FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 21, number 2, January 13, 2022
“Yet she became an exile, she went into captivity; also her small children were dashed to pieces at the head of every street.” -Nahum 3:10
In His mercy Yahweh sent reluctant Jonah in the eighth century B.C. to preach His unfathomable riches to the Ninevites, and they repented, experiencing an unprecedented heaven sent revival (Jonah 3:5-10). But then some one hundred and fifty years later, after the fall of the city of Thebes on the Nile, Nineveh (in ancient Assyria, near modern day Mosul, Iraq) was once again in trouble. There was the threat of the Medes (modern day Iran) on the one hand and that of the Babylonians (modern day southern Iraq) on the other. The revival fire Nineveh experienced from the preaching of Jonah had died out and Nineveh had become merciless, imperialistic, deceitful, and ruthless, both militarily and materialistically (Nahum 3:1-4). Consequently the prophet pronounced judgment on Nineveh, having declared to the city that Yahweh is a jealous and avenging God, vengeful and wrathful, One who takes vengeance on all His adversaries, One who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:2-3). He reminded them of the destruction of Thebes, a city full of people who confidently believed Ethiopia and Egypt would save them. Nineveh, however, had gone into exile and captivity, and her small children were dashed to pieces by the invading hoards and her honorable men were sold into slavery by lot. He said that the same awaited Nineveh. She was too far gone. There would be no relief. Her wound was incurable (Nahum 3:11-19).
“Her small children were dashed to pieces.” This reality is quite evident today in the death culture of abortion but I also see this destruction in other ways. I weep, for example, when I consider the woeful trends in today’s youth culture. My dear friend—read what follows and weep, using it to drive you to pray and disciple your children and those children in your church, for they are inundated with unprecedented evil. Indeed they live in a profoundly dangerous world. Covenant children are daily being dashed on the rocks of modernity, and we must arise and take hold of our children and grandchildren, holding them dear to our hearts, evangelizing them, training them, and preparing them to be children of light, above reproach, blameless and innocent, living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom they appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life so that you may have confidence at the end of your life that you did not run in vain nor toil in vain (Philippians 2:14-16).
What are these disturbing trends? Walter Mueller has observed the following trends with our teens. One, your children see between 3500 and 5000 advertisements per day, carefully designed by marketers who seek to create a continuous need in your children for their product, to give them a sense of self-worth. Thus your children and grandchildren unwittingly tend to seek the temporal over the eternal, the material over the spiritual. Two, age compression is a reality. Everything happens at younger and younger ages. Marketers employ this technique to expand their markets to younger and younger consumers. Have you noticed how six year olds now dress and act like eighteen year olds? Have you noticed how young female singers give off a wholesome image to their target audience, preadolescent children. You see no problem with this so you buy their music and take your ten year old daughters to their concerts. But as your children grow into their teen age years have you noticed how the formerly wholesome singer has become a raunchy diva? Why? This is all by design. The movers and shakers behind the music know that teens tend to be more edgy and they want to capture that market.
Three, your children have media savvy. Ask any American ten year old to program the family’s new entertainment system. No problem. Do you need some help on how to use your iPhone? Ask your ten year old granddaughter. She can set you straight. Children between the ages of eight and eighteen spend between five and seven and one half hours per day on social media. Seven of ten children have televisions in their bedrooms, away from the rest of the family. Four, child and sexual abuse are rampant. Between three and ten million children annually are exposed to domestic violence. The safety and warmth of the home is sadly lacking in far too many homes in America.
Five, pornography is a major problem in our nation. Ninety-three percent of boys and 62 percent of girls are exposed to internet porn before the age of eighteen. Seventy percent of boys have spent more than thirty minutes looking at online porn on at least one occasion. Eighty-three percent of boys and 57 percent of girls have seen group sex on the internet. Six, our covenant children live in a culture that deems materialism admirable and desirable. More and more teens work and often have more disposable income than their parents. Often their indulgent parents shower them with new automobiles when they turn sixteen and give them anything they want. They are ignoring the words of Jesus who said that not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions (Luke 12:15). Seven, fellatio is a serious problem, especially among middle school students. Fifty-five percent of boys and fifty-four percent of girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen have engaged in it. When asked if they think this is sex, they say, “No.” Why? Because they cannot get pregnant doing it.
Eight, depression is rampant with teens, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and school shut downs and social distancing. The rate of suicides for those ages 10 to 24 increased nearly 60% from 2007 to 2018; and since Covid-19 suicide attempts by teen girls has increased 50 percent. The peer pressure, the mixed signals from parents, friends, culture, and the media prevent far too many children from knowing how to navigate their way through the deep and troubling waters of adolescence. Covid-19 has clearly exacerbated the problem. Some eighteen percent of teens report symptoms of depression and many of them regularly take anti-depression medication.
Nine, most covenant kids are really no different in values, attitudes, and behavior than non-Christian children. In light of the statistics just given this should not surprise us at all. Our kids too often are imbibing of the death culture of our world. We see this, of course, in the greater covenant community where professing Christian adults say one thing but do and value another. Our children are excellent mimics.
All of this, of course, is terribly pessimistic, so I leave you with one positive characteristic. Mueller also notes that today’s teens are more aware of a deep hunger for something more. We know, at the end of the day, that we all are idol makers and consistently exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Sometimes, however, and this seems to be one of those times, the sheer folly of our existence drives many to reconsider their values and behavior. More and more young people are asking the question, “Is this all there is? Surely there must be something else.”
What does this mean for you as parents, grandparents, or future parents? You must pray earnestly to God for your children and grandchildren. You ought to be on your knees regularly, desperately, fervently all your days you have them. You must intentionally evangelize your children. You cannot leave this to their Sunday school teacher, youth worker, or teacher at their Christian school. Never forget that your children are born with corrupt hearts (Ps.51:5, 58:3-6) and that unless God removes the cobra heart which loves sin and hates God, and gives them the heart of Jesus in regenerating grace, then no manner of instruction, as important as it is, will make any difference at all. Constantly remind them to make for themselves new hearts (Ezekiel 18:30-34), to see how corrupt and wicked they are in their unregenerate state. You must also intentionally instruct them in the Biblical faith. Start with the Children’s Catechism and move up to the Shorter Catechism. Regularly have family worship of some form or fashion. Teach your children daily in the ordinary events of life. And model a sacrificial, kingdom dominated lifestyle before them. They need to see you sacrifice your time and money for the kingdom of God. They need to see you on your knees in prayer. They need to see you bear up under hardship with joyful submission to God. In short, they need to see a life poured out in making and multiplying kingdom disciples. And they need to know that they can come to you with their questions and concerns on any issue.
To be sure, the trends of our youth culture are troubling and terrifying but your children need not be part of the norm. They can walk in a manner worthy of their calling.
1 Walter Mueller, founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, <cpyu.org> brings these disturbing trends to light.
2 Stats You Need to Know, <covenanteyes.com> October 30, 2020
3 Big Rise in Suicide Attempts by U.S. Teen Girls During Pandemic, <usnew.com> June 11, 2021