Should we focus on evil or good while training children?

A teacher in a Christian school assigned a book to read which depicts teenagers who live a life of drugs, gangs, fighting, foul language, stealing, disobedience, etc. When asked why she assigned such a book , she responded,

The intent of [the book] is not to glorify gang-like behavior, disobedience, or ungodly behavior; the point of my assigning [the book]  is to prove how horrendous a life without God can be. The characters and their actions show that ignorance is dangerous. This is apparent in the tragic events in the novel, such as [a character]’s death and [the character’s brother]’s inevitable loneliness. In order to know good we must know evil; this is not something from which we can shield our children. [the book] was chosen for educational purposes. Better that students are exposed to this nature in an atmosphere in which they have a person who can explain the difference between good and evil than go looking for it outside of school. [The book]’s redeeming value is that it discusses adolescent issues such as self-esteem, the negative effects of hero worship,and the importance of stable familial relationships.

There are some who believe that we should expose children to ungodly behavior and discuss it with them, in hopes that exposure and discussion about how it should be addressed will teach the child to avoid bad behavior.

Is she right when she states, “In order to know good we must know evil; this is not something from which we can shield our children.”? Or when she asserts, “Better that students are exposed to this nature in an atmosphere in which they have a person who can explain the difference between good and evil than go looking for it outside of school.”?

While the idea of exposing children to evil in an environment where someone can explain the difference between good and evil does have some merit, I think exposing children to things they have not been exposed to, or things they may have been traumatized by, does more harm than good. But what does God’s word say about it?

Ultimately, the question that this brings up is, “Should we focus on evil or good while training children?”

Philippians 4:8 reads,

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

I think scripture is clear – we should focus upon what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy things.

But what about avoiding evil? Should we teach it and how we should be different?

Proverbs 16:6, 17 states,

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
he who guards his way guards his life.

Proverbs tells us that it is through fear of the Lord that a person avoids evil.

Scripture tells us that the Bible was written to teach us so we might have hope. Indeed, all scripture is God-breathed and is used for for teaching and training in righteousness to prepare us for ever good work.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2 Timothy 3:15-18

15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We should focus on scripture and teaching children so they will learn what they SHOULD do, and how they SHOULD act. We should raise our children knowing God’s word. We should train our children on the truth God has given us.

I believe we should focus on what ever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, whatever is praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We are to avoid every kind of evil – even the appearance of evil (Proverbs 16:6, 17; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Evil is the absence of good.

I believe we should teach and focus on what is right and good as defined by God and found in the principles of God’s Word. Thus if something is not right or good then it is evil. In this way, if we know what is right and good, then it easy to identify what is not right when it does not conform to God’s Word. Once trained, then the children will be prepared to face evil. When training the secret service to spot counterfeit money, the agents learn everything there is to know about valid monetary units. They never see the counterfeit until they are trained, at which point they are able to spot the phoney immediately.  That is MY philosophy of what and how we should teach our children.

While there might be some value in exposing children to evil and discussing it with them, I would limit exposing children to evil and converse about it as they are exposed to it, rather than introducing things they had not been exposed to before, just to be able to discuss it.

 

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One Response

  1. […] My previous post was “Should we focus on evil or good while training children?”. […]

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