How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11 ESV)
I had the pleasure of attending the graduation at Liberty Christian School, here in Sidney. A number our church children attend the school that’s organized and operated by Bible Baptist Church, and one of our young ladies was graduating. With her, were four other young ladies. It was the second-largest senior class in the small school’s history. It was typical for what you might expect at a small Christian school. There was a hymn. There was a short sermon from various Bible verses picked by the graduates. There were speeches full of thanks and appreciation to parents and teachers. In some ways, it was just so ordinary. The graduation service contained virtually everything you might see on a grander scale at the public school, mirroring everything from speeches to the handing out of diplomas to doting parents in the seats, receiving-lines, smiles, and selfies with friends and family. It was just so ordinary.
Well, it was ordinary except in one way. These five young ladies appeared to me to be among the godliest, most humble, modest and pure-hearted young ladies that I’ve seen in one place in a very, very long time. The graduates discussed their favorite Scriptures and showed dutiful and genuine respect to their teachers and talked about the importance of believing in Jesus. As they discussed their future plans, it wasn’t about high-income potential or selfish ambition or accomplishing the American Dream. Their future plans were Jesus-centered, whether it was on to college or see what God would make of them here at home. They were confident, poised, articulate, and appeared modest and virtuous. To see what is inside the walls of that small school compared to what I often see in the buildings directly across from that church on Central Avenue was in stark contrast. It was a blessing to behold a contrast between the average and ordinary youth and those who have been raised in the fear, love and admonition of the Lord. It was very clear that those who graduated that evening were the product of umpteen years of intense but loving teaching and care from parents, teachers and churches.
What I would like to encourage you to know, parents, is that such is possible. We live in a time where teens are expected to rebel – and we think there’s something wrong if they don’t. We think that lascivious dress is just a part of adolescence. We think that a little foul language and disrespect in those years is to be expected. “Kids will be kids,” we are told. “Better sow your wild oats while you can,” we tell our children in what may be the worst possible advice of all time. Let the five young graduates at Liberty Christian school challenge those myths and misconceptions.
Essentially, the concept of “adolescence” is the product of a post-modern, Darwinian worldview. This may come as a surprise to sociologists who have built their entire framework of thinking upon the entirely contrived “stage of development.” And yet, the concept of adolescence and all of its behavior baggage didn’t exist until post-WWII. And yet for so long (like thousands of years) in human history, there were children and there were adults. There was not this mythical stage of development where people are the size of adults and have many of the privileges of adults but little of the responsibility or expectations for maturity. Our society is ripe with examples for why granting the liberty of adulthood while systematically demanding less accountability or responsibility because of this gray area between childhood and maturity does nothing but lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Expect teens to act like animals and they will; expect them to be mature, godly, humble, modest and chaste and (with the right Christian training) they will.
I’m so thankful that there are fellow Christians in our community that highly value the purity and maturity of their youth. For that, beloved, is a test of true conviction.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
Editor’s Note: JD writes for his local newspaper’s religion column, and this is a preview of that post.