Peer Pressure

By Marc Engelhardt

I know that eventually I’ll be labeled the “sex guy” if I keep making these posts, but there is too much good stuff that is discussed in our Christ in Common classes to not share the recaps. So, here is another recap that illustrates how we use Foundation, Worldview, and Practice for discipleship in our context. These recaps build off the previous ones, so check out my previous posts if you are lost.

Peer pressure is the idea that a group or individual can convince you to do something that they are doing and want you to do with them. We get peer pressure about sexual things from all over our culture. It can be difficult to navigate what to do and think when our friends or significant others (especially if they are Christians!) are pressuring us to do things. Scripture speaks to this in a few spots, and we lightly touched on it in the last session (casual sex). Today we will look at the little-referenced book of Jude for our Foundation.

The author of Jude begins by stating how he wanted to write about more positive things to the church but instead needed to write a warning to them. He explains that the warning is due to “certain people who have crept in unnoticed” (verse 4) that are steering the church away from Christ because they have their own agenda. These false teachers appear to be Christian peers, and so they have influence and sway in the church, and that makes them dangerous. They want to follow their sensual desires, and they are telling the other Christians to do so as well.

He goes on to write in verses 5-6 that to deny Jesus is dangerous because while Jesus is gracious and merciful to those who turn to him, those who deny him suffer condemnation. He then writes in verses 8-11 some important characteristics of the false teachers, although using some rather obscure examples. Rather than getting into the detail of each example, here are the takeaways:

● Verses 8-9 they reject authority and think more of themselves and their insights into how the world works than they should.
● Verse 10 they think they know how God made the world to work, but they are really just falling into sin by acting and thinking like animals.
● Verse 11 they have rejected God’s revelation, so they can do what they want, and it will end badly for them.
● Verse 12-13 they are hidden among the church, very slyly convincing the church to follow them in their sin, all the while promising the church that what they are doing is best for them. They are lost guides that will lead all who follow into destruction.

After he calls them out, he then states in verses 14-18 that their existence is no surprise. The Spirit revealed their coming along ahead of time. The way to combat this is found in verses 19-22, and it applies to us as well. He says that when someone presents an idea that seems contrary to how Jesus has revealed to the Church how the world works, then that person is not speaking in the Spirit and they should be called out or ignored. To avoid falling for their traps, we need to stay in the Word and pray, while continually submitting to the worldview Jesus has given us and relying on his mercy. If we see others who are being swayed by peers to fall into sin, we need to gently correct them and show them mercy for their mistakes. And when God’s ways versus sin are black and white, we need to call that out clearly so everyone knows. By doing so we can help people who might not know the truth avoid suffering the consequences for their sin.

This section of Scripture speaks rather well to the idea of peer pressure and sex. It alludes to that being the main issue with the false teachers in verse 4, and when we keep that idea in mind as we read the book, it fits well. So, this book gives us some good worldviews on the topic. To begin, people who push sexual things on you either want to consume you or justify their own actions. When someone pushes anything sexual upon you, it isn’t because that person or group wants what’s best for you. They are doing so to get what they want from you. Such pressure can even come from Christians, and the danger here is that claiming to know what God wants for us apart from what he has revealed is blasphemous. In other words, when someone says they know better than what God has told us, they are saying they are at least equal to God in their knowledge of how the world works.

Taking the last session in combination with this session, we can see that casual sex cannot deliver what it promises. It will change the reality of everyone involved. At the same time, standing up for living out your new life in Jesus can have a good effect on others because the choices that we make are not just about us personally.

Here are some practical ideas that flow from the worldviews: Stand up for monogamy in thought and action among married friends to steer them away from sin. Redirect conversations, and don’t sit idly by as people fall into sexual sin. Be prepared to be called something like a “fun killer” if you do this, but know that if you are, it is because you successfully thwarted a peer-pressure-er.

Be aware of motivations, and don’t let yourself be consumed. Also, don’t consume others in some sort of “mutual use.” A double negative doesn’t create a positive in this case.

Question those who peer pressure you, and stand up for yourself for the benefit of others. You never know who is wavering and just needs to hear a contradictory opinion to the peer pressure. Unfortunately, many of us have the opportunity to put this into practice far too often. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just walk away. Your action may give someone else the motivation to follow suit.

Be different, and encourage people to be different if being different is in line with how God created the world to work.