Learned Behavior

By Ron Graham

“For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it,” Proverbs 2:21, 22.

Remember when you were growing up and you misbehaved? One or both of your parents would tell you to behave yourself. As you grew bodily and intellectually, your behavior actually took on characteristics belonging to your parents. We learn from our parents and we pass along our learning to our children. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding,” Proverbs 4:7.

If children grow up in a home that is full of iniquity they will pick up such behavioral traits themselves. Parents have so much influence on their children’s behavior that if the parents were to actually live the Christian lifestyle, their children would most appropriately emulate that lifestyle; the opposite is also true. If our lifestyle is focused on debauchery, our children’s behavior will ultimately reflect the same.

A Christian child growing up in today’s society needs to have continual correction in order for them to hold fast to Christian values. Our minds, and our children’s minds are bombarded daily by the words and actions of people who live contrary to God’s will, and this can be overwhelming. Bringing up a child in a morally upstanding home environment will always necessitate some form of mind modifications because of outside evil and immoral influences. Mind modification sounds awful, but it is practiced throughout our society. TV and movies promote the greatest of these manipulating practices, followed closely by our government run public school system.  

Everything goes back to a learned behavior. Beginning with a young mind, for example, erroneous influences can create barriers to truth. Children learn a form of truth from their parents, and accuracy of truth hinges on those parents’ presuppositions. Children parrot their parent’s views. For example, my daughter has a friend who hates Chevrolets. Why? Because her dad hates Chevrolets! This young girl has never owned a Chevrolet so has no experience with car ownership of any kind, but she parrots her father’s views. 

I can give many examples of leaned behavior such as drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes, immorality in the home (such as adultery or watching TV shows which promote an immoral behavior), and of course physical and mental child abuse. All this becomes embedded in a child’s mind to a point that they see nothing wrong in such behavior and it becomes a part of their lifestyle when they become adults. Of course then it becomes a domino effect passing this behavior on to each generation.

If a child is brought up in the admonition of the Lord through a regime of daily Bible reading, and with a dad and mom who are devoted to the Lord Jesus as well as to each other, in all likelihood that child will carry that pattern into their adult life, and pass it on to their children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. If on the other hand there are deviations from such a lifestyle, these deviations will soon be picked up by our children. Consequently over generations this systematic departure from the truth becomes expanded upon, finally resulting in a learned behavior that is at odds with the truth of God’s word. “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools,” Proverbs 3:35.

When a society deviates from God’s word, the result is a people steeped in immorality. It’s a learned behavior that spreads like a cancer, affecting everyone in its path. Destructive lifestyles are caustic to a moral society, and when immorality is not condemned the result will be the eventual demise of that once moral society. If parents won’t stand for decency in a society, their children will not learn to be morally decent and will pass their lack of morality on to the next generation of children. Ultimately this will lead to the complete breakdown of the moral structure of any civilization. “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble,” Proverbs 4:19.

The following poll was conducted by the Barna Research Group and gleaned from a WorldNetDaily.com article that shows definite signs of learned behavior.

“The pollsters asked adults if, in the previous week, they had viewed pornography, used profanity in public, gambled, gossiped, engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliated against someone, got drunk or lied. A majority of the respondents acknowledged engaging in at least one of those eight behaviors.

Here are the specific results:

            28 percent admitted to using profanity in public;

            20 percent admitted gambling, including the purchase of a lottery ticket;

            19 percent admitted to intentional exposure to pornographic images;

            12 percent admitted getting drunk;

            11 percent admitted lying;

            9 percent said they had sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse;

            8 percent said they had retaliated against someone.

While only 1 percent of married adults acknowledged having sex with someone other than their spouse, 21 percent of single adults said they had sex with someone in the previous week. In fact, reported the Barna Group, those under 25 were more than twice as likely to engage in these activities.

"Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison," the study concluded.

Among the under-25 group:

            64 percent admitted using profanity in public;

            38 percent engaged in sex outside marriage;

            37 percent lied;

            25 percent gossiped;

            26 percent used pornography;

            33 percent engaged in acts of retaliation.”

What can we expect from a society that continually glorifies wicked and depraved people and shuns that which is righteous? Of course the result will be a complete collapse of the moral structure of a society. When evil prevails in a nation it will always lead to even more depravity. Every society that allows a cesspool of filth to permeate the minds of the young people will undoubtedly reap what they’ve sown. “The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked,” Proverbs 10:3.

Sitting in my doctors waiting room the other day, I overheard a few of the ladies who were also waiting to see the doctor discussing with the receptionist all the daily soap operas they miss because they work all day, and how they tape them so they can view them at a later time slot. Interestingly, living in a small town as I do, I know all these fine ladies are professing Christians. TV soap operas are pure filth and yet these women have no problem watching such filth. Learned behavior passed on from generation to generation. Harmless you say? Destructive I say.

 Habitual bad behavior of children comes, in some cases, from observing those people they most respect, such as parents, grandparents, school teachers, even U.S. Presidents. The worst perpetrators of this morally wrong behavior are the hero’s of this current generation: actors, actresses, singers, and professional ball players with minds so depraved, that in any society that practices God’s precepts for morality they would be locked away. These are the folks who encourage a destructive lifestyle, a behavior that promotes every vile and gross iniquity known to man, and yet it seems the world can’t get enough. These so called heroes are championed by the media who are used by Satan to feed this trash to a hungry public who are looking everywhere for fulfillment, except to Christ. “The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity,” Proverbs 10:29.

Have you ever stopped to realize that the easing of societal taboos is something that happens quietly at first, under the radar so to speak? As folks become numb to each new broken taboo, another one is attacked and soon falls. Before anyone knows what’s happened, all of society’s taboos are gone, leaving a complete and total breakdown of morals. Each generation that follows becomes more immoral but unaware that they are in a depraved state because this immorality has become commonplace. All of which can be attributed to learned behavior.

The Bible is being shunned or mistranslated to accommodate those with evil agendas. Yet in this frequently mistranslated and disparaged book all the immorality and evil vileness we see happening today was prophesied 2,000 years ago. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  ” 2 Timothy 3:2-5.  

It’s not easy to escape “learned behaviors”, especially those which contradict God’s word, but it is possible. There is always a way out of every evil behavioral situation. The Holy Spirit is always at work in each person’s life, as is the devil. Satan will try to thwart any and all efforts put forth by the Holy Spirit. It is a constant battle. Ultimately Satan loses the battle, but not before he convinces a huge majority of every culture and people to follow evil instead of God.

If you love Jesus and make manifest your love for Him in your life, your children will learn from your behavior. Ultimately they will become more knowledgeable of who Jesus is, what He should mean to them, and what He expects of them. Learned behavior can lead either to righteousness or evil, but it depends on each of us as parents and how our lifestyles promote Jesus Christ.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5, 6. If we consistently follow this advice, so might our children. If not, well.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham