Rebellion against authority, selfish demands, and violence dominate the headlines today, accompanied by various justifications rooted in ignorance of history and its value, in newly concocted microaggressions visible only to the easily offended, and identity politics so removed from reality that meaning ceases to exist. Sadly, the cacophony emanating from riots not recognized as riots, looters not recognized as looters, and thugs not recognized as thugs has obscured both real problems in society and the efforts made to address them. However, the politics of embracing chaos and calling it freedom has its origin not in the classrooms of higher education where Social Justice Studies and Gender Identity Issues have replaced History and English in the name of equality but in an institution far more important for the future. If you assembled the protestors associated with the anarchy in the streets and examined their motivations and dogma, you would find a common resentment toward the traditional home and its organization of responsibilities whenever sufficient numbers combine to air their grievances en masse against the generations that preceded them. Society falls when homes fail. And homes fail when children fail to embrace the responsibilities of life but instead embrace self-indulgence while expecting others to cover the consequences. Contrary to what census forms may indicate, childhood and adulthood describe attitudes toward life and responsibility more than age. God designed the home so that parents could guide children on the path to maturity. But when social ills within or without convince children of their superiority, order breaks down—first in the home and then in society. Nevertheless, the wisdom of Proverbs 23 still stands amidst the mayhem of our age.
- Maturity requires valuing morals over money (Prov. 23:1-8). The mature see money and wealth for what they are. Money often comes with strings attached, and the more money is involved, the more manipulation becomes embedded in the culture of business and government. More than that, the obsessive pursuit of wealth can deprive a person of the joys of life—all while chasing a materialistic dream. When money rules our hearts, the bottom line and business replace generosity and friendship.
- Maturity demands good judgment grounded in integrity (Prov. 23:9-12). It means judging that silence is better than speaking up on certain occasions. It includes treating both laws and people with respect. It recognizes all judgment is ultimately subject to divine judgment. And it takes applying yourself toward learning so that you have sufficient knowledge with which to make a judgment in the first place.
- Maturity demands discipline—self-discipline learned and applied because parental discipline was taught and applied (Prov. 23:13-14). Those who condemn disciplining and correcting children while excusing the violence they commit as adults do not understand society, children, or training. We should protect children from abuse of all kinds, but we should also protect children from those who pollute their minds and encourage rebellion rather than discipline.
- Maturity makes decisions based upon long range rewards rather than short-term ease (Prov. 23:15-18). Good parents aim toward raising responsible and faithful adults rather than toward appeasing the demands of the immature. Rather than focusing on what the worldly enjoy in the moment, the mature consider the joys that await in eternity.
- Maturity means taking responsibility for your decisions and your associations (Prov. 23:19-25). Rather than consuming wickedly and wastefully, maturity chooses producing what is wholesome and beneficial. Instead of always turning away from guidance, maturity longs for wise instruction. Mature decisions provide parents relief from worry and give confidence for the future.
- Maturity refuses to let lust rule the heart (Prov. 23:26-28). The mature have a healthy and moral view of sexuality in accordance with the wisdom of God’s guidance in marriage (Heb. 13:4) rather than the cheap and tawdry view long accepted and now promoted in modern society. Maturity provides all of the depth of interest in others that the world claims to value without its obvious hypocrisy.
- Maturity does not try to escape reality or responsibility by numbing the brain to relax but rather recognizes alcohol and other things like it as a worldly solution that never addresses the real problem. (Prov. 23:29-35). Maturity values choices and decisions too much to turn them over to a substance.
Maturity is in short supply today. Childishness abounds on social media, on the streets, and on Capitol Hill. Self-indulgence and self-justification have replaced love and truth as virtues in the postmodern world. Fantasy has replaced reality for many who would rather try to prop up the lie through intimidation and sophistry rather than accept the truth that contradicts their closely held views of the world, humanity, and life. The road of foolishness may seem broad and appealing, but it leads to nowhere. The only way to engage society, overcome disagreements productively, and build something meaningful for the future requires following the path to maturity. God has known that all along. When will the world learn?