As soon as Jesus steps out of his boat in Gadara, he is met by a young man who has an unclean spirit. We know this man as the Maniac of Gadara, however I would like for you to imagine this young man living in our current day and age. Can you picture him? Sure you can… He has black clothes, dark black hair, black eye makeup, he has piercings, a pale face and a sad yet hateful look about him. Yes… just like that teenager you are thinking of… Just like those teenagers at the mall.
It has been called “goth” which is short for gothic. The gothic subculture can be summarized by darkness. Dark music, dark clothing and dark attitude are general characteristics of the gothic culture.
In recent days, the gothic lifestyle has become “clean cut” and has morphed into a new subculture known as “Emo”. “Emo” which is short for emotional, has actually been around since the late 80’s, but has gained great popularity in the last few years. More culturally acceptable, the “emo” lifestyle is characterized by skinny jeans, tight t-shirts, black wristbands, hairstyles covering the eyes for ladies or messy for the boys with emotional, sensitive and sometimes angry dispositions.
We may want to pretend that these are only traits of the world, however, if we are honest in our evaluation of our “church” teens, we would have to admit that there are some amongst our congregations.
Lets take a look at Jesus and the Emo Boy…
I. The Boy Was Distant
Verse 2 “out of the tombs…”
This boy had distanced himself from the rest of civilization. I am sure if you asked him, he would say the others had distanced themselves from him and the others would say he distanced himself from them. Either way, he was distant. When distanced from good influences, a great opportunity is afforded the “emo” musicians, movie stars and lifestyle to friend and influence.
There are teenagers in our churches that are in the same shape. They are distant. They feel distant from God, the preacher, the Word, the other teens, expectations, rules, etc. They will quickly respond to an acceptance and appreciation from an “emo” source.
II. The Boy Was Discouraged
Verse 2- “unclean spirit”
When someone is distant from the people and the power of God, they are soon to be discouraged. This boy had become possessed by an unclean spirit. This spirit had changed the boy’s attitude. He was discouraged. This is common among the “emo” lifestyle. Sad, depressed, suicidal and self-pity are all a part of the attitude.
I wish I could get parents and Pastors to really see how many discouraged teenagers we have in our churches. Teens will often play the part and make things look like everything is fine, meanwhile they are distancing themselves further and further away and because no one is noticing they become more and more discouraged.
III. The Boy Was Defiant
Verse 3- “no man could bind him”
Rebellion often finds its nest in the distant, discouraged heart of a Christian. This boy had decided that no one would control him or his life. He would not allow anyone to put restrictions on his life. He was defiant. Rock music has and will always be successful due in part to the rebellious, anti-authority message that is promoted.
Many teenagers self-destruct because they want to be their own boss. This attitude is fueled by a distant relationship with authority and a discouraged heart. Even teenagers who have grown up in a good Christian home can become defiant toward authority and restrictions.
IV.The Boy was Damaged
Verse 3- “no not with chains”
Apparently this boy had been so dangerous that someone had tried to chain him to control him. When we think of chains, we think of criminals, punishment and harsh treatment. This boy was possessed. He was under the control of an unclean spirit and in an attempt to get him to obey, he was chained. This was only successful in making his rebellion worse. To him, this punishment was too much. He was damaged.
It is quite easy for a distant, discouraged and defiant teenager to become damaged. Everything is unfair, everyone is against them, no one wants them, no one loves them and everyone is out to do them wrong. I cannot tell you how many damaged teens I deal with on a regular basis. There are teenagers in every church, in every Christian School, yea in every Youth Department that have been damaged by parents, Pastors, Principals, friends, Youth Pastors and other authorities who meant well, but have deeply damaged them.
The “Emo” lifestyle is based upon such damage. The music that begat the lifestyle is a “woe is me” type music. Truth be told, Emo-core music is nothing but teens who have it made complaining that life is so easy. They seek to be a victim and to have excuse to hate authority and the world.
V. The Boy Was Disobedient
Verse 4- “neither could any tame him”
This boy had rejected any help and instruction he had been given. He had completely turned his back toward listening and obeying. He was disobedient. With the anti-authority message pushed by the “Emo” lifestyle, disobedience is promoted as self-expression.
At first, a teenager may manage to obey while being distant, discouraged, defiant and damaged. However, eventually they are so far from truth and righteousness that disobeying becomes easy.
VI. The Boy Had a Dysfunctional Environment
Verse 5- “always in mtns, tombs”
Living in the mountains and sleeping among the tombs is not an environment condusive to spiritual growth! The “Emo” lifestyle creates a dysfunctional environment in the most wonderful of homes, schools, friends and churches.
Teenagers are constantly looking for acceptance and one of the best ways of reasoning a bad relationship is to create a dysfunctional environment. “He may not be the best Christian, but at least he’s my real friend”.
VII. The Boy Was Disturbed
Verse 5- “crying..”
Distant, discouraged, defiant, damaged, disobedient and dysfunctional this boy becomes disturbed. He is unhappy with his life. The “Emo” lifestyle feeds on this depression. The black wardrobe, dark music, dark thoughts and dark attitude lead to sadness and depression.
Many once happy and joyful teenagers have fallen prey to a disturbed life. Blame who you may, but the truth of the matter is that you chose to be distant, discouraged, defiant, disobedient and dysfunctional. Hoping for happiness you have obtained a disturbed life.
VIII. The Boy Was Destructive
Verse 5- “cutting himself”
Perhaps the saddest part of the story, this boy was so troubled he began to cut himself. “Cutting” as it is called is still a common form of self-mutilation. Too young to get a tattoo, body piercing and having parents who will not approve of gauges, paint and other “Emo” paraphenelia, teenagers cut themselves.
Normally on the forearm, but sometimes on the stomach, back, legs and even neck; this external pain is said to be an expression of internal pain.
I personally believe all self-mutilation is of the Devil. (Mark 5:1-20). Knowing the Devil cannot get to the soul of a saved teen, he would love to destroy the temple of the Holy Ghost that is the body. Any scar that Satan can leave on the saint is a success in his strategy.
I know what you are thinking as you read this: Bro. Davis is talking about teenagers in the world. NO! I am not. I am talking about that boy or girl in your Youth Department who you have seen become distant in recent days. I am speaking of that discouraged teen with problems at home, that defiant teen who just will not listen, that damaged teen who has been hurt by an authority figure, that disobedient or disturbed or even destructive teenager in the church.
Clays Mill Road Baptist Church