At the restaurant, everyone is having drinks before their meal, so you don’t want to be the odd one out and you order something to fit in – peer pressure. You would never do this in public, but you let down your guard. The meal is full of laughter and good bantering and this is the most you’ve laughed in a long time. You have only two additional drinks during the meal, but it’s not what you were planning – peer pressure. You are struggling inside from the guilt of going against your conscience, but you’ve never felt so accepted. They invite you over for Monday Night Football and you’re thinking, “I might as well. This will help me fit in with the guys at work.” So, you call your wife and she even encourages you to go at this point. You didn’t tell her the whole story.
The peer pressure continues at Sam’s house, because he has the huge screen television and the beer is flowing – peer pressure. You’re helping yourself to chips and dip and confine yourself to three more beers – peer pressure. You’re thinking the food will absorb the alcohol. You’re thinking, “I would never normally have one drink let alone so many.”
Fortunately, you have a big day at work tomorrow, so you excuse yourself at half time. On the way home, you drive only slightly erratically. You haven’t had that much to drink since you were in college and when you decided enough was enough. It was, however, enough to get the police officer’s attention and a breathalyzer test. He measured you at .08 blood alcohol content and gave you a ride to the county jail with a DUI. Life changed overnight. Why did this happen? Not only does it go against your spiritual values, but you just weren’t thinking.
Social situations put us in danger unless we are confident and strong on values. Certain peers, like work friends, can invite you into a world you may not normally enter. You may sense something is wrong or even make you afraid that something doesn’t feel right. That’s likely your conscience telling you something IS wrong. Scripture says, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk… having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.”2 God gave you a conscience to discern right from wrong. When you fill your conscience with Scripture, you’ll be able to discern godliness.3 You cannot trust what you see or hear, but you can trust God’s Word. Ask yourself when you are in a peer pressure situation, “What would God’s Word guide me to do?”
Think about the consequences of your potential decisions. “Would drinking here bring dishonor to the Lord’s name? Would drinking put me in a situation, like getting a DUI?” Or, “Will this decision affect my health?” “Will people whom I care about or care about me, be affected or disappointed by my decision?” “What will I be thinking tomorrow if I choose this decision today?” Once the decision is made, the consequences may be out of your hands. You’ll have to live with the consequences.
When you make your decision against peer pressure, stick with it. Nancy Reagan, former first lady, had a campaign called, “Just say No.” It was a good campaign and was acceptable in all realms of sociology and religious networks. However, it’s not enough. If you say no to something, make sure you are saying yes to something and make that God’s Word.
When someone pressures you to try something you question or know you shouldn’t participate in, try these responses. Tell them, “No, thanks,” or “I’d rather not,” or “I’m not interested.” If the peer pressure continues, let them know you don’t appreciate the extra questions or just walk away. It’s far better for you to walk away, or even run, because eventually the flesh on its own will give into the pressure. Paul said it well, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”4 I love the last part of the verse, “Pursue…with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Friends can pull you away from the Lord, or friends can strengthen your stand with the Lord. Who are your friends?
The next segment will consider several other situations with which peer pressure can be difficult.