Peer Pressure — the other guy “made” me do it!

Bill Brinkworth

Many claim an outside “force” often compels them to do things they normally would not and know they should not do. Getting their peer’s approval and acceptance is this force for many.

Webster defines “peer” as an “equal; one of the same rank.”  For some, it is important to please people; even though they are “equals” and really cannot do anything to physically force them to do what they want done.

This invisible pressure to please one’s peers has always been an over-whelming force in many lives.  Here are some reasons, as illustrated by biblical characters, that the desire to have the approval of one’s peers can have such power in one’s life:

They do not want to be different. Peter, Jesus’ disciple, certainly attested to the power of peer pressure.  He was the one who planned to be loyal and faithful to Jesus when he said, “… Although all shall be offended, yet will not I”  Mark 14:29. 

However, before the rooster had crowed in the morning, as Jesus had prophesied, Peter denied, to total strangers, having anything to do with his friend and leader.   At the time, it was more important to Peter to fit in at the campfire of strangers, than to be publically identified with God’s only Son.

Too many have been led by similar pressure.  They have sold out their testimony and their future, to “fit in” and be like everyone else.  The truth of the matter is, such sell-outs for social acceptance are usually only temporary and have to be performed repeatedly for each group it is important to “fit in” with.  It is not long until a person has molded himself to so many groups, that he does not really know who he is anymore.

They want to make others happy. Pilate succumbed to peer pressure when the rantings of a mob convinced him to have the Saviour put to death.
“And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” Mark 15:13-15 

Pilate allowed mob rule to cloud his judgment.  His wrong decision killed God’s only Son.  Many of us have also done things to make others happy, only to find that their happiness is only temporary as long as we are doing what they want.  Later, it is we that have to live with the side effects from the judgments we have made; many times, for the rest of our lives.

They think they are outnumbered.   Instead of “winning them”, they are joining with them. Aaron was swayed by this pressure when the people of God commanded him to make them false idols.  He gave in to the pressure the multitudes opposed on him; rather than doing right in God’s eyes.
“And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them … For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us:  ...”  Exodus 32:21-23

No matter if “everyone” is doing wrong, it does not make it right for us to do like-wise.  We should do what pleases God; if it is popular or not.

They blame others for their wrongdoing.   For many, the reason for their not doing the righteous thing is that others “forced” them to do contrary to what God requires. Saul revealed his weakness to peer pressure when he insisted that the people made him disobey God:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, … And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?  And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” I Samuel 15:3-15

Saul was the leader; it was his responsibility to lead the people in obeying God. Unless one is physically forced into doing what is wrong, which rarely is the reason, it is up to us do what God expects us to do.  We are the ones that are responsible for our actions.


It has become common to blame the environment, surroundings, people, or circumstances for our actions. Too many have become “victims” and think they are not responsible for their actions. According to God’s Word, however, each  is responsible for his own actions. Our excuses for not doing right in God’s eyes and according to His Word do not take away from the fact that wrong is still wrong,  The pressures felt or forced from our peers do not give us any permission to disobey what God commands us to do. Each of us must one day give an account for our actions.
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:11-12

 “If you do things merely because you think some other fool expects you to do them, and he expects you to do them because he thinks you expect him to expect you to do them, it will end in everybody doing what nobody wants to do, which is in my opinion a silly state of things.”   񠬈
— George Bernard Shaw


This lesson was featured in The Bible View #177.

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