Can you guess what happened? The teen who didn't know about the secret instructions frequently looked rather confused as the others raised their hands when the teacher pointed to the second-longest line. Generally, that teen raised his or her hand with the other nine teenagers. This study was repeated many times and it was found, in about 75% of the cases, that those who were ignorant of the secret instructions allowed peer pressure to override their own better judgment. Can you believe it? Just because nine teenagers raised their hands, the other teen usually did too, even when he knew the answer was not correct! It's not difficult for me to imagine this happening. I know how strong peer pressure can be. Perhaps you can relate to being pressured by others to do something you know is improper or wrong. It happens everyday to teenagers throughout the world. In fact, it doesn't just happen to teens. Peer pressure is a problem for adults too, and, although adults might experience different types of pressures, such can still be difficult to deal with.
This week we're going to consider the subject of peer pressure from a Biblical perspective. First, let's define what we mean by the use of the term peer pressure. Peers are companions, and pressure, in this context, is encouragement or influence that is designed to persuade a person to act a certain way. So, peer pressure is basically when our companions encourage or influence us to act a certain way.
Typically, we think of peer pressure as something bad, but that is not always the case. Peer pressure is not good or bad, in and of itself. The same can be said about knives. Knives can be used for good (e.g., in the preparation of food). Of course, knives can also be used for evil (e.g., murder). Peer pressure is the same way really; it can be good or bad depending upon the circumstances.
I believe that there are only four types of situations involving peer pressure: (1) Our companions encourage us to do that which is right, and we do it. (2) Our companions encourage us to do that which is wrong, and we don't do it. (3) Our companions encourage us to do that which is wrong, and we do it. (4) Our companions encourage us to do that which is right, and we don't do it. Throughout the rest of this week, we will analyze one of these situations each day by considering a Biblical example.
Although the term peer pressure is not found anywhere in the Bible, you will see that the concept certainly is present. In fact, there are many things in our modern society that the Bible doesn't address specifically, but, if it is an important subject, the Bible certainly addresses it in principle. The Bible affirms for itself that it is what we need to be thoroughly equipped for life (II Tim. 3:16,17)! God has given us "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Pet. 1:3).
The Bible has much to say about peer pressure. May we be wise enough to study it with an open mind, seeking to learn from those things that have been written (Rom. 15:4).
Please join us tomorrow as we consider peer pressure from a positive perspective.