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Chapter 74—Safe And Unsafe Associations

Things Which Influence Us and Our Children—Every association we form, however limited, exerts some influence upon us. The extent to which we yield to that influence will be determined by the degree of intimacy, the constancy of the intercourse, and our love and veneration for the one with whom we associate.1 AH 459.1

If we place ourselves among associates whose influence has a tendency to make us forgetful of the high claims the Lord has upon us, we invite temptation and become too weak in moral power to resist it. We come to partake of the spirit and cherish the ideas of our associates and to place sacred and eternal things lower than the ideas of our friends. We are, in short, leavened just as the enemy of all righteousness designed we should be. AH 459.2

The young, if brought under this influence, are more easily affected by it than those who are older. Everything leaves its impress upon their minds—the countenances they look upon, the voices they hear, the places they visit, the company they keep, and the books they read. It is impossible to overestimate the importance for this world and the next of the associations we choose for ourselves and, more especially, for our children.2 AH 459.3

Dangers of Associating With the Ungodly—The world is not to be our criterion. We are not to associate with the ungodly and partake of their spirit, for they will lead the heart away from God to the worship of false gods. The steadfast soul, firm in the faith, can do much good; he can impart blessings of the highest order to those with whom he associates, for the law of the Lord is in his heart. But we cannot willingly associate with those who are trampling upon the law of God, and preserve our faith pure and untarnished. We shall catch the spirit, and unless we separate from them, we shall be bound up with them at last, to share their doom.3 AH 459.4

It was by associating with idolaters and joining in their festivities that the Hebrews were led to transgress God's law and bring His judgments upon the nation. So now it is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.” God requires of His people now as great a distinction from the world, in customs, habits, and principles, as He required of Israel anciently.4 AH 460.1

Samson's Willful Choice—God's providential care had been over Samson, that he might be prepared to accomplish the work which he was called to do. At the very outset of life he was surrounded with favorable conditions for physical strength, intellectual vigor, and moral purity. But under the influence of wicked associates he let go that hold upon God which is man's only safeguard, and he was swept away by the tide of evil. Those who in the way of duty are brought into trial may be sure that God will preserve them; but if men willfully place themselves under the power of temptation, they will fall sooner or later.5 AH 460.2

The Insidious Leaven of Wickedness—Dear students, day and night the prayers of your parents will follow you. Listen to their entreaties and warnings, and do not choose reckless associates. You cannot discern how the leaven of wickedness will insidiously corrupt your mind and impair your habits and, by leading you to repeat evil habits, cause you to develop an unsound character. You may see no real danger and think that you will be able to do right as easily as before you yielded to temptation to do wrong, but this is a mistake. Parents and teachers who love and fear God may warn and entreat and counsel, but it may all be in vain if you do not yield yourself to God and improve the talents which He has given you to His glory.6 AH 460.3

Beware of Those Indifferent to Religion—If children are with those whose conversation is upon unimportant, earthly things, their minds will come to the same level. If they hear the principles of religion slurred and our faith belittled, if sly objections to the truth are dropped in their hearing, these things will fasten in their minds and mold their characters.7 AH 461.1

Nothing can more effectually prevent or banish serious impressions and good desires than association with vain, careless, and corrupt-minded persons. Whatever attractions such persons may possess by their wit, sarcasm, and fun, the fact that they treat religion with levity and indifference is sufficient reason why they should not be associated with. The more engaging they are in other respects, the more should their influence be dreaded as companions because they throw around an irreligious life so many dangerous attractions.8 AH 461.2

Worldly associations attract and dazzle the senses so that piety, the fear of God, faithfulness, and loyalty have not power to keep men steadfast. The humble, unassuming life of Christ seems altogether unattractive. To many who claim to be sons and daughters of God, Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, is “as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness.”9 AH 461.3

Do Not Center Affections on Worldly Relatives—We cannot serve God and the world at the same time. We must not center our affections on worldly relatives, who have no desire to learn the truth. We may seek in every way, while associated with them, to let our light shine; but our words, our deportment, our customs and practices, should not in any sense be molded by their ideas and customs. We are to show forth the truth in all our intercourse with them. If we cannot do this, the less association we have with them the better it will be for our spirituality.10 AH 462.1

Shun Those With Low Standards, Loose Morals—It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact.11 AH 462.2

A good name is more precious than gold. There is an inclination with the youth to associate with those who are inferior in mind and morals. What real happiness can a young person expect from a voluntary connection with persons who have a low standard of thoughts, feelings, and deportment? Some are debased in taste and depraved in habits, and all who choose such companions will follow their example. We are living in times of peril that should cause the hearts of all to fear.12 AH 462.3

Many Yield to Temptation Through Fear of Ridicule—Children ... should have companions who will not ridicule what is pure and worthy, but will rather advocate what is right. The fear of ridicule leads many a youth to yield to temptation and to walk in the way of the ungodly. Mothers may do much by example as well as by precept to show their children how to be upright amid scorn and ridicule.13 AH 463.1

Why do our youth not consider that those who are ready to lead others into forbidden paths are easily overcome by temptation and are Satan's agents to encourage disorderly habits, to laugh at those who are conscientious and who would preserve their integrity of character?14 AH 463.2

Live Before Strangers As You Would Before God—Young friends, do not spend an hour in the company of those who would unfit you for the pure and sacred work of God. Do nothing before strangers that you would not do before your father and mother, or that you would be ashamed of before Christ and the holy angels. AH 463.3

Some may think these cautions are not needed by Sabbathkeepers, but those to whom they apply know what I mean. I tell you, young men, to beware; for you can do nothing that is not open to the eyes of angels and of God. You cannot do an evil work and others not be affected by it. While your course of action reveals what kind of material is used in your own character building, it also has a powerful influence over others. Never lose sight of the fact that you belong to God, that He has bought you with a price, and you must render an account to Him for all His entrusted talents.15 AH 463.4

Special Help Is Promised When Needed—We are not to place our children where they must associate with the depraved and degraded. Sometimes God in His providence may bring our youth into association with those who are impure and intemperate. He will give them strength of purpose and power to resist temptation, even as He did Daniel and his associates in Babylon, if they will co-operate with Him. They must constantly commune with God. They must keep themselves pure, refusing to do anything that would dishonor God, living always with an eye single to His glory. They must watch for souls, laboring earnestly for those in whom the image of God has been defaced, seeking to reform, to elevate, and to ennoble them.16 AH 464.1

Choose Thoughtful, Serious Companions—The youth who are in harmony with Christ will choose companions who will help them in right doing, and will shun society that gives no aid in the development of right principles and noble purposes. In every place are to be found youth whose minds are cast in an inferior mold. When brought into association with this class, those who have placed themselves without reserve on the side of Christ will stand firmly by that which reason and conscience tell them is right.17 AH 464.2

Let all who would form a right character choose associates who are of a serious, thoughtful turn of mind and who are religiously inclined. Those who have counted the cost and wish to build for eternity must put good material into their building. If they accept of rotten timbers, if they are content with deficiencies of character, the building is doomed to ruin. Let all take heed how they build. The storm of temptation will sweep over the building, and unless it is firmly and faithfully constructed, it will not stand the test.18 AH 464.3

By association with those who walk according to principle, even the careless will learn to love righteousness. And by the practice of right doing there will be created in the heart a distaste for that which is cheap and common and at variance with the principles of God's word.19 AH 465.1