Our teenagers are more sexually active than any generation of youth before them. They also are consuming more pornography and compromising basic moral standards more often. It seems that many of them have lost not only their innocence, but their conscience, too.
The plethora of negative and immoral behaviors glorified by a media world that's gone stark raving mad -- combined with graphic, non-judgmental sex education and a highly sexualized culture in general -- causes many of them to lose understanding of what is wrong and what is right.
When a young child's sensibilities are constantly violated, and he begins to ignore the natural pangs of guilt after yielding to cultural pressures, he can end up being miserable, and begins to develop a hard heart and weak spirit.
If we as parents blindly turn our own hearts away from them because we're scared of confrontation, or because we're too lazy to do "the hard stuff" like fight for their integrity, we have a hand in dooming their young spirits to inner torment. And, ultimately, if the pattern continues, to the loss of basic decency and sensitivity to evil.
In chapter 32, the Psalmist reflects on the misery that comes with ignoring a guilty conscience:
"When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long. Day and night you punished me, my strength was gone as in the summer heat."
Do you really want your child to live that way?
It's critical as a parent to take control and do everything in your power to make certain that the culture does not molest your child's young mind. Setting standards for media consumption can help avoid a lot of regrets, especially when it comes to the evil of pornography. But since we are all sinners, we also need to learn to recognize when our children might be feeling uncomfortable and guilty -- and offer them hope and a way out of their despair.
Talk often about God's miracles of forgiveness, redemption and restoration. These concepts are foreign to our modern world, yet they are as transformational today as they were for the Pslamist and when God offered his forgiveness to a sinful world as he sent his son to atone for the sins of all who would accept him.
I John 1:9 promises: "When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Our children experience the beautiful gifts of wisdom and grace when we help them develop their conscience and teach them how to respond to feelings of guilt. We need to be bold about sharing with them the life-giving power and joy that comes with confession. Tears of repentance over wrongs done makes our hearts strong, yet maleable in the hands of a a loving God. Ignoring our sins turns us into desperate, weak souls with hearts of stone.
In Psalm 32, the author actually begins the passage with what we can look forward to when we confess our sins to the loving and merciful God:
"Happy is the person whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs have been pardoned. Happy is the person whom the Lord does not consider guilty, and in whom there is nothing false."
The forgiveness and joy that comes with sincere repentance is the best news mankind has ever heard! Have your own children heard it?
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