Spiritual Maturity and Underroos

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11

We hear much today about the sexualization of children, especially young girls. With toys like Bratz dolls and child-sized warm up pants that read “Hott” on the rear end and babies’ onesies that say things like “I’m a boob man”, it is apparent that sexuality is the defining characteristic of humanity in our day and age.

It is an example of the entitlement culture in which we live that even in the areas of maturity and sexuality we want to have it all. Young girls desperately want to be grown up and our culture provides the clothes and accessories and tv shows to allow them to pretend to be grown ups. Grown men, on the other hand desperately desire to remain young boys and our culture provides them the means to do so as well: fantansy sports, Hooters restaurants, and the whole idea of “extended adolesence” and mid-life crises.

I began thinking about all of this on a trip to Target this afternoon. As I was walking through the store, I saw a display of Batman Underroos just like the kind my brothers wore when they were little. Except these Underroos were in the men’s underwear department. Before someone jumps on my case about taking things too seriously and encourages me to lighten up and have some fun, I would like to suggest that the Underroos themselves are not the problem, but they are indicative of our culture’s larger problem.

So many children today are required to grow up so quickly due to the choices made by the adults in their lives that they are robbed of any real childhood. Those same children spend the rest of their lives seeking to recapture the free-spirited innocence of their childhood and the cycle ends up being tragically repeated in the next generation with greater consequence. An extreme case in point would be the life of Michael Jackson. Many childhood stars crash and burn as adults because they were not able to have a “normal” developing childhood. Childhood is supposed to prepare us for life. It is a time in which our parents are to train us up in the way we should go (Prov.22:6). Parents should protect and provide for their children, teach them and love them, allow them to develop into adults at a normal pace so that when they become men and women they are prepared and eager to put away childish things and embrace the responsibility of adulthood. If we as adults would do everything within our power to allow children to be children, we might not have as many adults still desiring to be children.

But when you live in a society in which every man does what is right in his own eyes (per Judges 17:6; we call it post-modernism, God calls is idolatry), you end up with divorced men in Underroos who buy dolls that wear lingerie for their elementary-aged daughters. Sin truly is the twisting and reversal of all that God intended to be right in the world.

The Great Physician

The Lord Jesus did not come into the world, as some suppose, to be nothing more than a law giver, a king, a teacher, an example. Had this been all the purpose of his coming,  there would have been small comfort for us…. A teacher and an example might be sufficient for an unfallen being like Adam in the Garden of Eden. But fallen sinners like ourselves want healing first, before we can value rules.

The Lord Jesus came into the world to be a physician as well as a teacher. He knew the needs of human nature. He saw us all sick of a mortal disease, stricken with the plague of sin, and dying daily. He pitied us, and came down to bring divine medicine for our relief. He came to give health and cure to the dying, to heal the broken-hearted, and to offer strength to the weak. No sin-sick soul has gone too far for him. It is his glory to heal and restore to life the most desperate cases. For unfailing skill, for unwearied tenderness, for long experience of people’s spiritual ailments, the great Physician of souls stands alone. There is none like him.

But what do we know ourselves of this special role of Christ’s? Have we ever felt our spiritual sickness and applied to him for relief? We are never right in the sight of God until we do. We have got nothing right in religion if we think the sense of sin should keep us back from Christ. To feel our sins and know our sickness is the beginning of real Christianity. To be aware of our corruption and abhor our own transgressions is the first symptom of spiritual health. Happy indeed are those who have found out their soul’s disease! Let them know that Christ is the very physician they require, and let them consult him without delay.

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), in Mark, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, pp 23-24.