A conservative radio talk show out of Atlanta caught my ear one day as a discussion developed about the moral and ethical standards of youth today. Callers, young and old, gave their wisdom or the lack thereof. At one particular time, the subject matter had narrowed down to how young adults and teenagers evaluate what makes a person good or bad.
The next caller was Natalie, a 17-year-old girl who lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and achieves a B+ average in school. As her comments continued, it became clear that Natalie judged her own life by what others around her were doing and saying. Her moral and ethical standards did not come from the Bible or from standards taught to her by her parents. Her standards were based solely upon what was acceptable to her peers—those "wise" counselors who encourage individualism but all dress, act, and speak the same.
As Natalie vainly described her lifestyle, it was amazing to realize her total removal from reality and moral responsibility. She said she did not sleep around—she only has sex with her boyfriend (whoever that is that particular week). She does not drink alcohol—except at parties (which she attends several times a week). She defensively sighed, "I'm not bad, not like the others."
She claims she only smokes pot about two times during the school week and occasionally before school in the morning—but not as much as most kids. When she goes to school stoned, the teachers know it, but no one mentions it. According to Natalie, most kids in her high school smoke pot mixed with LSD "because they go together so well." She has tried it, but does not smoke it regularly (only a few times a month). Natalie admits, "Pot definitely affects my memory, definitely. There's a lot I can't remember. But everybody does it! I don't do it like the others. Not as often."
Natalie justified herself by saying, "I'm not bad, not like the others. I think I'm a pretty good person, I haven't killed anybody. I know it's wrong to do drugs, but it's the only thing I do wrong. I'm a pretty good person. I haven't killed anybody yet!"
The announcer was stunned, "Are you telling me, because you haven't killed anyone—yet—that makes you a good person?"
In a matter-of-fact way Natalie replied, "Well, yes!"
What a sad indictment of the society in which we live that children have descended to the level of moral bankruptcy. Natalie is a typical product of this society. She is the fruit of a nation that has rejected the way of the righteous God. As the children of Israel did throughout most of their history, Natalie does whatever seems right in her own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves
In the United States, we see the reorienting of culture around individuals. Culture used to be oriented around the family—around mom and dad and all of the siblings, cousins, and aunts and uncles. So the authorities to which people used to look have been diminished, and the traditions have changed.
Because culture has been reoriented around individuals rather than around family, community, or a respected central government, the individual becomes king. People stop looking to central authorities. They stop looking to the family and the cultural traditions, and instead, they set their own values. Goodness and evil become equated with what is pleasant and useful to the individual.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Judges 21:25:
1 Samuel 3:1
2 Timothy 3:1-5