Recently I was discussing the expectations of the younger generation with a Christian businessman. This particular gentleman hires a number of young adults to cut grass and do landscaping for his real estate business. In the discussion he mentioned that he had recently had to fire one of his best workers. I inquired as to why he would fire a worker if he was so good at the job. “He stole from me,” the business man said. He then went on to explain that he had caught the young man putting gas that was for the lawnmower into the young man’s personal automobile. When the business man confronted the thief, first the thief denied it. When the business man informed the worker that he had witnessed the theft with his own eyes, the young man attempted to justify his actions and say that it was NOT really wrong for him to take the gas. His line of logic (or perhaps we should call it a line of illogic) was that the business man had a lot more money than he did and could afford to give away some gas. The business man became agitated with the young man’s inability to understand that it was wrong to steal. The business man explained to the young man that if he had just said that he was broke a needed to borrow some gas, he would have been glad to help him out, but when he saw the young man steal the gas, he knew he would never be able to fully trust him again. The young man still did not understand that his actions were wrong and went away from the conversation blaming the businessman for the whole affair.
The young man’s inability to understand that it was wrong to steal is a significant problem that the younger generation is facing. The younger generation has not been taught that there is a clear difference between right and wrong. The younger generation most commonly thinks that they can decide what is right or wrong for themselves instead of following some arbitrary rule, such a law passed by the government, or one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. The younger generation attempts to justify their actions by appealing to their own reason or logic. But in reality they are simply acting out of an immature emotional development. Though their bodies have grown up, emotionally and spiritually young people are often still preschoolers.
What can be done about this situation? Some older adults want to preach hell fire and brimstone sermons at the younger generation. That has not worked very well yet. Others want to “educate” them with philosophy and man-made stories that use situational ethics to decide what is right and wrong. That has not worked very well either. Perhaps those of us who are Christians should consider LIVING our faith in front of the younger generation. Perhaps by setting an example of right and wrong in front of them, they would see the benefits of a new way of living. After all, who failed at teaching the younger generation about right and wrong to begin with? If you think about it, it was the older generation who failed to live righteousness in front of their children, causing their children to abandon the rules completely. But if we start living our faith in front of young people, we might be surprised just how powerful an impact that will make.