Over the last several years, I have become increasingly concerned about the explosion of teenage suicides. How do we explain this?
According to Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, argued that everyone gets their identity, their sense of being distinct and valuable, from somewhere or something, and that human beings were made not only to believe in God, but to love Him solely and supremely, to centre their lives on Him, and to build their very identities on Him. To do otherwise is to sin. And what is the result?
According to The Reason for God, if we centre our lives:
- on our spouse or significant other, we'll become emotionally dependent or controlling, overwhelmed by the other person's problems.
- on our family and children, our children will become miniature versions of ourselves, having no lives of their own, and resenting us for it; and we may end up abusing them for this.
- on our work or career, we will become driven workaholics, shallow and boring; and if our careers go badly, we may be left deeply depressed.
- on money or possessions, we will worry excessively about these, and may do unethical things to maintain our lifestyle, ruining our lives.
- on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, we will become addicted to any and all escape strategies to avoid the harshness of life.
- on relationships or approval, we will be constantly hurt by criticism and thus lose friends; and we will fear confronting others and thereby become a useless friend ourselves.
- on noble causes, our world will become black and white to us; we will demonize our opponents, who will end up controlling our lives; and without them, we will have no purpose in life.
- on morality and religious practices, if we live up to our moral standards, we will become proud and self-righteous; and if we do not, we will be devastated by guilt.
It was for good and sufficient reason that God said:
Exodus 20:3 – You shall have no other gods before Me. (NKJV)
Because our culture is so secular and antagonistic to the Christian faith, too many of our young people have centred their lives on something other than God. When they discover the emptiness of their lives, they have no true faith to fall back on. Consequently, they have succumbed to utter despair, and lose their lives in abject surrender to that saddest of fates — self-inflicted death.
Romans 8:5-6 – For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (NKJV)
Even when we bring up our children in faithful churches, they still have the freedom to choose, and we need not bear a heavy burden of guilt if the worst happens to them. Only the Spirit of God can open their minds and souls, but it is up to us to expose them to the faith which saves.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7a – And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. (NKJV)
Prayer: Dear Father, remind us constantly as parents and grandparents never to shirk our duty of bringing up our children to know and love You. May we always consider this to be the joyful duty of good servants, and a way to demonstrate our love to our children and to You. In Your Son's precious name, we pray. Amen.