Help your teenagers see how it works out for the world.
Teenagers raised in Christian homes in this culture face a difficult dilemma. Mom and Dad have one view of how to live; the world around them has another. It is vital that parents recognize the significance of this battle.
For example, Mom’s and Dad’s idea of what is cool might be something like this: believing and loving the Bible, being a virgin, using clean and respectful speech, dress that protects rather than exposes, refraining from buzz drinking and recreational drugs, openly honoring one’s parents. Now put yourself in the place of your teenager. Often, in their world, what I have just described is the profile of a social outcast. It is important to understand the price teenagers will pay if they buy into what you think is cool.
Elected leaders, school systems, colleges, entertainment producers, media, and many peers all promote a very different version of cool from what is listed above. Parents, if you want your children to buy into something different than what the world is selling, you need credibility in your relationship with God and with your teenagers. You have to be committed to God above all else. Your children need to know this. They also need to know that you are committed to them, even when they disagree with your decisions. You can help by having a clear, realistic view of the temptations they face.
I believe that this credibility and commitment are exactly what the father in Proverbs 7 is establishing when he explains the encounter of the young fool and the adulterous woman. This dad does far more than just say, “don’t have sex.” Notice the accurate, factual detail of his descriptions of the young fool and the adulterous wife. The dialogue is appropriately discrete, yet graphic enough to give his son a head’s up that is believable.
Essentially, you need to be in the relationship-building business with your teenagers. Then, when you talk about the deceptive nature of the world, you have some credibility. You are doing more than declaring “believe me or else.” You want to get to the point where you can ask a question like this:
“How did it work out for the young man in Proverbs 7?”
Teenagers tend to focus on the immediate. One mark of maturity is the ability to see where decisions based upon the immediate will eventually lead. The father in Proverbs 7 shows that the journey of the young fool will end in the bedrooms of death:
For she has been the ruin of many;
many men have been her victims.
Her house is the road to the grave.
Her bedroom is the den of death. Proverbs 7:26-27
If you are working to build or restore a relationship with your teenager, you can’t just issue a pronouncement and say, “you must believe that this is true.” Rather, you want to have common ground and understanding so that you can help your son to ask the question, “how will this work out?” The adulterous wife provides a strong temptation; helping your son learn to ask and answer the question, “how is this going to work out for me” is huge!
A popular song from 1984 called Self-Control precisely expresses the power of immediate temptation this way:
I know the night is not as it would seem
I must believe in something, so I’ll make myself believe it
That this night will never go.
This is how the world deceives. Even though one knows he or she is being deceived the call of temptation overrides the danger. Sin is not logical. Building a relationship with your teenager, where you can talk openly about how life works out for those who dismiss God, will go a long way toward leading them to maturity.