by Jaye Rodenbush
Youth culture is incredibly fast moving. The news, trends, fashion and the digital media that accompanies it all are purposely fluid and difficult to track. Even the most dutiful researchers, parents and pastors are behind before they even realize it. It is a moving target of influence that is molding and shaping the minds and hearts of our children and young adults.
Discussing current events can be difficult as the 24-hour news cycle and a content-obsessed society moves from one crisis to the next so quickly that it makes events seemingly irrelevant before they can even be properly processed. For example, in January of 2018, six teenagers took their own lives in one small rural school district in Ohio. It has been labeled “suicide contagion,” and the phenomenon is a growing concern.
It seems we are witnessing the act of suicide becoming contagious among young people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that since 2007 the rate of suicide has doubled among children ages 10 to 14. The CDC also states that overdose deaths among teens doubled between 1999-2015, and this number is only predicted to rise. But . . . the news cycle passed, America shed a collective tear and returned to its media obsessions.
Instead of examining the social factors at work in many of these tragedies, it seems that television, media, celebrities in movies and music are dedicated to normalizing “alternative” lifestyles. A great number of Americans are determined to push ahead the extreme social experimentation with an arrogant bias that assumes and dismisses the potential for destruction that will accompany it. So transgenderism, polyamory, homosexuality, multi-sexuality are portrayed to our children as equally valid and morally equivalent to the Judeo/Christian values our country was founded on, despite evidence that these social groups suffer greatly from depression, mental illness and are at great risk for suicide.
Lest we think these things are just a passing fad, or over-dramatized topics that won’t really change our culture, a recent survey found that young people are moving toward the middle when it comes to sexual attraction and nearly a third of young Americans now see themselves somewhere in between 100% heterosexual and 100% homosexual (Time, March 2017).
This generation is being offered few counterbalances to the digital and social status quo. There is a deep sense of powerlessness against this revolution and it is likely why so many leaders and parents simply choose to ignore the crisis altogether. We ignore the devastation and the immorality. We try not to see the desperate emptiness found in the hollow eyes of the teenagers who mutilate their bodies with tattoos and piercings. All the while, Satan keeps us distracted and distressed by the cares of life, luring us into obligations that don’t really matter until we are consumed by our own business and busyness.
What frightens me most is the possibility that we will assume that these issues won’t affect “our” kids. I fear that the desire for our kids to stay current, trendy, and not perceived as too “Pentecostal” will lure us into complacency. So…our kids will be exposed to these same influences, offered unguarded access to social media, secular music and movies and we will foolishly expect that the enemy won’t use this opportunity to sway them from the altar to the alternative.
In the book, “How to Raise an American,” authors Myrna Blyth and Chriss Winston talk about a startling statistic. When asked, “one in four young Americans under thirty say they would rather live in another country.” In response, they quote Theodore Roosevelt, “We want to make our children feel that the mere fact of being Americans makes them better off…this is not to blind us at all to our own shortcomings; we ought steadily to try to correct them; but we have absolutely no grounds to work on if we don’t have a firm and ardent Americanism at the bottom of everything” (Random House, 2007). Similarly, our kids must have a firm and ardent Apostolic Pentecostalism at the core of everything if we have a hope of making them want to continue to live an Apostolic life. We cannot merely assume they will love this way; we must do our best to teach them to do so.
We have got to work every day to educate our children’s minds against the deluge of anti-Christian indoctrination that they are facing. The enemy has come in like a flood and it is our job as parents to start bailing the water from out of the minds and hearts of our kids. Nearly everything about living a Christian life goes against the politically correct mindset of America today. We are asking our kids to live completely counter-culturally.
This is no easy task. It means they have to reject most of the ideology that comes with public education. It means they have to reject the immorality and depravity of media and entertainment. It means they will not fit in. It means they will stand out. They will be different. They will be targeted for ridicule. They will face opposition. It’s a complete war for their mind. They need answers to hard questions. They need support and guidance.
We cannot wait until we are brought to our knees to get on our knees and pray. We’ve got to pray for our families, our children, and our nation. Pray a hedge of protection around them physically and mentally. Pray they can walk in peace, not in trepidation. Pray that they receive spiritual discernment, that they may see for themselves what is good and what is evil. Pray that they have the courage to reject the enemy’s attempt to define decency, modesty, morality completely downward until there is no decency, modesty, or morality at all. We must pray that they have a boldness of heart and passionate spirits that help them to indeed live counter-culturally, without embarrassment or shame. Pray they learn to love the Oneness doctrine, to love scripture, to develop their own commitment to holiness and separation from the world.
This will not be accomplished without great diligence. It will require us to guard our homes from carnality and worldliness. It will require that we put them into a church environment that allows them to really feel and be touched by the Holy Spirit. They need the power and anointing that comes with a true infilling of the Holy Ghost – this essential experience cannot be substituted for emotionalism. It cannot be manufactured or imitated. It cannot be fabricated by worship that glorifies personalities rather than Christ. It cannot be carnally replicated or contrived without repentance, conviction and conversion. That is our job: to teach, love, train, talk and to be sure we take them to where we know they can be spiritually fed, nurtured and led by spiritual authority. But, ultimately, we must remember it is their walk with God and we must yield our desires for their lives and their accomplishments to His direction and His calling.
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).