Youths, Watch Your Conduct in This Delinquent World
YOU young people who are serving your Creator have a happy future in front of you—if you watch your conduct. Why so much stress on proper conduct for young people? Because we are living in a world gone mad, a world of delinquents, a world wherein it is considered smart to gratify one’s desires. Because it is so easy to make a mistake that may affect your life for years afterward, it is wise to watch your conduct. As the Bible says: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.”—Eph. 5:15, 16.
These are wicked days, and a wicked world wants to exploit you, to make a profit out of turning you toward improper desires. Recently a New York newspaper reported: “Today’s teen-agers are a chief target of a barrage of immoral movies, magazines, books and commercialized smut which is unprecedented in size, ugliness, filthiness and viciousness. . . . Check over a magazine counter in a railroad station or drug store and you’ll see that most of the true confession type magazines are now devoted entirely to illicit teen-age sex and violence.” You young people are a target of attack by the Devil’s world. For selfish reasons this world would turn you away from God to the worship of men as so-called “heroes” and to the doing of impure things in the eyes of God.
So you need to watch your conduct. How can you do this? Obey the counsel given in the Bible at 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee from the desires incidental to youth.” So do not copy the young people who are part of this delinquent world; flee from the desires of this world’s delinquent youths. Most young people in this world do not desire to do God’s will and obey him; they think mainly of their own desires. So do not copy them in their bad-language habits. Many young people use language that is vulgar, language that marks them as part of this wicked world. Watch yourself; do not pick up these bad words. Flee from them at all times. Really try to avoid using them. If you do not know whether a word is really bad or not, ask your parents. Christian parents will be able to tell you what words to flee from. Use good speech.
MANNER OF DRESS AND YOUTHFUL FADS
Do not copy this world’s youths who go to extremes in their manner of dressing. Christians are to dress well but not so as to bring undue attention to themselves. The young Christian minister wants to draw people’s attention to God and his Kingdom message. So do not dress as some of this world’s girls do, in tight-fitting clothing to draw the attention of boys. To dress in such a manner is to ask for trouble, for this world is wicked.
You young Christians remember reading in the Bible how wicked men and women were in the days before the great Flood. Women in those days apparently dressed so as to inflame the sexual desires of wicked men. The Aramaic Targums have kept alive reports as to the bad conduct that went on before the Flood by saying of that time:
“And it was when the sons of men began to multiply upon the face of the earth, and fair daughters were born to them; and the sons of the great saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and painted, and curled, walking with revelation of the flesh, and with imaginations of wickedness.” You young girls, do not mimic the wicked women of the time before the Flood nor the girls today who purposely dress “with revelation of the flesh” by wearing clothes too snug, too tight.
You young people, watch your conduct also as to the dangerous youthful fads of the day, which vary according to customs and country. For instance, why copy this world’s youth in dangerous driving habits, in so-called thrill-seeking ventures? As a Christian your life is or will be dedicated to God; do not threaten your life or injure your health. You want to be able to do what God’s Word says: “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” (Eccl. 12:1) So do not indulge in “dares” and risks that place your life in danger. Some youths of this world think it is smart to take habit-forming drugs for “kicks,” but they are likely to ruin their health by doing this. Do not copy them. Flee from the harmful habits of this world, the fads that are not really smart but downright stupid.
WORLDLY “PRACTICAL JOKES” INJURIOUS
Especially you boys and young men, watch your conduct as to this world’s “practical jokes.” Many young persons think it is fun and a big joke to destroy the property of others, or to steal it or injure and disfigure it in some way. Some delinquent youths think it is fun to damage automobiles, such as slashing tires; and some even steal parts from automobiles or the automobiles themselves. Some young persons think it is a big joke to turn in false fire alarms; others turn in false bomb reports. Recently a fifteen-year-old boy in the New York area admitted that he had called almost 300 schools and public buildings to frighten them with false reports of hidden bombs. Think of the time lost while those buildings had to be emptied and searched, and the work involved!
Some so-called practical jokes not only rob people of their time and energy but may rob them of their health and life itself. Throwing stones at trains and setting fire to someone’s property may kill people; and yet some of the delinquent youths of this world do such things, thinking it is some kind of a joke. It is no joke. It is against man’s law and God’s law. “Practical jokes” can get you in trouble.
God does not excuse us for doing bad things because we may think it is “fun.” Rather the Bible says: “Just like someone mad that is shooting fiery missiles, arrows and death, so is the man that has tricked his fellow man and has said: ‘Was I not having fun?’” (Prov. 26:18, 19) When a person tricks someone else and really hurts him, it is not fun but it is like a madman going around shooting flaming missiles and throwing about firebrands that set houses and buildings on fire. No, damaging another person’s property or doing something that may injure him is not the way for Christians to enjoy themselves.
Watch your conduct, then, and do not copy the young people who go around tricking others; when you do something that affects other persons, always keep in mind the principle that Jesus Christ set forth: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” (Luke 6:31) If you intend to do something to someone and you know in your heart that you would not like to have it done to you—then do not do it! Flee from the desire! If you do not want others to tell lies about you, do not tell lies about others. If you would not want others to steal from you, do not steal from them. Jesus spoke in a positive way, so since you want good done to you, do good to others. Whatever you want other young people and adults to do to you, you also should likewise do to them.
MANNERS IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
Watch your conduct as to your manners. In some parts of this world where boys and girls go places together, it is often observed that they put their arms around each other in public places. Usually it is not that they are engaged to be married, which is still no proper reason for displaying their affection in this way in public. In some places such as railroad stations and airports, brief public displays of affection are a different matter, for a dear one is departing or arriving. But at public meetings, for instance, for a boy and a girl to put their arms around each other and indulge in necking is wholly improper. It is not kind to others, who are distracted by such public displays of affection. It is not kind to their parents nor to those engaging in such display, because it casts an unfavorable reflection upon all of them. People wonder: ‘Didn’t the parents of that boy or girl ever give instruction about conduct in public?’ Many persons consider it disgraceful conduct, and it brings reproach not only upon the young people but upon the Christian organization to which they belong. In public, display good conduct and manners; do not mimic the worldly teenagers.
Just as you youths must guard your conduct in public so you must also in private. When an unmarried boy and a girl are in private, they need to watch their conduct; heavy petting, for instance, can easily arouse the passions and result in immoral behavior. God condemns and punishes fornication, even though this world may think it is the popular thing to do. What if worldly youths boast of what they do? Do not imitate them. Do not be dared or pushed into doing something that you know is against God’s laws.
HAVE COURAGE TO OBEY GOD
Remember that the big thing is not whether you dare to do this or that, but, Do you have the courage to obey God, even when people all around you are not obeying God? Young people of this world do not have such courage; they are pushed and frightened into doing bad things because they say “everyone is doing it.” What if everyone of this delinquent world is doing something bad? Christians are not to be a part of this world. Said the Son of God, in prayer to his Father, concerning true Christians: “I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:14) When faced with temptation, ask: What would God think? You are not trying to please girls and boys of this delinquent world, but God. So then, do the things that God approves. It will take courage, but courage is a Christian quality you can cultivate.
To avoid temptation and to watch your conduct better, avoid close association with worldly youths. You do not need to go to their parties and their gatherings. Those youths who are not interested in serving God cannot give you real enjoyment and happiness. Heed God’s command: “Into the path of the wicked ones do not enter, and do not walk straight on into the way of the bad ones. Shun it, do not pass along by it; turn aside from it, and pass along. For they do not sleep unless they do badness, and their sleep has been snatched away unless they cause someone to stumble. For they have fed themselves with the bread of wickedness, and the wine of acts of violence is what they drink.” (Prov. 4:14-17) So do not cultivate association with those who are not lovers of Jehovah.
MARRIAGE “ONLY IN THE LORD”
Seek the association of those who are serving God and who love Him. If you do not do this, there are many dangers that will overtake you. One of them is the danger of marrying someone who is not a lover of Jehovah and dedicated to the doing of the divine will. Christians are to marry “only in the Lord,” that is, other dedicated Christians. To violate this divine command is likely to bring all manner of misery into one’s life. Your parents, if they are dedicated Christians, can likely tell you from their knowledge of the experiences of others how often unhappiness overtakes those who ignore God’s will as to proper associations and marriage mates.
Your parents have had much experience with this delinquent world. Benefit from their experience. Do not think you know it all. You cannot. When parents tell their children that teen-age marriages are not likely to bring the happiness they seek, they know what they are talking about. Statistics show that teen-age marriages have less chance of success. One doctor who has had much experience with teenage marriages writes:
“I know a man who at the age of 19 married a girl of the same age. Three years later they had two children. The parents, twenty-two now, have awakened as from a dream. They do not like each other and if it were not for the children they would be divorced. . . . Precocious [early] marriage deprives . . . youngsters of a period in their lives in which they should be still free and learn what love of an adult may be. Instead they often marry for the fun of it, interrupting with this premature step a development that we might call the post-adolescent time before marriage. . . . The adolescent and postadolescent periods are not only preparatory years for marriage, but also have value in themselves, being the time in which juvenile idealism has to be tested against the onslaught of reality. . . . In my opinion, it is better if part of this period is lived through before getting married.”
So do not rush into marriage because other teen-agers do. Christian marriage brings heavy responsibilities. Heed your parents’ counsel. Do not show disrespect for parents or mature Christians who try to help you.
Watch your conduct by keeping busy in God’s Kingdom ministry. Work with other youths in the ministry, under the supervision of an adult. Enjoy the many happy experiences of the ministry, experiences you will be eager to tell others about. Have a happy time doing God’s will. So much must yet be done before this wicked world soon goes down into destruction at Armageddon. So do not copy this world and its delinquent youths. Imitate God and his Christian witnesses. Always have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.” Then your future will be a happy one in God’s new world.—1 Cor. 15:58.