Relationships matter. Faith and hope matters. In life, we are going to have hardships, disappointments, and tragedies. As a Latter-day Saint Christian, it is my duty and obligation to help raise my children according to the values and teachings of our faith. Yet, today, this parental responsibility is under attack. Faith in Christ is under attack. State Governors and circumventing the First Amendment of the Constitution and creating barriers to worship and engage in religious services. Atheism is well rooted like a petulant weed in our American Society and Culture. The rise of communist and Marxist ideals is sweeping like a tumor in our social fabric. Many are claiming that we are at the threshold of the last days.
Today, more than ever, our children need to be raised up with a strong and bold faith in understanding and knowing who Jesus Christ is.Tweet
Yet, here I am – a father, a strong believer in Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel, and worried about the type of social culture and environment my children are being assimilated into. More importantly, how I am an influence and impact on my children’s lives matters the most. Not what society says is the best way. Today, more than ever, our children need to be raised up with a strong and bold faith in understanding and knowing who Jesus Christ is.
So, when it comes to parenting – we all have our different values, beliefs, and perspectives. Yet, are they detrimental to the spiritual growth and influence we have as parents? I ask this because I happened to scroll through my Facebook news feed and noticed an link to Amelia Kibbles article entitled: I am Unapologetically Raising My Daughter Without Religion. Catchy title and with curious interest, I clicked on the link. Read the first few paragraphs. An anecdotal story of her coming home and sharing what she learned in Sunday school.
I can see how that is humorous. Unfortunately, she appears to use this innocent anecdote to make an interesting premise and judgment:
The story is hilarious, and never fails to get a few chuckles at family gatherings. However, it has darker implications, and my fearful reaction to the idea of a judgmental God who doesn’t respect one’s privacy perfectly illustrates why I have decided to raise my daughter in a non-religious household.
Yes…I had to read that paragraph numerous times to process what the message is being relayed. A judgmental God? A God who does not respect a person’s privacy? The context here (if you have not clicked on the link above) is that she reports having taken a bath – I screamed, “STOP WATCHING ME, JESUS!” And, to even further understand the context of the conversation – she reports having discussed with her mom how God watches us all the time.
Reading further, Kibbie raises the question of morality and how to teach children a sense of morality as they grow up. It pits modern day moral fluidity with traditional and conservative moral standards and upbringings. For instance, Kibbie comments:
When I want to teach my daughter a lesson, like not to take another child’s toy, I focus on the fact that her action was wrong because it hurt someone. Not that it was wrong because an ancient text said so and that an invisible deity is always watching, waiting for her to make a mistake. The right thing to do is the right thing to do because it’s right, because it’s good, because it’s fair, and it makes people feel good. And that’s all there is to it.
This appears to beg the question – where does the idea of morality stem from? The concept of right and wrong? How is it wrong to take another toy from a child? Is this not based on the draconian law given by some mystical deity – THOU SHALT NOT STEAL? Or, is it also based on the draconian law given by some mystical deity that we are not to covet?
Morality and Human Volition
William Lane Craig makes an astute and valid observation when it comes to understand the nature and purpose of morality. According to the website – Reasonable Faith – the answer to Kibble’s question (and our own question as parents) is this: Can we be good without God?
Moral Objectivity is based on Harm
The argument is focused on differentiate the difference between subjective morality versus objective morality. Christianity teaches that there is objective morality. Specific laws governing how to live our lives and to what extent we may violate those objective moral laws. Subjective morality is more fluid and flexible based on the person’s ideals. This includes what one may culturally differentiate a sense of morality.
This also includes the argument and principle truth of human volition. How our decisions influence our sense of morality. The impact choices have on others. And, the heart of this debate is not as black and white as we want to believe. Objective morality is not rigid. There is fluidity within a more practical understanding of determining right from wrong.
For example, if you walk into the store and have the money and means to buy an apple – yet, you pick up the apple and walk out without paying for it. You are in violation of the law. You’ve stolen, and therefore violated moral standards and expectations. However, let us say you do not have the means to pay for the apple and it’s been three days since you’ve eaten anything. You walk in and take the apple and leave. Is that morally wrong and violation of the law? Yes. However, there is a greater and more objective moral law at play here. Granted, this is hypothetically and utilized to establish a sense of truth.
Eric Dietrich, Ph.D writes in his article – Morality is Objective – the relationship between facts and moral objectivity:
There is however, a clear path to a universal and powerful moral objectivity, the view that morality (or most of it, anyway) is just as objectively true as science and mathematics. The key ingredient is the notion of harm.
Dietrich further expounds his thoughts:
Harm is marked by pain, fear, hunger, thirst, sadness, frustration, . . . any negative emotion or feeling. We live in a universe that randomly dishes out harm — consider the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, as just one example. But we humans can check both human-initiated intentional harm, which is under our control, and other types of unintentional harm, e.g., environment damage caused by human industrial development.
The question now is “Why ought we to check (or mitigate) such harm.” The answer is because it is harm! Harm is bad by definition. Morality requires us to avoid doing bad things, again, by definition. Hence we all have a moral duty not to harm other living things. This moral duty exists objectively because harm exists objectively. Just as 1 + 1 = 2 is objectively true, so “we should not harm other living things” is objectively true. This truth is based simply on the fact that harming exists and should be checked.
What this means is that when we look at how our decisions impact and harm other people, we have a moral obligation to avoid doing so. This is central to the message of Jesus Christ. Despite what Kibble may say. And, it is not draconian in nature.
The Central Theme of the Gospel Message is Love
What people miss about the Scriptures, religion, faith, and following Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Gospel Message. It simply means The Good News and based on unconditional love:
- God’s love toward us
- Our love toward God
- Our love toward others
The scriptures expound upon this. Ancient and Modern day teachings expound on this. Objective Morality is based on this. We either are operating out of love or operating out of hate. And, most of the time, we are not operating out of one or the other. We are operating on a spectrum between love and hate.
Since the central theme of the Gospel Message is love then objective morality is born out of love and not hate. Unfortunately, Kibble holds to a false view of God as being judgmental and invasive of one’s privacy. Out of God’s divine love, there is also divine judgment. Kibble will be hard pressed to disagree.
I am unapologetically raising my daughters with a strong conviction and bold faith that is based on love and righteousness in Jesus Christ.Tweet
Disagree for the simple fact that as a parent, we love our kids, yet also are responsible in disciplining them when they engage in behavior that harms another person. Imagine if our child sees us as (unless you are dealing with a teenager) judgmental parents. That we are invasive to their own privacy. If they treated us the way most of us treat our relationship with God – how heart wrenching and disappointing will that be?
Yes, God is judgmental. I am not disagreeing with that. However, He is justified in his judgment just as much as we are justified in our judgment when someone engages in behavior that harms another person. It is all born out of love and respect for one another. Without love, I personally believe, there is no objective morality. As long as I am doing something that makes me feel good (subjective morality) what harm is there? This is arrogant ignorance and grandiose self-love and pride. And yet, our society is operating out of this false belief. Teaching children these false beliefs and subjective morality.
Scripture adequately distinguishes the two different nature of objective morality and subjective morality.
Character Traits of Love and Objective Morality
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, KJV)
Character Traits of Selfish and Subjective Morality
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8: 6-7)
God’s nature is love. Our objective moral stance is to love God and others. Outside of this is to be carnally minded. It pits us against God and against others based on our own subjective sense of morality.
Raising my Daughters with Bold Faith Love and Righteousness
It is not good enough to raise children with a sense of subjective morality. No, it is more important to instill upon them the understanding of what it takes to live out a courageous faith that is born out of love for God and live out the values and beliefs that lead to a meaningful, purposeful life that is righteous.
From The Family: A Proclamation to the World – the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revealed this simple truth:
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
I am unapologetically raising my daughters with a strong conviction and bold faith that is based on love and righteousness in Jesus Christ. They ought not to walk in fear of God. Hope they do not come to a place where they believe that God is awaiting to punish them for every wrong behavior or act they commit. Instead, my hope that if they do walk in error that they are courageous enough to seek out their Loving Heavenly Father and walk in forgiveness and repentance.
President Russell M. Nelson taught:
“When our youngest daughter was about four years of age, I came home from hospital duties quite late one evening. I found my dear wife to be very weary. … So I offered to get our four-year-old ready for bed. I began to give the orders: ‘Take off your clothes, hang them up; put on your pajamas; brush your teeth; say your prayers’ and so on, commanding in a manner befitting a tough sergeant in the army. Suddenly she cocked her head to one side, looked at me with a wistful eye, and said, ‘Daddy, do you own me?’
“She taught me an important lesson. … No, we don’t own our children. Our parental privilege is to love them, to lead them, and to let them go” (“Listen to Learn,” Ensign, May 1991, 22).
This is how we teach our children. It is how we empower them. Help them find their own faith and testimony in Jesus Christ. And, even when they walk in error, we stand ready to rush toward them with forgiveness and love (see, Luke 11:15-20; Parable of the Prodigal Son).
According to the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 68:25-28, we have these truths:
- Responsibility to teach our children the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Administration of the sacred ordinances of Baptism
And, according to Doctrine and Covenants 93:36-40, we are to raise up our children in light and truth.
It is not enough to send children off to Church. We have to actively live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives as a living sacrifice and testimony to the power and grace of God’s sovereign love toward us and Christ’s infinite atonement. Unfortunately, many children who have been brought up (as it appears Kibbie shares) within a Christian faith and Church did not have the spiritual attention and reverence needed to lay the foundation of a bold and courageous faith in Jesus Christ.
As I contemplate this – I remember an instance when my daughter’s mom had sent me a message. It was a picture of our daughter in Church, head bowed, arms crossed. She looked beautiful and radiant. A friend had seen it and made the comment of how wrong it was to teach her to be submissive. An observation born out of sheer judgment and lack of understanding.
Submitting to God’s divine will and purpose is a worthwhile venture. Understanding our need for His love, direction, counsel, and guidance is more important today. Especially navigating the social climate that is against Christian faith, God, holiness, and righteous living.
May my children stand on the legacy of my own personal testimony as a light in the growing darkness. A testimony of their own personal faith in who Jesus Christ is and the Gospel message of His love and redemptive power.