Educating Morality: A Matter of the Heart
Absolute morality exists and is knowable. This is the first thing we must acknowledge when attempting to educate morality. The second thing we must understand is that God and His Word is the standard for this absolute morality. This is one aspect of educating that though often considered, the approach is too often ineffective.
C.S. Lewis writes in The Abolition of Man:
“Education without values only serves to make man a more clever devil”
This is absolutely true. Man is born fallen and with the natural inclination to sin. Any ability taught to man through education, apart from the biblical way to use that ability, only gives man another way to sin. When we educate our children and students, we must do so in a way that not only teaches them how to do something, but also the biblical reasoning and biblical way to do it.
The problem is that we often teach biblical values with a “do this/don’t do this” method. While we must teach biblical commandments, we must also teach students the reasons behind these commandments. God does not arbitrarily hand down commands through scripture. He has a reason behind His commandments and He often explains the reasons to us in scripture. Why then, would we as educators, teach students the what, without the why? Understanding the why is imperative to educating the heart. Teaching the what may penetrate the mind, but seldom permeates or changes the heart.
One cannot have biblical morality apart from a reorientation of the heart from sin towards God. We must educate towards the heart if we are to truly educate morals. If we want our children to live the Gospel, then they must experience the Gospel in their hearts. Psalm 119:11 reads “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against you”. Have you ever considered what this verse is NOT saying? “Your word I have treasured in my mind,…” Through this verse, God is teaching us a key point in educating morality: Morals are not a product of the mind, but rather, they are a matter of the heart.