Tag Archives: teenagers

Raising Legalists

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22

When I work in a church where there has been a moral failure on the part of a leader, especially a pastor, I am always intrigued by the wide variety of responses from the church members.  They range from complete denial (pretending it never happened) to cries for the death penalty, and every imaginable consequence in between.  But the responses that break my heart the most usually come from some of the teenagers.

legalismOddly enough, it is often teenagers who are the most troubled by the moral failure and who are the most demanding that there be severe consequences.  I believe this is true because of the way they have been taught to think.  In many cases, they have been conditioned to believe that, for every good act there must be a visible reward and for every bad act there must be bad consequences.  And when either of those things does not happen, their world is turned inside out, creating chaos and confusion.  So, in an attempt to maintain some degree of “rightness” in their world, they are often the most vocal proponents of severe consequences in the life of the fallen leader.  I can’t blame them for that.  It is what their parents taught them.

You see, when we use behavior modification techniques to get our children to make right choices, this is what we get.  When our motives have more to do with …