"I don't see what good it is sitting on a chair for two minutes. My dad just talked to me until I realized something was 'stupid.' Then I didn't do it any more," said a young father I was talking with about how he thought he should raise his daughter. I had suggested that wrong actions should have consequences, and he didn’t agree. Do you? I watched as he followed his father's example of using hundreds of words, where I thought a simple explanation and some action (such as a time-out) would have far more effect in the short term and, especially, in the long run.
I mentally reacted negatively to his plan, but at first I didn't realize why. Then I started thinking about it.
“Stupid” means showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense, such as: When someone acts without any self control, like flying off the handle and hitting a store clerk over a simple mistake. Or acting confident in their own ignorance, like cheating on a test and copying wrong answers as well as correct ones. Or just absentmindedly driving away from a gas pump without taking the nozzle out of their tank opening. These are things people consider "stupid". But are they only stupid? Or is there wrong, and even sin, in some of these actions?
A short definition of “wrong” is unjust, immoral, or dishonest. I think it might be easier to give examples of what doesn't make something “right or wrong.” What if the majority of people think something is right? Is that the deciding factor? Is that what makes it right? There are remote societies where cannibalism is still accepted. Is it right or wrong? How about if something is legal? In some countries it is legal for a husband to beat his wife. Right or wrong? A person might argue that they didn't know their action was wrong. Is a person who drives at 50 mph in a 25 mph zone, but didn't know the speed limit, wrong? What about changing values? It was considered wrong, even illegal, for a man or woman to sleep with someone who was not their spouse throughout history until about 50 years ago. As we have been exposed more and more to this behavior, it has not only come to be accepted, but even considered "right". A person who remains a virgin until marriage is considered "sexually immature." Most of you reading this post will agree with me that these behaviors are wrong, and not just stupid.
Why do I argue in favor of teaching a child what is wrong? Because after thinking it through for a while, I realized that "stupid" and "wrong" are very different. Some things, some actions are wrong. The Bible differentiates right from wrong. God has a moral code and has given us precepts of right and wrong. In fact, God has instilled in humans a self-awareness of right and wrong. The Bible calls it conscience. The same young man I was talking to does not believe in abortion. “Why not?” I asked him. “Because it is not right. I have no right to take the life of another.” Good answer. But it just put him in my camp!
If we don't teach our children that sometimes what they are doing is wrong, how will they learn about sin? And if they don't understand sin and its consequences, why would they ever need a Savior? Simultaneously, teaching them what is “right” reveals to them the nature of God who gives us the ability to imitate Him - be right - or become the “righteousness of God” if you want to delve into theology, 2 Cor.5:21. Teaching a child “right” and “wrong” from a young age and the respective positive and negative results will prepare the child for a wonderful life.
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