Ads featuring an attractive “family” in ABC Family Channel’s new series The Fosters are everywhere. Asking, “How do you define family?” and heralding “a new kind of family,” I guess everything seems fine until we discover they are a biracial lesbian couple raising their kids.
Twilight Saga youth idols Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart live together (the euphemism for a fornication arrangement) in real life, as do Miley Cyrus and her “lover” Liam Hemsworth. Pop star Ke$ha does a perverted, profanity-laced interview in Rolling Stone magazine, while Howard Stern and Nicki Minaj—both known for their bizarre sexual escapades—now sit as celebrity judges on teen-oriented talent shows.
Today our youth are surrounded by messages and messengers influencing them adversely from a scriptural standpoint. Impressionable and vulnerable, they need our help sorting through propaganda advocating immorality and the gay agenda in our country, classrooms and culture. We must invest in them so they develop critical thinking skills and don’t fall prey to deception.
Paul told the Philippian church, “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Phil. 1:9-10, NIV). Learning to discern is a mark of maturity that develops in those “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14).
3 Keys to Help Youth Learn to Discern
- Pray. That’s where Paul began, later adding “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). There simply is no shortcut in preparing and undergirding our young people. In my study is a large picture over my desk of a father kneeling bedside by his child. Behind them is a depiction straight from Daniel 10 of an angelic warrior engaging a demonic foe. Reality, not fantasy!
Interceding for my children daily as they matured, I now watch them in adulthood. One is a pastor with two adopted sons. One is the outreach director for 1,200 youth. The other went to Harvard (he paid!), then served our governor and U.S. senator while marrying a single mom. And, yes, there’s one still wandering whom I pray for each day.
- Proclaim. Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord announced the word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” Greatness comes when we consistently convey God’s truth in our home and church. Deuteronomy 6:7 directs, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk [or drive] along the road, when you lie down [bedtime] and when you get up [breakfast].”
Let’s not compartmentalize the teaching of the Bible. Seize teachable moments to instruct, interact and bring biblical insight to daily life. Say, “God had mercy on me, and may He have mercy on that person doing wrong,” but let’s not be misled by their lifestyle.
- Protect. Remaining vigilant has never been more essential. Smartphones, Internet, cable and tech advances require that we monitor, filter and teach our youth discernment and avoidance of destructive influences.
Let’s also help them by pointing out clever terminology used to mask unrighteousness in our culture: safe sex; living together; affairs; marriage equality; reproductive rights; friends with benefits; even politicians’ use of “Selma to Stonewall”—nice alliteration, but a total distortion of the real 1960s civil rights movement. The Nazis used “The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick” as the name for the agency conveying people to Auschwitz. The same language cover-up calls unborn babies “fetal tissue” and homosexuality an “alternative lifestyle.”
In our secular society, we need another transformational “Awakening.” In the meantime, let’s commit afresh to help our youth learn to discern, not as worried overprotectors but as wise overseers in these challenging times.
Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience.