by Tony Davenport, Faithwire
A global study of teenagers has found that ‘destructive thoughts’ are far more common in those without any faith “who express that they don’t believe in anything spiritual, are uncertain about their beliefs, or believe they sin, but don’t believe in Jesus.”
It was commissioned by the Center For Bible Engagement (CBE) and Our Daily Bread Ministries.
CBE researcher Dr Arnie Cole told Faithwire he was shocked by the spiritual and mental struggles and destructive behaviour of 4,700 young people aged 14-17 surveyed in nine countries surveyed including Australia.
He said the results offer some ominous signs that parents and faith leaders must address.
Dr. Cole said CBE which is part of Christian ministry Back to the Bible has long explored how people become “spiritually formed,” with the focus turning to young people in recent years.
“We’ve been very concerned about young people walking away and how they’re targeted by algorithms and social media leading them down “rabbit holes” to destruction,” he explained.
He said the current mental health crisis — including more than 50% of middle and high school girls who report feeling hopeless and depressed — and the general move away from faith has set off alarm bells, and the data provides a real reason to worry.
Dr. Cole said the most shocking findings in the research revolved around “how strong the destructive behaviour becomes when you start combining variables.”
The survey found these destructive behaviours among teens were more common in the US and UK, postulating it might have something to do with the “transgender and sexual confusion” going on in the West.
“The further away they get from Jesus, the more lost they are. There’s no basis, then, for anything; nothing really makes sense. They become much more confused,” the researcher observed.
Faithwire reports: “A lack of spiritual beliefs, uncertainty about spiritual beliefs, [and] believing in God but without a relationship with Jesus,” were among the risk factors observed in the research for increased destructive thoughts.
Dr. Cole believes a key solution is to build up a biblical worldview in young people to prepare them to deal with this messaging.