“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” (Proverbs 1:10)
It’s not always easy o resist advertising that is enticing, even knowing that it may lead to sin. For some young men, looking at sexy ads for women’s clothing is dangerous because they are tempted to lust over the models. Young women may be tempted to covet the models’ bodies, beauty, or clothing, which is also sinful. Our world completely disregards the idea of sinfulness, and therefore, enticements are all around us. Magazines, online blogs, and ads promote healthy eating, but restaurants do not? The menus of most restaurants have many items loaded with fat and just a few that aren’t. It takes tremendous willpower to resist eating what takes good, looks good, and is prominent. Children are obsessed with sports because our culture encourages extreme physical fitness. Apparently, it’s now a trend for wealthy parents to build batting cages, tennis courts, and gyms to help their children become sports stars. Sexual, dietary, monetary, and physical gluttony are encouraged by our culture.
The context of Proverbs 1:10 is for Solomon’s son to resist those whose “feet run to evil… make haste to shed blood…men [who] lie in wait for their own blood; [who] set an ambush for their own lives…who is greedy for unjust gain…” (vs. 16, 18-19). Beside resisting societal pressure, our children must also resist aligning themselves with people who intentionally seek to do what is wrong. We might think of school bullies or children getting caught up in a trend of rebelliousness toward adults. There are serious consequences to childhood waywardness and naïveté. Friends may convince your child to go to a social website, and suddenly there is a danger of getting into an online relationship with a sexual offender. Internet sexual offenses comprise a range of crimes, “including sexual solicitations, (online interactions with minors for sexual purposes, including plans to meet offline)…and conspiracy crimes (e.g., collaborating with others to…sexually solicit minors, sexually traffic minors)…research by the Crimes against Children Research Center suggests that solicitation offenders target young adolescents, typically between ages 13 and 15.” *
What is the age at which a child should use social media, with his or her own account? Answering this as a theoretical question is easy—later is better. But children have widespread access to devices, so how are we to manage their use of social media? We must admit that we do not have control over what our children do when they are not at home or with us. So we must teach them “not to consent” to sinful or dangerous practices. Our children need to know the consequences of their behavior to make wise, biblical choices. They need to know how to confidently and verbally stand up to bullies and how to tell a friend that cheating is not only wrong but will lead to trouble. They need to know that there are people on the internet just looking for children to abuse, and how to stay safe. It’s the same as telling a child never to talk to or go somewhere with a stranger. We’re sinners by nature, so we are always vulnerable to outward enticements—children need to know how this works in the real world, and what to do about it. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12a)
What dangers do your children or grandchildren face today? How are you helping them to learn to resist peer pressure and temptations to follow a “friend” who doesn’t care about dangerous consequences?
* Office of Justice Programs (The United States Department of Justice), Sex Offender ManagementAssessment and Planning Initiative, Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, https://smart.gov/SOMAPI/sec1/ch4_internet.html