Juvenile Delinquency and the Book of Proverbs

In much of what is being written today about juvenile delinquency, in both the religious and the secular press, there is recognition of the breakdown of the home as the most basic cause of the alarming increase of lawlessness, vandalism, and crime among teenagers. However, there is no general agreement on what constitutes the breakdown of the home. To be sure, few will deny that hasty marriages, easy divorce, marital discord, and parental indifference to the training of children contribute to the delinquency of so many young people and even children of our day. But we must look deeper to find the underlYing cause of all these evils.

The deepest root of all the violent outbreaks of youthful depravity in present-day society is the lack of thorough religious and moral training in the homes of the nation. Because the multitudes have departed from the teachings of the Word of God, there is no fear of God in their hearts and no sense of responsibility to a higher Being to whom all men will give an account some day of all they have said and done. Because children are not taught to fear God they have no respect for the authority of their parents, their teachers, and those who rule over them in church and state. Freedom is interpreted as license the right to do as one pleases—and a false notion of democracy, namely that all men are equal, that no one has the right to command others, that government has no deeper warrant than the will of the people—these are a fertile soil for all the ills that infest society today.

Such pernicious ideas pervert the outlook on life even of many professing Christians. Therefore it is not surprising that lawlessness sometimes breaks out even among children who are reared in supposedly Christian homes. It is true that other things have a part in these outbreaks of wildness even among some covenant youth, such as the degrading influence of the wrong kind of television and radio pro g ram s, the secret reading of obscene literature, the prominence which our daily papers give to stories of crime and vice, and frequent associations with corrupt youths. But the fundamental cause of youthful wickedness lies deeper. There is not even a measure of immunity against such evils unless we return to the inculcation of the fear of God, the proper exercise of authority in the home, and the diligent use of the family altar for the teaching of religious and moral principles.

Few things are as salutary and useful in the religious and moral training of our children as the frequent reading of the book of Proverbs. Where can we find a more practical presentation of the danger and folly of disobedience to God’s precepts! Nowhere is there a more gripping portrayal of the tragic con· sequences of youthful and ad nIt disregard of the moral life. Its basic principle that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom is the most powerful deterrent to lawlessness, dishonesty, intemperance, immorality, and contempt for the fellowman. It should be read over and over again in every Christian home. Its maxims should become familiar household phrases. Parents do well to discuss its sayings with their children even before they become teenagers. We do not know of a more powerful antidote against the perverted but popular notions that rule the hearts of worldly men and women in our day and age.

Fathers and mothers, why not make it a point to read the book of Proverbs at family worship at least once every year? It will be good for you as well as the children. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit thereof than fine gold.”