Young people are dying at an alarmingly high rate these days, a phenomenon that’s being attributed to a myriad of issues, including drug overdoses, suicides, car accidents and homicides.
An analysis of the death rate for those 19 and under found a 10.7% jump of early death between 2019 and 2020, and an additional 8.3% increase between 2020 and 2021.
It was Neil Sedaka who sang that “Breaking up is hard to do” – but apparently growing up is even harder – and far more dangerous.
To peruse the popular press, you might be led to believe it’s easy access to guns, insufficient education funding, pandemic-related closures or restrictions, a reduction in afterschool programs, out-of-control social media, or a variety of economic factors.
Rarely will you see its root cause explained for what it is: a spiritual and family crisis that’s been like a dangerous storm brewing and strengthening in full sight. Experts have been warning about it for years, and it’s now manifesting in the worst way possible.
What we’re seeing in this tragic and precipitous rise in early deaths are the consequences of a culture unmoored from absolute truth, unconcerned with the decoupling of marriage and children, and seemingly unaware of or uninterested in dealing with the big issues that we face.
There is a direct and indisputable correlation between strong families and healthy children. That’s not to say bad things don’t still happen, but statistically speaking, when the family unit is strong, children are given the best chance to thrive and prosper.
The grand social experiment of the 1960s and beyond has been a gigantic bust. When you shed the so-called shackles of the Christian faith you unleash an “anything goes” atmosphere. Our faith doesn’t bind us, it liberates. “Free love” isn’t free – it enslaves.
Many point to the COVID shutdown as the cause for depression and suicide, to name only a few of the maladies impacting today’s youth. There’s no question those realities negatively effected children. But did shuttered schools really cause all the problems, or simply expose and magnify existing issues? The latter seems more likely.
If we want to reduce the early death rate of today’s youth, we must go beyond the headlines and acknowledge and address the underlying issues.
Too many of our children today are lonely, depressed, and hopeless because they’re growing up in a world and in families that have been sold a lie. That lie contends true happiness can be found outside of faith in God. It holds that family is whatever you want to make it – or not. It suggests marriage is a human construct, that children don’t need both a mother and father – and that kids are resilient and will easily bounce back when their parents divorce or even disappear from the scene.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
In the final scene of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, the zany inventor and scientist Doc Brown tells Marty and his girlfriend, “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”
This may not go down as the worst or sappiest advice ever offered in a movie, but it’s close.
Of course we have free will, but God remains supreme and sovereign. Our future isn’t whatever we make it – it’s a matter of our decisions and the Lord’s will and plan for our lives.
To be sure, life is complex, and there are no quick fixes to today’s cultural crisis of too many children dying too soon. But the very best thing you can do to protect your children is to get and stay married to their other parent in a God-honoring relationship – no DeLorean required.