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When a Tweet Goes Viral for All The Wrong Reasons
Sometimes a tweet goes unexpectedly viral for totally mysterious reasons. But sometimes the reasons for its viral fame are somewhat more obvious.
Yesterday I stumbled across a tweet which fit the latter of these.
Its author isn’t a blue check member of the Twitterati. Instead, he’s a dude with (currently) 3461 followers, many of whom are probably very new. And yet despite his relative obscurity (only eclipsed by my own greater obscurity!), Shane Morris’ tweet of August 24th has, to date, been:
Liked 41, 270 times
Retweeted 4,401 times
Quote Tweeted 21,052 times
Those are some impressive stats for a guy with less than 3500 followers, right?
So what was the reason for this tweet’s viral appeal? Well, from what I can see Mr Morris (who I don’t know personally at all) somehow managed to generate two entirely opposite reactions amongst his readership in one fell swoop. There were those pumping their metaphorical fists while chanting “Yeah dude! Preach!”. And then there whose response was more along the lines of “Did you know that you’re an offensive jerk?”.
What was this magical tweet? Well, it’s actually a two-parter. (Here is the direct link for anyone interested)
It was the second part of the tweet which appeared in my newsfeed first (via one of its many quote tweets). And well, yes. It also engendered a strong reaction in me. But before I share that reaction with you, let’s put a couple of things on the table right away.
Firstly, the author describes himself in his Twitter bio as a “Reformed Christian”. This is a fellow brother, making a contribution as a Christian thinker.
Secondly, I don’t know this author at all. To the best of my knowledge I’ve not had any personal interactions with him and certainly have no personal “axe to grind”. In fact just the opposite. Right before hitting “submit” on this post, I finally realised why his name was familiar to me. It was because I recently really, really liked an article he wrote. So much so I retweeted it. (And frankly, revisiting the content of that article only leaves me more confused about the purpose and meaning behind these particular tweets from the same author 🤷♀️)
With those things said, my own personal reaction to reading those tweets was firstly one of sadness, and secondly one of a little anger. Why? Because there is nothing explicitly, clearly, solidly Christian or theologically Reformed about what he says in either of those tweets. That’s right. I can’t see how what he says here is actually authentically Christian.
Let Me Be Clear
Just because I don’t think his tweet reflects a thoughtful (or even authentic) theological Christian rationale doesn’t mean he hasn’t identified something important for the Christian reader to note.
His concern that there are some people, perhaps too many people (presumably including too many Christians) preoccupied with living in the moment, living for the self, living for the sexy times and fun, well it is worth us considering. While the anecdotal “kidult” tale of caution is almost certainly overblown when compared to actual demographic data, sure, I agree. We live in a world that encourages all of us to make ourselves number one, to pursue our own happiness, to focus on what makes us happy. Shane Morris is right to draw to our attention to the success of that mythology amongst younger adults.
But what Share Morris is not right about—and certainly not right as a “Reformed Christian”—is what he identifies to be:
a) the root of the problem
b) the inevitable consequences of the problem
c) the solution to the problem
The Root of the Problem
He argues that the real problem with Millennial selfishness is that they aren’t having kids. Paraphrased:
Here are all these people heading towards their… gasp… 40s and they won’t have had kids. Their life will be half over and well… what do they do at that point?! You know, without having kids?! If they don’t have offspring, then what on earth do they have? Nothing but sadness and confusion I tell you. Sadness and confusion.
This diagnosis, from a “Reformed Christian” person, is bewildering to me.
Is the author, as a Christian person, seriously suggesting that without kids you simply have sadness, confusion and nothing much else in your life? Is this author, as a Christian person, seriously suggest that the ultimate meaning in life, for the Christian person, is to be a parent?
Having kids is awesome. Being a parent is a blessing.
But neither of these things are the goal, the end point, the guiding purpose of the Christian life. You know what is? Discipleship. Becoming mature in Christ. Growing up into him.
Being married and being a parent are both important contexts in which God both disciples us and allows us to disciple others. But so is every other circumstance and context in life.
The root of the problem is not that young Christians aren’t having kids early enough. The root of the problem is that young Christians aren’t taking discipleship seriously enough. The root of the problem is that they are living for themselves rather than living for Jesus. The root of the problem is not that they aren’t growing up, but that they aren’t growing up into him.
An authentically “Reformed Christian” approach to Millennial (or any other generational) pursuit of hedonistic freedom is not to call people to start having kids. It’s to call them to repent from their sinfulness, turn to Jesus and start living for Him. The root of the problem is not a lack of priority on having kids, but a lack of priority on being a disciple of Christ.
The Inevitable Consequences of the Problem
What is the problem according to these tweets? That too many young Millennials aren’t having kids.
What are the inevitable consequences to this problem? Paraphrased again:
People suddenly realising that their life is half over and that without kids well, “what do you do?”. You get sad and confused. Because without being in a marriage and without having been fertile, your “latter years become very cold and lonely”. And don’t think those people you call “Friends” are going to make any real or sustaining difference to your sad, confused, cold, and lonely existence. You’re just kidding yourself if you think that.
Guys… are you actually reading what this “Reformed Christian” person is saying here? Do you get it?
He’s saying that if you are not a spouse and/or a parent then you are doomed to a life which lacks any form of genuine, lasting, authentic relational intimacy.
That. Is. Not. A. Christian. Perspective. In. The. Least.
Here’s a Christian perspective.
If you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour then you:
Are in wonderful, holistic, righteous, fulfilling relationship with the one in whom and for whom this entire world was created, the one who reigns on the throne, the one who calls his disciples his friends (Jn 15:15)
Have been adopted into a household of brothers and sisters in Christ, your co-heirs in Him, your fellow members of the body, your eternal spiritual family.
Don’t you go telling me that me not having myself a husband and a kid means I’m doomed to a sad, confused, cold and lonely existence. Don’t you go telling me that I can’t know what genuine, true, authentic relational intimacy is actually like.
Don’t you say that.
Not because in saying it you offend me (though you do, but who cares?) but because in saying it you are diminishing, dismissing, denigrating the incredible relational abundance which God has freely and graciously poured out on both you and I—undeserving sinners though we be—in his Son.
Please, for Christ’s sake, don’t say that.
The Solution to the Problem
Marriage and children are not the one-size-fits-all solution to our relational needs as human beings.
Being a spouse, being a parent, these are good and gracious vocations to which God calls many. But they are not necessary for us to experience genuine relational intimacy. They are not necessary for us to avoid a sad, cold, lonely, isolated, confused existence.
What’s more, if that is the expectation you have of your spouse and your children then you are failing to love that spouse and that child the way you should. Your husband, your wife, your child… they are fallible, sinful, mortal human beings. They cannot carry the burden of being everything to you. They cannot hold up under the weight of the expectation you are placing on them.
None of us can do that. This is why God has created us for a multiplicity of relationships. It is why God has saved us into a new family, his family. It is why God has eternally made us brothers and sisters of each other. And it is why he has promised that only in Jesus will we have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10)
But you know what is particularly ironic? Not only does Shane Morris propose the wrong solution, but he arrives at the wrong solution using the very same methodology he is so derisive of!
In his tweets he derides Millennials for acting the way they do because they are focused on what makes them happy and fulfilled… all while using that exact same reasoning in his own argumentation!
Why should you have kids before you are middle aged? Because without them you’ll feel sad and confused, cold and lonely. Essentially, because you won’t be happy.
Do you see? He’s not offering a different reasoning here. It’s the same one! What is “right” is determined by what makes us feel good, what might be seen to fulfil us, what will supposedly bring us happiness.
He’s guilty of the exact same type of self-focused, consequentialist ethical approach that he derides cavalier Millennials for having! The difference just seems to be that he thinks he knows better than they do as to what is really in the best interests of their happiness and how to make that happen.
Which brings us back full circle. The goal of life on this earth is not to feel happy or fulfilled (wonderful as those things might be). It’s to live for Jesus. It’s to grow as his disciple. It’s to see others grow as his disciples. It’s to bring glory and honour to God. It’s to live in light of the last day when we’ll stand before his throne and we’ll see our Saviour face to face, with eyes that have been wiped clear of tears forever and mouths that effortlessly resound with his praise.
So Millennial, don’t go about being cavalier, living for yourself because you think it promises ultimate happiness. It doesn’t and it won’t.
But Christian, don’t go about idolising marriage and parenthood, living for it because you think it promises ultimate happiness. It doesn’t and it won’t.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness - Colossians 2:6-7
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