How to Teach Children Sin is Wrong but Not to Judge Others

Posted by Melanie Sarao on

How to Teach Children Sin is Wrong but Not to Judge Others

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we love our primary songs, especially one of the most frequently sung hymns; “I am a Child of God”. The chorus is as follows, “lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way, teach me all that I must do to live with Him some day.”1

For years, we have been taught what to “do” to fulfill our part of that commission, but I am afraid that sometimes we get hung up on the “should do’s” and the “should not do’s” rather than simply living the basics of the gospel.

In the document The Living Christ, it says, “He went about doing good, yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example.” (paragraph 2)

He gave us the first and greatest commandment, saying, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)

Why then have we complicated matters regarding His doctrine? We have taught our children to shun the sins but in so doing, we have inadvertently shunned the sinner. We must teach correct principles but teaching not to judge is most effectively taught by example.

My children are sometimes quick to point out the differences between how we live and how others live. That isn’t wrong in and of itself. The part that can easily go wrong is when they think that our way is the only right way to live. The Lord taught us that if we want the blessings of eternity, then there are things we need to do. We work out our own salvation with Him. We are in no way called to judge other’s actions as members of His Church.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The scriptural warning about partaking of the sacrament unworthily (see 1 Corinthians 11:293 Nephi 18:29) surely applies also to those who officiate in that ordinance. In administering discipline to Church members who have committed serious sins, a bishop can temporarily withdraw the privilege of partaking of the sacrament. That same authority is surely available to withdraw the privilege of officiating in that sacred ordinance.” 1

That judgment is for the Bishop or Branch President to decide, not for anyone else. We need not judge any person, only love them. Could we not teach our children that those who are seeking their way back need to be loved more than our social friends at church? That they need extra help and a loving hand and friend more than we need to sit by our bestie? Could we not adopt a different hymn to live by?

“I’m trying to be like Jesus;

I’m following in his ways.

I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.

Try to show kindness in all that you do.

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught.” 3

We all have the mandate to become perfect and to repent for ourselves. As we recognize our own mistakes, our hearts will be humbled, and we will be more eager to reach out in love to those who need it most. May we ever be an example to our families and rejoice when we smell cigarette smoke on clothing or hear roughly spoken words at church by those seeking to come to the Lord.

  1. “I am a Child of God.” Words:Naomi Ward Randall, 1908–2001. © 1957 IRI. Music:Mildred Tanner Pettit

2. “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, November 2008

  1. “I’m Trying to be like Jesus”, Words and music:Janice Kapp Perry, b. 1938 © 1980 by Janice Kapp Perry
  2. Photo by Ben White. Thanks Ben!

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