christians understand that fathers, pastors, police, soldiers, and statesmen have an obligation to protect their flocks, with guns if necessary. Thinking Christians, (unlike the Russell Moore variety), know that Islamic values and American values come into rather severe conflict.  And yes, Matt, these debates to  involve taking up “battle stations.”

Last year, casino-owning, blunt-talking Donald Trump was too crude and earthy a man for Matt to support for president.  Matt went to his room, in a snit, about the compromises some of the adults were making. Had Matt Walsh persuaded more high school juniors to go to their rooms, we wouldn’t have Justice Gorsuch on the court.  We wouldn’t be debating abortion restrictions or tax reductions or dealing decisively with North Korea.  We could be making more progress, indeed, if high school juniors like Mitch McConnell and John McCain weren’t having a fight on student council, but we make progress where we can.

So, Matt, please rake the leaves like your father asked you, and we will talk about this more at dinner.