At some point during the last couple of decades or so, it was agreed that moral absolutes do not exist. Apparently everything is relative and we’re all living in some sort of societal Matrix. The rules of morality can be bent and shifted to fit whatever scenario we choose. Your truth is your truth. My truth is my truth. “Believe whatever you want to believe and everything will be, like, totally fine, dude,” we tell each other while smoking pounds of weed from our turquoise bongs.
Moreover, we decided that “good” and “evil” are just abstract terms used to describe philosophical theories that really have no modern meaning or significance. After all, we can’t just go around labeling things or people as “evil.” That might offend someone, which would obviously lead to mass chaos, the collapse of western civilization and eventual global destruction, right? God forbid that we proclaim the sort of truths that would send emotionally fragile snowflakes and coddled college students running to their safe spaces.
And when it comes to “goodness,” well that’s just as conceptual as “evil,” isn’t it? My definition of “goodness” might be different than your definition, so who really gives a rat’s ass? Besides, “good” and “evil” might not even exist in the first place, so why even bother having the discussion?
Of course, we are gravely mistaken in our adherence to these flawed and dangerous mindsets. Nevertheless, we seem hellbent on following them straight into the flames of eternal damnation. We sit idly by as our culture wallows in evil every day. We see evil forces attacking our communities, destroying our churches and devouring our neighbors and yet we do nothing. We say nothing. Why is this? Are we too lazy? Too afraid? Too spiritually immature to recognize evil? Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things.
A year-old Barna Research study found that two-thirds of American adults “either believe moral truth is relative to circumstances (44 percent) or have not given it much thought (21 percent).” I can’t say that I’m surprised at all by these sort of statistics, especially in a nation where parents can get away with torturing their own children for several months as their neighbors remained silent, despite knowing full-well that something was amiss. Evil was happening in front of their very eyes — and its stench was lingering in the air — and they did nothing at all.
For Christians, however, this is not an option. We are called by the Holy Spirit to boldly expose and confront evil wherever it exists (Ephesians 5:11), regardless of our own personal fears and regardless of opposition. People may tell us to ignore evil or to be quiet about it. But, not Christ. After all, He is the Light of World, exposing all forms of evil and darkness throughout the universe:
This is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” — John 3:19-21
When you accepted Christ as your personal Savior, you received the Holy Spirit. He dwells inside of you and because He is holy, He naturally opposes things that are unholy. So now, whenever you see something evil or read about something evil or whenever you are near evil, you are always keenly aware of it. (And especially when you do something that is evil.) The Holy Spirit acts as your conscience in all of these moments, telling you, “This is wrong. This is immoral. This is sin.”
You can certainly choose to ignore the Holy Spirit and, sadly, thousands of Christians do this on a daily basis. Likewise, you can refuse to confront the evils of our culture, as those neighbors did in the case of the Turpin family. Life will certainly be easier for you. You won’t be labeled as “judgmental” or “bigoted” or a “trouble maker.” But, neither will you be adhering to one of our many callings as true followers of Christ.
And what is that calling? To declare evil as evil. To refuse to downplay circumstances or make excuses. To confront evil and expose it as Christ did. There is no other alternative.
I recently discovered that the average kid today receives his first smartphone with Internet access by age 9 or 10. Frankly, I found this little bit of information to be appalling. Pathetic. Inexcusable. Dangerous. Alarming. Disturbing.
It’s no wonder we’ve churned out an entire generation of social media-addicted youngsters who can’t stop Facebooking, Instagramming, Snapchatting or tweeting for long enough to look up and have a one minute face-to-face interaction or conversation with another human being. My God. And if you took the time to read my last column, then you’re also aware that this is the same generation of kids who discover pornography on their own by age 11. Also, as I noted, they sometimes wind up being completely exposed to progressive ideas and indoctrinated by the LGBT agenda, to the point that little boys are dressing up in skirts, eyeliner, lipstick and high heels all because some famous child drag queen or YouTube star told them that it was ok to “Just do you.”
And, most of the time, parents are utterly oblivious to the fact that their kids are being influenced by these social media personalities or websites. Yes, the same parents who bought the phones in the first place didn’t even stop to consider the potential ramifications of opening up the unrestricted, unfiltered and unmonitored world of the Internet to a naive child. Brilliant. Even worse, some parents are then complicit in the insane wants and desires of the child.
Is it really any surprise, then, when we see other reports — like this recent one from The New York Times — which cites an increasing number of teenagers engaging in the so-called “sexting” phenomenon? The study looked at 500 social media accounts operated by girls ages 12-18 and, as you might imagine, found some disturbing trends. The most notable was that teenage boys tend to place enormous amounts of pressure on girls to “sext” (or text) nude or otherwise explicit images of themselves. It also found that when the girls didn’t comply, the boys tended to become angry and lash out. (Gee, imagine that.)
The majority [of the girls] described facing intense pressure that often began with promises of affection and discretion in exchange for ‘nudes,’ before accelerating to ‘persistent requests, anger displays, harassment and threats.”
Of course, this “sexting” phenomenon is nothing new. It’s been around almost as long as modern texting and the term was first used as far back as 2005 in a Sunday Telegraph Magazine article.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m 31. The worst thing my parents had to monitor back in my day was who my siblings and I were chatting with on the A.I.M. Buddy List, which — by the way — was only accessible on the family computer where mom and dad could watch our every move, review browser history and whatever else they wanted to. We didn’t have smartphones. We weren’t texting our friends from the privacy of our rooms. There was no Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. There was only dial-up Internet, the AOL Instant Messenger system and that was it. And the browser was outfitted with Parental Controls, limiting what sites we could access.
So, a few thoughts:
1) Our entertainment culture — music, movies, TV, Internet — is breeding a young generation of men who believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat women like worthless and insignificant objects upon which they can indulge their sexual fantasies or fetishes whenever they want. And now we’re seeing this play out in how teenaged boys communicate via social media and in text messages. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to this. We must confront it head-on. We have to raise our boys under basic morals and Judeo-Christian values so that they’ll become gentlemen and learn to respect women, rather than becoming little Harvey Weinsteins or Anthony Weiners. The last thing that our society needs is more of those.
2) If your teenager isn’t mature or responsible enough to handle a smartphone, don’t buy him one. It honestly couldn’t be any more simple. You’re the parent. You have the final authority and the final say in this matter. Odds are that your teenaged son or daughter won’t be footing the bill for that Internet data plan anyway. So, if they aren’t capable of having a smartphone and acting within appropriate boundaries, you can always deny it or delay it. And you probably should.
One of the common arguments I hear from parents on this front is: “But, what if I need to be able to contact my child in the event of an emergency?” Easy. You buy him a standard flip-phone without Internet access. If your teenager is driving and you want to be able to check on him or her, then I can understand the need for a phone. But it doesn’t have to be an iPhone 8 outfitted with an Internet plan, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, iMessage and God knows what else. I didn’t have my first “cell phone” until I was a junior in high school and it looked like this. Not very glamorous. It was good for one thing: making and receiving phone calls. And that was all that I needed.
3) If your teenager defaults and abuses his smartphone privileges by sexting or accessing porn, there should be consequences. The most obvious consequences, of course, would be taking away the device. You’re the parent, so act like it.
4) You don’t have to bend to the parental peer pressure to buy your child a smartphone just because your friends’ kids have them. Every child is different. And if your teenager isn’t mature enough to have one, don’t buy it. This isn’t about how uncool you will look. It isn’t about whether or not he will “fit in” amongst his peers. It’s about his mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
I haven’t really said anything terribly profound here. That’s because the answers that our society needs in this area are simple, basic truths. I’m not even a parent yet myself and I know these truths merely from my own upbringing. Our kids don’t have to be psychologically consumed and morally destroyed by technology.
You have the power and responsibility to ensure their wellbeing in this area.
Earlier this week, there was a story about a 10-year-old boy named Desmond Napoles from Brooklyn who has apparently become an Internet sensation and societal hero for being the first child to found what he’s calling “a drag club for kids.” And, as you might’ve guessed, he’s not referring to street racing. I wish he was.
First, a little history: Desmond — known more commonly by his drag queen moniker “Desmond is Amazing” — started dressing up as a toddler and by age six he was romping around in princess outfits, skirts and high heels. His concerned parents consulted with a therapist, who naturally told them that the best thing they could do was nothing at all. To Hell with it. Just let the boy wear whatever he wants. So, that’s what they did. In June of 2015, he participated in a Gay Pride event in New York City while wearing a rainbow tutu. Of course, this was all followed up by establishing Desmond’s own Facebook fan community page (because that’s what every 10-year-old child really needs, right?) At last check, he had over 4,000 followers there. On Instagram, he's climbed to over 16,000 followers. A warning that the photos are little disturbing.
As an active and notable member of the LGBTQ community, Desmond now says that his goal is to “inspire other young people and promote anti-bullying and suicide prevention.” His club is already being widely publicized as a “positive, encouraging and safe online community for drag kids to connect with one another.”
On his site, Desmond — who describes himself as gay — writes, “People should just be able to dance, sing, or dress in any way. You can express yourself however you want. You can just do you.”
Whoa. Totally mind-blowing stuff. I mean, this is truly profound philosophical insight coming from a 10-year-old, right? Or maybe not. Maybe “Just Do You” is actually the sort of slogan that one would expect to see plastered on a McDonald’s billboard or scrawled on the side of a Nike shoebox. Either way, it’s not something that should be proudly touted by an emotionally and mentally disturbed child who's struggling with the reality of his sexual identity.
As I read his story, my heart broke for Desmond. He’s being psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually abused by his parents and he doesn’t even realize it. How could he? He’s 10-years-old for God’s sake. And his parents believe they’re just letting him be himself.
Anyway, I know what the initial reactions will be from many people. I can already predict the typical responses, excuses and justifications that will be made, even by many parents who follow my work: Why are you bringing this up? It’s not a big deal. This is normal. It’s just kids being kids. This isn’t anything new. Kids and teens have always had their own culture and lifestyles and language. They’re not hurting anyone, so what’s the problem? That’s how it’s been for decades. They’ve always been a little rebellious. This is just how they express themselves. It’s always been like this. Everything will turn out fine. They’ll grow out of it.
Call me crazy, ignorant or even bigoted, but the truth is that it hasn’t always been this way. Believe it or not, there really was a time — a cultural Stone Age — when our society didn’t indoctrinate little boys into thinking that it was acceptable to wear eyeliner, nail polish, lipstick, dresses and high heels. There was a time when the vast majority of parents protected their young children from the dangerous effects of the entertainment world, the Internet, technology and social media. There was a time when boys were boys and girls were girls. There was a time when being “a little rebellious” just meant faking a cough so that you could stay home from school. There was a time when boys and girls couldn’t wait to play outside, rather than sit at home and absorb online content for endless hours like mindless automatons.
Today, kids are so glued to their smartphones, so immersed in social media and TV and so consumed by unrestricted, unmonitored Internet access that they’re utterly oblivious to the world around them. They spend hours and hours texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming, Snapchatting and watching YouTube videos. By the time they’re 11, they’ve already discovered pornography. So is it really that shocking when your 10-year-old suddenly declares himself to be gay? Or transgendered? Or queer? Or a drag queen? Honestly, he might not even know what those words mean. He probably won't. But, that doesn’t matter, least of all to him. He’s been influenced for months or years by countless websites, YouTube celebrities, porn stars and social media personalities that you didn’t even know existed. And he’s been told that he can be whatever or whoever he wants, whenever he wants — “Just do you.”
And as the parent, you facilitated it. You bought the smartphone (or iPod or iPad or TV or whatever) and handed it to your naive, immature, child without ever establishing any rules, regulations, boundaries, passwords or filters. You opened up the world of the Internet or late-night cable TV smut and just assumed that everything would be totally fine.
But, it’s not fine. Our children have to realize that you can’t “just do you” and expect to succeed in life or be safe. It doesn’t work that way. And that’s because you aren’t wise enough, mature enough or virtuous enough on your own, especially at 10-years-old. You have this thing inside of you called a sin nature (it's been with you since birth - Psalm 51:5) and it will always lead you toward rebellious, wrong, immoral, dangerous, harmful choices. If you aren’t careful, you can hurt yourself and those around you.
Parents must instill these truths in their children from an early age and then teach them how to make wise, moral and biblical decisions in life. Of course, no child will be perfect. They will mess up. They will make mistakes. They will stumble and falter along the way. And when they do, parents have a responsibility to correct them, encourage them, discipline them when necessary, and ensure that they remain on the straight and narrow. (Proverbs 22:6) At 31-years-old, I’m certainly grateful that my parents did this for me.
It may be too late to change the destructive mentality of our depraved culture, but we can certainly take steps to minimize our kids’ exposure to it. And wouldn’t that at least be a step in the right direction?
I still remember the first time I knew that my future career would involve writing. I was probably around ten or twelve years old at the time. I had successfully completed two of the 50 pushups that my commanding officer (soccer coach) had ordered my team to execute and was contemplating the universal ramifications of dying at a young age while also wondering how my family would cope with the emotional trauma of losing a child at such a young age or whether or not they would attempt to charge my coach with murder.
You see, I wasn’t exactly a great soccer player. In fact, I wasn’t particularly athletic in general. Moreover, I wasn’t any good at measuring up to the irrational demands of a guy who acted more like Colonel Nathan R. Jessup than a boy’s soccer coach.
“At least if I die here and now, tales will be told of this day,” I thought to myself. “And my death, while tragic, will probably save lives. But, one thing is certain: I’ll never be a famous professional athlete.”
I hated playing sports. The whole running-up-and-down-a-field-really-fast thing just wasn’t for me. I dreaded every practice session. Every single one. I despised every offensive and defensive exercise, every scrimmage game and every bit of forced interaction with other children who seemed far too excited about wearing cleats and shinguards, kicking balls into nets and swallowing mouthfuls of dirt and grass on a daily basis. Also, I loathed my coach’s gruff disposition and having to endure his unpredictable mood swings. Did he enjoy torturing small children? Was it some sort of personal hobby for him? Was this how he got his jollies in life? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I was miserable and sports weren’t for me. I was never going to be making bank as a multimillion-dollar soccer player. Why was I out here wasting my time?
There was really only one thing in life that I did love. There was only one thing at which I excelled. It certainly wasn’t math or science. It wasn’t history or foreign languages. Of course, I was surviving in those areas, but just barely. Even in high school, I had to study overnight just to make a ‘D.’ I would always do my best. I’d answer everything on a 50-question multiple choice final exam and screech by just enough to pass the class. I was drifting listlessly through a confusing world of absurd private and public school academia and no one even seemed to care — least of all the teachers. But, the one thing that I could do was write. I could write all day and never tire of it. I could even write about subjects in which I had no particular interest and then develop an interest in them. It just seemed to come natural. All of my English teachers took notice. I never made below an ‘A’ in their courses. They loved it. And so did I.
Ironically, all of my classmates seemed to hate writing. They did everything they could to avoid it. They even wanted to pay me to write their papers for them. I found this a bit odd (not to mention highly unethical and morally questionable.)
After high school, I honestly had no idea what to do with my life. So, I took a year off. I continued to work my menial retail job where you could get by with nothing more than the ability to fold ugly denim. I was a lowly peasant; a meager serf of the clothing business world and it seemed that there was no future for me at all. My brother — who was a year younger — had already made up his mind to pursue a Music Business degree. That’s right. A degree. From a college. A big ole fancy university.
“That’s what people do,” my school counselors and friends told me. “After they graduate, they go to a college. If they ever want to have any chance at succeeding in life, they go to a college.”
Fantastic. More tests. More multiple choice exams. More opportunities to be humiliated or to humiliate myself. It was already embarrassing enough that my two younger siblings seemed to have their life goals sorted out while I was still wandering aimlessly through my dreary existence. Now I would have to go to a college, pick a major and spend thousands of dollars over the course of four years in order to acquire a piece of paper that says I officially possess a really important skill set which would — in theory — qualify me to be successful in life. I mean, that’s how this whole college thing is supposed to work, right?
So, that’s what I did. I graduated from a four-year university with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in English. That was almost eight years ago. It was thousands and thousands of dollars ago. And, what has it gotten me? The occasional freelance writing gig with a couple of local lifestyle magazines. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure the editors who see my résumé appreciate the fact that I have a degree in journalism. But, I know of plenty of published writers and authors — successful, accomplished, awarded, well-paid, full-time writers — who have no degree at all. I personally know business owners, managers and administrators who climbed to their corporate salaried positions without ever attending college.
That’s because college simply isn’t necessary for most folks these days, a fact which was recently pointed out by Bryan Caplan, who — ironically — is a tenured professor at George Mason University. Speaking with FOX’s Tucker Carlson, he rightly said that college has essentially become “extremely wasteful for society,” reflected in our nation’s $1.5 trillion student loan debt. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly $40,000 per student. Personally I think "wasteful" might be a bit of an understatement here.
Caplan, whose piece on the issue was published in The Atlantic, also said:
You might say there’s an addiction to getting more education, which is fairly rampant. A lot of people just punch the clock and sit through classes and get a degree in something or other… It’s a burden on the individual to feel like if I don’t accomplish this, my whole life is a waste of time.”
He’s right. And the truth is that something has to change. This “college-is-a-must” mindset among my generation is not a realistic one, nor is it a sustainable model for our nation or our hemorrhaging economy. It hasn’t been sustainable for decades. There are millions of teenagers taking out loans that they’ll never be able to repay in order to acquire a flimsy sheet of paper that will likely never amount to anything more than a framed document on their bedroom wall, just to the left of the Spider-Man poster. And it’ll be plastered just a few feet away from the closet where they hang their McDonald’s uniform or Starbuck’s apron.
Now, before I’m accused of college-bashing, I’m sure we can all agree that, in some cases, secondary education is necessary. Doctors, astronauts, physicists, psychologists, nurses, mechanical engineers, teachers, chemists, lawyers, dentists, veterinarians, etc. obviously need degrees in order to operate successfully and knowledgeably in their career fields. No one with half a brain would argue otherwise. Speaking of brains, I have epilepsy and I certainly hope that the neurologist who I see on a regular basis has a Ph.D in his field.
But, maybe it’s time for some of us to reexamine our skewed perspectives on the notion of “higher education.” You don’t have to go to college just because society says you do. You don’t have to go just because your parents or your siblings went. You don’t have to go just because your friends are going. Countless people in this nation have achieved immense success and wellsprings of knowledge without a degree. They’ve put their God-given talents, abilities, ambitions and passions to work.
It will require you to invest yourself in your interests. You’ll have to dedicate your time and your energy. You’ll have to take risks. But, that’s what it’s all about. While the rest of your peers have their heads buried in textbooks and lecture halls, get out there and conquer the world. Find your passion and pursue it. Excel at it. Market it. Be better than anyone else who’s trying to do it.
That’s what I’m going to do. And you can too.