Youths, Resist Worldly Pressures!
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.”—Rom. 12:2, “Phillips.”
1, 2. (a) What admonition do we want to consider seriously? (b) Why is it particularly vital to consider this admonition now?
THE Scriptures often urge us to resist the Devil’s efforts to sidetrack us from the narrow road to life. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Think seriously about this admonition at Romans 12:2. It was recorded for our protection and guidance. Above, it is quoted from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, but we can also read with profit how other Bibles translate it: “Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you.” (Jerusalem Bible) “You must not adopt the customs of this world.” (An American Translation) “Quit being fashioned after this system of things.”—New World Translation.
2 It is more urgent than ever before that we be on guard against being fashioned after this system. Why? Because recently—within the lifetime of millions of persons still alive—Satan and his angels were thrown out of heaven by Christ and his angels. After describing this action, the Bible says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:9, 12) We are living in this short period of woe right now! Thus, in his anger, Satan is having pressure applied on us in an all-out effort to get us to conform to the world’s behavior. How is he doing this?
3, 4. What methods were successful in the past in turning God’s servants from a faithful course?
3 If a method is successful, is it not reasonable that Satan would continue to use it? Well, what was involved in causing angels to leave their proper place in heaven? Yes, it was an improper desire for sexual relations. (Gen. 6:1-4; Jude 6) Consider, too, what occurred shortly before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, after wandering in the wilderness for nearly 40 years. When the Moabites saw them, they felt “a sickening dread.” This was because the Israelites were so numerous, and because Jehovah’s blessing was on them. (Num. 22:1-3) So the Moabites hired the prophet Balaam to try to get God to curse the Israelites. This scheme failed. But eventually Balaam, no doubt under Satan’s guidance, came up with a plan that succeeded. What was it?
4 Balaam had the women of Moab and Midian extend their hospitality to the Israelites, evidently inviting them to a banquet of the best food and wine. The Israelites became relaxed as a result of eating the good food and drinking the heady wine, and likely sexy dancing was used to arouse their passions. They let down their guard, so that these women drew the Israelites into having sexual relations with them. They even got the Israelites to bow down to false gods. With what result? Jehovah’s anger blazed against his people, and 24,000 of them were put to death! Think about this: Those 24,000 were poised to enter Canaan—the Land of Promise—after many years of wandering in a desolate wilderness. Yet they lost out on the fulfillment of the promise because of being enticed into sexual immorality!—Num. 25:1-9, 16-18; 31:16.
5. What parallel can we see between the Israelites about to enter the Promised Land and our position today? So what can we expect Satan to attempt to do?
5 Can you see a parallel in our situation today? There is one. (1 Cor. 10:11) We are now right at the portals of God’s promised new system, poised to enter it as the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land. Judging from past examples, what would you expect Satan to attempt? Yes, to maneuver God’s people into situations where they would commit sexual immorality, so that Jehovah would judge them unfit to enter his righteous new system.
6, 7. What evidence is there of the world’s abandoning of righteous moral standards?
6 Would you not agree that the immorality of Satan’s world poses a real threat to the spiritual health of Christians today? Why, just consider how the world has been abandoning righteous standards. In ruling on a case where a 23-year-old woman had sex relations with a 15-year-old boy, a New Mexico judge noted that the act was not illicit or illegal. “The Legislature abolished fornication as a crime,” he wrote. “It recognized, as a matter of public policy, that this conduct did not violate the mores of the 20th century.” In line with that decision, The Express of Easton, Pennsylvania, observed: “The sexual revolution is over, and sex has won. No longer is sex considered by most teenagers primarily as something to be used to rebel against authority. For many, it has become part of their daily life pattern.”
7 Some older ones may have little idea of what younger Christians daily face in the way of exposure to sexual immorality. An astonishing number of today’s youths begin sexual activity in their early teens or before, and sexual escapades are a common topic of conversation. Studies reveal that by the age of 16 more than one out of five American girls have indulged in sex—in some other countries the number is even greater. Time magazine, reporting on a Redbook magazine survey of 18,349 women, observed: “90% of those under 25 report having had premarital intercourse. . . . Nearly all women—89%—have experienced oral sex.”
8, 9. (a) How great is the pressure to commit immorality? (b) Do you see evidence within the congregation of persons succumbing to this pressure?
8 The pressure on young ones to commit immorality is tremendous. One 22-year-old virgin lamented: “These days if you haven’t had sex by the time you’re 18, you might as well join a convent. All my girl friends have been having sex since high school. They used to make so much fun of me that in self-defense I invented stories about my ‘escapades.’” Males perhaps face even greater peer pressure to commit immorality, since generally more young men engage in fornication than do young women. A French magazine, for example, observed that while 28 percent of 15-year-old French girls are no longer virgins, 54 percent of 15-year-old boys have experienced sex relations.
9 Sadly, reports have been received showing that many young Christians have also succumbed to the pressures of a sex-oriented world, just as the 24,000 Israelites of old fell victim to temptations from the immoral Moabites and Midianites. Surely this is a snare that Satan is still using to entrap God’s servants! What can we do to protect ourselves and realize Jehovah’s blessing?
CONDUCT WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX
10 First, it is vital to be sensitive to Jehovah’s direction and not consider the requirements of his Word as being of human origin. Fornicators will not inherit Kingdom blessings. “Flee from fornication,” the Bible commands. “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 18; Heb. 13:4) No human legislature can change God’s law. Human acceptance or approval does not make a wrong practice right in Jehovah’s sight. Sexual relations by unmarried persons are wrong; they are a serious sin, regardless of what any humans say or do. There will be no place for immoral persons in the “new earth.” (Rev. 21:1-4, 8) Thus, what should that mean relative to our conduct with the opposite sex? What about dating, for example?
11. (a) What does God’s Word say about marrying persons who do not worship Jehovah? (b) Why is this counsel fitting today?
11 This was God’s law to the Israelites regarding marriage: “You must form no marriage alliance with them. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son.” Similarly, Christians are advised to marry “only in the Lord,” that is, to marry only fellow worshipers of Jehovah. (Deut. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:39) Such a requirement may appear to be overly restrictive. But is it really? Judging from the prevalence of sexual immorality in the world today, it is actually just as fitting and applicable as it was when God’s people were living alongside the depraved Canaanites, or among the sexy inhabitants of ancient Corinth. So, then, if we are exhorted not to marry persons of another faith, would it not be inappropriate to go out on dates with them?
12. (a) What is a date? (b) Why would dating persons who do not worship Jehovah be very unwise?
12 What is a date? Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines it: “An appointment between two persons of the opposite sex for the mutual enjoyment of some form of social activity.” But should true worshipers of God seek “mutual enjoyment . . . of social activity” with persons who do not worship Jehovah? Remember those 24,000 Israelites who did. Besides, the usual purpose of a date is to become better acquainted with a prospective marriage mate. So, in view of the Scriptural counsel that a worshiper of Jehovah not marry a person of another faith, it would be unwise either to accept or to propose a date with such a person. What, then, about dating a fellow Christian?
13, 14. How is steady dating commonly viewed, yet what is the frequent result?
13 There is plenty of pressure on young Christians to date. According to the Gallup Youth Survey, one out of three teen-age American girls said that they have a steady boyfriend. But is such dating wise? What can happen? One girl explains: “The problem comes when I am with some boy I like and we are out on a dark country road, or for that matter on the couch in my living room. . . . ‘This time I’ll keep it innocent,’ I tell myself, but kissing and cuddling build up until I am desperate to have the boy make love to me.”
14 Would you say this is an unusual, abnormal reaction? Not at all; it is quite normal. As another young person writes: “When two kids see each other morning, noon, and night for months and years, there is no way they can keep from becoming intimate. After a while the handholding and kissing gets stale, and they think they are ‘in love.’ I’m 18, and have a baby 1 month old . . . Yes, we had to get married, so I guess I’m an expert on the subject.” The evidence seems to bear out this youth’s claim. Under the heading “The Epidemic of Teen-Age Pregnancy,” the New York Times of June 18, 1978, reported: “About one million teen-age girls, one in 10 between the ages of 15 and 19, get pregnant every year. About 600,000 actually bear children, and childbirth often triggers consequences that cloud the rest of the mothers’ lives.” Such facts are indeed grave and sobering.
15. (a) How do some argue in defense of youths’ dating? (b) Yet can one who loves Jehovah become involved in wrongdoing, and how is this illustrated?
15 However, some may argue in defense of dating: ‘We are Christians. We know that fornication is wrong, so we won’t get involved in such practices.’ True, you may not intend to get involved. But when alone in the company of a person to whom you are attracted, the sexual drive can lead you into wrongdoing. Consider King David, who was an outstanding servant of Jehovah, a man ‘agreeable to God’s own heart.’ He knew God’s law. He knew that it was wrong to have sex relations with Bath-sheba, another man’s wife. Yet he did it. Why? Because he permitted himself to get into a position where he was exposed to sexy temptations.—1 Sam. 13:14; 2 Sam. 11:1-4.
16. (a) What kind of association is best for young Christians? (b) What care should be exercised by those who are dating in anticipation of marriage?
16 Surely, then, there is need for caution when it comes to dating. It is fine when young people can get together and enjoy one another’s company, but this is best done in groups, rather than for couples to go off alone together on dates. Perhaps parents and other older ones in the congregation can, from time to time, plan picnics or other wholesome get-togethers. On such occasions, however, it is vital that Christians be careful that their conduct at all times reflects well on the God they worship. If you are considering marriage and are regularly dating a prospective mate, it is understandable that you would want to spend some time alone together to discuss personal matters. But you should exercise care that you do not become involved in necking and petting, which can lead to fornication. It is wise to avoid places of isolated privacy that are conducive to lovemaking.
DISCO MUSIC AND DISCOTHEQUES
17. (a) What are discotheques and disco music? (b) How popular are they?
17 The entertainment enjoyed by many youths today is listening and dancing to disco music. What, then, about going to discotheques? Disco has become very popular music, and discotheques are favorite places for entertainment. Discotheques—discos for short—are places where phonograph records are played for dancing, although live dance bands may also play there. Today’s disco music has a characteristic repetitious beat that is designed for modern dancing. Many different types of places are called discos, from small supper clubs with a tiny dance floor to large, extravagantly decorated dance halls. There are reportedly over 1,500 discos in New York city alone. “The one thing that binds all these otherwise dissimilar establishments together,” explains Esquire magazine, “is the music and the common atmosphere of overstimulation.”
18. What question has been raised regarding discos? Why?
18 Are these appropriate places for Christians to go for entertainment? This is a question that many have asked. For example, there is the letter of a 16-year-old girl who laments the effect that going to discos has had on her older sister. “See, it’s very important,” she writes, “because I believe now that my sister may lose out on everlasting life. . . . What I’m asking is could you brothers kindly print an article concerning the effects and danger of the places? I think it would help many.”
19 Let us consider then: What is this “common atmosphere of overstimulation” that characterizes most discos? The New York Daily News observed: “Everything about discotheques is sexy—the sensual and theatrical decor, the tribal beat of the music, the way people dress and the way they dance. Disco dancing is an uninhibited mix of thrust and swivel and elegant grind . . . In discotheques, the sexual overtones and undertones are simply intensified, exaggerated and magnified.” The magazine Esquire pointed to “the stunning profusion of lights, sounds, rhythms, motions, drugs, spectacles, and illusions,” and noted: “Everything is taken as far as it can be taken; then it is combined with every other extreme to produce the final rape of the human sensorium.”
20 If an establishment puts the emphasis on sex, and the clientele, as a whole, has little regard for the fine, wholesome moral standards of God’s Word, obviously this is not a proper place for a Christian. This would be true whether it is known as a “disco” or by some other name. Remember, Satan’s world is doing all it can to squeeze us into its mold, so should we not expect that Satan would use enticing entertainment as a lure to entrap us? Recall how the Israelites were lured by what at first may have appeared to be a sharing in some innocent entertainment, yet 24,000 lost their opportunity of life in the Promised Land. We do not want that to happen to us, do we? So then we need to resist worldly pressures; we need to fight against being fashioned after this system. Do not be deceived! Often those who get into moral difficulties—which sometimes require disfellowshiping them—are those who have been going to discos or other questionable places of entertainment.
21 True, sex may not be “intensified, exaggerated and magnified” at all discos. A restaurant, for example, may advertise as a “disco” and the entertainment may be moderate in comparison with that of some places. It would not be for the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses or the local elders to tell others that they should not go to such a “moderate” establishment, but extreme caution is certainly in order. It is a fact that discos have a reputation for wild abandonment of moral restraints. And that includes disco music. Noting the trend, singer-composer Johnny Bristol said: “Sex is where it’s at in music today.” There may be some disco music that is not morally degrading, just as there are still a few decent motion pictures. But the trend is unmistakable. The entertainment of the world has deteriorated, being insidiously designed to foster the view that fornication is not necessarily wrong. But it is! And God will adversely “judge fornicators.”—Heb. 13:4.
22, 23. Why would a mature Christian avoid discotheques even though he may feel that going to them would not be spiritually harmful to him?
22 Do not feel that what is here said is intended to rob you of fun, whether you be a youth or an adult. Not at all! We want you to be happy, and to enjoy a wholesome life to the full—forever. But Satan has enticements, entertainment—even as in the ancient past—that can lure you into activity that will bring you Jehovah’s disapproval. Avoid these pitfalls, and help others to avoid them. Even if you have thought that going to certain discos may not be morally harmful to you, consider the effect that your going there may have on other Christians. As a result of seeing you go, they may be put off guard as to the potential danger, and become involved in wrong conduct. The apostle Paul was willing to give up doing things that in themselves were not necessarily wrong in order to protect the spiritual health of his Christian brothers. He even said that “if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat flesh at all, that I may not make my brother stumble.” If he were with us today, could you imagine him relaxing at a disco?—1 Cor. 8:13.
23 Let us work together, then, as a united body of Christians, to resist worldly pressures so that all of us may enjoy Jehovah’s favor and life in his righteous new system.
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Good associates can aid us to maintain fine conduct, to God’s praise