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Certain characteristics are so inherent to Christianity that to neglect them is to become a walking oxymoron. A Christian without commitment is such an oxymoron. That's why I was so disturbed when a friend shared a statement from presidential candidates at a Christian college. When asked, "What has changed the most in the past 20 years with young people who are entering college?" all the candidates said that young adults today are far less willing to commit to anything.

Whether we are talking about career, marriage, or faith, studies back up their observation. In 2008, more than half of people ages 20 to 24 had been with their current employer for less than a year. Although the recession has dampened this somewhat, young adults are still floundering when it comes to embracing a calling. Marriage, especially, has suffered; according to U.S. Census data, young adults are marrying later than ever. A 2006 PBS documentary, Generation Next, gave some insight into why: desire for adventure, career advancement, and prolonged adolescence. Lack of commitment is also hitting religion—hard. Studies suggest that the iPod generation is choosing which aspects of the faith to adopt to create their own unique spiritual playlists.

Among today's young adults, the unwillingness to commit is alarming, clearly one result of the philosophies of the 1960s and '70s coming to full flower. In 1979, sociologist Robert Bellah conducted extensive interviews to understand what "habits of the heart" defined average Americans. Many had no sense of community or social obligation. They saw the world as a fragmented place of choice and freedom that yielded little meaning or comfort. They even seemed to have lost the language to express commitment to anything ...

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In the Magazine

August 2010

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