Can you remember the first time that you heard, probably from your mother, that you should be old enough to know better? It’s probably one of the earliest known parental conversations. Adam and Eve obviously missed it. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they missed their entire childhood. So when sin entered and the first consequence was children, more specifically siblings, for parents to deal with, those conversations began. What it really means is that you should be capable of determining right from wrong based on an advanced maturity level. Defining that maturity level is the elusive part. We tend to place the “old enough” parameters around something that really may have little to do with age. I know people my age who ought to be old enough, but they’re obviously not. On the other hand there are 20 years olds who I see as some of the oldest people on the planet. It’s not age, it is the ability to grasp the concept right from wrong. And that one comes to people at different stages. Their background may not have allowed them to grasp the concept. Their parents, in fact, may still not be able to grasp these concepts. Their worldview may not allow them to acknowledge a universal right from a personal right. I find that as I get older, my problem is less and less about doing the right thing. It’s more and more trying to decide what to do when the right thing, even though it’s right, can lead to consequences that just seem wrong. In my profession and life’s calling I’m finding more and more that the right thing can have terrible ramifications.
Other people don’t always view the right thing positively if it affects them negatively. I’ve witnessed behaviors that are universally bad being judged by some as bad when it affects them negatively, but then judging the same behaviors good if it suits their means.
It’s bizarre. It makes doing the right thing almost always the difficult thing. It makes judgment somewhat subjective. I have come to believe that right is right, no matter how good or bad the ramifications were. My faith observes the single greatest act of “right” ever recorded in the person of Jesus and His death. However, it didn’t turn out that right for Him on the Friday that we remember as Good. Those who followed after Him, although they were doing “right”, led lives that often could be characterized as “persevering” . People of my faith even today, in their righteous actions, have endured horrible reality. In all of these instances, those involved have been looking beyond the immediate results to the future hoped for. All of this leads me to believe that knowing right from wrong has little to do with age. It has more to do with a determination that the “right” thing is the “right” thing, irregardless of life today. It’s claiming the promise that we have for “a hope and a future”.