"Teenagers Today Are Worldly..."

by Gene Taylor

I knew it was true. It confirmed my view that young people today are worse than they were in my day. "Teenagers today are worldly, shaped by exposure to a culture that has dropped many of its inhibitions..."

Thus read a recent article in The New York Times ("American Teen-Agers Are Both Worldly and Devoid of Cynicism, Poll Indicates," April 30, 1998.) This article was written to summarize the results of a nationwide poll of 13 to 17 year olds conducted jointly by The New York Times and CBS News.

As one who is growing older, I just knew that the young people of today did not have the values my generation had. I also believed they lacked the respect for authority they should have. So often when I heard of such things as school shootings, rampant drug use by the young, and sexual activity among teens, I just knew that the young were growing more immoral all the time. I was just about ready to write them off thinking there was not much hope in reaching them. This article seemed to confirm all of that.

I was wrong. Instead of confirming my views, this article rebutted them. Oh yes, all is not well. In many ways those young people who responded to this survey have views I cannot accept. But on the other hand, they, as a group, display a conservatism in morals and respect for authority my generation, the "baby boomers" responsible for the free sex, drug laced, rebellious "sixties," did not have. While the article did state that today's teenagers are worldly, it also spoke of their wholesomeness. "Yet, the same poll suggests, in some ways they are as wholesome and devoid of cynicism as the generation that wore saddle shoes. They trust their government, admire their parents and believe it is possible to start out poor and become rich. Ninety-four percent say they believe in God (emphasis mine - GT). Strong majorities say they never drink alcohol and never smoke cigarettes or marijuana. On sexual matters, too, they display a notable conservatism."

About the only coverage teens get in the media is negative. The only time we pay much attention to them, even in the church, is to denounce them and tell them how bad they are. How wrong we are in doing that!

Yes, when young people do that which is wrong they need to be disciplined. Their erroneous views need to be corrected. But let us never forget, there are many good young people who can serve as role models not only for their peers but also for those who are older. Even the article states that those teens who are worldly are that way because they have been "exposed to a culture that has dropped many of its inhibitions." Who do you think is responsible for such a carnal culture? It's those older folks who are wringing their hands and wondering what has gone wrong with young people today. They have failed to provide an environment where children are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

I must admit, though, a good deal of this article was written "tongue in cheek" reflecting what I perceive to be the general view that many who are older have of the young. You see, I have had faith in a good portion of the young generation long before I read the newspaper article. Why? Because of the good young people I have been blessed to have in my life -- in my own family and in this church. They have godly values and they respect authority. I am thankful for them and the good example they are. Let us not fail them. Let us respect and honor them. Let us continue to provide a good example for them. If this world and our society is going to be preserved, the influence of these godly young people will be the key. As those who are older, let us not downgrade them or give up on them. Rather, let us equip them with the knowledge of the Lord and His will they need to keep them "steadfast, immoveable" so they will be "always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).