A case of sowing and reaping

Our farmers know that there is a relationship between sowing and reaping. Generally speaking, we reap more than we sow.

In recent times, our concern in this relatively conservative and religious country of ours has focused on a number of issues. How do we get and keep the HIV/AIDS epidemic from escalating out of control? Should we legislate and approve same sex relationships and go against our traditional Christian understanding and application of Bible-based teachings as the norm? What should we do about capital punishment in light of the escalating threat to the lives of all citizens by the indiscriminate use of firearms in the hands of undisciplined young men?

There is a number of questions to be asked and answered about our latest threat to life. Who is supplying the young men with the guns? How are the unemployed able to purchase these weapons? How many of these violators of the law and who also disrespect human life are users of mind-altering illegal substances when they engage in these unacceptable behaviours? Why is it that the chief perpetrators are our young men? The final question which we must ask as sowers and reapers is this: “what was it that we sowed twenty to forty years ago that is now producing before the public the horrible results we now see within the first fifty years of our independence?”

If we, as concerned citizens, attempt to deal only with the overt challenges made public from time to time by the actions of our young men and ignore the covert challenges facing our female population responsible for producing the children, nurturing, disciplining and preparing them for responsible citizenship, very often without the presence and support of the men and fathers, that would be to apply Band-Aid on a malady that needs more comprehensive and inclusive attention and treatment.

When we realize that over forty per cent of our households are managed by single parents, there must be tremendous pressures upon those single mothers to provide the very basics required to produce a product prepared to hold its own in a harsh and toxic society and environment. If that mother is fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, she has to leave home early in the morning and then return just before night fall. Grand mothers are no longer available as care givers as it once was.

If daycare services are not available, then a bigger child has to share the parenting role or the child is left on its own unsupervised or sometimes tied to the table foot until someone comes. If mother is not bringing in enough money to cover the basics of her family such as food, rent, utilities, medical needs etc., how does the teenage daughter get enough money to keep up with the hair styles, and the gadgets required for instant communication with other teenage friends?

Such challenges in the single parent family opens the door for covert practices by those female youth which may be different from the overt practices of the male teenager but just as destructive to the family and the society in the long term. Unfortunately, when adult males enter that door to take advantage of that family made so vulnerable because of the single mother’s inability to finance the needs of her family, that is abuse of a child made in the image and likeness of God.

There are other influences impacting our responses and behaviour. Since World War II, we have been impacted by many social and cultural choices and preferences introduced by Baby Boomers, Hippies, Yippies, Millennials, Generation X and Y. The following are some of the changes.  “In the 1960s-1970s, the Hippies, a liberated sub-culture of youth which rejected the established social customs, dressed differently, preferred communal living, opposed violence and war, but embraced a free spirit which included the use of drugs, free sexual expressions and the expressing of such liberated attitudes in their music.”

The quote is taken from the book, Understanding TODAY’S YOUTH CULTURE. “Sexually violent lyrics and video portrayals are cropping up with increased frequency. Typically, it is men who are the violent aggressors with women on the receiving end of their disgusting and degrading behaviour, including gang rape, sodomy, necrophilia, and sexual death fantasies.”

It has been noted that in the 1960s, the family exercised the greatest influence on teen values and behaviour. This was followed by the school, friends and peers and then the church. But things have changed significantly during the succeeding decades. Today, the media (MTV) leads the list, followed by friends and peers, the family and then the school. The Church is no longer in the top four influencers of youth. It is said that, “music interprets and defines life for the teenager.” Music has become, “one of the most effective teachers, preachers, and evangelists of our time.”

Any long-range corrective measures which we seek to put in place must be able to deal with those sources which subliminally communicate, stimulate and create those desires to pursue avenues which call for sublimating those thirsts and hunger for pleasures at the expense our human dignity and the violation of our moral and ethical boundaries. Changes in behaviours will not happen because we blame, discuss, debate, legislate or hang.

“By combining sexual promiscuity and perversion with violence, some of the music encourages behaviour that reduces the value of a person to less than nothing.” Parents and primary care givers must constantly monitor the audio/visual sources communicating messages unfiltered which are designed to corrupt, influence and control the minds of our children and youth. Adults must have the moral strength to be eclectic in what they allow their children to view and listen to during those formative years. We need more responsible parenting and adults as mentors. 

The bodies of our teens mature more quickly and earlier than their minds and their ability to make proper decisions and choices. By the time the brain reaches its potential in the twenties, many wrong decisions may already have been made with the encouragement of mature adults. We as adults must ask some serious questions. To what extent have we contributed to that which now scares us? Do we seriously expect our sons and daughters to change while we hide under the veneer of “adults” only and do the things which we forbid them to look at or listen to in their homes? 

Our fathers must become responsible parents and help our single mothers with proper parenting. As adults, we must stay away from any practices which our children may inherit and perpetuate to the next generation in the name of “culture or of a present economic benefit.” We therefore need to make some radical decisions and choices as adults if we are to help our children and youth to make better choices and healthier decisions. Do we have a red line drawn somewhere below which we will dare not go?

By the way, the application of capital punishment, from a Biblical perspective, was not initially imposed as a deterrent to murder, but as a punishment imposed on anyone who had the nerve to deliberately take the life of a human being, the special creation of God and the temple of the Holy Spirit. It was God’s way of saying that every human being is special and if you can’t give life, don’t take it. A human being is a special creation to be respected and not to be abused in any form or fashion.

What is sown will be reaped, so be careful what you sow now.

Source: (Everette Howell is a retired Seventh Day Adventist pastor)

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