Peer Pressure

A Common Practice

With children and teenagers, it is common to talk about peer pressure. This is usually brought up in connection with making wise choices, such as in a class on alcohol and illegal drugs. The idea is to be able to influence of those who are around us, acknowledging the truth that young people are susceptible to the opinions of their peers and the world at large. However, this principle does not apply solely to young people. The problem of peer pressure is as old as the world.

Old Examples

It was a form of peer pressure that caused Abraham to lie concerning the relationship with his wife Sarah. He did not want Pharaoh to know the truth – in essence he worried about what Pharaoh would think (Exo. 12:10ff).

It was a form of peer pressure that influenced the nation of Israel during different times of her history. God warned Israel to not follow after the “other” nations – allowing their influence to change Israel for the worse. This influence involved following after idols (Deu. 29, et al.), desiring for an earthly king (1 Sam. 10:19), creating standing armies and using chariots (which were forbidden by law), and many other personal failures.

It was a form of peer pressure which caused the apostles to rebuke Christ for some of His unpopular teachings. They feared what may come about in Judea if Christ continued to ignore the popular thought of their fellow countrymen. They especially feared the religious leaders, warning Jesus, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Mat. 15:12b, NASU).

It was a form of peer pressure that caused Peter to avoid Gentile Christians when his Jewish Christian friends were around. He was afraid that they would have a low opinion of him, although their opinions were erroneous. This foolishness caused Paul to have to rebuke Peter “in the presence of all” (Gal. 2:11ff).

The Reality of Pressure

The reality is that dealing with peer pressure describes being “above the influence,” but more than just alcohol or illegal drugs. The peer pressure we all face is to be influenced by the sinful teachings of the world. This influence is seen in the lives of all people, young or old. The best way for our young people to avoid peer pressure is to see adults who have this attitude: If something goes against God’s will, I am going to “just say no.” Then they will truly know what it means to be “above the influence.”

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