A Double Life—Who Has to Know?
□ Drinking alcohol
□ Associating with people your parents view as bad company
□ Listening to debasing music
□ Attending rowdy parties
□ Dating secretly
□ Watching violent or immoral movies or playing violent video games
□ Using bad language
LOOK at the list on the previous page. Do you engage in any of those activities behind your parents’ backs? If so, you probably know that what you’re doing is wrong. You may even suffer the pangs of a guilty conscience. (Romans 2:15) Still, the thought of revealing your misdeeds to your parents isn’t a pleasant one. And when you consider the likely consequences, the argument “What my parents don’t know won’t hurt them” may seem to make sense. But has it occurred to you that your course may amount to living a double life? What might have caused you to act that way?
The Lure of Independence
The Bible says that eventually “a man will leave his father and his mother.” (Genesis 2:24) The same, of course, can be said of a woman. It’s only natural for you to want to grow up, to think for yourself, to make your own decisions. But when parents refuse to give permission for things they consider unwise—or wrong—some youths rebel.
Granted, some parents may seem to be unusually strict. “We can hardly see any movies,” complains a young girl named Kim. She adds, “My father has forbidden us to listen to just about any music at all!” Faced with what they see as unreasonable restrictions, some youths begin to feel envious of their peers, who seem to enjoy much more freedom.
A young woman named Tammy identifies another reason why some may live a double life—to fit in with schoolmates. “I started out by using bad language in school,” she recalls. “It made me feel I was more like the rest of the kids. Later I tried smoking. I would also drink alcohol to the point of feeling high. Then I started having boyfriends—secretly because my parents were strict and didn’t allow me to date.”
A teenage boy named Pete had a similar experience: “I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I was very afraid of being teased.” How did Pete cope with his fear? “I tried to be popular,” he says. “I would lie and make excuses as to why I didn’t receive any presents during religious holidays.” Once Pete began making small compromises, it wasn’t long before he engaged in more serious misconduct.
Nothing Is Hidden
Living a double life is nothing new. Some ancient Israelites tried to get away with it too. However, the prophet Isaiah warned them: “Woe to those who are going very deep in concealing counsel from Jehovah himself, and whose deeds have occurred in a dark place, while they say: ‘Who is seeing us, and who is knowing of us?’” (Isaiah 29:15) The Israelites forgot that God saw their deeds. In due time he called them to account for their errors.
It’s the same today. Even if you successfully hide misconduct from your parents, you cannot hide your actions from the eyes of Jehovah God. “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight,” says Hebrews 4:13, “but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” What, then, is the use of hiding? Remember, you can’t appease God by simply putting on a show of devotion when you attend religious meetings. Jehovah knows when people ‘honor him with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from him.’—Mark 7:6.
Did you realize that those who live a double life grieve Jehovah? Is that really possible? Indeed it is! When the people of ancient Israel abandoned God’s Law, “they pained even the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:41) How pained he must be today when youths reared “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah” secretly do wrong things!—Ephesians 6:4.
Set Matters Straight
Really, you owe it to God, to your parents, and to yourself to confess to what has been going on in secret. Admittedly, this may result in embarrassment and perhaps some unpleasant consequences. (Hebrews 12:11) For example, if you’ve carried on a pattern of lying and deception, you’ve undermined your parents’ trust in you. So don’t be surprised if for a while they restrict you more than before. Still, coming clean is the best course. Why?
Consider this illustration: Imagine that you and your family are hiking. When your parents aren’t looking, you disobey their order to stay close to them and you wander off the trail, becoming lost. Suddenly, you find yourself sinking in quicksand. Would you be too embarrassed to call for help? Would you worry that your parents might discipline you for ignoring their warnings? No! You would yell as loudly as you could.
Similarly, if you’re living a double life, you need help urgently. Remember, you cannot go back and undo the past. But you can alter the future. As painful and difficult as it will no doubt be, it makes sense to call for help before you do any more damage to yourself or to your family. If you’re truly sorry for your course, Jehovah will be merciful.—Isaiah 1:18; Luke 6:36.
Therefore, tell your parents the truth. Acknowledge their hurt. Accept their discipline. If you do so, you will bring joy to your parents and to Jehovah God. You will also feel the wonderful relief of regaining a clear conscience.—Proverbs 27:11; 2 Corinthians 4:2.
You have a lot in common with your classmates. But what should you know about school friendships?
“He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy.”—Proverbs 28:13.
Don’t minimize your errors, but avoid the trap of pessimism. Remember that Jehovah is ready to forgive.—Psalm 86:5.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Feelings of guilt can be healthy; they can induce a person to correct a wrong course. But a person who persists in sin damages his conscience. It becomes insensitive, like skin that has become seared and then scarred over.—1 Timothy 4:2.
If I have been living a double life, I will talk to ․․․․․
I can cope with any discipline I receive by ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● What motivates some teens to live a double life?
● What are some of the consequences of leading a double life?
● Why is it worth the effort to break free from such a lifestyle?
[Blurb on page 140]
“I think youths should identify themselves as Christians who have high moral standards. They should do this as soon as they can. The longer they wait, the harder it will be.”—Linda
[Picture on page 141]
If you’re sinking in the quicksand of a double life, you need to call for help