The habits practiced when young men enter their teenage years follow us into manhood. We are engaged in self-delusion if we believe that an immoral young man can grow into a pinnacle of virtue. While there are always opportunities to reform and change, we should not let the exception replace the rule. It matters greatly that young men engage in habits that lead to cleanness in thought, word, and deed.
In the DeMolay, candidates promise to lead a clean and moral life. The Sixth Preceptor further instructs them that this consists of avoiding habits that leave us “weakened in body, enfeebled in mind, and debased in heart and soul.”
The importance of this virtue cannot be stressed enough for our youth to understand and take to heart. Addictions in our society abound, whether to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and smoking (to name a few). These addictions often present themselves in the teenage years when young men are vulnerable to peer pressure and susceptible to an image of manhood that is distorted by the dominant media culture. If one becomes addicted to these things, it will eventually lead to the consequences so eloquently stated in our ritual. Drug and alcohol addictions destroy the mind as well as the body. Addiction to food has led to an epidemic of obesity leading not only to health problems, but a negative self-image.
DeMolay provides the opportunity for habitual practices that counter the negative effects of unclean living. Chapters routinely have sporting events to develop the physical body. Our awards program gives young men a natural high for many activities that promote a disciplined life rather than a dissipative existence. Committing the ritual work to memory helps to recall the virtues and develops a sharp, focused mind. Structured engagement with adult men and involved parents provides role models that our youth so desperately need.
One cannot think of a better environment for the formation of good habits than DeMolay.