What Makes A Man Childish?

A while back, a Facebook Page called "The Christian Resistance" Recently posted a meme that cited 1 Corinthians 13:11 "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."

In the description of the post, the admin wrote "It pains me to see men in their 20's and 30's talk about video games like they are still in junior high. In some adults, you can see their eyes just light up when they are talking about a TV show or some movie that they just seen in the theaters. It took the Word of God to help me grow out of caring about such childish things because I used to obsess over stupid, meaningless things like that as well. There must come a time that you put childish things to rest and be a man."

As someone who really enjoys anime, video games, manga, and other things in “Geek Culture”, I was slightly offended by this remark. However, because I am an adult, I didn’t need to run to my safe space. Instead, I decided to refute the argument in a blog post.

I don’t understand the point TCR and others like them is trying to make. A person's recreational activity does not determine their maturity level. Why is it that I can play tennis on weekends, but not video games? Why can I enjoy a football game on Sundays, but not a Marvel super hero movie? Why can I watch American Idol but not Pokemon? Why is one labeled mature and the other not? Why does what I like to do for fun, in my own free time, in those moments when I'm not obligated to work, a determining factor of my maturity level?

Whether you enjoy a good round of Mario Kart or a stimulating game of chess, whether you enjoy watching anime or you enjoy watching sitcoms, these things don't have any relevance to a person's maturity level.

How you behave in public, how you react when someone tells you "no", how you respond to failure, whether you live up to the responsibilities you bare, e.g raising your children, pleasing your wife, having a decent income from a hard day's work at a job every day, etc. How you deal with disagreements. These things, and more, determine your maturity level. Can you adult properly in these areas? Then you have already put away childish things. Are you more concerned with having a good time, or with pleasing God and providing for your family? Do you whine and throw tantrums in the face of failure or do you get back up and try again? Do you complain about life not being fair, or do you make lemonade out of the lemons you were given? These things determine whether you’re truly mature, whether you’re an adult or not.

I think it’s silly to argue that one's hobbies (rather than one's willingness and ability to live up to their responsibilities) determines their maturity level. Who is to decide what recreational activities are childish and what aren't? Where does one draw the line of what's childish and what's not? What causes the enjoyment of video games to be childish but not the enjoyment of football or tennis? What causes one to be childish by watching Spongebob Squarepants but not The Office? By what standard do you judge hobbies as childish and adult?

A video game is just a game. TV shows are just TV shows. Movies are just movies. It has no bearing on whether you are acting like a child or not. What I believe the referred to passage of scripture to be saying is that when you become an adult you no longer act like a child or in other words, it is talking about your behavior and maturity. In fact, that verse was specifically being used to refer to one’s walk with Christ. Video games are designed for people ranging from children to adults. This passage is talking about your walk with Christ and was not saying that you can no longer have fun. The verse is ripped out of context.

Paul isn’t telling us to "just grow up”, or stop having fun or any similar notion. He is setting up a metaphor for his next statement. Look at the verse in its context.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways. It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.”
(1 Corinthians 13:11-12 NCV)

In other words, in the same way that we grew in knowledge and wisdom when we turned into adults, we will also grow in knowledge and wisdom about spiritual things when we pass on into the spiritual realm. Context is an important part of exegesis. If you don’t mind the context, you’ll end up making The Bible say something it doesn’t really say.

I said above that I was only “slightly” offended. This is because I don’t really care that much what people think of me. I don’t care whether I’m perceived as childish. I only care whether I actually am childish. If I live up to my responsibilities both as a man and as a Christian, then I know I am mature in spite of the fact that I like playing Pokemon games and watching various different animes, and reading comic books.

C.S Lewis wrote “Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

I don’t hide my love for DC and Marvel, or for video games, or anime. I don’t blush at the suspicion of being childish. Just as Lewis read fairy tales openly when he was 50, I too share my interests openly. I’m not going to hide my volume of Bleach inside of a Bible or other “adult” book while I read it like sailors used to do with smut magazines. I have put away the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Geeks Under Grace also responded to the meme with one of their own. In it, they write “There is nothing wrong with pop culture so long as it does not cause you to sin, and as long as it doesn’t consume you, as you cannot serve two masters. But, in fact, it could be argued that you should stay in the loop, as Paul said, to reach people.”

Amen! If anything you do is coming before God in your life, if you are idolizing them, then you should put them away. But that's true of anything that has become an idol. We should make God our number 1 priority. Serve and worship Him. Put Him on the throne of your life.

In conclusion The Christian Resistance has a skewed view on what it means to be mature, but probably more disturbing is their inability to exegete scripture. A hermenutics class would do them well.