Individuals develop a moral identity during their adolescent years, according to Rosemary V. Barnett and Sally Moore, professors at the University of Florida-Gainesville and authors of “Helping Teens Answer the Question 'Who Am I?': Moral Development in Adolescents.” Christian teens may draw more moral development activities from the Bible and church activities than teens who don’t attend church, which can affect the moral identity of the teen.
Christian teens can find directions for their moral compass within the pages of the Bible. Choose one character trait to consider each month and choose four to eight Bible verses for that trait to cover in your family devotions. For example, if your character trait for this month is honesty, start with the commandments in Exodus 20: 8-9, which prohibit telling lies and stealing. Marry those with Matthew 7:12, which is the Golden Rule. Talk about how the Golden Rule determines how you respond to opportunities to lie or steal. During the month, look at the story of Jacob who stole his brother’s birthright in Genesis 27, the death of Ananias and Sapphira due to their lies and Pilate’s question to Jesus in John 18:38, “What is truth?” End your month of honesty with Jesus’ words that "Whatever is hidden will be revealed" -- Mark 4:22, Luke 8:17, Matthew 10:6 and I Corinthians 4:5 -- which speak to motive being revealed. Discuss with your teen the motivation for lying, stealing and honesty.
Jesus used stories to get his point across, and you and your teen can use the same strategy to decide what actions are morally correct for a set of circumstances. You could use the ones set up at philosophyexperiments.com or create scenarios of your own based on real choices your teen must face each day. Use Bible stories about a specific moral trait and talk about how the main character benefited or lost due to his or her moral choices, such as David taking Uriah’s wife in 2 Samuel 11; or Solomon’s request for wisdom in 1 Kings 3.
Aesop wrote stories with morals to illustrate truth and moral behavior. Challenge your teen to write stories where the character must make a moral choice and live with the consequences. Discuss the choices the main character makes and how the choices affect the character. Ask your teen why he made those choices and whether he has been in a similar situation before. Discuss biblical wisdom that casts light on the right choice.
Organizations draft documents such as mission statements and ethics codes to provide direction and clarity about the company’s moral stance and goals. Encourage your teen to draft her moral code as it reflects her faith. Use the example of Jesus, the Apostles and other Bible characters to help create the code. Invite her to share the finished document with you. Ask, “Was this difficult to do?” and “What parts caused you the most difficulty?” Provide positive reinforcement by pledging your support to follow the code with your Christian teen.
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