Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Release - Engaging Your Teens World

It was three years in the making and went through more than six rewrites but it's finally here.
So many of you have been great supporters (and beneficiaries) of Awake to Life. Now I need your help one more time. Go out and get your copy today.
Even if you were one of the lucky ones to get a press copy, go ahead and pick up another for a friend. Once you read it, write a review online for others to know what you thought of the book.

You can find a copy at the following brick and mortar stores:
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Border's
  • Books a Million
  • Lifeway
  • Family Christian Bookstore
  • best of all, try a local independent book seller
Or check online at sites such as:
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Christianbooks
  • Abesbooks
Click here for a detailed write up of the book.
To schedule a book signing or media interview please call Caitlin Mackenzie at Brazos Press at 616.676.9185 x392

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Moral Superiority of Teens

The Moral Temperament of Teens
Most Teens Feel They are Morally Superior
to Their Peers

by Brian Housman

"Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
Proverbs 11.2

The Josephson Institute has released their biannual Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth. It was easy enough to plow through the details not finding the results all that shocking. At least not until I got to the end. Don't worry I'll get to some of the juicy findings every parent hates to hear. But before that let's get back to the finale.
The Nitty Gritty of Teens Choices

After admitting their own ethical shortcomings, teens revealed that on a personal level "when it comes to doing what is right, I believe I am better than most people." This was stated by 93% of teens! Another 77% said they were "satisfied with my personal ethics and character." In short the majority of teenagers believe that they are good enough. What is shocking is comparing this admission of their personal ethical superiority to their own ethical choices.

STEALING - 30% of teens admit to stealing from a store in the past year (35% of boys, 26% of girls). Students involved in service groups and school leadership were less likely to steal but still more than 1 in 4 did so. 1 in 4 also admitted stealing from a parent and 1 in 5 stealing from a friend. There was no significant difference among those who attended private religious schools with 1 in 5 of these students admitting to being thieves as well.

LYING - This year 42% of all teenagers lied in order to save money. Apparently, saving a few dollars was worth more than their own integrity. There is a significant difference between guys and girls when it comes to lying. 49% of guys and 36% lied to save money. When it comes to gaining trust with parents, more than 80% of all public and private school students admit to lying to their parents.

CHEATING - This area of morality suffered the greatest increase from past studies. This can be largely contributed to the number of teens who have cell phones and use them for cheating. 64% of teens admit to cheating on a test in the past year. 38% did so more than once. There was no significant difference among private religious school students with 63% cheating. 35% used their cell phone for cheating. Among those who did 26% stored answers in their phone to use in the class room and another 25% texted answers to friends.

It's All About the Heart

It would be easy as a parent to loose site of the root of this kind of behavior. Sure none of us want our teens stealing, lying, or cheating but the problem is not the stealing, lying, or cheating. That might be what the get punished for is they get caught but there is a much deeper seated issue--the condition of their heart.

Playright Tennessee Williams said, "The human heart is curved like a road through mountains." Proverbs 21.2 says, "All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart." The heart is at the root of it all.

It's not so much their behavior that alarms me as it is the fact that teens believe they are "better than most people." There is an arrogance, a moral superiority at play in their heart. I know from becoming acutely attuned to my own brokenness and dysfunction that my own unwillingness to see my sin for what it is only lead me to becoming my own demigod. Why would I need God because, hey, I'm good enough. And since I'm better than most, I have the right to stand in judgment over those who are lesser. It produces a haughtiness that leads to rot.

This is the heart posturing of this generation of teens. Those raised from a modern worldview perspective would call this moral decay. Those from a postmodern perspective would likely call it a moral shift or moral clarification. Instead of a moral plum line we now have a curved road to paraphrase T. Williams. As this generation attempts to define what is cheating everything from peers to technology to the situation have a bearing on the definition. The curvier the answer becomes from what God intended the easier it is for me to become morally superior.

My heart hurts for this generation and where I know their choices will lead. Proverbs 11.2 tells us that, "moral pride leads to disgrace." But I choose not to be the judge that tries to bring about that disgrace. That is God's job. Rather I believe our role as pastors, parents, and friends is to model for them a "humility from wisdom." Wisdom that comes from our own experiences of being disciplined by God. Wisdom that allows me to see that apart from God's grace I too easily fall onto the curved road myself.