Red Dawn: Are our youth ready for the War?

Posted: November 23, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama
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At least the remake attempts to be a little more realistic than the original!  The 2012 version of Red Dawn takes place in Spokane, Washington instead of Colorado (much easier to attack), and the enemies are the North Koreans rather than Soviets and Nicaraguans (a more recent enemy).  Add to those changes that Jed, the lead character, is an actual war hero, making it more feasible that he could turn a group of teenagers into a formidable resistance movement.  Yet my guess is that many of you will still see the premise of this movie as incredibly unbelievable, since we all tend to think America could never be occupied by a foreign nation.

Red Dawn opens up in a pretty familiar modern American context–a high school football game.  This dictates the prevailing theme that our young people should only be stressed out because of losing a football game, not due to surviving a full-scale invasion.  In other words, adolescence should be a time for playing sports, watching movies, listening to music, dating, shopping…you get the idea.  It’s been a very long time since this nation has had to think about it’s youth fighting for things that really matter.  And because of it, generations of young people have not been really battle-tested physically, mentally, and even spiritually.

There are probably a whole lot of the World War II generation that are fearful that this generation of young people would not be able to stand up to a full-scale invasion of the USA.  (If you a veteran and actually read our blog, you are welcome to weigh in!)  It certainly seems as though our youth are much t0o soft and lethargic to respond like the Wolverines of Red Dawn.  On the other hand, you may rightly argue that a national crisis would bring out the best of our young people.  They just haven’t been tested.

Whatever the case, the bigger question is: Are our youth ready for a spiritual fight?  As I said in yesterday’s post, Red Dawn reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle against the forces of darkness.  But do most of the teenagers in our evangelical church youth groups realize this fact?  Or are they too caught up in their activities, sports, entertainment, social media, and ultimately, themselves?  I know, it’s unfair to lump the individuals of a group together, yet is seems that so many of our teenagers are even unaware that war rages all around them.  They are far too preoccuppied with trivial things that have no eternal value.

Even if our young people recognize that they are in a spiritual battle, are they properly equipped?  Are the going to school and their other activities dressed out in the armor of God each day?  Unfortunately, there are too many Christian parents who are not preparing their children for battle.  They seem content for their children to be focused only on academics or extra-curriculars.  They do little teaching in the home nor have the vital heart-to-heart conversations that are necessary all through the challenging years of adolescence.  Even Christian parents can be altogether too passive in their instruction and discipline.  And, training in the weapons of our warfare is often not high on their list.

But what about the church?  Is it any better?  Unfortunately, many a youth group is far too focused on entertainment than in equipping our teens for battle.  Study curricula is generally weak, not helping our youth to build their Christian worldviews or to defend themselves against the attacks of the devil and this world.  Even when our churches are working hard to teach the Word, our youth can find lots of reasons for haphazard attendance.

Do I paint to0 dismal of a picture?  I would certainly like to believe that our young people are much more ready for the spiritual fight.  The truth is, whether they are ready or not, awake or asleep, they ARE in the war.  Satan is coming for their minds and hearts.  He loves nothing more than young people with spirits of lethargy.  He hopes to keep them unaware of the forces lined up against them.

So on this Thanksgiving weekend, let movies like Red Dawn remind us of what can happen when our Christian young people do engage the enemy.  They can be a very effective fighting force for Jesus!  And if you are one of our teen readers, regularly ask yourself the question: Are you ready for and active in the spiritual fight of your lives?


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