ABC Extra – The Power of Peer Pressure

May 24, 2010 at 4:45 am 2 comments

This weekend in worship and ABC, we discussed the family fiasco of addiction.  The statistics pertaining to various addictions are startling:

  • 23% of adults consume more than five alcoholic beverages each day.
  • Each year, nearly 35 million people try to quit smoking.  Less than 7% are successful.
  • 25 million Americans visit cyber-sex sites between one and ten hours per week. Another 4.7 million spend in excess of 11 hours per week on these sites.

Clearly, we are a culture trapped by our addictive behaviors.

Sadly, these addictive behaviors often start when a person is young.  Teenagers are drawn into habits of smoking, drinking, drug use, and sexual immorality, usually because their friends pressure them to engage in such activities.  Consider these statistics:

  • The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base reports that 30% of teens are offered drugs in middle and high school.
  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 74% of high school students have tried alcohol at the encouragement of their friends.
  • The Kaiser Foundation reports that 50% of teenagers feel pressured to engage in sexually promiscuous relationships.

Peer pressure is clearly alive and well among our youth.  Indeed, it is thriving.  The problem is, peer pressure coerces many of our kids straight into harmful addictions.

One of the myths about peer pressure is that it is a relatively new phenomenon.  In another survey, teens were asked whether or not peer pressure affected people 100 years ago.  46% of the respondents said that peer pressure affected teens “significantly less” than it does today while another 16% said that peer pressure didn’t affect teens at all a century ago.

In reality, peer pressure is nothing new.  In our text from this weekend, we encounter an instance of peer pressure when the Israelites “gather around Aaron and say, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us” (Exodus 32:1).  Notably, the word for “around” – when the Israelites gather “around” Aaron – is al.  Al is a notoriously ambiguous preposition and can be translated as everything from “upon” to “beside” to “beyond” to “towards” to “against.”  In other words, it is a catchall preposition.  Many scholars believe that, in Exodus 32:1, al is best translated as “against.”  That is, the Israelites gather against Aaron to put some pressure on him to cast a false idol.  In a phrase, the Israelites place Aaron under the weight of “peer pressure.”

Tragically, Aaron caves to the Israelites’ al. He builds their false idol.  And, just as in a case of addiction, the Israelites become enslaved to this idol as they worship it even as a drug addict is enslaved to heroin or a food addict is enslaved to sweets.  And it all begins with the Israelites’ peer pressure on Aaron.

How do you respond to peer pressure that would lead you down a dead end road to sin?  Do you cave in as Aaron did, or do you take a stand even when people are against you?  Another famed biblical character, King David, knew well the heartache of having people against him.  He cries out to God, “O LORD, how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me” (Psalm 3:1).  But unlike Aaron, David does not cave to peer pressure.  For David knows, “You, O LORD, are a shield around me” (Psalm 3:3).  David remains steadfast, even in the face of the menacing al of his foes.  My prayer for you this week is that when the world would come against you with its addictions, you would stand steadfast in Christ’s righteousness.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Kevin Jennings  |  May 24, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Hi, Zach!

    Peer pressure is nothing new, and really exerts itself early on. As the father of three, my daughter began experiencing peer pressure in First Grade. It’s old Bandwagon approach, a desire to be part of the group.

    I wonder how much pressure peers could exert if parents fulfilled their duties.

    God bless!

  • 2. Vickie Dear  |  May 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I grew up in the “Age of Aquarius” and drugs were new and exciting and readily available. God showed his love and protected me from the pressure of those around me. I was safe in His arms. Then, I married into a life of alcohol and drug abuse which passed down in generations to my first born. It is truly a family disease and can destroy lives if you don’t get help. I am grateful to our loving God for never letting go and providing safe harbor to me and my children. My adult son is now clean and sober after a 25 year struggle and now following God’s plan for him. He is an active Christ Follower and is most grateful for the journey he was on to get to know Him. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit intervened, taught me to let go and trust God so that He could do His work.
    I believe it’s more than just peer pressure – it’s a world that is full of TV, magazines, and pop stars that entice young and old into a life of addiction of all kinds. We do have a Loving Father that will protect us if we Believe and Trust. There are so many programs to help folks with addictions right here in Bexar County.
    Love & Lord Bless!


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