Teaching Kids About God, Authority, and Values
- Thursday, July 23, 2009
Many parents today want their kids to grow up possessing a vibrant faith in God. They hope that this faith, in turn, will impact their kids’ lives in such a way that they become strongly moral people, embracing values that can carry them through their adult lives. But, this is not an easy goal to achieve. Today’s culture, and in some cases, today’s parenting approaches both conspire to make raising kids to embrace Biblical, healthy morals and values a huge challenge.
A recent sports-related interview reflects the current state of moral standards in our culture. Reporter Dan Patrick interviewed driver Danica Patrick in the days before the 2009 Indianapolis 500 race. Dan asked Danica "If you could take a performance-enhancing drug and not get caught, would you do it if it allowed you to win Indy?” Danica replied, “Well, then it's not cheating, is it? If nobody finds out?” Dan then asked a follow-up question, “So would you do it?” Danica answered, “Yeah, it would be like finding a gray area. In motorsports we work in the gray areas a lot. You're trying to find where the holes are in the rule book.”
Many people today have simply abandoned the notion of “moral absolutes,” that there are definite standards of what is right or wrong. This notion has become obsolete in our culture. We live in a postmodern world where truth has become relative.
George Barna noted in his book, Generation Next, that about 75% of all adults reject the idea of absolute moral truth. So, three-quarters of adults in our country embrace some form of amorality, which the dictionary defines as lacking a moral sense and being unconcerned about the rightness or wrongness of something. With amorality, no behavior is immoral or off-limits, in and of itself. Everything, within a certain context, might be permissible. Society places limits on what is permissible and not permissible, as a social compact of sorts. And, society can and does redefine morality as it sees fit.
This amorality throws the long held concept of God as supreme lawgiver and judge into question. Christian Smith, lead researcher for the landmark, National Study of Youth and Religion commented in his book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers that most American adults and teenagers adhere to an eclectic, quasi-religion he called, “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” It is a religion that piggybacks upon existing Christian beliefs but ultimately changes them so that historic orthodox Christian beliefs become largely unrecognizable.
Briefly, here’s what Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) looks like:
Moralistic refers to the concept that most Americans believe in right and wrong. In MTD, people get to decide for themselves what those things are. For example, a person might believe that there is nothing wrong with telling “white-lies” (like “Sarah’s not home right now,” or “I can’t come to work today because I’m sick.”) So, as long as people live consistently according to their own list of rights and wrongs, they can call themselves moral people.
Therapeutic refers to the fact that most Americans believe that God exists for our happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment. God’s job, according to MTD, is to solve people’s problems and to help them get what they want out of life. God is reduced to the proverbial “genie,” who grants wishes to people.
Deism refers to the idea that most Americans believe in God, but that He cannot really be known. In MTD, God watches people play the game of life and doesn’t get involved much, unless of course, when people need Him to fix a problem or help them get what they want.
For these reasons, kids today are less likely to have a high view of authority—whether it’s the authority of God, the Bible, church, the government, or the school.
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