by Shawn Hendricks
Jana never expected her college psychology class to go "X-rated."
When a college professor required the class to write reviews on four hours of pornographic films, Jana refused. Instead, she typed a four-page paper on why she shouldn't do the assignment, as a follower of Christ. The professor accepted it and gave the class the option of not watching the movies. Half the class walked out with Jana.
"This shows the power of one person with conviction standing up for what is right," author and speaker Sean McDowell writes in his latest book for teens and college students.
Jana's story is just one example of how young people can defend their beliefs and impact lives recounted in EthiX: Being Bold in a Whatever World, released by the B&H Publishing Group. In the 11-chapter book, McDowell tackles the pressures of premarital sex, homosexuality, alcohol, drugs, abortion, and a variety of other issues today's youth encounter.
Tapping biblical insight, statistics, and common sense advice, McDowell delivers a straightforward approach to making right decisions and standing up for what is right. Each chapter wraps up with discussion questions for small groups.
McDowell is the son of well-known Christian author and speaker Josh McDowell. Aside from writing and speaking at various youth events, the younger McDowell heads the Bible Department and teaches philosophy and literature at a Christian high school in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He and his wife Stephanie have a son, Scottie.
One of McDowell's previous projects involved compiling a book with his father titled, The Youth Ministry Handbook. McDowell applies lessons from his father and his youth ministry experience to answer the many questions young people deal with daily.
The media continually pound teens and college students with questions that challenge what they believe. "Why wait?" "What if you were born that way?" "Who has the right to judge you?" How they respond to these and other questions, McDowell writes, often determines who they are now and who they become.
One question, however, stands above them all, McDowell contends.
"The most important question we ask in life is not related to our career, or where we live, or even to where we go to college," he writes. "The most important question relates to the issue of how we live our lives -what, or whom do we live for?"
Many young Christians cave under the pressure to be "politically correct" and openly accept lifestyles that go against biblical principals. Others proclaim there are no moral absolutes, a statement McDowell dismisses as a joke. "Moral absolutes are unavoidable," he writes. "It is impossible to deny the existence of absolutes without appealing to an absolute."
A society without standards is a society in disarray, he adds. "If people could drive on whatever side of the road they desired or as fast as they wanted, society would be out of control."
"When we lose the ability to make moral judgments, we can no longer make a distinction between the actions of Mother Theresa and Hitler."
The argument that someone is born a certain way or has a right to be different doesn't excuse immoral behavior, McDowell writes in a chapter focused on homosexuality. "Does a natural propensity toward violence justify mugging someone?" he asks. "Does a natural desire for food justify stealing it?"
No matter how the world's standards change, God's Word remains the same, McDowell writes. "And God not only expects us to stand up for what is right, He empowers us with the strength to do so."