In three recent occasions,our young people have appealed for help. In Adelaide, Australia, Brantford, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, they have sought help that they might be able to resist the tide of iniquity which threatens to engulf them in these last days. They have sought this help from their parents and grandparents, natural and spiritual.
The world we live in
We’re not surprised by the evil influences surrounding our youth. We live in the same world and face the same inundation of declining morals and temptations to iniquity. We aren’t surprised that at any given time 50% of 15 – 19 year olds in North America are sexually active, or that two-thirds of 12th graders have been drunk at least once. We’re fully aware that standards in movies and TV programs have been steadily declining. We know that pornography is readily available on the Internet. We hear the primitive beat to current popular music and we occasionally hear the debased words that are rapped to a rhythm (but we might not realize how long these stay in the mind). We, too, live in the world and see its debauchery.
But what we might not know is that many of our young people seek help from their homes and are not getting it. “As the issue was discussed, it became evident that the root of the problem and its cure lay largely in the homes of brethren and sisters themselves. Young people were in many cases only miming what they saw and faced in their own home or the homes of others.” This is from the report on a meeting in Adelaide at which the young people made their appeal for help. So we parents and grandparents need to take heed and search our own lives and souls.
It’s not just the world
In case we have any doubts that the world is affecting our own young people, we should give heed to a survey taken last year. It was passed out at four North American Bible schools and the responses were sent in a confidential manner over the Internet. More than 70% of those responding were baptized and their Bible reading and ecclesial attendance patterns seemed about average for our young people. More than 60% regularly attend Bible class; more than 75% regularly attend CYC; Sunday school attendance is high among the respondents and Bible reading about average with 60% reading the Bible more than three times a week. So the results should give an accurate insight into what is going on with our own young people.
According to the survey, over half of our teens have accepted offers of beer and/or liquor and in a third of the cases the providers have been friends in the CYC. Nearly half of our teens have been asked to have sex and a fifth of those requests have come from CYC friends. Those responding average eight hours per week watching TV, 20 hours listening to all kinds of music and many play the latest video games. Their favorite TV programs are “Friends,” which features a houseful of promiscuous singles and “The Simpsons,” which features cynical attitudes to authority, moral standards and all things religious. The most popular video games are “Counter Strike” and “Quake” both of which are laced with violence, strong language, sex and drugs. Fully two-thirds have viewed pornography accidentally on the Internet; 50% of the boys and 24% of the girls admit to having an Internet porn problem.
In spite of having good intentions, the fear was clearly expressed that the pervasive iniquity of our society created a pressure that was becoming too much to resist.
Not a new problem
While the Internet, music head sets, TV and video games are new to our age, carnal seductions and gross immorality are not. Israel went into a land defiled by the Canaanites who regularly practiced homosexuality, incest, wanton promiscuity and bestiality. These were the “ordinances” and “customs” of the people (Lev. 18:3,22,23,30). Within two generations, “the children of Israel dwelt among the Canannites…and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods” (Jdg. 3:6). In this environment, many young people were raised with family practices of the most decadent kind. Even if a family remained true to the Lord, they were faced with neighbors who advocated wanton immorality as the way to live a happy life. Yet even in the worst of times, when Jezebel elevated Baal and Astarte, 7,000 (of perhaps 3 million, or the equivalent of 700,000 today in North America) resisted the tidal wave of evil. Yes, we face a deluge of evil in these last days, but it’s not unique to our time and we don’t need to be swept away by it.
In New Testament times, Pompei was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. The statues and wall-carvings depict a society wholly given over to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Roman world was rife with evil. Paul would write to the Corinthians: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you…” (I Cor. 6:9-11). Corinth and Ephesus were notorious for being places of unbridled sin and sensuality. Brothers and sisters had to fight for their spiritual lives in the midst of a wholly decadent society. Saints of other ages have fought the same temptations we fight today, and the Lord knows how to deliver His people from such iniquity. He can do it; it can be done. But we must do our part.
From the three sessions noted above and from a seminar on parenting sponsored by the “Care-Line,” a number of useful ideas emerged as we seek to do our part.
- Put computers and TVs in high traffic areas in the home. Don’t put them in the bedrooms or private areas of young people. In this way, viewing habits can easily be monitored. Learn how to detect sites recently viewed on the Internet and use all the systems available to keep pornographic sites from appearing on the computer.
- Stop everything when an opportunity occurs for in depth discussion with the young person. Delay dinner, cancel an appointment, stay up late, do whatever is necessary to listen, converse and help. These moments can not be scheduled so take advantage of them when they occur.
- Stay close to the young person. Observe any changes in appearance or patterns of behavior. Look for the signals of substance abuse or the occurrence of intimate involvement of a sexual nature.
- Provide wholesome, enjoyable family occasions. This will vary greatly with the circumstances of each family but will always require parental time, inconvenience and possible expense. We love our children with all of our hearts. Most of us would give our life for them. So let’s give them more of our time.
- Remember that your young person is a potential convert and do not assume he/she will automatically be baptized or is necessarily converted when he/she is immersed.
- “Perception is often reality. If young people feel the older ones are always critical and negative, the barriers will come up.”
- Let open repentance and forgiveness be a part of daily family experience. The young person must know that failure need not be permanent and that grace is a living reality.
- Do not be hypocritical. Children will immediately pick up on hypocrisy even though they may not be able to fully articulate what they sense.
- In the home, set an honest personal example of commitment to God, His word and the ecclesia in a positive, joyful spirit. This will leave a deep and lasting impression on young minds.
As was noted by the Aberfoyle Park ecclesia, “Ours is a very special community. We have all been called to a glorious hope by a God who cares for each one of us, who is gracious, merciful, longsuffering, welcoming, accepting and faithful. We should make all young people feel that God is always there for them; that He will never give up on them; that they can always turn back to God and He will turn back to them no matter how dire their circumstances.”
As parents and grandparents, natural and spiritual, we need to make these principles come alive in our lives and help them to live in our young people.