Opinion | Pop Culture

An Argument against 'Settling Down'

Instead of chastising young adults for being noncommittal, the church might encourage 20-somethings to seek what God wants them to commit 'to'.

"What Is It About 20-Somethings?" Robin Marantz Henig asked recently in The New York Times Magazine. Young American adults are taking longer than previous generations to grow up. They are faced with more possibilities, and their idealism runs rampant. Therefore, they are left wallowing in indecision and uncommitted lifestyles, which makes them "emerging adults," a term coined by psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett.

Emerging adults' most distinct trait is an inability to settle down. Henig notes that "the traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes … forestalling the beginning of adult life." In other words, to quote Mark Edmundson's excellent Chronicle of Higher Education essay "Dwelling in Possibilities," young people are "possibility junkies" and "enemies of closure."

The point of all the recent scholarly discussion about 20-somethings isn't to complain about their habits, but first, as Henig says, ...

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