When I was 16, my father gave me the keys to our family car and asked me to obey the speed limit and only drive straight to and from a dance. To please my friends, I broke his rules and the speed limit. I was tempted to fit in and I paid what I thought were huge consequences. I paid a large speeding ticket and I was grounded from the car for a month.
Just like my father and the government gave me a set of guidelines for driving a car, God gives us a set of guidelines for driving our physical bodies, called commandments. Then he hands us the keys, sends us into the world and steps back, hoping we obey. He has promised us that keeping these commandments will make us happy.
We live in a world filled with choices, both good and bad. How do we stand for right in the midst of the bad? When friends or evils tempt us, how do we remember the rules are meant to protect us from negative consequences? God has given us choices and then told us how to be happy. Obedience to his commandments brings happiness and keeps us free from consequences.
Recently, L. Tom Perry, a religious leader shared a story about being caught in World War 2, the war to end all wars, a war that killed over 60 million people and was perpetuated by some of history's most feared leaders. He said he was given a book by his religious leaders that helped him, "gave him peace in the midst of war." In the front it had a note to the men in the service, titled, Obedience to Law is Liberty.
Perry said, "Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments."
Perry suggests that one way to measure ourselves in the war between good and evil is to look at the oldest law and list of commandments known to man - the Ten Commandments. He states, "For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil."
Teach your children the Ten Commandments
This can inspire a fun family activity. I was amazed at the interest of my 9- and 10-year-old children in the movie. Spend a Sunday afternoon reading about and making your own family set of the Ten Commandments to hang on the wall. Ask your children if your family should add any, and watch the fun begin. Perhaps it will read, "Thou shalt not forget to feed the dog."
Teach your children about consequences
As parents we often list out the consequences for children. If you don't clean your room, I will (insert threat here). As a follow up to teaching the Ten Commandments, help children list the consequences for breaking them. Have a family meeting, choose a few family rules and let children negotiate consequences.
Just like when I broke driving laws and had consequences, some commandments, like drunk driving laws, come with much higher consequences. Just a week ago, I attended the funeral of my third friend to be killed by a drunk driver.
Commandments are not meant to confine us, but to free us from consequences. Perry sees God as our loving Heavenly Father, as someone who gave us commandments because he loves us just like a parent who makes rules to protect his children or even like governments who make laws to protect citizens. If we see commandments as gifts of love, made to help us make our way through this life and bring us home safely to God, they will be easier to keep.
In a world where morality is faltering, the gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers. Perry says, "We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God's commandments. We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord's consistency and perfect trust in his promises.... The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change." The consequences for breaking do not change either.
Teach children that consequences apply to everyone
Once you have your family rules, be sure and break one, so your children can watch you suffer the consequences. If the consequence for yelling is sitting in time out, give a shout and then let them send you to time out. It is a great way to show that the rules are for all of us.
Remember children are watching
When I am struggling with a commandment, it helps me to remember that my children are watching. If I take the Lord's name in vain, without a doubt, I will get a call from a teacher that they have taken the Lord's name in vain. Likewise, if I lie, my children will lie or worse, If I break moral commandments, my children will and perhaps with greater consequences than they are ready to deal with. We can never predict all the consequences that will be dealt when we break a commandment. I might have broken the speed limit without getting a ticket, but I would have given up my integrity. Even if I was never observed by the law, God would have watched me.
As you review the commandments that were written to protect you, remember they were written in stone, not on paper subject to white out. This week, notice that your children are watching you. Do you obey the top Ten Commandments? Let their eyes, always watching and learning from you, remind you to keep all of the commandments.