Something is disturbing me and I’m just going to say it! No beating around the bush or mincing words or hinting at my meaning. This may sound harsh, but … it is appalling to me to see the low moral standards that are so prevalent among my generation and those a little younger. The apathy among those who come from so-called conservative, Bible-believing-and-practicing families is alarming. Please understand, this is not a blanket condemnation on anyone and everyone … I know that there are many righteous young people who have hearts for the Heavenly Father. Generally speaking though, the spiritual condition of so many of the current youth is in a very dangerous position. How did we get to this place?
When I look around and observe different parents, it seems as if there is this common attitude (or shall I say fear?) about saying “No” … about forbidding their children to do this or that or whatever. I think that part of this stems from the concern about being different. After all, who wants their child to be the oddball in the bunch, the strange one in the crowd? It’s much more comfortable for all involved if they just fit in with all the rest.
I believe another part of the reason has to do with a lack of responsibility on the part of the parents and the mindset of letting the children make their own decisions. To illustrate … I knew a woman who was sharing that many years ago she was in a church service and was suddenly convicted that her blue jeans were too tight and immodest, so she stopped wearing them. Does anyone want to guess what her teenage daughter (who was sitting across the room) was wearing? On another occasion, the woman brought up that testimony again, sharing that she should not make her daughter not wear jeans, since she herself was convicted about it through the Holy Spirit. Apparently she felt that it was the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convict her daughter in this matter and until that happened, she could wear the same thing that was immodest and wrong for the mother to wear.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty plain and clear to me. If the parents train the child in the way he (or she) should go, he will not depart from it when he is old. Why are so many young people going astray? Could this have anything to do with a lack of training that they received as children? Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The word used for “nurture” (paideia, in the Greek) means: The whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body. Whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing passions. Instruction which aims at increasing virtue. Chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment).
The word used for “admonition” (nouthesia, in the Greek) simply means: admonition, exhortation.
Parents are responsible for the spiritual welfare of their children. The parents are to instruct their children in righteousness, teaching them the Scriptural commandments and principles, instilling truth that increases virtue and at times using chastisement and punishment just as the Heavenly Father does (“For whom YHWH loves he corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” – Proverbs 3:12. “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.” – Hebrews 12:6).
This may seem like a strange topic coming from someone who is not yet a parent and written for an audience with a majority of unmarried young ladies! However, this is a topic that we need to be giving a lot of thought and prayer to, especially if our hope and desire is to have children one day. For twenty-one years, I have experienced the way that my parents raised (and are raising) my siblings and me. They’re not perfect and their parenting hasn’t always been perfect, but as I can speak from experience (!), I can say that I find their method far more effective and successful than many others I’ve seen. Of course, this is only because of the Father’s grace and mercy and the way that He has led and guided them. All the glory goes to Him … we certainly cannot boast of any goodness in ourselves because “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” – Isaiah 64:6.
As I have observed my parents’ approach to child-rearing, there are two things that stand out very loud and clear, specifically … the two things that I mentioned in the beginning of this article. They have never made us feel uncomfortable about being different. They taught us to be loving and kind to anyone and everyone, but they never portrayed that it was important to “fit in” with the crowd. Somehow, we understood that being different was not a curse, but a blessing. Believe me – we’ve been different as long as I can remember! We have dressed differently, talked differently, played differently, ate differently, made decisions on acceptable entertainment (music, movies, etc) differently … you name it! This isn’t because we want to have a holier-than-thou attitude and treat everyone else as if we’re right and they’re wrong. In fact, some of our closest friendships have been with people who have different standards than we do. It’s just that YHWH has given us strong convictions in certain areas and we feel the duty to uphold those.
Secondly, they take responsibility for our welfare – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. They are protective about what influences surround us. When we were young, my parents instructed us that if someone started to tell us about a movie they had watched, we were to ask them not to. They knew that family standards are different and they did not want us exposed to something that they did not feel was acceptable. They were (and still are) very careful about letting us talk and play with other children who they did not know very well. We weren’t allowed to go off to bedrooms or be unattended for very long. Some people may feel that they were overbearing in sheltering us, but I can tell you how thankful I am for their protectiveness.
As we got older and grew into the teen years, we were not expected to be rebellious. There were absolutely no excuses for wrong behavior … age and adolescence didn’t make any difference. Now that I’m through those teen years, I can look back and view them as some of the happiest and most contented years of my life. I see them as years in which I developed a deep respect for my parents and a close relationship with them. They were years that I cultivated a love for the Heavenly Father, a relationship with the Messiah and deeper understanding of Scriptural truth. Through study and life experience, I gained spiritual knowledge and my personal convictions were formed and strengthened. I can see similar experiences in the lives of my siblings and I ask myself why? Why this difference? How is it that in a time when the majority of families are dysfunctional, our family is functioning … not perfectly we’ll all admit, but at least that is our goal. Why is it that my siblings and I are thankful for our parent’s protection and loving guidance, when so many young people are rebelling and going the way of the world?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do want to share a perspective that may shed some light. 1John 2:15-17 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.”
The definition of lust, as used in this passage, is “desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden.” This word is used a few times in a positive context (such as Yeshua desiring to eat the Passover with His disciples), but most of the references are in a negative context, describing a “desire for what is forbidden”. Our culture promotes lust and self-gratification EVERYWHERE we go. It is what makes the entertainment industry so profitable. One of the definitions of pop culture is – cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people.
Biblical standards of right and wrong are forgotten or ignored and now it’s all about us; what we like and don’t like, what makes us happy, confident, fulfilled, etc. This is a humanistic worldview and a quick look at its definition should make us turn and run in the opposite direction! Simply defined, “Humanism contends that human beings are a part of nature, that they have emerged as a result of continuous evolutionary process, and that all their values–religious, ethical, political, and social–have their source in human experience and are the product of their culture.”
This sounds very different than the passage in 1John 2, where we are instructed to love not the things of the world and the lusts of it. Is it possible that so many young people are turning their backs on the ways of YHWH and embracing the ways of the world because they have not been taught to love the Heavenly Father, or more specifically, are taught to love the things of the world? Maybe they haven’t been taught the value of a life lived in total surrender to His Will? Perhaps they have been surrounded by opposing influences and do not have the Biblical foundation and knowledge to stand against peer pressure?
I once heard someone say, our children are the only possessions that we can take into the Heavenly Kingdom. Granted, no one can force their child to accept the gift of eternal life that was purchased by the blood of Yeshua and no child is going to make it into the Kingdom because his parents are. But parents have an incredible responsibility to train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is old he will not depart from it. We see a lot of “departing” these days and it is unspeakably crucial that we know how to combat these darts of the enemy and train our children in righteousness.
Remember I mentioned that our family has always been different than most others around us? This isn’t a bad thing … this is a good thing! When we search the Scriptures, we find that YHWH’s people are supposed to be different. After all, didn’t YHWH choose Israel to be His people out of all the nations and give them a set of rules to follow which were very different than those around them?
Exodus 19:5 says, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18 are similar, “For thou art an holy people unto YHWH thy God, and YHWH hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” … and … “And YHWH hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;”
If, through the blood of Messiah, we have been brought into the commonwealth for Israel (Ephesians 2:11-22), then aren’t these words for us too? The Hebrew word for peculiar, means “possession, valued property, treasure”. A similar Greek word is used in Titus 2:14 and 1Peter 2:9, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” … and … “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”. The word peculiar in those texts means “that which is one’s own, belonging to one’s possessions, a people selected by God from the other nations for his own possession.”
How are we to be His “peculiar treasure”, “holy people”, “chosen generation” and “royal priesthood”? Do we not have the answers in the verses above … that we should “keep all his commandments” and “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”? It is with that conviction that my parents chose to look into the Scriptures for daily instruction and standards and taught us children to do the same.
All of us are probably familiar with verses like 1Corinthians 10:31, “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” and Colossians 3:17, “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Do we really believe and practice that?
When facing decisions, in situations both life-changing and normal everyday life, we need to ask questions like …
“Does this glorify the Heavenly Father?”
“What is right about this?”
“How will this benefit us spiritually?”
“Is this gratifying the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life (see 1John 2:16), or is it cultivating righteousness and holiness?”
“How will this affect us in the light of eternity?”
These are some tough questions and one might get the idea that I am encouraging a super-spiritual lifestyle where everything is dictated rules and regulations and we aren’t allowed to relax and enjoy ourselves. On the contrary, I think we have one of the happiest families around! We enjoy a good sense of humor … my father is one of the funniest men I know and laughter is a big part of our family life. We love to joke with each other and have a good time. Playing games and making music is a highlight. Sometimes we’ll even watch a good movie together.
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” It is a good thing to be happy and joyful, but we must beware that our joyfulness is acceptable in His sight. There is a huge difference between the joy of YHWH that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and what the world calls “fun” and “having a good time”. How can we be a holy people if we take our cues from the Godless society that we are surrounded by?
My dear friends … those of you who do not yet have children of your own, please prayerfully consider how to live righteous lives now and prepare to be a Godly example to your children. Learn now what it means to train up children in the way they should go and prepare to do just that, no matter the cost. After all, what are all the worldly pleasures worth, compared to being able to lead a child to the Heavenly Father?
To the parents who have read this … please hear me say how grateful I am for my parent’s protection. I am so thankful for the way that they have sheltered my siblings and me. I am not experiencing the painful consequences of a sinful lifestyle. I can go to sleep each night with a peaceful heart and without regrets, knowing that I am not perfect but in being made free from sin, I have become a servant of righteousness (Romans 6:18). Dear parents, this is the greatest gift you can give your child … loving them enough to say no to ungodly influences and choices and directing them in the narrow way that leads to life. “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.” – Matthew 7:13,14