We need a different culture altogether.
During my time in the military, I labored under several conflicting moral influences. I knew I was bound to Christ and high moral standards. But I was falsely led to believe that such high morals should lead to concrete advantages, when the system insured they would not.
Do you understand what drove the Puritans to leave England, first to live in the Netherlands, and then to colonize America? They held to a powerful belief that their high moral purity must result in worldly prosperity. But it didn’t work in England because of the feudal corruption, so they rejected their home country as hopelessly damned. Finding some refuge in the Netherlands, they were harassed for trying to keep their kids out of the secularized education system. So when the chance came to start from scratch as “Pilgrims,” it seemed like the only way out for them. But of course, any prosperity they gained once settled in America was at the cost of disease and abuse against the natives.
It was a common Western cultural flaw going all the way back to the Judaizers and their attack on the otherworldly mindset of the first generation of Christians. The Puritans were a powerful influence on the ensuing birth of America. I grew up under a religious worldview that took much from the Puritan influence. And when it failed me in the the US Army, that was in spite of the promises from leaders who insisted it was all true.
Those were the very same leaders who frustrated me by giving the exact same rewards to me (leading to promotions) that they gave to the useless slugs who did all they could simply staying out of trouble. It’s not that there were no advantages in high moral standards, but no one was able to verbalize to me what those advantages were.
I didn’t leave the military broken in spirit, but in body. Still, it was frustrating and it took some years to explore the realms of moral truth more carefully and with a teachable spirit before I realized it: Walking by conviction is its own reward.
I can’t recall anyone in my youth who represented that idea. That’s because it is fundamentally foreign to the whole range of Western thinking. There were times it was hinted at by the religious teaching I received, but it was never fully explored.
You cannot convince me that children are inherently materialistic. Too often I’ve seen evidence quite the opposite in dealing with children myself. A primary need of childhood is security. Children taught to seek security from caring kinfolks typically evince a lack of selfishness with material objects. Those who grow up in a materialistic environment rarely go that way. It’s very hard to break that grasping mindset. I can recall weeping bitterly when someone took my favorite pencil and the teacher refused to make them give it back. My deep sense of loss meant I gained far too much security from a cheap object that just happened to be unique in the class. I didn’t have much internal security.
We have to break that bondage. It’s a part of our mission in heart-led faith. I know how hard it is in a lustful world that hates true faith, but this is our calling from God. We have to build that dominion that stakes out a different approach to reality.
Teach your kids how to be secure in something above this world.