Role models are problematic. Ask Disney. I would imagine they spend a lot of time, money and effort identifying talented young people who also fit the Disney clean-cut image. Fast forward a few years after discovery and many of these same young people are behaving in ways that have parents screaming at Disney for exposing young children to such terrible role models.
Generally, Christian parents point their kids to Christ as the ultimate role model. Many will point out Christians here and there who have a specific godly characteristic or quality in order to show their kids what those look like in our world. I would imagine though most young people still have one or more “famous” people they admire for a variety of reasons. Many parents may be looking for ways to steer their kids towards admiring people who put God first in their lives.
I was interested to learn of a new book offering stories of younger Christians who were “real stories of a courageous new generation standing for truth”. No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth by Tony Perkins tells the stories of eleven young people who in the author’s view made a strong stand for God.
Here’s where in my opinion things get a bit dicy. The concept is good – giving young people real life examples of people in their age range who were brave in the face of opposition. People who stood up for what is right when the pressures were great to sit quietly and say or do nothing or even go against God.
My issue personally is with some of his choices and in at least one instance the obvious politicalization of the issue. Many of the stories you have heard in the news over the last few years. The stories do add quite a bit of detail for anyone who just read the headlines. A couple of the stories were entirely new to me, but may be familiar to your kids.
The role models in the story do honestly believe they are taking a stand for God and His principles and commands. I just felt really uneasy as at least one employed what I would consider dishonesty, another disrespect and rebellion – you get the idea – to accomplish their stands. Now don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in Romans 13 about our relationship to those in authority. I also believe Acts 5:29 and various examples in the Bible (for example of Christians not recanting their faith) give Christians the responsibility to obey God’s laws first. I am also a strong proponent of trying to work within the system to bring about change.
While I applaud the people Perkins promotes for standing up for their beliefs, I felt uncomfortable. Some to me got dangerously close to crossing the line of sinning to protest or shine the light on non-Christians who were not doing godly things. One example is the student who was told not to pray in his graduation speech. In my opinion, you can pray silently or even like Daniel obviously to the side. When someone in authority over a program asks you not to pray and the program is not a worship service, you are not asked to pray to a false god and you are asked to give an accurate text of your speech – you should submit to that authority. If you don’t like the policy, then work to change it. In this case, the student presented a speech for approval without a prayer and then got up during his time – tore the speech up and prayed. To me that goes against the very principles of Romans 13 – not to mention I felt like if he knew he was going to do that, he was lying by omission not to inform the principal ahead of time of his plans.
I felt the chapter on abortion (although morally an important issue) inserted way too many jabs at particular political parties and specific politicians. Once again, this chapter includes someone telling lies to “expose” someone doing ungodly things. While I do not agree with the choices the clinics were making, they never claimed to be Christians or doing godly things. Surely, there are other less questionable ways to bring what they are doing to light and work within the system to protect the unborn.
Some people have chapters that are more straightforward and less controversial. While I think the author had a good idea, he would have been more successful if he spent more time laying out the case for standing up for your beliefs and less time on holding up specific people as shining examples. I also wish the author had stepped back a bit and realized the questionable tactics some of his “courageous” young people used. If he truly believes lying, rebellion, disrespect and other behaviors that are normally considered ungodly are justified in certain circumstances, then he should have taken a chapter or two to lay out his arguments with scriptural support.
Perkins does end each chapter by comparing the modern person to a biblical person. He explains the principles he believes the two have in common, but I didn’t feel he ever really addressed the issue of doing ungodly things in the process of standing up for God. It may be scriptural and justified in certain instances, but the way it is presented I could see a young person easily coming away with the idea the end justifies the means – no matter what those means may be.
While not a “bad” book, this would not be my first choice to give to young people. Instead I would look for books written by young people who really have tried to do extraordinary things with God like Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis.
This book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.