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Primary lesson #3, “The Commandments Help Us Choose the Right.”

January 12, 2011

Next week’s Primary lesson for my 6- and 4-year-old is from Primary 3, Choose the Right B, lesson #3, “The Commandments Help Us Choose the Right.” The teacher’s manual states, “Choosing to obey the commandments will always make us feel good.”

But it is better to follow correct principles than to obey commandments. In his children’s book, Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong, Dan Barker gives two nice examples of this.

Your cat is hit by a car and will probably die in the next day or two. Until then, it is in a lot of pain. There are two competing principles, one that you should not kill, and another that you should try to stop pain. The only way to follow one principle is to break the other. What would you do?

You are walking by a lake with a sign that says “Private property, keep out.” You notice that someone is walking on the ice anyway, and has just fallen through the ice. Again, there are two competing principles, one that you should obey the sign, and the other that you should save another’s life. What would you do?

Some commandments are generally good to follow, like “Thou shalt not kill.” “But if a rule does not have a good principle,” writes Barker, “then it is a bad or an unnecessary rule.” Take for example, “No swimming on Sunday,” or “Be baptized when you are 8.”

One line that I love from the book is, “The way to know what is right or wrong comes from learning what is best for humans, not what is best for a god.”

What are some of these human-centered principles?

1.  Life is valuable.
2. Respect the rights of others.
3. Try to treat everyone fairly.
4. Always try to tell the truth.
5. Try to be responsible.
6. Try to be kind to other people.
7. Always try to learn as much as you can.
8. Enjoy life.

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