Biblical Parenting 1…
Reading a book recently by a man who stated, upon reflecting back on his childhood, that he was glad that his parents never “forced religion/dogma down his throat.” The man continued by defining “forcing religion” as basically any kind of guidance/teaching/directing. His opinion is that parents should say nothing about God/religion and let their kids figure it all out on their own.
Sigh. This man certainly has the right to his opinion. But for Christian parents, is this opinion Biblical? Is this how God wants us to raise the children He has made in His image, He has made for His glory, He has entrusted into our care?
Let’s think about this as calmly and rationally (and Biblically!) as possible, because if Christian parents agree with even a portion of this man’s opinion, our parenting will fall far short of the standard the LORD has given us in His Word; if we agree with this man, we will send our children into adulthood spiritually malnourished and emaciated as they reach out for anything that will satisfy their starved souls.
- Are we cramming our beliefs down our children’s throats when we take them camping? Is that dogmatic? Isn’t it rather trying to teach them a love of the outdoors and fresh air and nature?
- When we take our kids to an art museum, is that forcing painting/sculpture down their throats?
- Is a coach dogmatic for teaching a child how to play the game well (and how to not play poorly)?
- Are we nutritionally dogmatic for having our kids eat vegetables?
Of course not. Now, should we force our children to never play with friends and lock them in their rooms to read the Bible for eight hours per day? Of course not. But there are other options than that extreme and the other extreme of the man a few paragraphs before.
Christian parenting is not forcing children to believe in and follow the Lord Jesus; rather, Christian parenting is more of an arranged-engagement with Jesus (as opposed to an arranged-marriage); eventually our children still will choose someday to receive Jesus as Savior or not, to follow Him or not. But hopefully, by God’s grace, their childhood will be about us taking them on chaperoned dates with Christ so they can see Who He is through the Bible, so they can see what He offers them.
So in these other areas of parenting we aren’t forcing/being dogmatic as we intentionally guide our children, but in terms of the most important center of life—Jesus Christ—should we be totally hands-off and just let our children find Him on their own? Of course not.
- It isn’t oppressive to say: “We are going to attend church as a family, we are going to learn together how to read the Bible and talk about it for 15 minutes a day to grow closer to Jesus, we are going to learn to see God, others and ourselves as God sees us through the Bible, we are going to learn how to listen to God, praise Him, let the Bible define what is right/wrong, etc.” Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” That isn’t oppressive, my friends; that’s parenting God’s way! 🙂
The question isn’t if children will get molded; it’s who will do the molding. If parents don’t lovingly and gently but consistently and intentionally mold their children, then the culture will, then their friends will, then movies/t.v./music will, then schools will, etc.
Does this molding mean we should we beat and hammer our children like a blacksmith? No. But what about like a potter? But what about with the gentle and loving and artistic hands of a potter, smoothing and shaping slowly, patiently, meticulously, lovingly, sacrificially, personally (getting our hands muddy and our backs sore in the process)?
Please click HERE for a phenomenal video about master potters.
Our children will at some point jump off our spinning wheel. But the hope in our Holy Spirit-powered and Biblically-grounded molding is that they—compelled by the grace and Truth of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit—will choose to by faith jump onto HIS spinning wheel so He can rebirth and remake and transform them forever.
Enough of my thoughts—below are some of the LORD’s! Sip through the following Bible passages on parenting (there will be more in future posts). Ask God to help you notice both the specific descriptions/verbs of parenting as well as the overarching responsibility that comes with Christian parenting. These verses below should show us God’s high standard as well as our utter inability to meet those standards apart from continual dependence on Jesus! They should discourage us from our own abilities—thus lowering our self-esteem—but also encourage us to cling to the Father’s ability—thus raising our God-esteem.
You don’t have to read all of these passages in one sitting. Perhaps read one each day with your spouse and children, talking briefly about them and closing in prayer. May the Father, Son & Holy Spirit give us wisdom, encouragement, strength, humility, love and all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we intentionally guide our children to the Lord Jesus; may we ultimately trust them into HIS loving hands, for He did say, “Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14 NIV).
“For I have chosen him [Abraham],
so that he will direct his children and his household after him
to keep the way of the Lord
by doing what is right and just…”
“Then the Lord said to Moses,
‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials
so that I may perform these signs of mine among them
2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren
how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them,
and that you may know that I am the Lord.’”
Exodus 12:24-27 (NIV)
24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.
25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised,
observe this ceremony.
26 And when your children ask you,
‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’
27 then tell them,
‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord,
who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt
and spared our homes
when he struck down the Egyptians.’”
Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
But you and your sons and your daughters
may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented.
Eat them in a ceremonially clean place;
they have been given to you and your children
as your share of the Israelites’ fellowship offerings.
“‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek,
for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.’”
Leviticus 20:2-5 (NIV)
2 “Say to the Israelites:
‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel
who sacrifices any of his children to Molek
is to be put to death.
The members of the community are to stone him.
3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people;
for by sacrificing his children to Molek,
he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.
4 If the members of the community close their eyes
when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death,
5 I myself will set my face against him and his family
and will cut them off from their people
together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.”
Your children will be shepherds here for forty years,
suffering for your unfaithfulness,
until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness.
Only be careful,
and watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen
or let them fade from your heart
as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Keep his decrees and commands,
which I am giving you today,
so that it may go well with you and your children after you
and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
7 Impress them on your children.
Talk about them
when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down
and when you get up.
8 Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.