Sunday, May 8, 2011

Proverbs 19:27 commentary - Stop Listening to Bad Advice

27 ¶ Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

There are many people who try to influence a young person negatively in their formative years. Many wicked people fit this category;

Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

It is a truth for the young person who considers themselves a Christian that any “friend” who tries to get you to go against God or your parents is not only not a friend, but is trying to destroy you. Over the last few centuries Western society has “progressed” to a point where generally good societal influences have often been pushed aside. The family has, with certain groups including Bible believers, become more insulated, gender roles more strictly defined, and the community at large pushed away. This phenomenon has most affected negatively men who are now taught to believe that dependence, particularly emotional dependence, must be confined to the family. So, the good influences within the community, a sense of which has been almost destroyed, don’t get the sway they used to have. This isolation of the modern family from society, though, does not keep the negative influences away. Even fundamentalist Christians who feel a sense of community among other believers in their own church body and others, still feel that isolation of the family as a separate unit apart from that community. In days gone by your sense of self identity was something that came out of your communal and societal responsibilities, obligations, and dependencies.

Today, we are taught to operate as individuals, not wanting to be told what to do by anyone else, particularly not family or church, and to feel that we don’t really need anyone else and if you do, you’re weak. Women don’t suffer from this as much as men because women are still encouraged to be the nurturer and the one who sacrifices their personal identity for the family. You won’t find too many Deborah’s, Lydia’s, Hulda’s, Anna’s, or the daughters of Philip the evangelist in today’s Independent Baptist Churches because those roles are now forbidden to them and men are not considered nurturers or permitted much emotion other than righteous indignation. But Christian fathers and mothers at one time were responsible for Bible instruction in the home, before Sunday School’s let them off the hook, and Christian fathers had to be nurturers and emotional caregivers as well because often mothers died in childbirth. Before the Industrial Revolution the Christian family was engaged in industry and farming at home to sell to the community to which they belonged or to people further away through intermediaries. The family was more than just father, mother, and child but was sometimes inlaws, other relatives, servants, and non-related dependents. There were many ways for a young person to be positively influenced and negative influences could be dealt with quickly.

When boys get together now outside of the home and away from the supervision of parents doing wrong is much of the time the end result. Foul and vulgar language which is simply verbal violence and verbal rape, bullying, early sexualization of both sexes through popular media and older children, and experimenting to see how far the proverbial envelope can be pushed are commonplace, as they always were, but now without much restraint. Mom and Dad are too busy being entertained by the TV or the computer to be parents. Unfortunately, this can even be so among children who regularly attend church. Like their parents, they can dress right, act right around others, and appear to be Godly young people until they are with their peers.

My Pastor has convinced me that a church youth group must have a one on one ratio of adults to young people and I believe that youth activities should not be directed to entertainment and indoctrination into worldly ways to just keep them occupied but more to acts of service for older people, associating with responsible and Godly adults who will set an active example, and events that teach appreciation for faith, community, and country.

In the 1930’s, says the book America in so Many Words: Words that have Shaped America by Allan Metcalf and David Barnhart, the word “teenager” was invented although “teenaged” had been around since the early 1920’s. This was simply a new group to whom businesses could market products like rebellious music, clothing, and movies. Before the 20th century the concern for a young person was to grow up and to be an adult. With the advent of the false designation of a young adult as a teenager, though, there is a desire to remain in a perpetual state of irresponsible adolescence as a normal part of childhood. That’s a rather unfair expectation for people whose bodies are maturing sexually but whose minds are still growing and yet unprepared for the realities of the world. Even adults in age will look longingly back at their teen years as some kind of a golden age for them with high school reunions, vintage music stations, and “retro” clothing being popular among many of the older group. In short, no one wants to grow up. Most don’t ever.

This Proverb tells the young man and by inference the young women to stop listening to the influences that cause them to turn away from the words of knowledge, God’s words, and sound parental advice (hopefully your parents act like adults.) A Pastor I admire has said that it is the responsibility of every Christian in every age to discern what the spirit of that age is and oppose it. This assumes that since Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) then the things of worldly wisdom and instruction are of Satan, for as the world is very enticing, with powerful armies, beautiful art and literature, brilliant philosophies, wise councils, and awe inspiring architecture it is all a sham, because in the end, it is all held together only by force. The world in the last hundred years, with the help of people like Sigmund Freud and his nephew, the inventor of modern advertising and public relations, Ed Bernays, teaches the worship of Self and the worship of Self is always expressed, at the end of the day, as the worship of the flesh. This leads to dissolution and decay and an early death.

The words of knowledge will lead to a victorious life and one with few regrets for the bad things we would have done under the world’s instruction. So, young person, when the worldly people you know, adult or youth, and the world encourage you to depart from God’s words turn away from those people. They do not have your best interests at heart and while your early death may be “tragic” for them, they are too conscience seared and spiritually blind to understand the nature of the path they are headed down. I can think of no better advice than this for you. An old friend of mine has written a book on the political state of a group of people in our country. In the book he quotes his father who said that if you see a crowd headed in one direction, go the other way, because they are probably wrong.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To the older people I would say, show what it means to be a Christian adult by example, by your speech and conduct before the young. Give them something positive to remember about you and never, ever encourage any of them to go against their parents or God. When a young person says, “yes sir” or “no ma’am” because they have been taught to respect their elders or authority never say “oh, you don’t have to say that to me” because they do. That’s the way they’ve been taught. It’s not your place to begin to undercut their parent’s influence. The world will do enough of that. Never speak longingly of the time of your youth, as in the moral errors you made and the sins you delighted in, as your past before you were saved is a monstrous thing and no example for the young person, lest they look at you and go, “well you survived it so it must not be that bad.”

Maintain a good testimony before the young always and don’t try to return to their age in appearance or demeanor. To the young person, finally, let me repeat, anyone who tries to encourage or teach you to do what you know is wrong is not a friend or a mentor, they are a devil.

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