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The Ten Commandments

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The Ten Commandments

Post by PastorDan on Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:32 pm

If you want to print this out at home, you can find a print-friendly copy here:
Parent's Guide to talking about the Ten Commandments

This version on the forum is designed for you to ask questions or make comments in the section below.


The Ten Commandments

The Ten commandments, traditionally taught first in confirmation instruction, serve as a natural starting point for our children. The idea that none of us is without sin and in need of Jesus’ salvation may not be the most cheery and popular lesson, but it simply isn’t Christianity without it. Our kids are all cute and might look innocent, but we as parents know that they are anything but truly innocent. Rather than needing to “learn how to sin”, our children take naturally to violations of both God’s Law as well as the rules that we establish in our own homes. So talking to our children about the Ten Commandments can lay a foundation for their moral formation.

As parents, we should approach the moral formation of our children in such a way that we try to avoid doing so in a form that might degenerate into mere moralism. We need to be careful so that we do not confuse our own efforts as the source of our salvation or cause such confusion in our children. It is important that we teach obedience, but not as a pathway to “reward”. In other words, our children should be taught what to do out of habit and obedience, not in order to please Mom, Dad, or even God. We obey because we are subject to morality; we do not create morality.

In talking about the Ten Commandments, we ought to make it clear that we strive to obey the commandments out of gratitude to Jesus Christ, since we have all been saved by Him. We do NOT obey the commandments out of obligation in an effort to justify ourselves as “worthy” or “good” or even “Christian”.

Practically speaking, this means that we need to be redundant. As a parent, you know what that’s like already! But when it comes to talking about faith issues, we need to invest in the joy of purposeful repetition. Don’t get mad that you have to be redundant… just remember that you also need to hear about God’s Law and Gospel regularly as well!

So here is a very simple framework for how to talk about obedience to God, Dad, and Mom:

Don’t:
Tell your kids to obey because failure to do so will upset us as parents or make God mad.

Do:
Tell your kids to obey because God has created us all to do good works and because we are alive in His name. (Remind them that they were baptized into God’s name, and baptized people don’t disobey.)

Even if your child is developmentally still responding primarily out of the desire to please us as parents, it is our job not to reinforce this stage of development but to gently nudge them to move beyond it. Teach and remind them that obeying the Ten Commandments is our response to the love of God in the saving work of Jesus (even as you recognize that this is not always what they will do in practice).
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PastorDan
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