The Bible and Teenage Morality
“Teenagers seem to have inherited the worst of all possible worlds regarding their exposure to messages about sex: Movies, music, radio and TV tell them that sex is romantic, exciting, titillating . . . Yet, at the same time, young people get the message good girls should say no.”—The Alan Guttmacher Institute.
TODAY’S youths have grown up in an age of moral ambiguity. The Bible, though, offers clear, unambiguous direction on sexual morality. While sex-education programs tend to focus on avoiding pregnancy, the Bible shows that premarital sex itself is the thing to be avoided. “You can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication [which includes premarital sex] or impurity or promiscuity . . . can inherit anything of the kingdom of God,” says the Bible. (Ephesians 5:5, The Jerusalem Bible) Clearly, sex relations are to be confined to marriage.
The answer to the problem of teen pregnancy thus is, not teaching youths contraception, but giving them moral and spiritual guidance. The Bible makes plain whose responsibility it is to give this guidance: “Fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.
In one survey, though, youths were asked to “rate their parents on a scale ranging from unsatisfactory to highly satisfactory as sources of sex information. Adolescents’ ratings of their mothers were mostly in the low satisfactory range. Ratings of fathers were very unsatisfactory.” Is it realistic, then, to expect parents to give their children direction on sexual matters?
Giving Youths Moral Guidance
At Proverbs 4:1-4, King Solomon urges youths: “Listen, O sons, to the discipline of a father . . . For I proved to be a real son to my father, tender and the only one before my mother. And he would instruct me and say to me: ‘May your heart keep fast hold of my words.’” It is evident that Solomon was able to discuss even intimate things with his father; Solomon himself goes on to discuss sexual immorality in a very frank manner.—Proverbs 5:1-19.
Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, many families are maintaining a similarly open dialogue with their children—and with great success! They do more than simply tell their children “No!” regarding sexual relations. The Bible helps them give their children sound reasons for avoiding promiscuity. Consider, again, Solomon’s words. At Proverbs 5:3, 4, he encourages young men to avoid sexual relations with a prostitute. “As a honeycomb the lips of a strange woman [prostitute] keep dripping, and her palate is smoother than oil.” Yes, the prospect of immorality may seem quite enticing. However, warns Solomon: “The aftereffect from her is as bitter as wormwood; it is as sharp as a two-edged sword.”
Like Solomon, parents can reason with their children on the aftereffects of sexual relations. A troubled conscience, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS—these are bitter returns for a few moments of enticing pleasure. Solomon further exhorts youths not to “give to others [their] dignity.” (Proverbs 5:9) Does it not show a lack of self-respect for a youth to give of himself or herself to someone who is not interested in marriage? Is it not humiliating to serve merely as a means of satisfying one’s own or someone else’s selfish passions? Parents can help their children to appreciate these facts.
Solomon gave further advice about dealing with an immoral person: “Keep your way far off from alongside her, and do not get near to the entrance of her house.” (Proverbs 5:8) Similarly, parents can give youths practical advice in avoiding compromising circumstances. They can urge them not to date unprincipled individuals. And when they reach the point of being qualified to pursue courtship, they can be encouraged to take practical steps to avoid sinful conduct. For example, the courting couple might arrange for someone always to accompany them on dates. Old-fashioned? Perhaps. But it is better to take reasonable precautions than to “have to groan in your future when your flesh and your organism come to an end. And you will have to say: ‘How I have hated discipline . . . And I have not listened to the voice of my instructors.’”—Proverbs 5:11-13.
Helping Youths Fear Jehovah
According to some estimates, there are over 12 million sexually active youths in the United States alone. Even the AIDS epidemic has done little to stem this immoral tide. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to instill in their children something far more influential than the fear of AIDS or of pregnancy: a healthy fear of Jehovah God. Solomon reminds youths at Proverbs 5:21: “For the ways of man are in front of the eyes of Jehovah, and he is contemplating all his tracks.” John, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and a father of four, gives this advice: ‘What helps is for children to have a loving fear of Jehovah. Don’t be afraid to let your child know that Jehovah can be saddened by our selfish actions.’—Compare Proverbs 27:11.
Of course, for the fear of God to be an effective deterrent to immorality, God must be very real to a young person. (Compare Hebrews 11:27.) Parents can help their children cultivate a genuine relationship with God through a regular study of the Bible, daily prayer, and real-life experience. When a youth comes to appreciate that God cares for him, he will be moved to avoid conduct that could displease Him.—1 Peter 5:7.
Interestingly, a youth’s relationship with God can also help fill certain needs that often go unfulfilled in many other youths. Experts claim, for example, that promiscuity is commonly a youth’s way to combat feelings of powerlessness or a lack of self-esteem. Such feelings, though, need not plague one who has a friendship with Jehovah! Such a youth can say: “God is my helper; Jehovah is among those supporting my soul.”—Psalm 54:4.
A Balanced View of Sex and Marriage
Of course, parents do not want their children to develop a prudish or negative view of sexual relations. While the Bible condemns fornication, it also shows that sexual intimacies can be quite beautiful—within the framework of marriage, that is. Using poetic language, Solomon adds: “Let your water source prove to be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth . . . Let her own breasts intoxicate you at all times. With her love may you be in an ecstasy constantly.”—Proverbs 5:18, 19.
Considering this lofty view of marital relations, there is no reason for parents to feel awkward in discussing intimate matters. Says John (referred to earlier): “We always talk honestly with them, so the subject of sex is no secret. We highlight that it is a gift from the Creator, Jehovah, to be enjoyed by husband and wife at the proper time.” Says another father of two teenage boys: “From their early years, we have discussed sex frankly with them. We have tried to teach them a respectful, elevated view of love and sex. We keep an ongoing dialogue.” Significantly, their children have remained chaste.
Making Youths “Wise for Salvation”
“Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse,” predicted the apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 3:13) Moral standards will thus continue to decline. Teenage promiscuity and pregnancy will continue to plague society.
Godly parents will turn to the Bible so as to make their children “wise for salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15) If you realize that you yourself need instruction in the Bible, feel free to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses by writing the publishers of this magazine. They will be happy to arrange for you to receive such instruction free of charge. Jehovah’s Witnesses can also provide you with publications such as the book Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It.* This contains Scriptural information that has helped thousands of youths escape the world’s immoral snares.
What, though, of girls who have already experienced the tragedy of an illegitimate pregnancy? Such situations are far from hopeless. God ‘forgives in a large way’ the one who is truly sorry for his course of conduct. (Isaiah 55:7) While being a single parent is not easy, one can make a success of it by applying Bible principles. A young woman who had three out-of-wedlock children before becoming a Christian has done just that. She endeavors to apply God’s Word in her family. By associating closely with a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she has gained much comfort and support. She says: “It certainly is wonderful to serve a God who is so forgiving, and to have brothers and sisters who are so understanding. For the first time in my life, I feel clean and wholesome, spiritually and physically.”
Of course, it would be best to avoid the problems of premarital sex in the first place. Happily, thousands of youths today are doing so because they follow the Bible’s timeless advice.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Blurb on page 6]
Jehovah’s Witnesses try to instill in their children something far more influential than the fear of AIDS or of pregnancy: a healthy fear of Jehovah God
[Blurb on page 6]
According to some estimates, there are over 12 million sexually active youths in the United States alone
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Parents can keep an ongoing dialogue with their children when it comes to sexual matters
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Christian youths will avoid conduct that can ruin their relationship with God