Archive for May 15th, 2012

There is a “shocking level of moral illiteracy” among American kids.  A few years ago, writes Chuck Colson, the Josephson Institute of Ethics released the findings of its survey, “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.”

“Ninety-two percent of kids surveyed admitted to lying to their parents; seventy-eight percent admitted lying to a teacher.  Seventy percent said that they had cheated on a test, and half of them said that they had done so more than once.  Twenty-five percent said that they would like to get a job.”

The findings, notes Colson, were summarized by the Atlanta Constitution: “America’s next generation [believes that] it’s perfectly acceptable to lie and cheat.”  This is true despite the fact that three quarters of all U.S. states mandate some form of “values” or character education that encourages honesty, trustworthiness, and respect for others.  (How Now Shall We Live: A Devotional, 2004)

Does character education work?  If so, why are so many young people increasingly willing to lie and cheat?  Could it be that that most character education fails to explain why people behave morally? School programs may tell students that honesty is the best policy or that respecting others is a good thing to do, but they don’t provide reason for these beliefs.

Why not?  Because they are forbidden from doing so.  Discussion of moral behavior that grows from a faith foundation is not allowed in the public school.  The government has determined that Christianity has no place in education.  Neither does teaching young people that each individual is ultimately responsible for personal behavior.  The Biblical faith community which can explain the origin of humanity, why bad things happen, that good and evil exist, and why resisting evil and doing good builds a healthy society is shut out of public discussion.   This leaves girls and boys with only self-gratification as a reason for moral behavior.  It leaves them vulnerable to their fickle emotions and the pressure of peers.

When Christian faith, which partners so beautifully with science, is kept out of discussions on sex education, students who are told to wait for sex until marriage justifiably ask, “Why?  If it feels right for me, why would I wait?  I’m a sexual being, after all, so having sex is perfectly acceptable.”

Helping young people become morally literate, writes Colson, “requires that we change how we teach them about right and wrong.  This doesn’t mean turning classrooms into Sunday schools.  But if we want to give our kids reasons for acting morally that actually work, we must get over our phobia about the role of faith in public life.”

The lives of our children and grandchildren hang in the balance.

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