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I'll Never Grow Up

"Rejuvenile" is the name of a new book by Christopher Noxon. It is also the name given to a commonly observed person today: one who is physically an adult but is often childlike in interests, habits, and sometimes in more serious ways. This person has also been variously named a kidult, a grup, a twixter, or an adultescent. This phenomenon comes in varying styles and degrees. On the mild side, it may be displayed in the man who wears a cartoon tie or the father who plays in the kiddie gym with his young children. More serious are the middle aged woman who wears skimpy outfits made for teens and the aging baby-boomer who sports a pony-tail and does Elvis impersonations while driving down the highway. Most serious are adults who never take to adult responsibilities: the 40-year-old man who still lives with mom and spends his money on juvenile pursuits; the 40-year-old woman who goes from job to job and from boyfriend to boyfriend.

The milder displays of the rejuvenile are certainly benign and I would not condemn those who know how to relax with the kids or show a lighter side to their personality. However, I am convinced that the phenomenon is often a sign of more serious problems. Mr. Noxon writes that rejuveniles are "attempting to hang on to the part of ourselves that feels most genuinely human. We believe that there is more value in what we came in with than what we are taught. We believe in play, in make-believing, in learning, in naps." Looked at another way, it is an attempt to escape the reality of adulthood. Childhood is what is real; adult responsibilities are simply a bad dream that must be escaped.

I certainly do not wish to be a killjoy. There is a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and there are times to let our hair down and play with the kids. However, the Bible takes a serious approach to growing up. Paul said to the brethren, "be not children in understanding" (1Corinthians 14:20). In reference to the departure of the sign gifts, Paul gave this illustration: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1Corinthians 13:11). He took it as a given that an adult would put away childish things. We have overemphasized the wonder of childhood in today's culture. We are confused. Children want to grow up before they are ready and adults want to return to childhood. It is a form of rebellion. Solomon reminded us that "childhood and youth are vanity" (Ecclesiastes 11:10). The Christian should seek the maturity that comes with age, experience, and a closer walk with God. They should prepare themselves to take their place with the "ancient and honourable" (Isaiah 9:15). They will not get there playing with toy cars and Barbie dolls.