To help illustrate my point, I am stealing the names of the 6 levels from a book I read called "Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire" by Rafe Esquith. The only reason I am stealing them is because they were succinct and they really helped me make sense of stuff. It was found in the chapter titled "Searching for Level VI."
Level 1: I Don't Want to Get In Trouble.
Kohlberg's Thoughts: Basically, children first begin to learn about morals because they, well, don't want to get into trouble. "I better not take that candy," thinks 6 year old Robbie to himself, "or I will get in trouble."
My Thoughts: Sometimes, my relationship with my BFF Jesus is kinda like that. Growing up Catholic, I seem to constantly have to "behave the right way" for fear of getting into trouble. I remember my Cathecism teacher telling me that I needed to say 3 Hail Marys each night, or I won't be able to get into heaven. :( Consequently, I tried to say my 3 Hail Marys every night and even did replacement Hail Marys for nights that I fell asleep. I did this for several years because I didn't want to get into trouble and end up in the bad place.Level 2: I Want a Reward
Kohlberg's Thoughts: Children will do something right if they are offered something in return. "If you do your homework, we'll go get ice-cream."
My Thoughts: "God, if I go to church for 4 weeks in a row and sit in front and say the rosary for a month, will you please help me get all A's in my exams?" I think we are kinda familiar with this stage.
Level 3: I Want to Please Somebody
Kohlberg's Thoughts: Children might do something because they are aiming for attention and praise from an authority figure. A child may consistently perform a certain way if they get a pat on the back.
My Thoughts: Sometimes, I feel the need to please God. Sometime I feel the need to speak proper, to act proper, to smell proper, to think proper and hopefully my overt actions please God.
Level 4: I Follow the Rules
Kohlberg's Thoughts: Children follow the rules because they know that they are there for a reason.
My Thoughts: I remember having to memorize the 10 commandments and I remember having to follow it strictly. There is nothing wrong with following the 10 commandments, but there is something wrong if that is ALL I was told to do and that is what I MUST do to be a good Catholic. Sometimes, I still search for the rules to follow, because somehow, being in a certain set of right guidelines, set me free.
Level 5: I am Considerate of Other People
Kohlberg's Thoughts: Children (and adults) hopefully, eventually, start thinking about other people instead of just themselves. The best way to learn is to walk in the other person's shoes.
My Thoughts: I can help the homeless and the needy, but do I really know what it is like to be homeless and needy? I can do good, but why am I doing it? Is it so I can feel good about myself, and then turn around and be obnoxious the next moment. I can be considerate, but why do I have an "on" button for that.
Level 6: I have a Personal Code of Conduct and I am Going to Live It. (Esquith also calls it the Atticus Finch Stage)
Kohlberg's Thoughts: This is probably the highest level of moral development. The child has a clear sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice. We see this in people like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Mother Theresa, for they believed so strongly in a prosocial ideal.
My Thoughts: I want to reach this level in my walk with Jesus. To know Him so well, to understand His words so clearly, and to pursue His Kingdom so passionately that there are no gray nor confusion in my life. Everything that I do, speak, and live is based upon His one truth and that one truth is all I need. Thank goodness for grace, but I need to be always clear on where my compass points. Semper Fidelis.