Parenting’s 21st Century Challenge

No Christian parent would disagree with the Psalmist’s declaration that “children are an heritage of the Lord,” or that our children are “like olive plants round about thy table.” (Ps.127:3; 128:3). We treasure these gifts from God and do not take lightly the burden of the Psalmist who said that in teaching his children “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He hath done.” He wants to be a faithful parent-teacher of his children so “That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born: who should arise and declare them to their children.” (Ps.78:3-6).  His heart’s desire was that his children and grandchildren “might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” (Ps.78:7)

Those words echo the inner most thoughts of every God-fearing parent. We long for and have no greater desire than to see our children embracing our faith and teaching by example and exhortation the faith that we have tried to impart to them, the “faith of our fathers.”

But this generation faces a formidable foe, not a new one but an old one that comes in a delivery system never before available to satanic forces which never cease trying to undermine the words and works of loving parents who strive to guide and guard their little ones to a safe landing in adulthood with a faith that is intact, personal and genuine.

That foe is social media via the internet delivering daily mind-defiling, soul-destroying pictures, words, and philosophies, dangerous and damaging, to the minds of young people (and older folk, too!) beyond measure. One of the deadliest packages delivered non-stop to America’s youth is pornography.

The Christian Post, in a February 23, 2023, article, reported on a recent survey conducted by Common Sense Media in which 1358 teens, ages 13-17, participated. The findings are startling. 44% of the teens surveyed said that they had experienced porn intentionally. 73% of the teens reported that they had experienced porn, almost two out of three do so every week, 38% of them through social media.

Half of these young people admitted feeling guilty about viewing pornography and were ashamed of what they were doing.  A majority of them said that they learned about sex through these weekly experiences and most had viewed aggressive or violent pornography.

Most of the surveyed youth related that they had discussed sexual matters with a trusted adult, but less than half of them had included the subject of pornography in those discussions.

A third of these young people said that they were exposed to pornography during the school day. These 1358 teens represented public school students, private and Christian school students, and home-schooled young people. The average age of the teen when first exposed to porn was 12 and 15% of them were 10 years of age or younger when they were first introduced to it.

Now, those are the staggering statistics that this 2022 survey of teens, teens like yours or your grandchildren, teens who attend our church youth groups, have been honest enough to have reported.

The parents of my generation were not faced with this kind of a dark, deranging demon when I was a teen-ager. Yes, there was plenty of evil and wickedness, even pornography, in the 50’s and 60’s, but it was not so readily, easily and widely delivered to the youth of those days.

As a parent of teens coming of age in the 80’s and 90’s I was not faced with this social media nightmare either. Evil was present then, too, and ugly by any face, but again the delivery system was not at the finger-tips of my children and the challenge facing parents today is a world different from any previous generation.

What to do? (1) Pray every day for your children, grandchildren and the youth of your church, neighborhood, community. (2) Make much of God’s Word; read it, have family devotions, attend a Bible-preaching church, supporting the ministry of the pastor, youth pastor, teachers and leaders who are striving to lead by living, loving and listening to the young people entrusted to their spiritual watch care. (3) Attempt to put into place safeguards on the use of the internet in your home and establish an accountability arrangement with your children. Know what they are doing on their phone. Let them know that they can expect unannounced checks at random times of the day. Ask other parents, youth leaders and pastors what they have done or are doing to cope with this unprecedented parental 21st century challenge.

My heart goes out to every parent and to our youth also. Paul warned that in the last days perilous times would come. Several descriptive words or phrases follow that verse in I Tim.3:1, the last one being “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Those perilous times are not yet future, they are here today. It behooves all of us to be, in the light of these times, “wise as serpents, harmless as doves.”

The stakes are too high! Eternal destinies are in the balance. We cannot allow Satan and his underworld to win our youth by default. Be wise. Be alert. Be informed. Be involved. Above all, be vigilant in watching and in prayer. It will be a battle. At times, it may get messy. Do not despair. Truth may appear to be on the scaffold today, but truth will triumph over error. Always. Ever. God help us. Amen.

Be sober. Be vigilant. Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith….” (I Peter 5:8,9a)

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