Today’s Youth—Meeting the Challenges of the 1990’s
NOVEMBER 1985. Dignitaries from 103 lands gathered at the United Nations headquarters to map out “a global strategy addressing the problems of the world’s young people.”—UN Chronicle.
Five years have elapsed, and the problems of youth loom larger than ever. Clashes of political philosophy, a dearth of funds, and ever-shifting priorities have frustrated the well-meaning attempts of governments to work together in behalf of young people.
Religion has likewise failed to be an effective force for good. Recent Gallup surveys in the United States reveal that while the vast majority of youths (about 90 percent) believe in God (or a universal spirit), only a minority consider religion to be very important in their lives. Furthermore, religion has done little or nothing to curb promiscuous sexual behavior.
Then there are the so-called experts—psychologists, sociologists, counselors, and the like—who dispense advice to youths. Some of it is sound and helpful. Their advice, though, tends to focus on physical concerns: the economic hardships of teen pregnancy, avoiding AIDS, the physical dangers of drug abuse. Rarely, if ever, do they confront the far more important moral issues involved. The “experts” are generally content to follow the current swings of popular sentiment or to repeat catchy slogans, such as “Safe sex” or “Just say no!”
What about parents? All too many are preoccupied with the business of living. Insecure as to what guidance to give or uncomfortable with discussing delicate matters, many parents tend to beg off when touchy issues arise. Little wonder, then, that many youths turn to inexperienced peers for help.
The Best Source of Help for Youths
How, then, can youths get practical answers to the questions that perplex them? Questions such as: ‘Should I give drugs and alcohol a try?’ ‘What about sex before marriage?’ ‘How do I know if it is real love?’ ‘What does the future hold for me?’
It may surprise some to hear that the best source of advice for youths is God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible? Yes, it has much to say to young people. (See Proverbs, chapters 1-7; Ephesians 6:1-3.) Furthermore, it was inspired by our Creator, who is keenly aware of “the turbulent desires of youth.” (2 Timothy 2:20-22, Phillips; 2 Ti 3:16) Before you brush aside the idea that this ancient book could be pertinent to life in the 1990’s, consider: Is it likely that most of the advice being proffered by today’s “experts” will be read and respected a mere 50 years from now? Yet, the Bible continues to be taken seriously thousands of years after it was written!
True, human society has changed much since Bible times, but human nature has not. Youthful desires are still basically the same. The Bible is thus as current as ever. And it gets right to the root of many of the problems that concern youths today. At the same time, it offers young people a hope for the future.
Since the Bible comes from our Creator, we would expect its counsel to be workable, practical. The true-life experiences of thousands of Christian youths today, who follow the Bible’s advice, prove that it is! To help young people, the Watch Tower Society has published a book called Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work. It covers a wide spectrum of the concerns of youths, and its counsel is consistently based on the Bible! The enthusiastic response of young readers to this book testifies not only to the efficacy of the Bible’s instruction but to the fact that young people want and thrive on Bible direction. The following article presents some of the heartfelt expressions made by youths from all over the world.
Whether you are young or old, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped millions do so through a free home Bible study arrangement, and they would be more than happy to assist you. By becoming familiar with and applying the Bible’s counsel, youths can learn not only practical solutions to today’s problems but the way to gain the favor of God, who invites young ones to serve him.—Ecclesiastes 12:1.
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Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work
Here is just a sampling of the Bible counsel offered in this book on some current issues.
The AIDS Epidemic: “Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man [or, woman] commits does not affect his body; but the man who is guilty of sexual immorality sins against his own body.”—1 Corinthians 6:18, “Today’s English Version”; compare Proverbs 5:3-20.
Abuse of Alcohol: “Do not come to be among heavy drinkers of wine, among those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh. For a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with mere rags. At its end [wine] bites just like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper.”—Proverbs 23:20, 21, 32.
Employment: “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men.”—Proverbs 22:29.
“Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.”—Colossians 3:23.
Fear of Nuclear Extermination: “This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.”—Isaiah 45:18; 55:10, 11; Ecclesiastes 1:4.
Economic Uncertainty: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. . . . They will not toil for nothing.”—Isaiah 65:21-23.