Can we just move past it? Please stop writing letters to other people’s children. Let’s start writing letters to our OWN children.
Here, I’ll start the first one:
Dear teenage child of mine,
You are going to encounter all types of people in this world.
A small select few will think, act and dress similar to you. The very large majority will not. They will not care about your personal standards of modesty and purity of heart, mind and body.
They will not care if what they wear, what they post online, or how they act around you causes you to stumble in your walk with the Lord. You need to learn to guard your own heart.
You can’t do it alone. The flesh is weak. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Allow Him to be your guide. If it even remotely feels wrong, flee with all your might. If you look left at church and a young lady is wearing a provocative dress next Sunday (and let’s face it, this is becoming the sad norm in our churches.) please try your best to look right. Maybe ask your parents if there is any way an elder can gently approach the subject of the girl’s outfit. Sometimes you can remedy those situations, and well, sometimes you just can’t. Not without running the people right back out the church door. And what is the church for, but to help sinners (which would mean every last one of us, not just those whom we label as “worldlier” than we) to be a little more Christ-like everyday.
Unfortunately you are going to have to learn to not only look away, but to filter your friend circle. For now you have mom and dad to help you with that. They tell you who you can and can not hang out with, or have as a friend on social media. But there will come a day very soon when you will have to make those decisions yourself. Begin now really thinking about the character traits of people who make good friends. Ones who always have your back. Ones who help you make good decisions, not stupid ones. And maybe you already have to make those decisions on your own. Maybe your parents don’t monitor your facebook, or read your chat conversations (yep-unashamedly guilty!). Oh boy is it hard. Especially when you don’t have someone to be accountable to.
We all can’t be the behavior police. There is an old saying that has helped me a ton of times in my life, from my teenage years on up…”You can’t change the behavior of others, but you can change the way you react to their behavior.”
See a selfie online that looks a little too provocative? That girl was kissy facing in that low tank top,right to you through the screen? That boy was showing off his beach muscles just for you to see how manly and sexy he is? Well, first off, don’t click the like button dummy! Secondly, why exactly do you have a friend who would be posing like that? If it’s someone who otherwise doesn’t engage in that type of thing, maybe it was a spur of the moment regrettable decision. Haven’t we all done things only to wish we could take them back a second later. (or a week later, or a month later). In that case, click that little “hide” button, turn the browser page, and if you are close enough to the person, maybe even have a little conversation with them. A simple, “Hey, what was up with that pic you posted on Thursday? Kind a little over the top, don’t ya think?” will usually make them think a little more about what they did. Or, not. if they get all bent out of shape over you speaking out on things you see as wrong, well, remember that friend filtering I just mentioned a second ago?
For the rest of your life you will be bombarded with images and behaviors that are unbecoming. Even in the church. Unless you want to hole yourself up on some compound and leave the modern world behind you then you are going to have to build up a strong enough backbone. One that won’t bend every time you go into Wal-Mart. Immodesty and immorality are going to be rampant in the last days. And believe it or not, we are there. Where wrong is right, and Christians are persecuted and ridiculed for their standards. It’s not going to get easier for you teenager. You won’t magically become superman of wills when you turn 18 or 21. You will battle the flesh your entire life. Start fighting that battle now! And I’ll be there to help. Stay in church and you will always have older advocates rooting for you, mentoring you and helping you along the way.