Monday, October 15, 2012

Doing What's Right

I have been studying the book of Deuteronomy (among other things) for school and we have been playing a morality/ethics teaching game at home so we've been doing a lot of talking and thinking about what is right.

And the reasons behind what is right.

You, know, God has given us some instructions that He doesn't explain the reasons for all that clearly. We can guess that it is  to keep us faithful to Him, to protect us from sickness, to preserve relationships, and to be respectful of creation, etc. But ultimately we don't know.

Perhaps we don't have to. Perhaps we should just refrain from stealing because God told us to, not because someone will get hurt. (Add your own scenarios here.)

It's fun to speculate on why God has given us a particular law or how it is to our benefit, but in the end we need to set that aside and do what God says. Any parent can tell you that a child should simply obey.  A parent may give an explanation, but the child is on the hook whether they agree or not.

Also, if we are too definite with our ideas of why God wants us to do or not do certain things, than we can find ways around it. We can say, "Well, back in Bible times they couldn't prevent STDs. Now we can, so sex outside marriage is OK." or "I can take office supplies from work because the company has millions of dollars and it won't hurt anyone." But God still told us "no."

In some cases, maybe God just wants to make sure we'll obey him ... as a way of showing our love.

Because of our traditions, we have kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to how to eat, how to sleep, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer-shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. .... every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do.  ~ Tevya in the opening scene of Fiddler on the roof

Not that I think we should all do the same as the characters in Fiddler on the Roof. It's just the concept of "that's what God wants" that I am putting forward.

Anyway, that's what we've been thinking about at our house. How about at yours?


  1. "It's fun to speculate on why God has given us a particular law or how it is to our benefit, but in the end we need to set that aside and do what God says. Any parent can tell you that a child should simply obey."

    I don't know if it's because I'm not Christian and have a different background of beliefs, or simply because I'm an academic, but I have to disagree with you. (Respectfully, of course!) I don't believe anyone should follow blindly or take something at face value without thinking critically about the subject. I've been a child educator in the past, and I hated when the other teachers would follow up the "why" questions with "Because I'm the teacher" or "Because I said so". Critical thinking and understanding skills starts young, and the younger the better, because children will use these skills as second nature to help work through more complex and controversial issues later in life. If I expect a child to follow my direction, I will tell them why every single time, because I want them to understand, not to follow blind. I want them to be able to make smart, thoughtful decisions later in life instead of just doing what others tell them to do.

    I'm not saying that belief in God's tenets equates blind following, because I know a fair number of Christian theologians who follow his teachings because they truly believe them, but they've put the time and effort into studying them first. But religion isn't always a factor in teaching children right from wrong - it definitely wasn't in my childhood - and those children should be raised to know how to distinguish for themselves, and not rely on someone else telling them. Religion isn't for everyone, but being a good person who makes good decisions SHOULD be.

    A great post, though! It definitely made me think - which, obviously, is what I preach. :-)

  2. Critical thinking is extremely important and I encourage it constantly. Discerning legitimate authority is one area when it is critically necessary to think carefully. For Christians, God is a legitimate authority and we acknowledge that he knows better than we do and wants what is best for us. Parents also know more than their children and want what's best for them (well, there are exceptions and hopefully children get rescued from them).

    I often do give explanations for a particular rule or directive. I might tell my son to go to bed at a particular time. He might ask why and I will explain that is so he can be ready for an activity the next day. He might tell me that if I let him stay up an extra hour he won't give me trouble about getting out of bed and will maintain a good attitude during the activity. From experience I know better so I refuse the extra hour. He might try more arguments, but at that point I will probably cut him off. "Sleep is important. Go to bed. This is not a discussion."

    The ability to make good decisions is crucial. We practice that at our house all the time. Obedience is important, too, though so we also practice that.

    Your comment did make me think, too, and appreciate it!!