Mrs. Happy has developed great respect for millennials—the generation that came of age around the year 2000. They’re getting the One Thing right: cultivating a passionate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Millennials are the engine behind the 24-hour prayer movement. They’ll risk all material comfort to move to a faraway land and serve Jesus among the poor. They fully expect that Christ will shape and transform every aspect of their lives and the lives of others. They are world-changers.
Hearing them talk about their intimacy with the Lord, their personal worship, and the dreams and visions God has so generously given them thrills Mrs. Happy. She must admit, it challenges her too. Millennials question the comparatively tepid faith of their parents’ generation. They’re repulsed by religion; they can detect a Christian phony a mile away. They’re committed to walking in truth, and they’ll bare their hearts in achy detail as if it’s the only thing to do.
They are also the most sexually compromised generation Mrs. Happy has ever seen. Mrs. Happy is shocked by the number who’ve suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Many have dabbled in homosexual experiences (even though they identify as straight), having grown up in an era with far fewer social and sexual constraints.
It is well-known that their pornography use is off the charts. A recent study found that 68 percent of men who identify themselves as Christians access pornography regularly; Mrs. Happy believes this figure is much higher among young believers, with woman using it nearly as much as men. Mrs. Happy’s generation had to sneak into a skanky convenience store and ask some dirty old man to score them a magazine, which was promptly tucked in a plain paper bag, its nondescript wrapper hiding contents most people still deemed shameful. Now, pornographic images can come straight to you on a child-accessible social media forum like Instagram—through no fault of your own. You don’t need to look for pornography; pornography finds you.
This is a generation that has no concept of sexual purity unless the Holy Spirit imparts it. They enter adulthood and marriage with severely impaired minds concerning sex. Mrs. Happy has observed that many millennial Christians wrestle again and again with sexual sin. They express that they want to get free, but they keep falling. It is as though the enemy has taken aim at their most amazing achievement—their intimacy with Christ—by engineering a million wicked schemes to pollute their intimacy with human beings.
Yes, I know, that religious spirit of my generation wants to say, How can you even call yourself a Christian if you keep falling into sexual sin? But I have spent many hours hanging out with these young believers, and I can say that their relationships with Christ are absolutely real. Yet a sea change in media has taken place since the year 2000, and they are daily experiencing an onslaught of sexual temptation like nothing the world has ever seen. I don’t think people of my group (middle age) would have handled it any better. And, um, our own pornography use pretty clearly reflects that. We live right in the middle of those Fifty Shades of Grey.
Here is where those of my generation and older have a God-given opportunity—and responsibility. Back to the matter of intimacy: Millennials want nothing more (and nothing less) than relationship from older believers. They know they’re troubled in their marriages and friendships, and they’re looking to spiritually mature believers to point and model The Way. Here are a few thoughts on how we can do that, based on many hours of conversation with this remarkable generation of young believers:
- Listen. Set aside your assumptions and let them talk at length. Don’t pile on with the crummy advice. They want spiritual solutions, not some tired answer based on your bad experience with a boyfriend 30 years ago. They live fast-paced lives, and the illusory world of social media dilutes the strength of their relationships. They value and appreciate someone who takes the time to listen.
- Be open. Don’t pretend you’ve spent your entire Christian life sailing from glory to glory. Tell them about your failures, and how you got free. Don’t make it sound like it happened overnight when it didn’t; walk beside them as God transforms their minds step by step, just like He transformed yours. If it’s still an area of temptation or struggle for you, don’t deny it, and give them practical details on how to maintain a godly life.
- Recognize that most millennials need inner healing and deliverance. Demons are attached to pornographic images; that’s why it’s so hard to forget them. We know now that extensive pornography use rewires the brain, making it difficult to bond with one’s mate and find satisfaction in real sex—which, of course, involves a separate human being with his or her own desires, needs, and preferences. If you don’t know how to lead someone in prayer to strip those images of their demonic power, it’s time to learn. If you have no one to teach you, the Holy Spirit will. Care enough to give it your best. A good place to start is Psalm 51.
An epidemic number of these young believers have endured some type of sexual abuse. Take the time to develop trusting relationships and bear their burdens as a godly sister or brother. If you’re not able to lead them in prayer for inner healing, quietly direct them to someone who can. They might need professional Christian counseling; get rid of any silly prejudices you have against this. Yes, Jesus can “fix” it, but He usually works through believers who’ve taken the time to acquire experience and skill in this kind of ministry.
- Draw from their strengths. Millennials have loads of spiritual insight. I have learned so much about the Lord from my younger friends—about prayer, worship, and revelation, to name a few areas this generation excels in. Let them pray for you.
- Be a friend. Friends listen. Friends take time. Friends forgo snap judgments and easy answers. Godly friends search the Bible and provide earnest counsel (Proverbs 27:9), with humility and gentleness. And they’ll always take the time to pray, even if it’s by text.
Mrs. Happy could go on, but she wants to know about your experiences in befriending and ministering to millennials. How can we stand with this generation as they seek the Lord?
Mrs. Happy has been married to one man for a long time.