TEEN AGE REBELLION
T PIERCE BROWN
After my seventy-fifth birthday I seem to forget some things, but when I heard a preacher mention “the normal teen-age rebellion years” I tried to remember my teens and had no recollection of being rebellious. My mother wore out a peach tree limb on me once, but it was not because I was rebellious. It was because I did not come when she called me, and I had not come because I did not understand that she wanted me to come. So I decided to examine the reasons that I think explain why I was not rebellious.
First, I think it was because I felt an unconditional love. Even when my mother was administering what she thought was the appropriate discipline on that one occasion, I was aware that she loved me and was trying to teach me the value and necessity of obedience. My father slapped me once, but it was not because I was rebellious. He was kneeling down in front of our fireplace blowing on some coals, trying to coax them to start a fire. I had a nail in my hand, and the temptation to use it inappropriately as he knelt there in front of me was too great for my little mind to resist, so, without even knowing that it was I who had stabbed him, he just reached backward and slapped me across the room. Since that was the only time I ever remember his laying a hand on me except in a loving gesture, I knew that I had his love regardless of my immature and inappropriate actions.
Since I had been reading the New Testament since I was seven years old, I was impressed by the fact that the love of God was unconditional. Rom 5:8 impressed me, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I was not then conscious of being a sinner, but the fact that Christ would die for someone who was mean enough to hang him on a cross amazed and thrilled me. So, both from my parents and from God I felt unconditional love. It is hard to conceive of a person who has that feeling wanting to rebel against those who offer it.
In the second place, I learned very early, both from my parents and from the Bible the value of obedience. Not only did my mother and the peach tree limb make an impression on me, such passages as Heb 5:8, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” impressed me. I remembered that when he was a little boy, Luke2:51says, “And he went down with them, and came toNazareth, and was subject unto them.” When I was nine years old, I began to read the Old Testament through and other passages came to my attention that impressed upon me the value and necessity of obedience. There was a vivid picture in my mind of the scene where Samuel said to Saul, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”(1 Sam15:22). Then I read from one whose wisdom impressed me the following statement in Eccl 12:1, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
So, the combination of a feeling of unconditional love with an awareness of the value of obedience to authority were probably two of the biggest factors that prevented my having a rebellious attitude. Intermingled with that, and probably undergirding it was the fact, already mentioned, that by God’s grace I had begun to read the Bible at an early age. Since the Sears-Roebuck catalogue and the Bible were about the only two books that were convenient most of the time, and I got tired of looking at the pretty things in the catalogue that we were too poor to buy, I suppose I started reading the Bible just because I wanted to read something. A little later in life I started to memorize certain passages because my brother James, who baptized me, gave me a present of the New Testament if I would memorize several selected passages. But exactly why I started reading the New Testament I am not sure. It was probably a combination of having an inquisitive mind, an awareness that my parents thought there was something important in it that everyone should know, a general idea that God had given it with some interesting and worthwhile information in it. Regardless of the reasons, it is my considered judgment that if a child can be taught very early in life to read and absorb the messages of the Bible, it will lessen the chances of his becoming rebellious by many percentage points. When Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 3:15, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” he was emphasizing a point that is very important. Not only are the scriptures able to make a person wise unto salvation, when they are known from the youthful years up, they provide motivations to overcome rebelliousness, increase reverence, create loving obedient attitudes, and furnish a person unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16).
To young parents, especially, and to all who teach, I would urge upon you the value of looking at and considering carefully at least these three reasons that I think are significant in keeping the teen-age years from being years of rebellion. You can, no doubt think of others, but persistently practice these and good will follow.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.