David B. Crabtree
The most popular 19-year-old in the world takes the stage clad in skintight
leather and a no-secrets halter. Her energy level could light a small
city. The band is world class. The dancers move as one to create a provocative
backdrop for the platinum-blonde superstar. She belts out a lyric that
really doesnt matter. If you dont know what this show is
about, youre dead or crazy. The kids have no trouble getting the
The sexually charged performance doesnt seem to bother Dad or
Mom who shell out 25 bucks for 12-year-old Sally to attend a Britney
Spears concert. Nobody seems worried about role modeling, appropriateness,
influence or (dare I say it) holiness. Dad sure doesnt like it
when Sally starts to dress like Britney, and dance like Britney, but
what can he say? He bought the ticket! Sally seems to be losing interest
in the church must be something wrong with the youth pastor.
After the recent death of a mega-celebrity from another corner of American
society, Molly, 16, weeps at the loss of her hero. "He changed
my life," she says. "Ill never be the same because of
him." Shes talking about the late stock car driver, Dale
Earnhardt. She claims to feel his presence. "Hell always
be with us," she wails. Dad and Mom join in mourning, each stating
a feeling of profound loss. They once met Dale at an autograph table.
He gave their lives meaning how? "Cant really put
it into words," says Molly. The family has no religious affiliation.
They claim uncertainty in all spiritual matters except for heaven. "Heaven
is where Dale is now" its a belief they will fight
Countless bedroom walls are decked with posters of the guy who bats,
drives, kicks, throws, catches, or dunks the ball best. Though their
post-game interviews are predictable, inarticulate, arrogant, ignorant
or silly, the dedicated young fan (short for fanatic) hangs on every
word. Childish and churlish behavior by the sports idol is excused as
a response to the enormous pressure the "youngster" carries.
Moral depravity, drug abuse and legal scuffles are secondary to talent
and athleticism. He walks like, talks like, and acts like a thug, yet
he is elevated to icon status and the object of adolescent idolatry.
Winning is everything. Success is measured in gold rings and limousines.
He is the rich young ruler on drugs with an attitude. Little Billy copies
all his moves, watches all his games, wears his jersey number to school,
quotes his stats and adopts his attitudes. Once upon a time, Billy wanted
to be like Dad; now he wants two tattoos, unearned respect, and an extended
Who will your kids worship? God or gold? A Savior or a singer? Will
they lift their hands in praise to Jesus Christ, or Metallica or Eminem?
What harmony can be found between Britney Spears on Saturday night,
and a call to holy living on Sunday morning? Will your children find
their moral compass in the Bible, or in the words and actions of their
sports heroes? What values will they embrace in a world stripped of
But we cannot just direct our attention outward. The underlying question
is what lessons are our children learning by watching us? Are we their
primary influence, or have we given the godless permission to shape
their lives? If asked, "Who is the strongest Christian you know?"
would your kids name you? Theyre looking for someone to look up
to. Will they follow your gaze to look to the Lord, or will they find
some kind of meaning in the bright light idolatry of a star gazing culture?
Who will your kids worship? Who, or what do you worship? The creeping
of secularism into the church raises questions not easily ignored.
Troubled actor Griffin ONeal alleged that his superstar father,
Ryan ONeal, turned him on to drugs. The sordid story was short-lived
and dismissed as another example of Hollywood excess. The elder ONeal
was hardly tarnished by this seedy accusation. What are we turning our
kids on to? The primary influence in a childs life is the parent,
and if the parent is comfortable with "R" ratings, low morals,
situation ethics and greed, what depreciated values will the child hold?
Worship ascribes ultimate value to its object. What we worship can
generally be defined by our greatest passion, our highest pursuit, our
first priority. What would your co-workers say is most important to
you? Could you defend, in open court, the statement, "Jesus Christ
is the Lord of my life and the Word of God is my rule of living?"
Our fallen culture glorifies the very things the Scriptures vilify:
immorality, greed, power, and selfishness. If we seek power, money,
and self-gratification before the kingdom of God, we have no credibility
in the things of God.
Who will your kids worship? Its a troubling question when asked
against the backdrop of a compromised life. When Lot received word that
God was going to destroy Sodom, he went to his sons-in-law to give warning.
The Genesis record gives light to Lots tragic loss of influence.
"But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking" (Genesis 19:14,
NKJV). Lots sons-in-law never made it out of Sodom. If we will
not lead the way in worship, will our kids make it out of a modern-day
The conviction of the Holy Spirit brings us to rebellion or repentance.
Repentance must be verbalized and demonstrated within the family. Kids
need to see repentance modeled. Repentance and contrition are essential
first steps to the restoration of parental influence. Without repentance
in the face of our own sins, hypocrisy will undermine our every effort
to shape young lives for God.
Theologian Carl Barth defined our culture as "aggressively pagan."
Passive spirituality will not meet the challenge. Once "one nation
under God," we are now a land of idols. One bows to money, another
to pleasure, yet another deifies self. All fences have been removed
and the "free range" welcomes all predators. Tolerance has
thrown morality out of office. Innocence is robbed at an ever-earlier
Even in the church, holiness has increasingly been given back to God
we just cant find our part in it. Much of the church is
sleepwalking along the edge of the abyss. If there is not a massive
awakening that rattles the pews, rebuilds family altars, and reestablishes
the Word of God as our absolute foundation, we will lose a generation
to neglect we will lose them to the cable gods we have taken
into our own households.
We cannot leave the young unprotected in this permissive age. We must
search the Scriptures and rediscover our convictions. We have lost them
somewhere along the way and right and wrong are no longer discernable.
We must match our rediscovered convictions with moral courage and step
up to Gods higher standard of living. We must leave our children
a legacy of holiness and faithfulness, lest the answer to the question
of whom they might worship becomes a generations greatest sorrow.