Some of the popular songs I heard while growing up in the '60s included lyrics such as, "If it feels good, do it" and "If it feels so good, how can it be wrong?" Popular culture often has little memory. Then, as now, when young people are blasted at every turn with pop psychology, we can buy into some pretty strange ideas. Just ask someone about the hippies, free love, LSD, SLA, Hanoi Jane and other effects of '60s thinking.
Things have really changed from the time the United States was founded. In an article that appeared in the March/April 2001 Good News magazine, James Capo (currently a church pastor and summer camp director at Hye Sierra, California) wrote:
"The greatness of the nation was once inseparably linked in its citizen's minds with the nation's respect for God and the principles of morality and character taught in the pages of the Bible.
"As delegates from the states met to craft a national constitution in the summer of 1787, Benjamin Franklin, governor of Pennsylvania, addressed the group: 'If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His [God's] notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it."'
"Franklin then called on the group to offer regular, daily prayer to ask for God's assistance and blessings in their deliberations (William Federer, America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, 1996, pp. 248-249)."
Today many areas that were once sacred have fallen victim to a permissiveness and openness that have eroded our moral foundation. Once society understood that morality was defined in Scripture and enforced by parents and the community. But now many have forgotten that. Sometimes it takes an enemy to be willing to spell out our problems clearly. Though it in no way justifies his acts, consider what Osama bin Laden said in his open letter to America:
"You are a nation that permits acts of immorality and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom... Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the Oval Office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that 'he made a mistake,' after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and be remembered by nations?
"You are a nation that permits gambling in all forms...
"You are a nation that exploits women like consumer products... You then rant that you support the liberation of women.
"You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all its forms, directly and indirectly...
"Your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people, who hold sway in their political parties, and fund their election campaigns with their gifts." ("Bin Laden's Letter Offers Insight Into Islamic Fundamentalism," by Melvin Rhodes, World News and Prophecy, December 2002, pg. 9).
Is bin Laden right? Are there some inconsistencies in our way of life? Where do your values come from? Do you feel you can decide what is right and wrong? What if your opinion disagrees with others? Who decides which way is appropriate?
The Fifth Commandment in the Bible comes with a wonderful promise: If you honor your father and mother, it will go well with you and you will live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:2-3). This blessing is intensified if your parents are following the Bible. If you show honor and follow your parents' teachings, you will not only have a long life, but the quality of your life will also greatly increase.
Parents are a type of God the Father and represent revealed knowledge that will give you guidance that could save you from making bad, and potentially deadly, decisions. This, of course, assumes your parents know what they are talking about. Sadly, many parents have not stayed true to the beliefs that were commonplace in the United States and other countries in previous decades--the values based on biblical principles that helped the United States thrive and prosper.
You can go through life following every new thought that springs up, or you can plot a life of stability and potential happiness based on biblical principles. Consider the following points that can help you do this:
Prove all things. This is a biblical precept found in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 which says, "Test all things; hold fast what is good." The Bible states in John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." We also need to realize that Satan is not a fan of truth. We learn that Satan is the author of lies. John 8:44 says, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."
Don't follow the crowd. Be your own person and have reasons for doing what you do. Just because it feels good, or others are doing it, doesn't make it right. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Seek the higher standard. The dumbing-down of America is well documented. It is easier to roll down the hill than to climb up a mountain. Where are you headed? Henry David Thoreau wrote: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them" (Walden).
Set your standards high and don't settle for mediocrity. You have been given much by learning about God's ways. You have the privilege of avoiding many of the pitfalls that are prevalent today.
The world is lost in conflicted, muddled thinking, largely due to rejecting God and His way of life. You can make a difference by standing up for values that have been tried and tested throughout time. Look at the fruits of the actions of your peers. Do you know people who are happy, fulfilled and successful? If so, why are they successful? Do you see people who are depressed, troubled and lost? What led to their troubles?
There is a cause for every effect. If "everything is OK," then nothing really matters in life. The truth is, there is a way that works and few are finding that way. I challenge you to prove all things, set your own course based on the Scriptures and set a higher standard! YU