Chapter One “How To Raise a Moral Child”
Do you remember my closing remarks of the last post? In them I mentioned the author’s focus on salvation, and how it seemed like like the author felt that salvation was pivotal to a person’s morality. This chapter seems to heavily focus on that theme. As the quote below demonstrates.
“The belief in a transcendent, personal God is a necessary presupposition if one intends to establish ethical laws that are absolute and universal. Without God, there is no basis for objective ethics, and individual and societal behavior is tenuously governed by subjective, person preference. All values become relative. Biblical morality serves to reveal God’s call to holiness, establish a standard of acceptable behavior, and reveal sin.”p27
Put simply the author believes that without god there is no order. He feels that a belief in God is required for a moral society.
“Only the system of biblical ethics is other-oriented – not as a way to salvation but as a result of salvation.”p27
The author is again stating that belief in God is the only way to develop a sense or morality. And also stating that any other system of belief in “the world” is self centered and does not focus on others.
I will point out here that this is easily proven false and there are other numerous religions that focus on how one treats other and one’s self. In fact I would venture to say that at the core of many religions is the belief that one should strive to treat others with respect and kindness. Gary Ezzo is simply ignoring other religions and beliefs to continuing to make his case of the bible’s authority, and how only through the bible can truth and morality be found.
“I should not base my conduct toward you on how valuable you are to me, nor on any intrinsic value found in our humanity, but on how beloved you are to god.”p28
I have to disagree with his statement, as so many people have found a way to show compassion and love to one another without an external motivator. And they have been able to find a moral compass without first looking towards a divine being. But if a statement like this helps someone put forward compassion towards humanity I don’t want to take that from them.
“What is the moral mandate of Scripture? It requires looking for and responding to the preciousness of those outside of self.”p29
Honestly this quote is something I could honestly and wholly support. As a whole humanity could certainly be benefited by a increase in compassion and awareness for those around them.
However Ezzo can not just stick with leaving a teaching like that alone, and instead reverts to his original tone. One that requires children to act and behave far above their normal development level.
“The training of children should be characterized by the same standard of moral excellence regardless of their personality, temperament, or gender. We do not lower the standards for the child but bring the child to the standard.”p30
The author makes it clear all children are to be held to the same standard. The parent should not lessen the expected standard for a child who may struggle maintaining it. The next quote comes from the footnotes of the page and expounds a bit on the concept.
“The quiet child may not talk out of turn, while the verbal child struggles with the virtue of self-control and verbal discretion. But when it comes to respecting age , the verbal child may have an easier time responding when adults great him. The quiet child will probably struggle with the virtue of responding appropriately. Although we cannot use temperament variation as an excuse for poor behaviors, it should be used to identify where parents need to place their training efforts.”p30
I quoted most of the footnote as I feel it helps to give insight into how Garry wants the parent to act. Making it abundantly clear that the parent is to not give a child leniency if they struggle in a particular area. In fact Ezzo points out that instead the parent should focus on training those behaviors out of the child in a targeted way.
As a side note re-read this quote and focus on the problems or “sins.” Self control, verbal discretion, respecting age, and responding when adults great them are all listed as listed as problem areas. These are all big enough of issues to the author that they are mentioned needing correction (i.e. discipline if the child continues to ignore the parents instruction).
The Author then moves to a set of verses Deuteronomy 6:4-7 from which the author derives three points.
- “There is only one god to please, Jehovah god. He is an absolute god, and his commandments are consistent with his character. God is morally perfect and all biblical values are an extension of His character. Potluck morality is out!”
- This assumes a lot. But these statements are pretty consistent with the way I was raised. Morality must have a definite black and white answer, and for most fundamentalists their morality is based off of the bible. Any other world view is rejected.
- “If the principles of moral conduct are not resident in your own heart, you cannot pass them on to your children.”
- “Moral training is to take place during the normal activities of the day.”
- I take no offense to either one of these last two points. Parents do hold a certain sense of responsibility to demonstrate and teach their children how to be responsible members of society. And normally this teaching would occur as the parents demonstrate their moral values throughout their day to day life. Though do I think that my definition of a moral member of society would differ from the Ezzo’s.
Garry then explains that parents should not focus on controlling children’s behavior, and to be sure to teach them how to think morally. While this sounds good, I’ll point out that he’s already contradicted this point earlier in his book. When he insisted that a child must obey even if they are unable to understand why. I pointed this out in my previous article from a quote on p.17-18.
This chapter lays a further foundation for how the author plans to move forward. The focus is on morality. Which the author feels is directly and definitively laid out by scripture. Keep in mind this is also why Gary feels it’s so important to follow these standards because he feels they are directly communicated to us by god himself. The author makes the argument that all people are called to uphold these moral standards including children without exception.
Once again I’ll stress that Gary is presenting his style of parenting as being biblical. This allows him to present his teachings as being authoritative. And as an extension of that he allows a sense of that authority to pass on to parents. They are teaching their children with the power of god behind their words. According to Gary there is no other way to confidently teach your children moral precepts.
“The bible represents ultimate authority and moral sufficiency. In its pages are the moral virtues that reflect God’s righteousness and wisdom. There are no moral variations in its precepts. The values that govern conduct and define good and evil are the same for all people and for all time.”p38