Do you feel there’s no hope in teenagers today? Let me let one of them speak to you.
“When a boy turns thirteen, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole. When he turns sixteen, plug the hole” (Mark Twain). This comical yet sad quote summarizes the current view of the American teenager. According to society, teenagers cause trouble, break the law, disobey authority and have numerous sexual relationships. In contrast, Scripture proposes the idea of youth, the age between childhood and adulthood. Young men like Joseph, King Josiah, and Timothy radically contradict the twenty-first century world view by providing examples of youth dedicated to vision and purpose. Issues regarding authority, morality and the power of young men and women magnify the differences and similarities between modern society’s view of the teenager and the Biblical idea of youth.
Scripture and the world expect drastically different attitudes from young people toward authority. Today’s society anticipates and encourages rebellion against authority; therefore, teenagers embrace these low expectations and revolt against teachers, coaches and parents. Kidshealth.org explains, “The primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence [autonomy]. For this to occur, teens will pull away from their parents- especially the parent whom they are closest to” (kidshealth.org). On the opposite side of the spectrum, Scripture exhorts young people to submit to authority rather than rebel against it. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment, with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2). Teenage rebellion does not lead to honorable independence according the Bible. Indeed, Scripture condemns teenage folly. Youthful expectations on submission to authority – or the lack thereof – contrast significantly between modern Society and the Bible.
According to the world’s standards, morality and teenagers act as antonyms; nonetheless, the Lord requires purity and holiness from the youth. Current trends tend to encourage impure relationships between teens while lending no moral compass. Again, kidshealth.org offers its opinion. “… everyone’s opinion about sex is different… the [actual] decision is up to you.” Even the most stringent worldly programs anticipate rebellion. Scripture commands a completely opposite viewpoint. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul urges Timothy, “flee from youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, and peace… out of a pure heart.” Expecting little, the world teaches rebellion against morality. With high expectations, Scripture demands faith, charity, and purity.
While people differ in their standards for teenage behavior, both Scripture and society agree on the power of the youth. Emphasis on and financial support for the scholarly education for students in their teens reached an all-time peak over the past twenty years. Clearly, America understands that the youth of today will control the government, economy, and nation of tomorrow. Scripture gives many examples of youth making an impact for the Lord and advancing mankind for good. King Josiah ruled a kingdom at age eight. As he grew, he did not experience teenage rebellion but served the Lord with his entire heart turning the nation back to God. Society and Scripture agree that the youth control the future and wield incredible power.
Low expectations, teenage rebellion, society verses Scripture- why does it matter? Why does it matter if we expect anything but greatness from our young people? It matters because the youth, the young men and women of today, change the world. Pictured perfectly in the movie, “Amazing Grace”, William Wilberforce in attempting to abolish the slave trade proclaims, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible; so we will do them anyway.” Josiah, the young king, helped reform an entire nation. Joseph while still a youth saved the Egyptian dynasty. Bill Gates, while still a young man, created a technological empire (investors). While young, these individuals demonstrated vision and purpose. They transformed the world and advanced mankind for good. Young men and women of today wield the keys to the future, each with a providential purpose and a significant calling. We must not expect anything but greatness from them, and we must end that idea of the low view of the American teenager.
Bellis, Mary. “Bill Gates- Biography and History”. About.com, Investors 2011. December 13, 2011. < http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventors/a/Bill_Gates.htm>
Dang, Katherine. “Teens or Youth?” Philomath Foundation
McDowell, Stephen. Providence Foundation
King James Scripture
Sallee, Heidi M. “A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Teen Years”. Kidshealth.org January 2011. December 12, 2011. < http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growing/adolescence.html#>
www.Bedwardfamily.com. Mark Twain. December 13, 2011. <http://www.bedwardfamily.com/Commentary/Quotes_Twain.htm>