Character is relevant to the 1970's! For teen-agers and young adults — for the NOW generation! Find out how you can acquire, develop and exercise character situations!
THIS is the age of "instant coffee" "instant-on," "easy-off," and vending machine convenience. Realize right now, there is no easy road to character development! It cannot be handed to a person on a silver platter. Character is not given or purchased. It must be developed! And you must do it yourself. Nor can it be developed under "ideal" conditions! Reliable, steadfast and enduring character can only be acquired in the face of adversity and tests. There must be obstacles — something to push against and resist. Young people about to embark on a program of character development need to realize this. A champion miler cannot develop the necessary stamina and speed to shatter records by walking around the block once a week as conditioning! He must practice running the mile again and again, pushing himself to the limit. A great swimmer cannot hope to conquer the English Channel by flopping around in a backyard wading pool fifteen minutes daily! It takes months of dedicated training under adverse weather conditions, swimming in ice-cold, choppy water sometimes against strong winds. The weak-willed don't make it! So it is with character development. Only those young men and women who set their will to finish the course will ever achieve success in the area of character acquisition. Those who take only the path of least resistance will "flake out" and fall by the roadside. Character is not developed by those who persist in conducting their lives in a timid, fearful and reticent manner. It takes intestinal fortitude to make it! Only those willing to accept the challenge and exercise some GUMPTION will emerge successful. It will take real determination and "stick-to-it-iveness." Will YOU meet the challenge?
As in most courses of instruction, a textbook is required. In the case of character development, however, man has not shown himself qualified to originate such a text. Humanity has demonstrated for nearly 6,000 years its utter reluctance or inability to exercise character in the course of human events. It remains for the all-wise Creator of the human kind to bestow on man such a textbook. And He has done just that. It is known as the Bible. It is the Maker's Instruction Book. The Bible contains all the necessary guidelines to the development of character in the young person.
Why Man Has Wars
The young generation protests the ever-present wars of mankind. But WHY has mankind never been able to solve the problem of war? Simply because "...the WAY of peace they know not..." (Isa. 59:8). Man does not know the cause of peace. He does not realize that war is caused by character deficiencies on the part of those who engage in it! Notice the words of Christ's literal brother 'James. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have... ye fight and war..." (James 4:1-2). One nation covets and desires something another nation has. Disputes result over borders and the possession of territories. A certain nation wants other countries to follow its national religion or political ideology. Clashes result and blood is spilled. The clang of swords or the pounding of guns is a centuries old sound. But still the world is at war. And wars and rumors of wars will continue to be an integral part of the human chronicle until man learns the vital lesson that war is the result of human character deficiency. Today's young generation will be the "Establishment" of tomorrow. They, too, will continue to bathe the earth in the blood of combat unless they now learn to develop the necessary character to avert such wars. Of course no one involved in a war — pulling the trigger — would ever admit to a lack of character. They would claim all kinds of patriotic and altruistic motivations for engaging in the wholesale destruction of human life. Youth vehemently protest the violent international conflicts the older generation has involved the human race in. Such protestations are often extremely violent in nature! How can youth violently demonstrate against violence and expect anyone to regard such hypocritical demonstrations seriously? Youth must, on their own part, DO SOMETHING ABOUT VIOLENCE! If they practice it as youths demonstrating against violence, they will also practice it as adults and will wage "wars to end all wars." War is not the way to end A young person of character has learned to rule his own drives and passions. Notice what our textbook has to say about it. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit [is better) than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32). If individuals can learn to rule their drives and passions, then so can the nations. It takes character to "keep your cool" in a provocative situation. War.
Character in Sex
Today's world is suffering from an unprecedented venereal disease epidemic. In fact,' it has been called "pandemic." That means everywhere epidemic. The World Health Organization has stated that VD is "out of control" especially in Scandinavia, America and Britain. The National Observer March 22, 1971 stated, "... VD has jumped all the old social barriers to become the country's most acute public health problem. IT'S PARTICULARLY BAD AMONG TEEN-AGERS... YOUTH IS NOW THE PRIMARY VICTIM. One out of every four VD cases reported in 1970 involved someone under 20 years old." Pageant magazine, November 1970 pointed out that "... an American teen-ager gets VD every two minutes." VD bacteria are almost always spread by physical contact and principally by sexual intercourse. Of course, venereal diseases with all their accompanying symptoms are only one of the results of illegitimate sexual activity. Unwanted children are being born at an ever-increasing rate also. Adoption agencies and orphanages are full of children without the loving and vital care of two interested and attentive parents. Abortions are becoming an increasingly evident fact of American and European life. A substantial number of teen-agers have paid for a few moments of pleasure with their lives, due to abortions performed by unskilled or unqualified surgeons or even lay people. What causes venereal disease? What causes unwanted pregnancies? Obviously both are the result of sexual contact. Is sex wrong? Not at all! God created sex differences. And when He did, He pointed out that it was very good! (Gen. 1:27, 31.) In fact, God actually commanded the first man and woman to have sexual relations that would produce children (verse 28). Sex itself is not intrinsically wrong. It is the wrong use of sex that results in heartaches and unhappiness. It is the misuse of a God-ordained function that produces body-wasting venereal diseases. When God created the sexual anatomy He also gave definite instructions and guidelines on the right use of sex. Of course to live within such guidelines would take character. But that's what so many young people lack in this world. Character! Well, "What are the guidelines?" you say! Let's consult our textbook. Originally at the creation of the first male and female God said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his WIFE: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). In Genesis 3:6, 16 God also referred to the HUSBAND. The terms husband and wife indicate a MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP. It was within the relationship of marriage (a physical union, but a divine institution), that God instructed Adam and Eve to multiply. It is ONLY within the marriage relationship that sex activity is permissible! Of that union God says, "Marriage is HONORABLE IN ALL, AND THE BED [sex relations] undefiled..." (Heb. 13:4). Sex was intended not only to produce offspring, but to bind a marriage together, as a means of expressing love one for another. Sex outside of marriage defeats this purpose and cheapens what was originally intended to be an exclusive relationship between two people within a marriage union. Outside of marriage, sex (fornication) results in frustration, unhappiness, unwanted pregnancies, venereal disease, abortions and leaves psychological scars that will last a lifetime and hinder a marriage from being as successful as it could be. Is it worth it? Not really. It is better to exercise character and "flee fornication" as young Joseph did! (Gen. 39:7-15; I Cor. 6:18.) Learning to rule over youthful sex drives and waiting until marriage to indulge in sexual activity build character that will enable one to maintain right sexual standards within marriage later, and thus bind the marriage together and avoid Adultery, which tears marriages apart. "But that's square and Victorian," protest the young! "Everyone" does it, they assert. Let's check the text again. "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil..." (Ex. 23:2). Just because "everyone is doing it" does not mean YOU should. All that means is that the majority is often in ERROR. It means that perhaps millions instead of a few individuals are hurting themselves an& their chances for a happy and successful marriage. It means that many are deceived (Rev. 12:9). It takes character and courage to be different and not conform to the crowd like a blatting sheep. Do you have such mettle? If you want to develop and exercise character in the area of sex and morality then DO what the textbook says. "Flee fornication!" Wait until marriage. Avoid fornication. Then enjoy a long, happy, productive and successful marriage because you had the character to do so!
Drug Users Lack Character
Another area in which the "Pepsi generation" seems to lack character is in the use of drugs. It's "in" to "turn on" in many circles. But drug usage is an escape. But why should anyone need to escape? Why should anyone want to? Because they lack the character to face the issues of life head on — that's why! You'll never solve the problems of life by burying your head in the psychedelic sands of an LSD trip! When you "come down" the problems will still be there. Reality always asserts itself sooner or later. But it takes CHARACTER to face reality. It takes GUTS to face the issues of life head on and grapple with them. The drug scene is a mind-destroying "cop out." Drugs are for weaklings who can't stand on their own cognitive feet! Your brain is your most precious possession. A person of real character controls his mind and his thoughts personally and needs no artificial or drug-induced escapes. A young person of character should be "... bringing into captivity [ruling over, controlling] every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5). When the young Jesus Christ walked this earth as a human being, He ruled and controlled His thoughts. He would never need the artificial stimulus of drugs to expand His mind. He fed His mind constructive, up-building thoughts — the kind of thoughts He could build on. You should, too. Our textbook tells us how to expand your mind without drugs and develop character in the process : "... whatsoever things are true ,.. ... just... pure... lovely... of good report... virtue... praise... THINK ON THESE THINGS"! (Phil. 4:8) You can only get out of your mind what you first put into it! If you fill it with psychedelic phlegm and drug-driven delusions, that's all you'll ever get out of it.
To Smoke or Not to Smoke...
Smoking has been conclusively proven harmful to the body. Yet many persist in practicing a foul, dirty, disease- causing habit! Smoking befouls the breath, stains the teeth and fingers, costs a great deal of money and jeopardizes a person's health and well-being. It is a factor in producing short windedness, heart ailments, circulatory problems, lung cancer, emphysema and a host of other ailments. Yet surprisingly, "... by the time they are 18, half of the nation's teenagers are smoking" (International Herald Tribune, Sept. 13, 1967). The recent Surgeon General's report showed that "...the increase in new smokers is largest at the younger ages — 13, 14 and 15" (National Observer, Jan. 18, 1971). One report estimated that up to 5,000 new teen-agers begin smoking every day! Today's youthful cigarette smokers are in many cases tomorrow's cancer and heart patients! But why should anyone adopt such a habit? Usually to be rein" with the peer group. Because "everyone" does it. Because of psychological pressure extended by one's contemporaries. These are all factors. Sometimes it is a relaxing habit — an escape — a moment's distraction from the problems of life. Besides it looks good! Don't the cigarette advertisements depict outdoorsmen, masculine "with it" types, chic modern jet set girls with flying hair in sports cars smoking? There are all kinds of reasons why people smoke. It requires character to avoid the pressure to begin smoking in the first place and even greater willpower to cease smoking once you have started. You can develop character by resisting the influence of others who would entice you to take up smoking for whatever reason. You can do yourself a favor by quitting if you already have the tobacco "monkey" on your back.
Youthful Crime Soaring
An associated press writer, John Chadwick, wrote on March 1 of this year that "... HALF OF THE NATION'S SERIOUS CRIMES ARE BEING COMMITTED BY JUVENILES... YOUTH CRIME IS CLIMBING AT A RATE ALMOST FOUR TIMES FASTER THAN THE YOUTH POPULATION." Youthful shoplifting has soared 134 percent since 1960! One writer on the subject of juvenile crime called "Robbin' the fourth R." Juvenile crime is an intensely serious problem in the United States today. As a young person or a teen-ager you can have a part in changing statistics about youthful crime. The Textbook on character counsels us to be subject to the laws of the land we live in. We are to obey civil laws and the laws of the Creator. Of course it takes considerable character to drive at 30 miles per hour when you'd really like to "wind her up" to 50 or more and feel that surge of power from the "big eight!" "Civil Disobedience" tears down order and the structure of society. It creates chaos and confusion. God is not the source of confusion! (I Cor. 14:33.) God wants all changes to be made "decently and in order" (verse 40).
Ten Commandments Best Guide
In short, the most valuable guide you can use for your program of character development is the Ten Commandments of your Bible! There is nothing wrong with those laws. They are perfect laws which produce real liberty. "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a DOER of the work, this man shall be BLESSED IN HIS DEED" (James 1:25). It pays off. to keep God's laws! Not only does it produce immediate blessings but it also develops sterling CHARACTER in all who set their will to keep those principles without compromise. So there is a double dividend. You can secure the immeasurable benefits of a great rapport with your parents if you will commit yourself to. obeying the fifth commandment, "Honour your father and your mother." By exercising the character to avoid stealing you can help protect other's property and make society a more honest and pleasant environment for all concerned. It takes a person of real character to avoid telling "little white lies." To be utterly honest is a rare commodity in an increasingly dishonest and unreliable generation. True candor and trustworthiness is a rare and refreshing commodity in today's world. We could use much more of it! If you are not keeping the commandments of God seriously and have not really studied them, it is difficult to see why they would produce such bountiful benefits. But after you have been keeping them for a while you will come to grasp their real significance. You will begin to reap the dividends of keeping a great law originated by a Master Law-Giver who knew what He was doing! It is God's will that we prosper and be healthy (III John 2). The WAY to a happy, healthy and satisfying life is by holding up the standard of the Ten Commandments and all the laws and principles of living God has provided us with in His textbook on character development, "... a good understanding have all they that do his commandments... (Psalms 111:10). "... if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:17). If you would like to see these laws expounded and amplified in a greater way, be sure to read our FREE booklet, The Ten Commandments. You'll thank yourself for doing so!