This may be the first time I can honestly say Two and a Half Men has something to teach ministers other than a plethora of examples of what to avoid.
Actor Angus T. Jones seems to have just burst on the scene in a very different way than most have known him in the past. In fact, you may not have known his real name. He plays Jake on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men”, the son of Jon Cryer’s character and has been on the show from the beginning. Nine years later and he seems much more cognizant of what the show is actually about and has taken a clear stance. Angus T. Jones says the show is “filth” and goes so far as to ask those who may be watching to not watch. I can only imagine that either a hasty departure of his character or a very carefully worded apology is in the works but for something that is just hours old on the web, it is a fascinating coming of age story. Ironically, for many young people coming of age includes many of the things this particular show celebrates, drinking, leering, lots of sexual activity and few consequences in life. For Angus, it is having the opposite impact. He shares just a small portion of his story in the link here. By no means should anyone assume this was an overnight conversion. He has sought counsel and is trying to figure out what it means to live what he is learning to believe.
As with many young Christians, when something drastic happens in their lives, they are often thrust into the spotlight. While at the tender age of 19 Angus may be accustomed to cameras, attention and the spotlight, this will come at a whole different level and different angle. Here is my hope for this young man…to be left alone. He has made his statement, let him work it out with CBS and then walk in his faith community at the church he attends there in CA to figure out what to do next. Let’s not make him the next poster child for young faith scrutinized as he is trying to figure out what it means to have an examined and committed faith. Let’s not support a dog and pony show which cheapens the work the Holy Spirit is doing in his life. Rather allow him space to learn, ask questions and experience Christ in His timing, not ours. Let’s allow him the same grace that we would want to extend to any young person in any of our churches and pray for him in just the same way that we would for young people in our own groups.
It is no grand surprise to any youth worker for an adolescent to be making choices about who they are and what this means in his or her life. Whether you are looking at the likes of Erik Erikson, James Marcia, James Loder or James Fowler, each is looking at identity formation. The first two focus on identity in general and look at identity v. identity diffusion, statuses of identity (whether one has done any exploration or made any commitment and in what proportions). The second two look specifically at faith, stages of faith for Fowler and transformative moments for Loder. Regardless of which developmentalist one is considering, adolescence is a time ripe with possibilities. By the time middle adolescence is ending and emerging adulthood is taking root (roughly ages 18 to the mid-late twenties), adolescents are becoming their own people and making choices not only about who they are but who they wish to become and how they wish to be known.