My wife and I have five children ranging in age from 22 to 9. I remember a particularly frustrating time about 10 years ago, when a group of boys ranging in age from 5 to 11 were pitching a tent in the neighboring yard to have a campout. My wife overheard a 5-year-old make a shocking statement about bisexuality. Since three of our boys heard the remark, we were forced to have a discussion we didn’t think we would need to have at that age.
It’s even more difficult for parents today. The news is full of stories supporting bisexuality, homosexuality, transgenderism and same-sex marriage. Schools are allowing students to use the bathroom of their own choosing. A recent news article exposed that, in one school district, boys who self-identify as girls must be allowed to share a bedroom with girls during overnight school trips, and the school district does not have to notify the parents!
To further the challenge for parents, easy access to the Internet allows our children access to images and ideas that were nearly impossible to find only a generation ago. You may have filters on your home Internet connection, but you cannot filter every open wifi hotspot. So what can you do?
Having a Moral Compass
Today more than ever it is crucial that parents instill a solid moral compass into the hearts of their children. The instruction in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 speaks of the importance of having the ways of God written in our own hearts, so that we can diligently teach them to our children, by being a living example of right moral conduct. The ultimate goal is to provide them with a moral compass to guide and direct their lives.
But what is moral? What is immoral? Who defines morality? For many centuries, theories have been promoted to present different and often conflicting opinions of what is meant by morality. Dictionary.com defines moral as “of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.” The definition of immoral is “violating moral principles; licentious or lascivious.”
To Christians, the definition of morality is simple. It is obedience to God, which results in moral conduct and actions. Peter tells us, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5). Virtue is another way of saying moral excellence.
There is no end to the number of books discussing origins of morality, but does anyone get to make the rules? Is there an absolute moral code for mankind? Can it be morally acceptable for one person to commit murder, but not another? If so, who decides?
The Moral Decline
The present state of our moral decline has been slow and gradual. Much like a wheel rolling downhill, it starts off slow but picks up momentum and then change begins to happen rapidly. Philosophies attempting to describe what is moral without acknowledging God can be traced back many centuries, but let’s consider the results over just the past 95 years.
Prior to the 1920s young men would ask parents’ permission to begin courting their daughter, and if the couple were to go out on a date, someone was always along as a chaperone, they were never alone. This is a biblical principle found in 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (King James Version). The couple, by following this practice, could remain above reproach. During the 1920s, this would change as dating no longer included chaperones.
The “New Morality” of the 1920s glorified personal freedom and defied social conventions. It saw a marked transformation of women’s fashion as clothing became more revealing. Flappers, as they were known, were young women who cast aside conventional standards of behavior, bobbed their hair and smoked cigarettes. Young men and women became more sexually active.
It was during the 1920s that Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) wrote in her book Woman and the New Race: “The new standard will be based upon knowledge and freedom while the old is founded upon ignorance and submission” (p.167, emphasis added throughout ). Notice in Isaiah: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21). What Margaret Sanger labeled as “knowledge and freedom” was sexual immorality.
In 1930, President Hoover’s White House Conference on Child Health Protection prepared a report emphasizing “social hygiene” as opposed to moral conduct. The report would encourage such things as educating the youth to have a “healthy sexual lifestyle” (Sex, Youth, and Sex Education: A Reference Handbook, David Campos, p.73).
The moral decline would continue in the 1940s, and 1942 would be the first time the topic of sex education would be on the cover of a major newspaper, as the headline of the Washington D.C. Evening Star read “What Is Sex Education?” (Campos, p.84).
The 1950s would see the advancement of the idea that sexual impulses were not to be ignored and as long as two individuals consented there was nothing wrong with their relationship.
The 1960s would be marked by protests, drug use and “free love”—the freedom to engage in sexual relationships with anyone and any number of people you “loved.” The 1960s would also be looked upon as the beginning of the modern-day LGBT movement following a June 1967 police raid of a gay bar in New York City.
Is There Really a “New Morality”?
Russian novelist, writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his novel The Brothers Karamazov, wrote, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” Without a belief in God, there is no anchor for absolute moral truths.
Moral relativism, also known as situational ethics, promotes the belief that what might be the morally right thing for you may not be the right thing for someone else, and there are no absolute moral truths. This is not a new idea. It’s merely a rebranding of the same tired old attempt to replace God and the laws of God with a manmade system of morality that can be modified to suit one’s own perversions and also eliminate the associated feelings of guilt.
It is an ideology that believes viewing pornography is not wrong and that unmarried people living together or engaged in sexual activity is not wrong. It believes that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, abortion is a valid choice and people can “self-identify” their own gender. And it is a system that is influencing our children!
Ask your teenager if there are times when it might be okay for a woman to get an abortion. Their answer might surprise you. Our society is trying to confuse them by justifying the murder of the unborn in “rare“ or “extenuating” circumstances, such as the health of the mother, or rape, etc. Yes, these are very tough circumstances. However the only real truth is that all murder is sin.
Our children are growing up in a world that is offering a counterfeit value system, and they need to be equipped to know how to make morally right and proper decisions. The world today will not stop them from behaving in ways that will ultimately destroy them. In Romans 1 we read about the consequences of a debased mind (Romans 1:28-32), and the apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth addressed the results of unrighteous, unjust, immoral conduct, listing those that “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Now, in our present, postmodern age, we are being told that everyone is able to determine what is right for themselves. However, we are told, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
We can read in Deuteronomy 30:15-18 that God’s clear expectations are for our good, but He does allow us to choose. Therefore parents must teach their children His ways, His statutes, His judgments so that they are able to choose what is right, what is good and what leads to eternal life.
What Can You Do?
First understand that only God is the source of absolute moral values! Mankind is given the right to choose, but mankind does not have the authority to define right and wrong. The only source of moral truth is God’s Word. Jesus Christ, in His prayer to the Father just before His death, stated this clearly: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
The Bible is absolute truth! God’s Word shows us how to live and be morally excellent in our lives. Notice Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
To become morally excellent requires knowing what God says about a matter. It brings us back around to Deuteronomy 6:6-7 again. We must know God’s Word. It must be written in our hearts, and we must be living it so we can then teach it to our children. If we don’t, our children only learn the ways of this world and all its confusing lies and theories. In the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he reminds them to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Fathers are specifically instructed in Ephesians to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
My wife and I did not want to sit down with our boys and have that discussion about immoral behavior 10 years ago, but we had to have the discussion. And the discussion centered upon what God says is right, not what mankind says is right.
Society is challenging our faith, but especially the faith of our children. We must remind them to “believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
God’s Word is our guide. God’s Word is our moral compass.
To parents of teens: Welcome to this ongoing series of articles written with you in mind. These “hot topic” articles will specifically address current cultural issues and the challenges that you may be facing as a family and, most importantly, how to deal successfully with them in light of the Bible.