I feel like I've missed out on life. I grew up on "the mission field" in a conservative Christian home where "gosh" and "heck" were bad words. I was home-schooled for most of my life, and when I got back to North America, I enrolled in a Christian university. After years of dealing with the crap fundamentalists dish out to their young, I finally became an atheist, and a year later, I'm still going strong.
My problem is that after spending my whole life immersed in the evangelical culture, I have no idea how to function in the real world. I've never had a girlfriend, never had sex, never kissed a girl. I'm a fairly attractive, healthy, well-adjusted young man, but the only women I know are Christians, and starting a relationship with one of them would be pointless. I read stories about people in college hooking up and getting laid like nobody's business, but I never had the chance to get involved in anything like that. I've gone to bars and clubs, but I just have no idea what I'm supposed to do or how to meet people.
My point is this: there is an entire generation of evangelically-raised youth out there that craves something more like a normal young adulthood. That is, one with at least reasonable experiments in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. One in which some degree of self-discovery and self-definition (as opposed to scriptural or authoritarian definitions of one's self) is possible.
These identity crises are going to worsen as the country reverts itself back to something resembling common sense. The kids of American evangelicals have been living under a purposefully rotten and deceptive illusion — constant reassurances throughout their youth that they were right and everyone else was wrong. Except guess what? Their parents got it backwards.
Dan's answer to this sheltered young man is a bit more glib than it needs to be. A missed opportunity, for sure, but there will be millions of others. Hopefully next time he will respect the earnestness of this struggle instead of churning out a reflex response.