When teaching children about remaining temple worthy or caring for the temple of their bodies, we can “explain that prophets have counseled us to take care of our bodies by not smoking, using alcohol or illegal drugs, or getting tattoos.” (2013 Sharing Time manual, 22) It is critical to teach these truths in ways that children will understand.
But children will inevitably point out that there are people in their lives who don’t keep these commandments. Perhaps Aunt Susie smokes, or a neighbor drinks alcohol, or Sam’s mom has a tattoo. Now what? How do we teach “conviction with compassion,” as Jeffrey R. Holland put it? (New Era, July 2013, 3) Paraphrasing Elder Holland’s article in kid-friendly terms:
We still love Aunt Susie and our neighbor and Sam’s mom. They are children of God with eternal worth. Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) Judging means to look down on someone because of the choices they make.
We understand what God has said about obeying the Word of Wisdom and taking care of our bodies. We will Choose the Right, but we will do it with compassion (love for others). “Talk about a hard thing to do — [telling the difference] between the sin and the sinner!” God wants us to hate the sin and love the sinner. These differences, said Elder Holland, “are hard to make and even harder sometimes to explain, but we must lovingly try to do exactly that.”
Just like Jesus did.
PS – Click here for a terrific Sharing Time or Family Night lesson about the Word of Wisdom with printable visuals.
Also see “Loving Others with Different Values” from the July 2016 Ensign.