UPDATE (1/14/14): An edited version of this material will appear in the upcoming book, Grow Down, through Group Publishing."Adults" in our society are evidenced as 1) independent, 2) self-dependent, and 3) co-dependent. An "independent" person is someone who is considered "fully developed" and "mature" in the power to make his own decisions in life that may or may not agree with others. A "self-dependent" person is someone who is "standing on his own two feet" (i.e. able to make it on his own abilities). A "co-dependent" person is someone who is "entitled to therapeutic scenarios". This last person has the right to pursue those things or relationships that makes him feel good about himself. The tension between these three should be self-evident. Yet, people chase after all three of these simultaneously in search of some elusive destination of adult life.
These three objectives of adulthood (independence, self-dependence, & co-dependence) inevitably lead to three bad habits of "adult" faith. With this in mind, it's no wonder that the following habits emerge among "adults" today:
The adult aim towards independence entices people to follow desires other than God and desires other than God's desires. People were created for a dependent relationship according to God's patterns– a relationship which provided "freedom" for God's people. But independence, rather than providing freedom, breeds an adulterated faith. The term "adult" derives from the Latin roots ad (meaning "to add/turn towards") and alt (meaning "other"). "Adultery" refers to the act of "turning to another person" or "adding another person". An adulterated faith is one that has added other substances or habits or idols to the primary objective of loving the Lord our God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. Independence entices a person to add other desires into his life. From a pastor's perspective, this helps explain some of the reason why many students graduate from vibrant youth ministry groups across the nation only to slowly walk away from faithfulness towards other pursuits. They've been encouraged to become independent adults.
The adult aim towards self-dependency can give a person a sense of delusion. Our society seems to be carrying the teenage sense of indestructability into the "adult" years. Many people think it is their right to be able to be self-sufficient– even when it comes to the practice of faith. Self-dependency contributes to a feeling of control and power over circumstances. It's natural then that adults are usually shocked when they get knocked down in life. When strong pressures are encountered, many people discover the limits of their own security; that they weren't as capable to navigate the difficulties of life on their own as they made themselves to believe. [Consider the ribbons for last place in track meets.] Again, from a pastor's persective, when the winds of life blow against them (whether hurricane-force or slowly-eroding winds), many people who had aimed to "stand on their own two feet" lose their footing after their teenage years.
The adult aim towards co-dependence reinforces unhealthy relationships and selfish pursuits. Imagine the adult who buys whatever he wants because he now can do so. No longer is that adult subject to the rules or desires of another person. And if someone disagrees, an adult is entitled to throw a tantrum until they get their way. A childish adult can seek relationships or "toys" that make him feel better about himself in the moment… and then dismiss those relationships or "toys" that lose their pep or don't bring immediate satisfaction. Childishness is the opposite of childlike faith and trust.