Should parents brace themselves and expect trouble when their children become teenagers? Well, first off it shocks me to hear parents say that they are trying to raise their children without outwardly influencing them, so that they can ‘decide for themselves’ which religion or what they want to believe when they are older! However, the Bible makes it plain that Christian parents are to ‘Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it’ Proverbs 22:6. To paraphrase in broad terms: ‘Catechise the child on which way you want them to go, and when he starts to sprout a beard or when she begins to menstruate, he or she will continue to obey what you have taught them.’ Thus, Christian parents ought not to expect that little Johnny or Jenny will automatically ‘go off the rails’ at puberty or beyond!
But what are teenagers faced with in the ‘real world’? Promiscuity and pregnancy, drug and alcohol-dependency, bawdy-songs? or, as they say, ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll!’? Teens ought not to be left to experiment and make up their own minds about these things. For obviously this simply is asking for trouble. Sex is not evil. Neither are drugs. The same way that not all rock ‘n’ roll consists of bawdy songs! Rather than an outright condemnation of ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’, the Bible simply sets the parameters. Parents are to train up their children in these areas, i.e., warn them of the dangers of the illicit use and abuse of sex and drugs (and drink), and how a lot of modern pop-music accompanies and encourages and even glorifies an ungodly life-style.
If the old adage is true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, then teenagers must be impressionable! If older people get ‘set in their ways’, then we must point our children in the way they should go during their formative years. Teenagers apparently love to leave the church in droves. How should we retain our youth? Introduce rock ‘n’ roll sounding bands? ‘The Scriptural formula for keeping teenagers in Church is to catechize them as infants.’ Richard Bacon.
Presbyterians have been making good use of the Westminster Shorter Catechism for well over three hundred years to train up their children in the way they should go. In a series of 107 questions and answers it simply teaches what the Bible has to say about each question raised. E.g., Westminster Shorter Catechism 9: ‘Quest. What is the work of creation? Ans. The work of creation is, God’s making all things out of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.’ I chose this example to illustrate something of the problem teenagers face today. Did God create everything out of nothing? Did He simply command things into being? Did He do it over the space of six days? And was everything ‘very good’ in the beginning? The untrained and unequipped, i.e., the un-catechised teenager, will have all their bones broken in pieces and will be eaten alive if he or she falls into the lion’s den of non-Christian education! But Daniel said, ‘Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things… You have given me wisdom and power.’ Daniel 2:20-23.Teenagers need to know how to negotiate life’s journey. Therefore, let us teach them how to glorify God and enjoy Him forever