Articles challenges_21st_century

Published on April 7th, 2006 | by Alex and Brett Harris

The Special Challenges of the 21st Century

This is part 1 of 5 in the series The Importance of Character

On August 9th, 1995, Netscape, the first mainstream web-browser, went public; and the world has never been the same. But the incredible benefits provided by the Internet are accompanied by lethal dangers. It took three years for the Internet to even begin to take off, but there were already 14 million pornographic Web pages. From 1998 to 2003 that number jumped to 260 million; a 2,000% increase in just five years.

This post is not about pornography; but it is all about how technology presents tremendous new challenges to Christian character; and about what we need to do about it. I strongly believe that it is foolish for my generation to assume that the next ten years will treat them the same way the last ten have. If we think technology has peaked and that things will remain largely the same with just a few added “conveniences,” we are gravely mistaken. Think of any ten-year-olds you know. The Internet is ten years old.

Technology itself and the challenges it presents are in their nascent form.

Over the next 5-10 years advances in technology will allow pornography and the sex industry to push so far into mainstream culture that they will no longer be generally considered dirty or taboo. Yet this is only one of the challenges our generation faces. According to Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies from the World Futures Society, medical knowledge and development are currently doubling every eight years. The speed of change in the medical field is outpacing the public’s opinion on the ethics of things such as stem cell research, genetic engineering, cloning, DNA mapping, surrogate motherhood, infertility solutions, selection of a child’s sex, use of fetal tissue, artificial organs, organ cloning, and life support.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, writes: “Technology will continue to reshape people in such a way that their attention spans will be shorter and they will have difficulty distinguishing truth and lies, and the deluge of information will become so great that separating the useful from the trivial will be laborious. [Furthermore] the tsunami of information and services customized to please individual people will create a culture of self-absorbed, narcissistic people consumed with themselves and unconcerned about serving other people.”

These are barely the tip of the iceberg; but their magnitude and scope are unique to our generation. Which is why you must be aware of them. In a world that continues to celebrate debauchery and advance technologically the moral challenges facing our generation will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

I am convinced that as our world continues to change it will become more and more difficult to actually avoid exposure to sin and will become more and more necessary to develop the strength of character to resist it, fight it, and conquer it.

I’m calling you to be the kind of young men and women who are willing to fight the fight against sin. I’m calling you to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye rather than lose your soul (Matthew 5:29-30). Character is a victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy.

The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.


About the Author

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.

  • Alyssa C.

    Thanks for the post. I’ll defenitely keep that in mind.

  • Sarah

    “This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.”

    That is so true. We are called to be different! The very nature of God demands that we show to this world how different we are. Thank you for a very timely post!

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for this post. It really is a war to have and maintain Christian character.

  • Isaac

    Thank you, for this good use of the internet. I enjoy reading your blog a lot.

  • Kaitlin

    Awesome post!! Thanks a lot!! :-)

  • Zachary

    This is a very true post.

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  • Mr. K

    This I think is one of your best posts. It hits the nail right on the head.

  • Garveys

    Excellent post, Alex.

  • T. Suzanne Eller

    What a powerful post.

    Suzanne Eller

  • Adrielle

    Wonderful post; timely reminder.

  • Marie

    WOW. That was a powerful message against conformity. Sometimes when I hear the truth, I feel a little intimidated, but fear is the opposite of what God has in mind for us. This post was really encouraging! Thanks

  • Charlene V.

    Wonderful Post. Indeed, it is a timely reminder.

  • N. K. Harvey

    The article read “The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us”.
    I’m sorry to say it, but I must disagree. I realize that’s not how you meant it, but I don’t think there ever was a time for lukewarm Christianity. Jesus puts it best:
    Rev 3:15 “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
    V.16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”
    Thank you for your article and your desire to exhort others in the faith!

  • Ariana Felix

    That article is very prophetic! Thank you for helping my eyes to open on the real seriousness of seperating ourselves from the world. Thanks

  • Elisabeth Gruber

    The technological advancements are both a blessing and a curse… a blessing because there are better ways to preserve life and help those who are sick, and a curse because the scientists dont know how far is too far in regards to experimentation with life, and new tehnologies are providing easier ways for sick-minded and sinful people to circulate porn and promote the sex industries.

    That is a very strong verse/challenge… that if parts of our body cause us to sin or stumble, it is better to enter heaven without them than lose our soul.

    by the way… great post!

    `Elisabeth J. Gruber

  • http://n/a Julia

    my peers make me sick. I am ashamed of them. but what can I do? I am a minority.

  • Matt

    We are supposed to be “One Nation Under God.” it is up to us (the next generation) to keep it that way!

  • Rachel

    Awesome post! Very inspiring. That quote from Mark Driscoll was great! His sermons are really great too.

  • Michelle

    whoa, scary thoughts, but so true. thanks for the reminder to actively fight to live in a way that pleases only God. Godly character does require war against sin.

  • Ricky Thomas

    “I’m calling you to be the kind of young men and women who are willing to fight the fight against sin. I’m calling you to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye rather than lose your soul (Matthew 5:29-30). Character is a victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy.

    The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.”

    Wow… The whole thing shows us that we need to step out of our comfort zones so that we could really live. This is inspiration to step out of my comfort zone so that I can really live life.

  • Naomi F.

    Great job. Keep up the good work!

  • Meredith

    This is a good post! :D

  • Anthony H.

    I read this post, then sat for a few moments. I went back to my room, got on my knees, and asked God to help me overcome an obstacle that’s been in my life, really been making me lukewarm. And in God’s hands I will overcome it. Thank you, brother.

  • Zeb Wade

    Wow guys that is so true!
    this is my look on this blog:
    My reflection on this article is that the internet from is point of start (1995) has
    grown dramatically worse but better at the same time. The internet today has over
    240million porn sites out there. And that is only from 2003. It is crazy the amount of
    allowed everywhere, and then there will be no marriage. People maybe will walk around
    naked one day cause now people do not think that porn is a bad thing to be a part of. The generation I am in is going to be the hardest yet. We will have so much stuff being
    thrown at us and most will not be able to deflect it. And who knows maybe one day we
    will have a gay president, or maybe gays will be allowed to be married in churches. Life
    it seems is becoming a joke to most people. You live it have fun in it, but make it hell for anyone after you. That isn’t fair and it needs to stop! I really think we need something big to happen to our world to see that God is the one that is to be followed not man. When that happens maybe then will there be peace, or will the nations agree with each other.

  • Jonathan

    “This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.”

    neither will the rest of the world. we must stand for what we believe, no more couch potatoes, no more sitting on our butts all day. the time to act is now!

    tell all your friends about Christ, tell your enemies also. saying hi to some one can change your life. it’s time for a revival and i think it will start with teens telling their friends about Christ. so what are you waiting for? get out there and start spreading the news!

  • Laura S.

    Wow. That’s really convicting. “Character is a victory, not a gift”. We need to start living our faith out and stop “fitting in”.

    It’s funny because I’ve been thinking about this very thing lately and how open and easy to find and more acceptable things like pornography have become. Even if you’re not trying to, when you get on the internt you expect to see something you’d rather not see. So many people are constantly using the internet so it’s very difficult to escape.

    I know that God punishes nations, Nineveh being the biggest example. It was this Super nation that was rich, powerful, etc., and yet they were doomed to fall. That’s the direction America seems to be heading. Everyone thinks we’re the leading country and all, but our morals, expectations, etc. all are falling. Soon enough we’ll fall into the trap we’ve been making for ourselves since this nation was born and which recently has already grown so large. I can’t imagine what the next generation will have to go through. I just pray that us youth today will be able to speak out against the evil!!!

  • Ryan Cooper

    You and I and every one else on this blog are, on there own, a minority.
    But together we make a army. Fight the good fight and with Gods help we will make a difference.

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  • http://none mattias lavoie

    Its sad how many pornographic sites there are.

  • Josh

    This is a great post, and I’m going to go ahead right now and read the rest. It’s true that it’s time for Christians to REALLY stand out.

  • Tabitha

    It has been three years now from when you first posted this article, and it is true, things are getting worse.
    The body of Christ, the Church has grown so complacent!
    What is happening?
    We need to cry out to God for mercy on our country!
    Share the love of Jesus Christ with others, If there is a time our world needs His love it is now it is this generation!
    Thank you for this post and everything else you do to encourage teens to step out and make a difference for the glory of God.

  • Chris

    Guys, the article is awesome, i guess the song “Jesus Freak” is becoming more and more relevant to this generation af christians, we do need to start being enthusists for christ. I sent this article to all of my friends on myspace, because this does need to start being more and more realized. God bless you and thank you.

  • Zachariah

    Another great post! By the way, why are some of the comments black and some red?

  • Dalton Bequette

    This is deffinitly true.

  • Test

    Please delete this post. I’m just testing whether the “A HREF” HTML tag works in the comments section.

    Link to Google

  • James Dodds

    I appreciate that post. It has a lot of good points, especially that the internet does have a lot of compromising information. But too often we focus on the negative and not the positive. Take this website for instance. It is a good character building, God fearing organization. There can and will be both positives and negatives for the internet, it’s really bout how you use it. Just a thought.

  • Priscilla

    While technology does present a lot of difficulties and opportunities for evil, it also presents a lot of opportunities for good. The Rebelution is a good example of using technology for Jesus! It is great that there are things like this on the web. Exciting things could happen if more Christians would start using the internet to further the kingdom of God!

    On the other hand, it frustrates me exceedingly when things that are labeled “Christian” go against God’s standards. I have started to read many books that turned out to be that way, and I just watched a movie tonight that was supposedly Christian but turned out to have bad standards.

    Lord, please send people to be good witnesses to You in media. Please send people who are committed to You and will not compromise, but share things that are real- real love, that doesn’t involve immorality, real living that doesn’t involve getting something out of every good deed. You said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. You have the power to change what comes out of the media. Please change it and make it pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Em C.


    This is…wow. Moving. “Character is victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy.” Well said. But even more importantly, truthfully said.

  • Sarah Beth

    I agree with the article and think that it is very challenging. I’ve been very burdened recently for my generation. (I’m about to turn 17.) And I believe that if the Christians of this generation will have the burning desire in their hearts to take a stand, serve God with all that they are, and be willing to be different, that we can make a huge and lasting impact in this world and especially in America. America and the world, if we’re going to take a step in the right direction, is going to have to have teenagers and young adults who have character. Who are not out just to please themselves but out to help others and to do what is right! I want to be that kind of person.

  • Heidi Billingham

    I hate how in the 21st century with all this new technology, our society is still pretty narrow minded. I grew up with if you don’t fit in with the cool crowd you get labeled and made fun of. Then you either spend the rest of your life trying to fit in or you group with your own kind, whether it be nerds, smarty pants, ghetto people and etc. I think that needs change also!

  • Michael Cayli

    Im finishing up Do Hard Things and it is turning out to be one of the most inspiring things i’ve ever read besides Thomas the Train read alongs. Not to mention that those are one of the only books I have read. lol. Im going to keep praying that this book can transform my life for God. This post says enough about our generation. Just walking in the halls of my high school you can see that it is not just the internet that is polluting us, in general it is all the propoganda around us. Well only through the power and strength of the God we can over come this!

  • Danielle

    After reading this article i felt two things: Disturbed and Ashamed.
    Disturbed b/c this world really is becoming more sick and getting worse with the rise of technology.
    Ashamed b/c as a believer i am doing nothing. I pray God will help me and others out there to step it up and do something.
    Thanks guys.

  • Nes


    Good post. I read your blog quite a bit (I am interested in Extended Adolescence and how to fight this problem, both individually and as a society – especially as a society).

    I have similar thoughts regarding technology. Technology is a good and useful tool if it advances society, health, living standards, etc – but not when the sacrifice is human interaction, or principles, or human development.

    Pornography has been a problem always – but what was once fairly inaccessible is now open to anyone with a computer. It is bringing devastating results, and I think society is about to take a hit from it big time. But – people also are starting to understand that this is not a good thing.

    You should check out The King’s Men – we deal with issues of both Formation (‘Doing Hard Things”) and Battling Pornography, both on an individual level and as a society. Check us out:

    Question for you guys: What do you think about schooling?

    I tend to think schooling has a major effect on extending adolescence, especially in males. I think EDUCATION is a great thing – literacy, problem solving, science, math, etc.

    But if you are extending lack of responsibility and passive schooling to 18 (or 22 and, increasingly, beyond, for the vast majority of people) – aren’t you extending adolescence even more? It is hard to truly live like an adult – financially, emotionally, socially – if you are in school. You don’t necessarily have job opportunities, you aren’t around people of different ages, and maturity sort of remains stagnant.

    Learning is good but – is spending 40 percent of your waking hours in a passive environment, free of any responsibilities besides intellectual development, good for people?

    I know you guys were homeschooled so I’d be interested to hear your take on it.



  • katelyn wyant

    This is great! lately I’ve been convicted about not really fighting for Christ……I mean, not letting a meaningful conversation drop, just because someone else came up or the person changed the subject.
    I have a friend who could talk circles around me when it came to the Bible, and winning someone for the Lord. And she also gets out there and fights for souls, I’ve been to my share of training courses, and seminars, but nothing can help to train me like reading Gods word and talking stratigy with my friends.
    this has been really encouraging to my walk with God:) thanks for the awesome tips and reminders:)

    in the love of Christ,

  • Irene

    Great and true article. But I would say that the world won’t survive another generation of Christians that fit in.

  • Bailey

    There is SO much truth in this article. I cannot thank God enough for leading me to the


  • Nicole Terashicowski

    “Over the next 5-10 years advances in technology will allow pornography and the sex industry to push so far into mainstream culture that they will no longer be generally considered dirty or taboo. . . .

    I am convinced that as our world continues to change it will become more and more difficult to actually avoid exposure to sin and will become more and more necessary to develop the strength of character to resist it, fight it, and conquer it.

    I’m calling you to be the kind of young men and women who are willing to fight the fight against sin. I’m calling you to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye rather than lose your soul (Matthew 5:29-30). Character is a victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy.

    The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.
    -Brett Harris

    I was reminded of this article today. It’s strange because I’ve been fighting a bent in the church to accept “dirty” and “taboo” subject matter, lingo, and jokes as the norm — as the norm from the pulpit.

    I begin going to church regularly to connect and collaborate with like-minded people to change the world for God’s glory and build each other up in the most holy faith along the path of self-sacrifice and loving service. Yet it was there that I encountered the filthiest ideas I’d ever heard — from none other than the pastors.

    Just like how I fight sin closing in on me in the world, such as with a movie, I stood up and walked out. Other people have walked out of movies after me — people who weren’t even Christians and still considered such material being presented to be tasteless and inappropriate. But all my friends at church stayed in the church service — my pastor and leadership friends laughing hardest of all.

    For the same reason I joined ministries as well as churches. And for the very same reasons I left — perhaps not the leaders, but sometimes those closest to the leaders sought to taint me more than anyone in the world ever did.

    I would expect all of you here at the Rebelution to understand this. But, ironically, the very person the speaker at my church was emulating as, standing before us young people, he told toilet jokes and made fun about practices of the most vile ancient cultures was none other than the pastor quoted in this article — whose book is recommended in the book list on your website and who as a person has been promoted in a previous panel discussion and who has been advertised to me by multiple leaders and persons who call themselves “Rebelutionaries.”

    I have cut off the friends who say and do things, unrepentantly, that lead down the path of sin. I have ever painfully gouged out of my heart the churches and ministries that promote sin or promote those who promote sin. I have fought and I do fight the fight for my soul. What we are facing requires war against evil and vileness, not ever diplomacy. I want the victory of righteous character, holiness, unity with Christ and His Heart. I want to win the Prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus. I want nothing else more — literally, that is my every choice and the way I live.

    The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. We in this country — American Christians, none other than us — will not survive if we are another generation of Christians that fit in. Fight with me, I plead with you. I love your souls and weep and ache and pray for your salvation, dear brothers.

    Fight with me until you, too, weep with me for the sin rampant in the American church and for our brothers and sisters who are losing this war because they have not the fortitude to win against this deceptive presentation of sin from the trusted, sacred, truth-filled and simply poisoned pulpits.

    Fight… don’t perish, please. There is no victory by compromise.

    “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
    -1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

  • Mike

    This is a great post, and very powerful. Like everyone else, I need to work on becoming a more active Christian. I found somethings that really help are some of the books by people whose legacies I admire. I recently read Game Plan For Life by Joe Gibbs (the coach of the Redskins while they were at their best) and Get In the Game by Cal Ripken Jr. (probably the best shortstop ever, who played for the Orioles and changed the shortstop position, and also holds the world record for the most consecutive baseball games played at 2.632 games, and went over 15 years without missing a game). These books are by great men whose careers show what great people they are. I have found these books to be the most helpful and inspiring books I have read since I read Do Hard Things. If you are into sports, or even if not but you still like them, I would recommend these two books. They have some great tips and helpful strategies used by these men in their tremendously successful careers. Hopefully this can help someone.

  • Steve Mendoza

    thank you very much for that. but not only is there the aspect of scientific cloning and such, but you are right. there IS also, the big aspect of internet, ipods, phones and other similar stuff. i agree with Nicole Terashicowski on her first paragraph. this “dirty” language and “humor” is becoming way to frequent, and much to popular. i do not think that people should use that kind of langauge period, but especcially not so flippantly.

  • bekah


  • Breanne B.

    Thank you for the post! You are right: “Character is a victory, not a gift. It requires war, not diplomacy. The time for lukewarm Christianity is behind us. This country will not survive another generation of Christians that fit in.” (Brett Harris)

    Eph. 6:10-17
    “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” !!!

    In Christ,

  • Gabrielle eliese

    this is so true it’s great knowing that other kids want to be pure not just in their actions that others see but also when no one is looking. And your right i don’t think the world will have another generation of Christians that fit in and thats alright with me because i don’t want to fit in. if fitting in is drinking and have premarital sex and low expectations then i don’t want it i want to be part of the solution not the problem thanks for all the encouragment

  • Jeannetta Pebsworth

    Hey Clay…It’s not my fault…maybe it was the drugs, but I’ve never heard of the BIG and I never went to El Cajon…but…alright…I’ll say it: Thank you Clay

  • Lilia

    This was a good reminder to me as I just got my own laptop. Thanks for the great posts, guys.

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