Young People Ask . . .
Why Live by Bible Standards?
YOU are in the cafeteria eating lunch with two girls at school. One of them is eyeing the new boy.
“You know, he really likes you,” the first girl says to you. “I can tell by the way he stares at you. His eyes are, like, all over you!”
“And guess what?” the second girl whispers as she leans toward you. “He’s available!”
“Too bad I’m not,” the first girl says. “I’d hook up with him in a heartbeat!”
Then the first girl says what you always hate to hear.
“How come you don’t have a boyfriend?”
You knew that was coming. The fact is, you’d like to have a boyfriend. But you’ve been told it’s best to wait until you’re ready for marriage before you start dating. If it weren’t for . . .
“Your religion, right?” the second girl says.
‘Was she reading my mind?’ you think to yourself.
“With you it’s always Bible, Bible, Bible,” the first girl taunts. “Why can’t you have a little fun sometimes?”
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation—being ridiculed because you try to live by Bible standards? How did you respond?
▪ You confidently defended your moral convictions.
▪ You felt awkward, but explained your beliefs the best you could.
▪ You decided your school friends were right—you were missing out on fun!
Have you ever wondered, ‘Is it really worth living by Bible standards?’ A youth named Deborah thought about that. * “My peers could do what they wanted,” she says. “It seemed as if they didn’t have to answer to anyone. Bible standards felt restrictive. My school friends’ uninhibited lifestyle appealed to me.”
Is It Wrong to Wonder?
The Bible writer Asaph went through a period in his life when he wondered whether it was worth living in a way that pleased God. “I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people,” he wrote. He even said: “Surely it is in vain that I have cleansed my heart and that I wash my hands in innocence itself.”—Psalm 73:3, 13.
Clearly, Jehovah God understands that at times people may question the value of living by his standards. After all, he had Asaph’s thoughts recorded in the Bible. In the end, Asaph decided that living by God’s laws was the best way of life. (Psalm 73:28) How did he reach that conclusion? Well, Asaph was wise. He made his decision, not because he had suffered any personal calamity, but because he had learned from the mistakes of others. (Psalm 73:16-19) Are you able to do the same?
A Reality Check
Unlike Asaph, King David learned the hard way that those who ignore God’s standards suffer harm. David committed adultery with the wife of one of his servants and then tried to cover his tracks. As a result, he hurt others, including God, and suffered severe anxiety. (2 Samuel 11:1–12:23) After David repented, Jehovah inspired him to express his feelings in song and had those words preserved in the Bible for our benefit. (Psalm 51:1-19; Romans 15:4) So it’s both wise and Scriptural to learn from the errors of others.
To help you imitate Asaph’s example and avoid David’s mistakes, consider the comments of some youths from various countries who for a while rejected Bible standards. Specifically, they became involved in premarital sex. Like David, they have repented of their errors and again have a clean standing with God. (Isaiah 1:18; 55:7) Consider what they have to say.
Awake!: What factors influenced your thinking and actions?
Deborah: “I went through school seeing everyone else having boyfriends and girlfriends, and they seemed to be happy. When I hung out with them and saw them kissing and embracing, I felt jealous and lonely. I often allowed myself to spend hours fantasizing about a certain boy I liked. This heightened my desire to be with him and to do whatever it took to fulfill that desire.”
Mike: “I read material and watched programs that glorified sex. Talking about sex with my friends heightened my curiosity. Then, when I was alone with a girl, I’d think that I could be physically intimate with her without having sex, that I could stop anytime.”
Andrew: “I habitually viewed pornography on the Internet. I started drinking a lot of alcohol. And I attended parties with youths who had little respect for the Bible’s moral standards.”
Tracy: “When I was 16, being with my boyfriend was all that mattered to me. I knew in my mind that premarital sex was wrong, but I didn’t hate it. I didn’t intend to start a sexual relationship before marriage, but my emotions overrode my thinking. For a while, my conscience was numb to any feelings of guilt.”
Awake!: Did your lifestyle make you happy?
Deborah: “At first, I felt a rush of freedom and was happy that I finally fit in with my peers. But those feelings didn’t last. I started to feel dirty, robbed of innocence, empty. I felt a deep sense of regret that I’d thrown away my virginity, something I could never get back. Since then, I have often asked myself, ‘Who did I think I was?’ And ‘Why—why did I ignore Jehovah’s loving standards?’”
Mike: “I started to feel like part of me had died. I tried to disregard the effect my actions were having on others, but I couldn’t. It pained me to realize that in seeking my own pleasure, I was hurting others. I had trouble sleeping. Eventually, the pleasure of immoral sex dimmed, and feelings of pain and shame dominated my thinking.”
Andrew: “It became easier and easier to act on wrong desires. But at the same time, I was consumed with feelings of guilt and was disappointed with myself.”
Tracy: “It didn’t take long for reality to hit me like a brick. Immorality ruined my youth. I thought that my boyfriend and I would have such fun. We didn’t. We ended up causing each other pain, misery, and heartache. I spent night after night sobbing in bed, wishing I’d done things Jehovah’s way.”
Awake!: What advice would you give to youths who wonder if the Bible’s moral standards are restrictive?
Deborah: “Your life will not be better if you abandon Bible standards. Think how Jehovah will feel if you follow his advice. And think long and hard about the consequences of ignoring his counsel. Remember, it’s not just about you and what you want. Your actions will affect others. And if you ignore God’s advice, you will damage yourself.”
Mike: “True, your peers’ lifestyle may seem attractive on the surface. But look below the surface before you act. Among the most valuable possessions Jehovah gives you are your dignity and innocence. To throw those gifts away because you can’t control yourself is to sell yourself cheap. Talk to your parents and other mature people about your problems. If you make a mistake, be quick to speak up and correct the situation. If you do things Jehovah’s way, you will gain a real sense of peace.”
Andrew: “When you’re inexperienced, you think your peers’ lifestyle is exciting. Their attitudes will rub off on you. So choose your friends wisely. Trust Jehovah, and you’ll save yourself a lot of regrets.”
Tracy: “Don’t think, ‘It won’t happen to me.’ My mom sat me down and told me straight that my course of action would end in heartache. I was so insulted! I thought I knew better. I didn’t. Live by Jehovah’s standards, and associate with others who do the same. You will be happier that way.”
Bible Standards—Straitjacket or Seat Belt?
If your peers taunt you for trying to live by Bible standards, ask yourself these questions: ‘Why do they reject the idea of living by the Bible’s moral code? Have they read the Bible themselves and investigated the benefits that come from obeying God’s laws? Have they seriously considered the consequences of ignoring those standards? Or, instead, do they simply follow along with what everyone else is doing?’
You likely know people who just “follow after the crowd.” (Exodus 23:2) Don’t you want to do better than that? How can you? By heeding the Bible’s advice to ‘prove to yourself the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ (Romans 12:2) Jehovah is “the happy God,” and he wants you to be happy too. (1 Timothy 1:11; Ecclesiastes 11:9) The standards recorded in the Bible are for your benefit. True, you could view them as a straitjacket that limits your freedom. In reality, though, the Bible’s moral code is more like a seat belt that helps protect a passenger from harm.
Certainly, you can trust the Bible. If you choose to live by its standards, you will not only make Jehovah happy but also benefit yourself.—Isaiah 48:17.
More articles from the “Young People Ask . . .” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
^ par. 17 Names in this article have been changed.
TO THINK ABOUT
▪ What might make it hard for you to live by Bible standards?
▪ Why do you need to prove to yourself that living by God’s standards is the best way of life?