Training and Instruction

How desperately today's young people need this training and instruction. Countless numbers of them around the world are growing up in a world that is warping their beliefs and behavior. You can observe that damning influence by strolling through a local mall on a Friday night. Just look around. You'll see girls and boys who appear to be emotionally lost and spiritually bankrupt. The clothes they wear and the profanity they use and the extreme ways they present themselves expose a poverty of the soul. It is sadness on parade.

Dr. Ken Taylor, the godly patriarch who founded Tyndale House Publishers, was invited to attend a local high school football game after he had retired. He accepted the offer and sat in the bleachers with fans until halftime. Then he quietly slipped away without telling anyone where he was going. He confided to a friend later that he hadn't been bored with the game. Rather, he was so profoundly burdened for the kids around him that he went home to pray for them. What he saw on that day can also be observed by all of us who enter the world of the young.

We see evidence of it among the girls who contact us at Focus on the Family to seek advice. They are very different from those who wrote us twenty years ago. Teens used to inquire about the "right" thing to do, which usually reflected a Christian foundation of some variety. Even those who had no faith seemed to know that some things were simply wrong. That has changed dramatically. A significant number of the kids who ask for our counsel now are not interested in what is moral but rather how they should deal with the messes they are in and whether or not they should act on their impulses and desires. Not all adolescents think this way, of course, nor do the majority of them. But we are hearing from more and more youngsters who are greatly influenced by moral relativism. For them, absolute truth does not exist. There is no reliable standard of right and wrong because they acknowledge no God who can define it.

The classical Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky considered the con- sequences of moral relativism in his book The Brothers Karamazov. He wrote, "If there is no God, everything is permissible." That is what we are seeing in today's culture. In the absence of a moral compass, immature boys and girls are left to flounder in a bewildering sea of destructive options.

In my book Bringing Up Boys, I also discussed this spiritual confusion among those living in a world without God. It bears repeating:

Human beings tend to struggle with troubling questions they can't answer. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so the intellect acts to fill the void. Or to state it differently, it seeks to repair a hole in its system of beliefs. That is why so many young people today chase after twisted and alien "theologies," such as New Age nonsense, the pursuit of pleasure, substance abuse, and illicit sex. They are searching vainly for something that will satisfy their "soul hunger." They are unlikely to find it. . . . Meaning in life comes only by answering the eternal questions . . . and they are adequately addressed only in the Christian faith. No other religion can tell us who we are, how we got here, and where we are going after death. And no other belief system teaches that we are known and loved individually by the God of the universe and by His only Son, Jesus Christ. . . .

At the top of the list [of what children and teens need from their moms and dads] is an understanding of who God is and what He expects them to do. . . . Moses takes that responsibility a step further in Deuteronomy 6. He tells parents to talk about spiritual matters continually. . .

Scripture tells us: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).2

Notice that Moses didn't just make a "suggestion" to parents about the spiritual training of their children. He called that assignment a commandment. There is urgency in his words. It is not enough to mutter, "Now I lay me down to sleep" with your exhausted child at the end of the day. I have concluded that our primary task as parents comes down to four components that will guide our efforts.

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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