9.21.2007

Morals Today

I have a friend who is my age and who has worked with the teens in his
church practically since he was a teen. So he's seen multiple
generations of adolescents come and go, and deal with the same issues
in different ways and in different contexts. Recently, he sent around
an email requesting some guidance on what to do with the general
loosening of teen culture, in terms of dress, speech, and consumption
of secular culture. Here's what I had to say in response:

***

You make some valid points, and the important thing is that you are
seeking to hold every thought captive to Christ, and not just cede
stuff thoughtlessly. That takes extra effort, but it's what we're
called to, and what will prove us to be among His people.

I would add two somewhat contradictory statements to the mix. On the
one hand, it is clear that Paul believes there are Christian liberties
that can be practiced, but that for the sake of one's own reputation
and the edification of others, should be voluntarily withheld from.
So it's not that a particular action is sinful, it's just that we
choose not to do it so that we're above reproach and so that others
who aren't where we are won't be tempted to stumble.

Drinking alcohol is the best example I can think of here: for some,
it's not of any interest, for others it's enjoyable and can be
moderated, and for still others it's something that should be avoided.
So if I like drinking and can manage to do so without getting stupid,
but I'm in a setting where others are watching me or a Christian
brother is recovering from alcohol problems, I might choose not to
drink.

On the other hand, I believe you're getting at a general erosion in
morals in modern society. Don't get me wrong: people have always been
sinful. I don't believe there was such a thing as "the good ol'
days," because man has been fallen ever since Adam and Eve. And yet,
especially with teens, there is this sense that the norm is more out
there than it was when we were teens. And so all the more to confront
today's teens to take a stand in personal morality and in
relationships and in sexuality and in dress/speech. How we confront
them is another story - we can come off as self-righteous and
hopelessly dated, or we can speak and listen with sensitivity and
wisdom and conviction - but that we should confront them, there is no
doubt we should.

Thanks for including me in this dialogue, and keep on keeping on!

LH

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