Skip to comments.Tiffany Gee Lewis: Pint-sized Pharisees — How to avoid raising self-righteous children
Posted on 10/08/2010 3:51:38 PM PDT by Colofornian
We stepped outside on Sunday for our ritual family walk.
I immediately heard shouts from my kids.
"Mom, the neighbor kids are riding their bikes on Sunday!"
We have had this conversation a thousand times: Our family has rules that don't apply to other families. They go to different churches. All churches are good.
We are in that stage with our children where we try and do the delicate balance of teaching them correct principles without turning them into Pharisees for the rest of the neighborhood.
I'm sure you've all had that experience where you go out to a restaurant, your child stands up in the booth and yells across the room, "That man over there is smoking!" And you whisper between clenched teeth, "That's OK. They don't know better. We don't judge others. Sit down, please."
We're not big soda drinkers, so every time our kids see an aluminum can emblazoned with the Coca-Cola symbol, they go into hysterics. The same goes for coffee makers. My oldest son was crushed when he discovered that his beloved kindergarten teacher drank a cup of coffee every morning.
It's a tricky thing, this teaching business. I feel strongly that our children need to learn right from wrong. If we don't teach it to them, they'll learn to judge by the world's standards, which at the moment are pretty low.
So we teach them about honoring the Sabbath, keeping the Word of Wisdom, sharing their toys, being baptized and growing up with very specific commandments.
We couch it all by trying to explain that these are our beliefs and our family rules. They only apply to us. But children see things in black and white.
So they trudge into the house, as my son did on a recent afternoon, looking very dejected.
"Mom," Jackson said, "Jimmy doesn't want to join our church. He only reads the Bible, even though it's incorrect. And he said he believes in one hundred different gods. I don't know if we can ever be friends again."
I put my arm around his shoulder.
"Jimmy is Catholic," I told him. "Catholics are wonderful. He believes in one God. He was probably referring to Catholic saints. And your friendship with Jimmy is not over. You can be friends with all people." Jackson shrugged and looked relieved.
"OK, well I'm going out to play."
These are important conversations. It shows that my kids are actually trying to ponder and fit their own belief system in a world filled with various ideologies. I believe it's an important step in religious development.
And sometimes kids simply have to learn the hard way.
When I was 9 we visited family in Washington State. A group of us cousins gathered around my cousin Darcy for some sobering news.
"Grandma and Grandpa smoke!" she told us.
This was an absolute shock. Didn't they know about the Word of Wisdom, not to mention lung cancer?
We decided Grandma and Grandpa needed to be informed. We ran inside and drew "No Smoking" signs on paper plates.
Then we gathered outside in a circle around Grandma and Grandpa's trailer and chanted "PEOPLE THAT SMOKE ARE PEOPLE THAT'LL CHOKE!"
We bellowed and marched, determined to educate our grandparents and bring them back to the fold.
My grandparents didn't say a word to us. They were so offended they simply packed their bags and drove back to Florida.
That day I learned a whopping lesson in tolerance and love. My grandparents were outstanding people. They were fully aware of the Word of Wisdom and lung cancer. It was not my place to judge them. More than a decade later, they were present at my marriage in the Portland Oregon Temple. They remained faithful to the gospel until the end of their lives.
How to explain these shades of gray to my children?
At the recent General Relief Society Broadcast, President Monson gave a remarkable talk on judging others.
It was a reminder to me that I teach my children right and wrong, but they learn to apply love and tolerance by watching my day-to-day actions. The application doesn't always happen in an instant. Sometimes it takes years for our children to really grasp these principles.
In the meantime, I will continue to gently remind my children that it is not their job to call the neighborhood kids to repentance. You can ride bikes on Sunday and still go to heaven. You can drink coffee and still be a fantastic kindergarten teacher.
You can smoke and learn to forgive an obstinate granddaughter brandishing a paper-plate sign, and love her enough to be present at her wedding.
The learning continues for all of us. You're never too old to stop judging.
Say what? This Mormon parent is teaching her Mormon children that the Bible is "incorrect" and if that's the "only" scripture he reads, he is somehow deficient & thereby suspect???
Obviously, pointing out lifestyle distinctions to children whose family embrace different religions than neighborhood kids isn't distinctive to Mormons. Indeed it happens across the board -- like the Sabbath day example the author gave.
Still...as the Headline (Pint-sized Pharisees How to avoid raising self-righteous children) reveals...I think the author has zoned in on a prominent problem within the Mormon culture (note the words "Pharisees" and "self-righteous").
How so? Because of all religions, few if any are more legalistic than the Mormon faith.
From the article: Our family has rules that don't apply to other families...We couch it all by trying to explain that these are our beliefs and our family rules. They only apply to us. But children see things in black and white.
"Family" rules? Or Mormon-god rules? And if they are Mormon god-rules, and if this Mormon god is the literal father of all the "spirit" children who came down from Kolob as aliens to inhabits bodies on this earth (Mormon theology), then why does this author-mom twice say these rules "apply only to us"??? Wouldn't this also be the general will for all of his children?
This is what even a "tolerant" version of legalism does.
What are some of the indicators that Mormonism is more legalistic than other religions?
If you look at Lds.org like I did -- every single entry they have for carrying out their various add-on "Laws" -- guess what two add-on "laws" get the most mentions by Lds, Inc?
It's near a tie:
(1) The Law of Tithing
(2) The Law of Chastity
That's interesting, too...'cause you would think that based upon what Joseph Smith said, the Law of Baptizing dead people would be #1. But it's not stressed more than the above (& doesn't rank above many other Mormon "laws").
Joseph Smith: The GREATEST RESPONSIBILITY IN THIS WORLD that God has placed upon us is to seek after our dead. (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356)
Mormons are you obeying this? Are you doing three-year missions to the dead to outdo your two- year missions to the living?
If I gambled, I could probably wage a million $ that not a single Mormon could name EVERY law mentioned by Lds general authorities on Lds.org. [What a crying shame, 'cause even Joseph Smith said: We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received.(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 256.)
And Mormons are shooting for the highest degree by way of perfect obedience??????
For the Christian, do we follow a "law" of tithing?
No. Giving is an inside-out thing, done from the heart, encouraged by God as part of being godly. Mormons? They make it an outside-in, imposed upon from without -- or you're out (of the temple, that is). No chance for special "callings" in the church; don't get to see your son or daughter married in the temple. No "forever family." No living with Heavenly Father forever. You could pay 9.99% of your income, and still be disqualified from all the above...because you broke their man-made "law."
BTW...the Mormon "law of chastity" does the same thing as the Mormon "law of tithing": It attempts to impose a man-made law from the outside-in. Now am I saying singles should not be chaste and marrieds should not remain faithful to their spouse? Not at all; of course we exercise self-control. But Jesus said no matter whether you engage in physical adultery, God looks at the heart...and if you lust, you have already broken any boundary of heart purity/chasteness.
Mormons (and many Christian church members, too) consistently want to measure things by external appearances. God already knows our hearts perfectly. We can't change His omniscience and omnipresence. That's why Jesus complimented the Pharisees on their outward righteousness and condemned them on their inward tombstone-like lives.
Too many Mormons and even members of Christian churches compare out their outward religious lives to the rest of the world, and think they are way out front of the race to heaven.
But God doesn't judge us that way.
It's pass or fail. (James says if we stumble at only one part of the Law, we have broken ALL of it -- James 2:10).
It's inside and outside.
It's internal and external.
All: Stay away from such religious legalism as mentioned above; and, if you're already entrapped in it, run away. Jesus condemned it for a very good reason!
A According to Mormon writings, what makes you "worthy?" Your perfection (3 Nephi 12:48; see also Mt. 5:48)
[Whereas, in contrast, a good definition of a "Christian" is someone already perfect in the Father's eyes thru Jesus sacrificial death (Heb. 10:14) -- where His perfect righteousness is substituted for our imperfect righteousness. (1 Cor. 1:30). Heb. 10:14 ...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.]
B Just to be sure, I looked up "worthiness" (a key Lds concept emphasized in Mormon teachings to its adherents) in the 1977 "Topical Guide to the Scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" published by church-owned Deseret Publishers.
I found verses like Doctrine & Covenants 59:4: "And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time--they that are faithful and diligent before me."
"Commandments not a few"? -- sounds like a long checklist of legalistic religiosity to me.
C I then looked at the 1979 "Topical Guide" in the Lds version of its KJV -- and turned to the "worthiness" entry there: It tells me right up top its related to the concept of "qualifying for" & then proceeds to verses like D&C 31:5: "Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live."
Ah. There it is: The Mormon "strategy." Don't "trust" for your salvation, "thrust in your sickle" as a laborer laborin' after salvation.
So it sounds like the Mormon god wants plenty of soul labor -- paid labor -- spiritual hirelings -- earned labor for salvation.
No free gifts here.
No grace here (at least not until you've done ALL you can do...emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually).
Otherwise, just follow the rules, ma'am.
D Indeed, the LDS are the "rules oriented" ones: The purity and perfection we seek is unattainable without this subjection of unworthy, ungodlike urges and the corresponding encouragement of their opposites. We certainly cannot expect the rules to be easier for us than for the Son of God... (Lds "prophet" Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 28)
E Just look @ all the "rule extensions" Lds have imposed upon their followers in order to make it to the highest degree of afterlife:
(1) You HAVE to be obedient to all the commandments & ordinances of the Mormon god
(2) You HAVE to tithe -- what Lds reference as the "Law of consecration"
(3) You HAVE to obey the "Word of Wisdom" -- not drink coffee, etc.
(4) You HAVE to get married -- sorry, no never-married single people allowed
(5) You HAVE to have as many children as possible
(6) You HAVE to perform temple work for the dead
(7) You HAVE to perform endowments essential for this highest degree of salvation
(8) You HAVE to be a member of the right church (Lds)
(9) You HAVE to receive & perform the rites and ordinances established by that church
(10) You HAVE to have Joseph Smith's consent to enter into your highest afterlife
That is 19th-20th-21st century legalism!
ALL churches, carte blanche, are "good"??? Anton Levey's "church of Satan" -- that one, too?
The underlying assumption we all make is that most people of any religious stripe (well, excepting some re: Islam) is that they are "good."
Jesus did not share this presumption: "'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good--except God alone.'" (Mark 10:18). [Jesus wasn't saying He wasn't good; but He was addressing the presumption behind the comment]
Jesus levels the playing field before the cross by undercutting any spiritual pride that presumes we don't Him as our great physician ("It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick...For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."--Mt 9:12) Jesus is for the person who understands the cancerous diagnosis of sin.
We're all spiritually unhealthy and depraved [depraved doesn't mean being as bad as we can be; it's just no part of our being is untouched by sin]. Yet that doesn't pre-empt people from accomplishing good works.
Some folks do good works and give the credit for those works to God the Holy Spirit working through them; some folks do outwardly good works and assume the credit for themselves, stealing God's glory. Theft of God's glory thereby defeats any act otherwise qualifying itself as "good."
My wife asked our Mormon friend what they do if there are discrepencies between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. After much to-do, the answer was adherence to the Book of Mormon.
On the other hand, how many Christians actually adhere to the Bible when there are differences between what God says and what we actually want to do?
Mormon kids are not allowed to ride bikes on Sundays? Would that be playing rather than working? Why is that bad?
My other response upon seeing the Mormon Times outright label other churches as being "good" is..."Gee...when have Mormon mom-journalists like this one pulled rank on all the Lds "prophets" and "apostles" and other general authorities and contradict them in such an outright manner? What do I mean? (Well pay attention below to what they've said about the Christian church through the years!)
Who are the Christians, and what is Christianity, per Mormonism? An 'Interview' Across the Generations with the mouthpieces of the Mormon god, the Lds 'prophets' and 'apostles':
Q. Who is the Christian Jesus?
A. Lds "apostle" Bruce McConkie: ...virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit" (Mormon Doctrine, p.269).
Q: Who is the Christian God?
A. Lds "prophet" Brigham Young: The "Christian God is the Mormon's Devil..." (Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, page 331). the God whom the Christians worship is a being of their own creation (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses 23:243).
Q. Who inspires Christians?
A. Joseph Smith: "What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.270).
Q. Where did Christianity in its form between 100 & 200 AD through the 19th century originate?
A. Lds "prophet" John Taylor, who was with Joseph Smith when Smith died: Christianity was "hatched in hell" (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6, page 176) and "a perfect pack of nonsense...the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century..." (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6, page 167).
Q. Who is classified as part of the "church of the devil" according to the Book of Mormon?
A Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God [i.e.. the Mormon Church] and the other is the church of the devil [for example: the Christian Church]; wherefore whosoever belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
A. BYU professor Kent B. Jackson: "Since whoever does not belong to 'the church of the Lamb of God' belongs to 'the church of the devil,' as Nephi announced then all systems of worship outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be classified as 'the church of the devil' by Nephi's definition (Kent B. Jackson, "Watch and Remember" etc. from publication By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 3/27/90, vol. 1, p. 87, citing 1 Nephi 14:9-10 from the Book of Mormon)
Q. What is the church of the devil in our day?
A. Lds "apostle" Bruce R. McConkie: "What is the church of the devil in our day, and where is the seat of her power?.... It is all of the systems, both Christian and non-Christian, that perverted the pure and perfect gospel....It is communism; it is Islam; it is Buddhism; it is modern Christianity in all its parts. It is Germany under Hitler, Russia under Stalin, and Italy under Mussolini." (The Millennial Messiah, pp. 54-55.)
Q: Do LDS considers themselves one legitimate church among many?
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Smith: "This [the LDS] Church...is the ONLY only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). Lds "prophet" Ezra Taft Benson, who served in the Eisenhower administration: "This is not just another Church. This is not just one of a family of Christian churches. This is the Church and kingdom of God, the ONLY true Church upon the face of the earth..." (Teachings of LDS prophet Ezra Taft Benson, p.164-165). The Lds church "is the ONLY true church upon the face of the earth..." (D&C 1:30)
Q. What then, are the rest of the churches? Apostates?
A. Lds general authority B.H. Roberts: "Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Introduction to the History of the Church 1:XL). Lds "apostle" Bruce McConkie: "Apostasy was universal...And this darkness still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored gospel" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 3, p.265); "Thus the signs of the times include the prevailing apostate darkness in the sects of Christendom and in the religious world in general" (The Millennial Messiah, p.403); "a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom" (Mormon Doctrine, p.132); "The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73).
Q. While we all know not every member of a Christian church is a true Christian, what difference is there between Christians in Christian churches and Mormons who reference themselves as 'Christians?'
A. Brigham Young: "Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity" (Journal of Discourses 10:230).
Q. Go ahead and let it out. How do you really feel about Christians?
A. Lds "apostle" Orson Pratt: "Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent" (The Seer, p. 255).
Q. Can we at least commend some of the teachings of the Christian church as "truth" and "light" to the world?
A. Lds "prophet" Brigham Young: "With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world" (Journal of Discourses 8:199) "The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God" (Journal of Discourses 8:171);
Q. "Do you believe the Bible?"
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Smith: "'If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do'.(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 119).
Q. 'Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?"
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Smith: 'Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 119).
Q. When the so-called Great Apostasy hit the early Christian church, would you say the Christian church was still better off then -- or 17 centuries later?
A. Lds "apostle" Orson Pratt: "This great apostasy commenced about the close of the first century of the Christian era, and it has been waxing worse and worse from then until now" (Journal of Discourses, vol.18, p.44)
Q. Lds "prophet" Joseph Fielding Smith...would you like to add anything to this question?
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Fielding Smith (10th LDS President) -- "For hundreds of years the world was wrapped in a veil of spiritual darkness, until there was not one fundamental truth belonging to the place of salvation that was not, in the year 1820, so obscured by false tradition and ceremonies, borrowed from paganism, as to make it unrecognizable; or else it was entirely denied ...Joseph Smith declared that in the year 1820 the Lord revealed to him that ALL the `Christian' churches were in error, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men" (Doctrines of Salvation 3:282).
Q. What else did you claim in that vision, Joseph?
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Smith: " for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible" (from Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History v. 12).
Q. Is that all?
A. Lds "prophet" Joseph Smith: I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. 19 I was answered that I must join NONE of them,
or they were ALL wrong;
and the Personage who addressed me said that ALL their creeds were an abomination in his sight;
that those professors were ALL corrupt;
that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History -- vv. 18-19)
As a little Protestant I blew a gasket in public because the mall Santa had an unlit pipe in his mouth for the photos.
My children have to follow rules that other kids in the neighborhood don’t have to follow. Rules about how they address grownups and their friends, how they are expected to behave in public and in private. My wife and I spend a lot of time drilling “these are our rules and you have to follow them, don’t worry about everyone else they have their own rules” into their heads. The corollary is “our rules don’t make you a better person so climb down off that horse missy”
Of course we’re Catholics so there ya go.
Why do your kids smell like borscht?
Somebody will be coming soon to call us “Pharisees”!
How to make friends with non-Mormons [aka "How to make friends with a gentile"]
'Jack Mormon' once meant something else
A majority of Americans have no idea what Mormons believe
Mormons: We're misunderstood
What Child Is This? The LDS Christmas Story
“Christians actually adhere to the Bible when there are differences between what God says and what we actually want to do?”
The answer is either none of us or all of us. :)
Funny, I grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic community. Almost everything the Mormons dislike we practised like crazy: smoking, drinking, overeating, soda, everything except maybe weird sex. The Irish don’t like weird sex. Actually, they don’t like sex at all if it really comes down to it - at least Irish-American Catholics in Queens, New York, not Cork, the gay capital of the world.
But we had so much fun with the smoking and drinking.
Thanks for the links, Alex.
Jeez Louise, I thought it was quite a reasonable article about teaching kids to value their faith while respecting others and not being obnoxious little know-it-alls. You seem to find it very alarming, however. Well, to each their own.
Okay, my impression is that spankings are a universal language.
They don’t. They smell more like pierogies.
If they didn’t like sex, there wouldn’t be any Irish Catholics.
That's what I figured it was about. "Yes, it's wrong for a lady to be living with one man here while she's married to a different guy in Greenboror ... but we don't have to mention it."
“If they didnt like sex, there wouldnt be any Irish Catholics.”
given the substantial number of Irish Catholics running around, I’d say that constitutes evidence to the contrary of what the prior poster said.
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