What would you say is the moral core of America today? Democratic values? Religious teachings? The musings of popular entertainers? Perhaps a mix of all three?
In a culture that can send mixed messages about morality, parents would be wise to provide moral standards for their kids. Having reference points for productive and destructive behaviors can help our kids find more joy, hope, and meaning in life.
How Our Culture Often Lacks Common Moral Standards
Because we have inappropriate means of coping with depression, hunger, poverty, hurt, etc., many teens in today’s culture drown these problems with a myriad of improper vices; this often makes these problems worse. What many in today’s culture are failing to realize is that these vices do not fix their problems.
We have an entire generation of young people who have no recollection of America or the moral values she predominantly adhered to from her inception. Think about this: The average college-aged American has no recollection of life beyond the Bill Clinton years! No teenager has this recollection. This is not a slam to Bill Clinton. It was the American people who voted him in not once, but twice. We Americans exposed our priorities of the economy over morality. We no longer linked morality with ultimate prosperity, peace, goodness, or joy and happiness.
We have become a “drive-thru” and “super-size me” generation of spoiled brats. We are not unlike the Israelites under Moses who wouldn’t think of delaying gratification or enduring pain for a greater good—mainly because “good” has now become a relative term. We have passed this mindset and worldview on to our teenagers today. We forsake God’s laws and God Himself. As our teenagers grow up and grab the torch we have passed them, they no longer have the reference point we once had from which to rebel. Baby-Boomers at least had a standard by which to lay a foundation for their worldview and presuppositions about right and wrong. Today’s teens have never had that luxury.
MTV started in 1980. It may be the closest thing to a societal moral standard this generation has ever known. The problem with MTV’s moral standards is that there are no moral standards. This is the logical outworking of the postmodern worldview that was birthed in the cultural and sexual revolutions of the 1960s. Many troubled teens today are the product of the same. Unfortunately, there were a lot of young adults and teenagers in 1980 that quickly had their rebellious hearts fueled by MTV. These people are now the parents and even grandparents of today’s kids who are so damaged that they have no idea how damaged they really are. So many American teenagers don’t have a moral standard to return to or to use for comparison. When it comes to morality, American culture and law are the only standards they are familiar with. The standards their parents and grandparents knew about, grew up with, but rebelled against, are now seen as archaic and fairytale-like in the eyes of many teenagers.
Culture continues to decline by the fact that many of the aforementioned parents and grandparents are now in positions of leadership. They are policy-changers and makers. What is even more dangerous is that they have now become change agents in virtually all avenues of culture. They are politicians–from recent presidents on down to state and local governments. They are also teachers, entertainers, producers, talk-show hosts, coaches, athletes, policemen, judges, and more. What is most sad and more dangerous is that they are pastors, priests, Sunday school teachers, and youth workers also. Perhaps this is why there are as many teens inside the church as outside the church. The enemy is fully entrenched in every avenue of influence that reaches into our kids’ hearts and minds—and for the moment he is winning big!
As Christian parents, it is vitally important we get back to a standard that gives our kids and ourselves a moral reference point for living life. There is no emotional and spiritual security without it. And where should this standard of moral reference come from? Well, in America, with the exception of the last few decades, it has always come from Scripture. Even the U.S. court system made a person swear an oath of truth over the Holy Bible. Today, many Christian parents do not even use the Bible as a moral reference point for living or parenting their kids. We take our behavioral and moral cues from the same place the world does—from rock stars and talk-show hosts and movie stars. This is even more prevalent in the teenage population. People of style over substance are influencing our kids much more than we know.
As Christian parents, we must heed Deuteronomy 6:6-7. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Talk about them when you sit at home; when you walk along the road; when you lie down and when you get up.” Today, it seems the only thing our teenagers are hearing and heeding when they sit at home, when they walk along the road, when they lie down, and when they get up, is whatever garbage they have downloaded onto their iPod or view on their computer. Our affluence has been used of the enemy to bring our American teenagers to the point of hopelessness; a problem we should all be concerned with as a society.
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