A Dirty Tampon by the Side of the Road


Walking my son to his bus stop today, we passed a used condom and a blood-stained tampon.

The condom’s been there for at least a week. I keep wondering when my son will comment on it. The tampon is more recent. Or at least new since my last bus stop sojourn before I took ill.

I had to take out the trash today. Plus, I’m normally the one who accompanies my son to his stop in the mornings. Though I’m still feeling lousy, I did it anyway. Planned on going back to bed after the bus came. But I couldn’t sleep.

Instead, I thought about a condom and tampon thrown by the side of the road.

I’ve got to believe that the kind of person who throws a used condom or tampon out of a speeding car onto the side of a rural road is the kind of person who probably never thinks about his or her standing before God. This is not a reflective person, not the kind who goes on a spiritual quest or asks of the family, “What do y’all think about life after death?”

Pondering this more deeply, I believe the kind of person who throws a used condom or tampon out of a speeding car onto the side of a rural road may be the fastest growing segment of the American population.

The state of that person’s spiritual life very much mirrors what he or she tossed out the window: filthy. This is the kind of person who’s got an appointment at the Great White Throne of judgment and the outcome won’t be pretty.

I don’t know how we reach that person. And that troubles me.

Most of us spend time with people who at least give some attention to what really matters in life. The people we tend to fraternize with will at least be willing to listen to us put in a word or two about spiritual things.

But the kind of person I believe is becoming a majority in this country is completely and utterly seared. Spiritual? Who cares. And they stay seared in their spirits and souls for a very, very long time.

I seem to be encountering more and more people who fit that description. I wouldn’t call them anti-spiritual. They’re more aspiritual. There’s absolutely not one genuine thread of spiritual awareness in their lives and no reason to cultivate any, as they see it.

When you look at the world’s cultures, every society has had a religious longing, wrongly placed though it may be. The complete absence of spiritual perception...And nearly every one of those cultures has placed that longing on something outside themselves.

But I take a look at the kind of person who tosses a used condom or tampon out a car window and I see nothing going on in that regard. Zero. It’s one thing to not know the way to God; it’s quite another to have no desire to know.

By all surveys, the Church in this country is failing miserably at making disciples. Most church growth figures have come at the expense of other churches—megachurch consumes mom and pop church in a slow Darwinian dance of survival-of-the-fittest. And even as the megachurches continue to grow, the total losses mount up as fewer and fewer of the general population attend church at all.

How does this generation of believers reach a generation that is not just spiritually empty, but seems to lack any apparatus for receiving the spiritual at all? It’s not a matter of filling an empty cup; it’s working to ensure that the cup itself even exists.

I don’t know how to meet that problem. Perhaps it’s too late to meet. We may indeed be seeing the final generation, a generation so spiritually cauterized as to have no desire for transcendence beyond scoring the latest XBox game.

A generation of used condoms and dirty tampons.