This is an amazing age. Prophets in previous dispensations, privileged to peer into it, described it variously as both magnificent, and unprecedented in its wickedness. The Savior described it by comparing it to another age of wickedness. "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37).
It follows, then, that certain spirits were saved for this generation because of their strength and abilities. It follows, too, that the temptations they face will seem at times both cunning and enticing.
In this battle, families are uniquely able to ford the difficult waters. The rising generation bears a heavy responsibility to perform its mission in the furthering of the kingdom of the Lord. But parents have just as big a responsibility. Together, they can achieve success.
A couple of recent surveys bring this into focus. One, conducted by Rand Corp., in Pittsburgh and published in the current issue of Pediatrics, concluded that teenagers who listen to a lot of raunchy music with suggestive lyrics end up behaving immorally. They tend to engage in the types of things the music glorifies, which are contrary to our Heavenly Father's commandments.
This sounds self-evident, but it is becoming a major concern.
Nowadays, listening to music means much more than just putting a record on the turntable, where it may be within earshot of mother and father. Young people today often fill their MP3 players with music they listen to entirely in private. Often, their parents have little idea how to work the players, let alone how to check their children's playlists.
But another recent study, this one from Brigham Young University, put the role of parents into proper perspective. It found that teenagers tend to have the same moral values as their parents. Teens often are portrayed as moody, rebellious and difficult to get along with, but in reality they tend to be most upset when their parents complain about non-moral transgressions the teens consider minor. In a family where moral behavior is taught, teens understand and expect their parents to demand they do what is right, and they generally have no quarrel with that.
The study suggests parents should respond appropriately depending on the situation. Beyond that, however, the underlying lesson is that the family is a powerful place in which to teach what is right and wrong.
That power comes into perspective when placed against the adversary's publicity and marketing machine. Some in the music industry responded to the study on lyrics and behavior by scoffing at the results. Certain artists, they said, use coarse language and sing about immoral and degrading behavior as a form of cultural expression. The lyrics reflect reality, they said.
Parents generally have the experience and wisdom to see through such arguments. Left on their own, however, teenagers easily could be seduced by a culture that tries to wrap their sense of self into life-styles that glorify physical pleasure and reject all that is spiritual.
It's easy to see why Satan would work so hard to keep young people from feeling our Heavenly Father's love for them or from feeling the joy that comes through living right-eously. It's easy, too, to see why he works so hard to destroy the family unit, which has the power to fortify young people against temptation.
In the mundane routines of everyday life, it can be easy to lose sight of the magnificent age in which we live, and of the seriousness of the challenges we face. We can't afford to be lulled away into a situation where we are "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage . . ." and, like the people of Noah's day, be among those who "knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:38-39).