Indulging sensual desires has become an entitlement for young people. The message is loud and persistent:
You can have it.
You can have it now.
You deserve it.
Advertising that targets our nation’s youth is built on these three components of youthful desires or lusts. A cultural shift has occurred. It is one that is based on gratifying youthful desire. Having sex outside of marriage is the new social normal. Virginity is an indication of a dysfunctional personality. The notion of drinking responsibly doesn’t mean restraint, it means finding a designated driver. Products from hamburgers to whatever are sold with one message – you deserve this.
Against this rising tide, a plea that says “don’t do that!” comes across as empty and lame. Once the flames of youthful desires are lit, they are all but impossible to extinguish. These flames are consuming our culture and our youth.
The desires of youth have always been with us, but they have seldom been exploited as they now are. Paul warned about these desires in 2 Timothy 2:22:
“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Note Paul’s encouragement – flee youthful passions and pursue God.
Encouraging your teens to pursue God with passion is a difficult challenge if you, as parents, are not wholeheartedly pursuing God yourselves. If your message to your teenagers is built primarily on avoiding youthful lusts it will only lead to frustration. If your discipline and focus are only to solve problems for the moment you will confirm for your children that only the moment matters. This will cause you to encourage the very patterns of sin you are seeking to avoid.
Your vision must be two-fold: flee and pursue. The pursuit of God must be combined with turning from the passions of youth.
If you are concerned about the direction your teenagers are headed, the practical, personal pursuit of God is vital! Just saying “no” will not get the job done.
Parents, there is much more that must be said. But all the specifics in the world will be useless if the pursuit of God is not the most compelling issue of your life. Is your life marked by the pursuit of faith, love and peace? Is your life marked by the pursuit and love of the gospel?
There are no workarounds. This is where you must start.