Oxford Dictionary just released their brand new “word of the year” for 2016, and it should serve as a sobering slap in the face as to exactly how irrational and foolish we’ve become.
The word is post-truth.
The definition is basically this: Who cares what’s true. It’s only what “feels right” that matters (see Romans 1:18 for an expanded definition).
We just posted our brand new Youth Culture Window article, Who Needs Truth?, about this dangerous mindset and how today’s young people are adopting this convenient morality. I encourage you to read the article and pass it onto others.
The timing is funny (funny intriguing, not funny ha ha). Last week I posted an article about the unprecedented rise in STDs in America (up to 19 percent in one year). Experts are frantically looking at who to blame (landing on legislation and social media as their two primary culprits). It’s almost humorous to read these headlines side by side:
The world adopts post-truth as its mantra
Unprecedented rise in STDs
What are you gonna tell the young girl who just got her blood test back? “Don’t worry, chlamydia is only true if it’s true for you. Oh…and sorry, but you can’t have children.”
How nonsensical have we become?
We’re raising our kids to believe nothing is really true other than what “feels right at the moment.” There is no right or wrong, so just “let it go” and act on your feelings instead. We’re hitting ’em young with this philosophy:
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!
Let it go, let it go…
As they get older they begin to simmer in more explicit versions of this kind of thinking…messages about casual sex, indulging in alcohol and getting high…all behaviors that are presented without apparent consequences. These messages tell us, “I can’t stop,” or, “I don’t gotta think about nothing…” (I give countless examples at the bottom half of last week’s post.)
I can’t help but think of Zara Larsson’s hit (currently in the Billboard Hot 100), Ain’t My Fault:
It ain’t my fault you keep turning me on
It ain’t my fault you got, got me so gone
It ain’t my fault I’m not leaving alone…
So if I put your hands where my eyes can’t see
Then you’re the one who’s got a hold on me
No, I can’t be responsible, responsible
It ain’t my fault…
Here’s where we need Dr. Phil to sit Zara Larsson down and ask her, “How’s that working for you?”
You can argue post-truth all you want…until you are one of the one-in-four girls sexually victimized or raped after an episode of binge drinking their first semester in college…one of those nights where they took the advice to “let it go”…“drink it up”…or “lose control.”
So what can we do to conquer this mindset?
When we were doing research for our Youth Culture Window article last weekend, I contacted my friend Sean McDowell for his expertise. Sean has written several books underlining the need to teach our kids truth in a “post-truth” world. Sean chimed in on that article, encouraging parents and youth workers to teach today’s young people to recognize and value truth.
This is great advice. But what does this actually look like day to day?
Here are three ways to teach truth in a “post-truth” world:
1. Look for everyday opportunities to talk about truth. This doesn’t mean turning everything into a teaching moment (“The 12 pepperonis on this pizza are much like the 12 disciples…”), at the same time don’t steer clear of opportune moments to engage in meaningful dialogue. I’ve witnessed far too many parents who sweep tough questions under the rug, rationalizing, “My kids aren’t ready for this yet.” Those kids often turn to friends, celebrities and Google for their answers. Where would you like your kids to find answers to these questions? And don’t worry. You won’t have to bring up these subjects. The world brings up issues all the time. We just need to be ready to…
2. Use questions to convert monologue to dialogue. Don’t catch yourself ranting, lecturing or giving sermons. Ask questions and then resist the urge to talk. If you hear Zara Larsson singing “it ain’t my fault…” simply ask, “Is she right?” If you’re reading a passage of scripture with your kids, after a few verses ask, “How does that apply to you this week?” After all…
3. In a world of post-truth, it’s of vital importance to point them toward the source of unchanging truth. Get them into God’s word. And if you don’t know where to start, don’t be scared to use some ready-made devotions that guide young people through scripture. Here’s some guides parents and youth workers have found very helpful for teens and tweens:
- For Guys: Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. This book is packed with candid scriptural advice (and is slowly becoming one of the No. 1 ranked Christian books on Amazon for teen guys).
- For Girls: Teen to Teen: 365 Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls.
- For young people with questions about sex and intimacy: Sex Matters. A book every teenager should read about how God’s design for sex makes sense in a “live for the moment” world. The book includes helpful discussion questions at the end of each chapter so a caring adult can dialogue with them about what they read.
- For new believers: Scott Rubin’s The Essential Guide to My New Life With Jesus. A phenomenal discipleship guide providing foundational scriptural truths in an easy to read format.
- A real world understanding of the Christian faith: Christianity: It’s Like This. This uncomplicated look at what it means to be a Christ follower explains doctrinal topics such as the Holy Spirit, the Bible, heaven and hell, the church body, sin, and salvation in simple terminology
This article originally appeared here.