In today’s confusing society it is no wonder our children, spouses, and other family members and friends end up in trouble or even prison. Call me ‘old school,’ but throughout a large portion of a young person’s developmental years they live in this confusing world where there are no absolutes. Rules apply sometimes, then other times, not so much. Talk about confusing! There is a reason God’s word tells us we are to let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no.”
Some 25 years ago my son had friends over to watch a football game. In that game, a player went out for a pass. The defender saw the receiver was open and intentionally knocked him to the ground before the pass arrived. A young man asked what I would do if I was the coach of the defender who struck the man. I was quick to say he’d be benched for a while since he knew it was penalty and purposefully did it anyway. The young man replied, “You see, my coach says if the receiver beats you, knock him down. It will prevent a touchdown. So what if you get penalized?”
If you are under age 50 you might well agree with the young man’s coach. Today, it may not even be a penalty if the official, in his own judgment, feels the pass thrown might possibly have been a little too high for the receiver to catch.
Over time intentional illegal hits have become a strategy. Yet, it is one more step away from definitive right and wrong. If no one was injured it is not considered significant.
As a school teacher some ten years ago I found that a young man cheated and scored a 100 percent on a test in my class. The principal suggested the consequence be minimal. When I asked what that meant, I was asked, “How much difference do you think his cheating made?” After being cautioned to choose my battles wisely, I arranged for a retest.
I don’t suggest we all become legalists, obsessing over rules and demanding that others do the same, but encouraging our children to follow rules is foundational. Acknowledging truth is an important step to developing a healthy worldview. A worldview that focuses on biblical truths can minimize likelihood of many bad things happening, and can prepare those young people to pass on those truths to those who come after them.
Ron Zifer is the program manager for Prison Fellowship’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in Texas. To learn more about IFI and how you can support the program, click here.