You want your children to grow up and be productive citizens.
Am I right?
You probably want your kids to grow up and be kind to others, too.
I don’t think any parent looks at their kids and thinks, “I sure want them to be selfish and manipulative when they grow up.”
In other words, you want your children to practice good ethics.
If you are a Christian, then you want your children to practice Christian Ethics.
Christian Ethics is a code of conduct that is based exclusively on Christ and scripture. There are many other types of ethics and values in the world, but they are based on other ideas, principles, or people.
How should we teach Christian Ethics in our homeschools?
Ethics, or core beliefs, center around WHY we do what we do.
Consider this scenario: You are in the kitchen and you watch across the room as your 8 year old daughter gives a colorful pencil to her little sister. The younger one trots off all excited and happy. You take a moment and think, “I am so glad my daughter is kind to her sister!”
But what you didn’t realize was that the pencil lead had broken and the older sibling was too lazy to go and sharpen it, so instead she gave it to her sister.
Was the motivation a kind one? Not really.
- Teaching Christian Ethics begins with a heart change. We must teach our kids about sin and that all people are sinners. There is no way a person can please God because of this sin problem. Choosing to believe in Jesus and to walk in His ways is the only way to fix the sin issue. All people, including our children, can be cleansed of all unrighteousness through Christ. This is when the heart begins to change. Until our children become Christ-followers, then we can’t expect them to have Christian Ethics.
- We must teach our children WHY. Why do we go to church? Why do we do certain things and not others? Why do we take a meal to a sick neighbor? Why? Because we want to glorify God in everything. Because God loves us, we do things to show love to others. Our motivation is to please God, not ourselves.
- We must have our children memorizing scripture. Listening to Bible Lessons is great. In fact, it’s necessary for learning about God. But it’s the scripture that is hidden in our hearts that can actually be used by the Holy Spirit so that we might not sin against Him. Working with our kids to memorize scripture should be a large portion of our Bible time, especially if they aren’t involved in a scripture memory program, such as Awana.
- We must allow our children to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit. This means we need to allow our kids to fail and then learn how to redeem a situation. The Bible tells us that if we listen, our ears will hear the command behind us. This takes practice. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we learn how to check our motivations. Just like us, our kids get distracted and make poor choices. When these times happen, we can extend grace by guiding them through WHY they made the choice they did, and what scripture says about that motivation. And then we can help them to see what would have been a better choice.
All of this takes time. In fact, it takes a lifetime.
You are I should still be working on our motivations as well.
How transparent are you with your kids when it comes to your own sin? Do you talk about your struggles and mistakes? Do you explain how you made a good decision and why it was good? If you do, you might just cause your children to make a better decisions and have quality Christian Ethics.
If we model how we deal with our own sin issues, and how God forgives and redeems us, then our children are more likely to do the same.
How is your Bible reading? Are you consistent? How consistent are your kids?
If your children are just starting to read the Bible, I recommend using a version of the Bible on their grade level. I love the International Children’s Bible for elementary kids and the NASB for middle and high schoolers. Have them begin with the book of Mark and have them read 5 verses per day. (The older kids might try more.) You might even want to discuss a reward system for reading a entire week…and then one month!
Get your kids to read the Bible. Discuss what they learn. Talk about how to apply the verses to their lives. Talk about failures. Encourage them in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Then watch as the Lord through scripture, which is alive and active, begins to change hearts. It will change motivations.
God is good.