“The Church is... where the Lord is acknowledged, and where the Word is.” - The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine §242
Kempton New Church

Week 3
Day 4

    Listen:

The Education of Children

Genesis 41:49: And Joseph piled up grain as the sand of the sea, multiplying it exceedingly, until he stopped numbering, for it had no number.

Training children in moral and spiritual virtues

Matthew 7:12. All things whatever you will that men should do for you, you also do for them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.

TCR 443. When moral life is at the same time spiritual, it is charity. Every man is taught by his parents and teachers to live morally, that is, to act the part of a good citizen, to perform those honorable duties relating to the various virtues, which are the essentials of honorable conduct. And [he learns] to bring them forth through the formalities of honorable life, which are called proprieties. And as he advances in age [he is taught] to add rational [explanations] to these [behaviors], and thereby to perfect the morals of his life. For in children, even to early youth, moral life is natural, and becomes afterwards more and more rational.

Anyone who reflects well upon it can see that a moral life is the same as a life of charity, and that this is to act rightly towards the neighbor, and to regulate the life so that it may not be contaminated by evils. This follows from what has been shown above (n. 435-438). And yet, in the first period of life, a moral life is a life of charity in outermosts, that is, it is merely the outer and more superficial part of it, not the inner part.

TCR 443:2. For there are four periods of life through which man passes from infancy to old age. The first is when he acts from others according to instructions; the second, when he acts from himself, under the guidance of the understanding; the third, when the will acts upon the understanding, and the understanding regulates the will; and the fourth, when he acts from confirmed principle and deliberate purpose. But these periods of life are the periods of the life of a man’s spirit, not in like manner of his body. For the body can act morally and speak rationally while its spirit is willing and thinking opposite things….

TCR 444. Moral life, when it is also spiritual, is a life of charity, because the practices of a moral life and of charity are the same. For charity is willing rightly towards the neighbor, and consequently acting rightly towards him; and this is also moral life. The spiritual law is this law of the Lord [the golden rule, quoted above]. This same law is the universal law of moral life.

CL 456. That care ought to be taken lest by immoderate and inordinate fornications conjugial love should be destroyed. By immoderate and inordinate fornications by which conjugial love is destroyed, are meant fornications by which not only are one’s energies debilitated, but all the refinements of conjugial love are taken away. For from an unbridled indulgence of them arise not only weaknesses and consequent want, but also foulness and immodesties, in consequence of which conjugial love in its cleanness and chastity cannot be perceived and felt, and thus neither in its sweetness nor in the delightfulness of its flower—to say nothing of the injuries to body and mind, and of the forbidden allurements which not only deprive conjugial love of its blessed enjoyments, but even take it away and turn it into cold and thus into loathing.

Such fornications are orgies by which conjugial sports are turned into tragic scenes. For immoderate and inordinate fornications are like fires that spring up from outermost things and consume the body, parch its fibers, defile the blood, and corrupt the rational things of the mind. For they burst forth as a flame from the foundation into a house and burn up the whole.

Care ought to be taken by parents that this may not happen, because a youth growing up, greatly excited by lust, cannot yet from reason impose restraint upon himself.

Questions and Comments
  1. What are some ways we can help children learn to lead a moral and spiritual life? Mostly it is by example, but does there also need to be some explanation? Is it often necessary for children to rebel against moral proprieties, at least verbally, in order to understand them?
  2. A saying about raising children is that if a behavior is not morally threatening or life threatening, parents should not clamp down on it too hard. Is this a useful rule of thumb?
  3. The Lord’s goal is that each of us may choose to act morally not just to avoid punishment but because we do not want to hurt our neighbors, nor sin against God. His hope is that we can come to act morally from the love of a moral and spiritual life. What are some things that parents and other adults can do and not do to help young people grow into the love of acting morally and spiritually?
  4. What might constitute immoderate and inordinate fornication? The chapter on fornication sets some careful boundaries, including not taking a virgin and not promising marriage, avoiding multiple partners, rape and other evils. These are evils that parents must especially help their children avoid. Is chaperonage a key part of supporting good behavior among teens? Are there better and worse ways to provide chaperonage?
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