1. Betting It All
What it is: With the Super Bowl on Sunday and restrictions on online gambling lifting in states all over the US, people are having conversations about the ethics of online gambling.
Why it goes far beyond sports: Sports gambling isn’t new, but many of the barriers for young people to access gambling no longer exist. What’s more, young people are being primed for gambling in ways that didn’t exist before. From randomized “loot drops” in battle-royale video games to crypto investments and day trading apps, a certain type of young consumer can make the high of gambling last all day long. Jay Caspian Kang, who was a gambling addict himself, writes in the New York Times, “The narratives have all converged into one mega gamble, with payouts that could change your life, whether through parlay, or investing in NFTs or GameStop stock.” Statistically, most bettors end up in the red if they’re betting regularly, and those “bets of a lifetime” are not the norm. But even if they were, as Proverbs 13:11 puts it in the ESV, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Young people need to understand the risks of gambling, as well as have a safe environment to talk about betting’s role in youth culture.
2. I Do, Already
What it is: New research suggests that couples who marry in their early twenties are just as if not more likely to experience relationship satisfaction.
Why it’s a cultural counter-narrative: The average age for getting married in America has been creeping north for several decades. Thirty is the average age for marriage for men, while twenty-eight is now the average age that women tie the knot. This change is driven, in part, by a belief that certain milestones, such as education and financial success, should be achieved before marriage is on the table. But what researchers at the National Marriage Project found was that people who get married earlier report slightly higher levels of sexual satisfaction and conflict resolution in their relationships. And in a Wall Street Journal analysis, women who waited until marriage to live with a partner and got hitched between 22 and 30 had some of the lowest divorce rates in the country. We don’t want to put undue pressure on teens that they need to rush to find “the one,” but it’s helpful to point out that some of the happiest couples have made romantic choices that are not the cultural norm.
3. Class Is Uncancelled
What it is: According to the Atlantic, some college students at secular institutions are creating civil dialogue clubs where ideas can be freely expressed without fear of “cancellation.”
Why it could catch on: Civil discourse is fraught with difficulty at this especially polarized moment. As the article above notes, Gen Z is bringing a set of values to campus that have thus far been untested; notably, the idea that inclusion is just as essential as free speech to a functioning democracy. But wanting to be exposed to a variety of ideas and actually being exposed to how these ideas play out in the real world are two vastly different things, and many freshmen end up shell shocked by the world outside their homes and TikToks. A healthy college community can help young people sort through the practical and the theoretical as they establish independence. Civil dialogue clubs reflect students’ desire to be able to speak freely and to address complicated issues, rather than simply shouting across social media echo chambers. Whether these types of groups can survive in a hyper-polarized society remains to be seen, but it is a hopeful thought.
Slang of the Week
purr: a comment used to signal delight or approval; most likely to be found under a friend or influencer favorite’s TikTok post. (Ex: “Did you see that selfie my bestie posted yesterday? Purr.”)
Translation: I Do, Already
Our teens are growing up in a culture that tends to encourage fidelity to nothing but ourselves—not to products, not to jobs, not to cities, not to faith, and not to relationships. We are encouraged to find ourselves, to shop around, to take our time deciding, and to always think of our decisions as reversible. It’s no wonder then that the Wall Street Journal found that women who waited until marriage to live with a partner had some of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
In theory, cohabitation could be considered a way of trying out marriage before committing to it. But as Barry Schwartz points out in The Paradox of Choice, “What we don’t realize is that the very option of being allowed to change our minds seems to increase the chances that we will change our minds. When we can change our minds about decisions, we are less satisfied with them… Knowing that you’ve made a choice that you will not reverse allows you to pour your energy into improving the relationship that you have rather than constantly second-guessing it.” This paradigm is absolutely foreign to our culture today, and desperately needed.
Alongside the new research about couples marrying early, Tim Keller cites (older) research in The Meaning of Marriage suggesting that “the greatest percentage of divorces happen to those who marry before the age of eighteen, who have dropped out of high school, and who have had a baby together before marrying.” That may be changing now, but what isn’t changing is that as young men and women consider this kind of commitment, they need mentorship and guidance along the lines of what Schwartz points out. Proverbs 5:18 says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” But in a culture that attacks the idea of fidelity from every direction, being able to do that doesn’t always come easy.
Here are some questions to spark conversation about all of this with your teens:
- Does the idea of committing to one person for the rest of your life feel daunting to you? Why or why not?
- What do you think it takes to have a successful relationship?
- Do you think our culture makes having a successful relationship harder or easier?