Behavioral psychologists and sociologists have postulated a number of causes. There is one simple cause not included in their lists. In summary it is: what is accepted is not articulated.
Parents give indications they believe their children will agree with and endorse their beliefs regarding such matters as the economy, government, moral and spiritual values. They fail to logically explain the value in virtues. Without an understanding of how and why a given virtue is preferable the virtue can seem to a youth to be restrictive and austere. Hence, rejected.
“It goes without saying...” is a true cliche. That is the problem; if it isn’t said, it goes away.
While the parents are operating on the assumption their offspring will clone their values by osmosis, their children are in daily contact with forces espousing counter cultural values.
Exhibit “A” is the entertainment media. Values formerly endorsed by most persons are mocked and contrary concepts popularized and glamorized. Seeing and hearing their heroes and heroines behave and speak in certain ways while parents are feasting on their own assumptions, the standards of mom and pop don’t have a chance. It is a conflict between sinister and silent forces.
Though there are many champions of values and virtues in public education, the bureaucratic system has been infused with the new morality. The system has expunged much of our history and eroded the long standing value system. They occupy more of the student’s time than do the parents and often demand more informational accountability than parents.
As an aside, thanks to those educators who seek to preserve the best of our past and espouse an admirable code of values. They are a formidable force for good in our society.
Readily it is conceded that many of our nation’s founders were not Christians. However, almost all of them were well schooled in Judeo-Christian values in that most education was provided by Christians. They based their concepts of government on Judeo-Christian philosophy.
The many Christian symbols in our nation’s capital attest to this, including an image of Moses holding The Ten Commandments positioned above the entrance to the Supreme Court building.
Regardless of what a person thinks about Jesus, it must be conceded He was and is one of the world’s best known figures. Many lesser known personalities are given time in the classroom, but not Jesus. If a child is reared in a secular home and attends a public school, that child likely knows nothing about Jesus and the tenants He taught.
I saw this at a rehearsal for a high school graduation of one of our prominent public schools. A large painting of Jesus on the Cross was on display where the ceremony was to be held. One of the last students to leave was waiting to be picked up. He stood transfixed before the lifelike painting and asked a staff member why Wolf Man was on the cross. He had absolutely no knowledge of who Jesus was. None.
In general, what was accepted by a previous generation has not been articulated by the present one.
With the erosion of traditional philosophy, society changes. Ours has become less disciplined, more permissive, indulgent, and accommodating of the mantra of secular society: “It is all about me.”
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.