Moral development

Faith of Our Fathers (Part 4)

"Only For A Moral and Religious People" 
John AdamsLate in his life John Adams wrote about his concern that America would not maintain its moral and religious foundation. He warned Americans of his day that the Constitution could not help people who could not govern their personal conduct. Samuel Adams echoed the same concern. Here is how the two men expressed it.


"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other." -- John Adams



"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty Samuel Adamsand happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." -- Samuel Adams



Bible verses to read:


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." -- Galatians 5:22


"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." -- Romans 1:28-32


Discussion questions:


  1. Why do we have rules at school?
  2. What would happen if everyone decided not to follow the rules?
  3. Do laws make us do good things or only punish us when we break them?
  4. How does being controlled by God's Spirit make for a better American society?
  5. What is an example of how a certain law or rule would not have to be written if people exhibited the "fruit of the Spirit?"

Faith of Our Fathers (Part 3) Family Devotional

"I Tremble For My Country"

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, served in the Second Continental Congress, served as Secretary of State under George Washington, and as Vice President under John Adams. He was elected as our third and fourth President and served from 1801 to 1809.

 
Having national liberty means being free from undue or unjust government control. Thomas Jefferson recognized that people's liberties in a nation come from God who gave mankind a free will. He wrote that when we, as a nation, that our freedom comes from God, we begin abusing liberty and deprive others of liberty. In his 1784 book, Notes on Virginia, Jefferson wrote the following against slavery:
  
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that they are of the gifts of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever..."
 
Bible verses to read:
 
"And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts." - Psalms 119:45
 
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits..." - Psalm 103:2
 
Discussion questions: 
  1. What does it mean for a nation to have liberty?
  2. What is an example of liberty that you have in your life?
  3. Why is it important that our liberties ultimately come from God rather than man?
  4. Look up the word "licentious" in the dictionary. How is it similar to liberty and how is it different?

Faith of Our Fathers (Part 2) Family Devotional

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"Our Highest Glory"

George Washington served as Commander in Chief of the first American Army during the Revolutionary War. He served as the president of the Constitutional Convention to draft the laws forming the United States of America. He also was elected the first President of our country, serving from 1789 to 1797. On May 2, 1778, he issued the following order to his troops at Valley Forge:

"While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and Soldiers we certainly ought not be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian."

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A patriot is someone who loves, supports, and defends his country. The troops who fought in the American Revolution certainly demonstrated patriotism. However, Washington knew that success in the country they were fighting to establish required more than love of country. It required love of God. We need to be strong warriors in the spiritual battlefields of life.

Bible verse to read:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." - Ephesians 6:10-13

Family Discussion Questions:

  1. How might someone demonstrate patriotism?

  2. How might a Christian demonstrate being a good, spiritual warrior for God?

  3. Why do you think Washington wanted his soldiers to be good Christians as well as patriots?

Faith of Our Fathers (Part 1) - Family devotional

"A Gift of the Beneficent Creator"   
Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton fought in the Revolutionary War and also served as General Washington's secretary. He was a major force in the drafting of the Constitution and became our country's first Secretary of the Treasury.

He believed that when God created Adam and Eve he wanted them to have freedom. He believed that the government's job was only to protect and enhance that God-given freedom. Just before the Revolution, while only 18 years old, he wrote the following in an influential political pamphlet calling for American independence from England:

"The Sacred Rights of Mankind are not to be rummaged from among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by moral power..."

"You would be convinced that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent [kind] Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that, and cannot be wrested from any people without the most manifest violation of justice. Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society."

Bible verses to read:

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God." - 1 Peter 2:16

"And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." - Genesis 2:16-17

Discussion questions:
  1. In what way were Adam and Eve free people?
  2. What did Alexander Hamilton mean by "natural liberty?"
  3. How does civil liberty relate to natural liberty?

ACLU Stops VA School from Posting the Ten Commandments

The Roanoke Times reports that the dad of a second-grade girl at Narrows Elementary School in Narrows, VA, wants the school district to display various American government documents, historical texts, and symbols, including the Ten Commandments.

The proposed display would include the Mayflower Compact, Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, sheet music of "The Star-Spangled Banner," a picture of Lady Justice, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and (drum roll please) the Ten Commandments.
As can be expected the ACLU of Virginia is not happy. ACLU attorney Rebecca Glenberg remarked to the Times.
"I see here a bunch of documents related to U.S. history and one religious document."
The ACLU of Virginia and the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened the lawsuit that has kept the commandments off school walls since February, the Times reports.
I have an idea. Forget posting the Ten Commandments on a display that no student will even look at, much less, read. Instead of treating it like some kind of patriotic wallpaper in one school in the corner of the state, make sure teachers in the ENTIRE state of Virginia teach about the Ten Commandments AS EXPECTED in the state’s academic standards.
The 2008 Virginia academic standards for World History expect students to:
“demonstrate knowledge of ancient river valley civilizations, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River Valley, and China and the civilizations of the Hebrews, Phoenicians, and Nubians, by… [among other things] explaining the development of religious traditions, [and] describing the origins, beliefs, traditions, customs, and spread of Judaism.
That would pretty much cover the Ten Commandments (and a whole lot more).
In addition to this, the Virginia Department of Education lists as “Essential Knowledge” that students are expected to know “the essential beliefs of Judaism” (WHI.3d.Q1) and how Judaism influenced Western civilization (WHI.3d.Q2). Additionally, students are to learn about “beliefs, traditions, and customs of Judaism” (WHI.3d.B) as well as the “Ten Commandments, which state moral and religious conduct.” (WHI.3d.B.3)
Symbolism can be wonderful. But, given the choice between symbolism and substance, I’ll take substance any day.(This blog first appeared on Breakpoint Blog.)