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MORAL DISCIPLINE

 
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Ming



Joined: 30 Sep 2008
Posts: 137
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:16 pm    Post subject: MORAL DISCIPLINE Reply with quote

Moral Discipline

By “moral discipline,” I mean self-discipline based on moral standards. Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard. It rejects the self-absorbed life in favor of developing character worthy of respect and true greatness through Christlike service (see Mark 10:42–45). The root of the word discipline is shared by the word disciple, suggesting to the mind the fact that conformity to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ is the ideal discipline that, coupled with His grace, forms a virtuous and morally excellent person.

Jesus’s own moral discipline was rooted in His discipleship to the Father. To His disciples He explained, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). By this same pattern, our moral discipline is rooted in loyalty and devotion to the Father and the Son. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides the moral certainty upon which moral discipline rests.

The societies in which many of us live have for more than a generation failed to foster moral discipline. They have taught that truth is relative and that everyone decides for himself or herself what is right. Concepts such as sin and wrong have been condemned as “value judgments.” Every man walks in his own way, and after the image of his own god.

As a consequence, self-discipline has eroded and societies are left to try to maintain order and civility by compulsion. The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments. One columnist observed that “gentlemanly behavior [for example, once] protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior. . . .
Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.

In most of the world, we have been experiencing an extended and devastating economic recession. It was brought on by multiple causes, but one of the major causes was widespread dishonest and unethical conduct, particularly in the U.S. housing and financial markets. Reactions have focused on enacting more and stronger regulation. Perhaps that may dissuade some from unprincipled conduct, but others will simply get more creative in their circumvention. There could never be enough rules so finely crafted as to anticipate and cover every situation, and even if there were, enforcement would be impossibly expensive and burdensome. This approach leads to diminished freedom for everyone. In the memorable phrase of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, “We would not accept the yoke of Christ; so now we must tremble at the yoke of Caesar.”

In the end, it is only an internal moral compass in each individual that can effectively deal with the root causes as well as the symptoms of societal decay. Societies will struggle in vain to establish the common good until sin is denounced as sin and moral discipline takes its place in the pantheon of civic virtues.
Moral discipline is learned at home. While we cannot control what others may or may not do, we can certainly stand with those who demonstrate virtue in their own lives and inculcate virtue in the rising generation.

Our teaching should draw upon our own faith and focus first and foremost on instilling faith in God in the rising generation. We must declare the essential need to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before Him in soberness, or in other words, with reverence. Each must be persuaded that service and sacrifice for the well-being and happiness of others are far superior to making one’s own comfort and possessions the highest priority.
This requires more than an occasional reference to one or another gospel principle. There must be constant teaching, mostly by example.

The pure gospel of Jesus Christ must go down into the hearts of [our children] by the power of the Holy Ghost. It will not be enough for them to have had a spiritual witness of the truth and to want good things later. It will not be enough for them to hope for some future cleansing and strengthening. Our aim must be for them to become truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ while they are with us. . . .

Then they will have gained a strength from what they are, not only from what they know. They will become disciples of Christ.
I have heard a few parents state that they don’t want to impose the gospel on their children but want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow. They think that in this way they are allowing children to exercise their agency. What they forget is that the intelligent use of agency requires knowledge of the truth, of things as they really are. Without that, young people can hardly be expected to understand and evaluate the alternatives that come before them. Parents should consider how the adversary approaches their children. He and his followers are not promoting objectivity but are vigorous, multimedia advocates of sin and selfishness.

Seeking to be neutral about the gospel is, in reality, to reject the existence of God and His authority. We must, rather, acknowledge Him and His omniscience if we want our children to see life’s choices clearly and be able to think for themselves. They should not have to learn by sad experience that wickedness never was happiness.
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