"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders, and love chatter in places of exercise. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers." (Socrates, 469-399 B.C.).
The problems facing our children are not new. The temptations of young people today might come in better wrapped packages than they did a generation ago, but can still summed up as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). Not only are the temptations the same as in days gone by, but so is the way of escape. The Psalmist spoke of God's eternal word and said, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Psalms 119:11).
Let us look at three of the problems all of our children must face.
All of us want to have good friends. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Psalms 142:4, where David said, "Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me, refuge has failed me, no one cares for my soul."
Having the wrong type of friends can be worse than having no friends at all. "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray" (Proverbs 12:26). Rehoboam had to learn this lesson the hard way. By heeding the voice of his young and inexperienced friends and forsaking the wise counsel of the elders he caused 10 tribes to revolt against his rule and follow Jeroboam in the North (1 Kings 12).
Sometimes teenagers (and their parents) allow the people of the world to determine how they will dress. They often forget that God has spoken on the matter of our attire (1 Timothy 2:9, 10). You will not find "modest apparel" at the public swimming pool nor on the dance floor. Our Lord warns us "that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). The man who lusts after a woman has sinned. However, if a woman dresses in immodest apparel, she is just as guilty of sin. She would be "sharing in other people's sins" (1 Timothy 5:22).
Parents need to know where their children are going with their friends. Those who let their children roam around town at will are sowing to the wind and will reap the whirlwind.
The major problem between parents and children is the result of a lack of communication. It is the duty of parents to instruct their children in the way of the Lord. This cannot be done by proxy. The primary responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the father. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
I have observed far too many parents who try to "buy" their childrens' affection with material possessions. Materialism is one of the great sins of our day. Solomon told his son to "hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother" (Proverbs 1:8). A son can not "hear the instruction" of his father, if his father is never home.
Children must obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). Obedience to parents will teach respect for authority. Our nation is paying a terrible price because of the neglect of parents. Parents who do not respect civil law will never be able to teach their children proper respect for authority.
Because of the high divorce rate in this country, finding a prospective mate who has the "right" to marry is an increasingly difficult problem. It is not uncommon to find a young man or woman who has been married two or three times before age 21. Young people need to realize that they are bound to their spouse "till death do us part."
Some preachers have been negligent in teaching what God has said about marriage and divorce. We need to affirm over and over again that Jesus gave only one reason for a man to put away his spouse and marry again, i.e., sexual immorality (Matthew 19:3-9).
Parents often try to select the mate for their children. I believe this is a terrible mistake. If the marriage does not work out, the parents will be blamed for the divorce. Some parents have more concern for the social and economic standing of a young man or woman than they do for character. A mate with character will remember their wedding vows, love, honor and cherish their spouse, even in the most trying of circumstances of life.
"Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw nigh when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them'" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Wedding And Funeral Sermons, acollection of wedding and funeral sermons by David Padfield, Wayne Greeson, Harry Lewis, Brian Sullivan, Wayne Walker, Gene Taylor, and Robert Welch (PDF file size: 149k).