In 1978 it was “Don’t forget the map!” In 1996 it was “Don’t forget to check MapQuest!” In 2014 it’s “Siri, directions to Greenville, South Carolina please.”
Maps. More specifically, directions, are important. Having a trustworthy GPS is comforting. Being lost is scary.
In the same way, going through life without a moral compass – specifically, the Bible – that makes a clear distinction between right and wrong, is a scary and vulnerable position to be in – especially during young adulthood.
Yet that is how popular culture tells young adults to live their lives today. They say we don’t need a set list of morals to adhere to. We can decide on our own morals, and we shouldn’t judge others.
Christian Smith explored this recent young adult tendency toward moral relativism in his book Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood. Based on 230 in-depth interviews with young adults ages 18–23, Smith found that 60 percent of the individuals who were interviewed said that moral rights and wrongs should be decided on an individual basis.
While this opinion is currently applauded in America for providing a society of universal acceptance, it also provides a moral foundation made of quicksand.
As the interviewers continued to challenge the interviewees with deeper questions, some of the young adults became uncomfortable. Smith found that “the vast majority of emerging adults could not engage in a discussion about real moral dilemmas.”
One flustered young man said, “Oh my goodness, these questions right now, these questions are really difficult! What makes something right? I mean I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it, but different people feel different ways, so I couldn’t speak on behalf of anyone else as to what’s right and what’s wrong.”
As this young man’s words demonstrate, defining your moral compass when you don’t adhere to a belief system is like standing in the middle of the Gobi Desert without a GPS. Yes, there are many directions that you can take, but you don’t know which one is correct. You will have to take random roads instead.
Now at first you may think taking random side streets is the way to have your breakthrough moment and “find yourself.” But this will ultimately lead to a life of sorrow and discontentment.
God does not want that for His people. He wants to give you a life of abundance so He has provided you with an infallible GPS: the Bible. When you walk hand in hand with God, He will lead you through all of your happiest and darkest hours to help you live a life of contentment.
This popular culture opinion to “live and let live” may be tempting. It’s simpler not to have rules. But what would happen if you turned your back on God’s Word? Your moral compass would reset, and where would you go from there? How far is too far? That is a scary place to be. And even a short time spent away from God’s Word in rebellion can lead to a lifetime of regret.
The Bible says that the way into heaven is narrow. It’s not down side streets. And it’s certainly not down the main street of popular culture. You will certainly take wrong turns during your walk with God, but do not tarry on your side paths because they are dangerous. Seek God and let Him guide you back to the straight and narrow way that leads to contentment, joy and peace.