Moral Skills and Religious Commitment
ACCORDING TO THE natural law approach, the norms concerning sexual intimacy are certainly restrictive. They also demand a high degree of moral skill. Providentially, religious practice offers ways to enhance moral skills for those young people who take religion seriously. How exactly that happens needs some explanation. If it can be shown that practicing one’s religion over a substantial period of time enhances moral skills for many people, this reality is then an instance of grace building on nature.
Every young person acquires some moral skills, whether or not they attend to religious practices. Most young people learn to avoid bad situations and strive for some good things in their lives merely through the various activities of youth and adolescence. Religious practice that enhances these skills builds on abilities acquired through the “natural process” of parents and adults helping their children reach maturity.
Figure 29.1 lists on the left a number of typical experiences children and adolescents have. In some of these activities the children learn almost by themselves how to control themselves, how to stick to their word or commitment, and how to manage their memory and imagination. A child learns many things on his own,